I usually end the year with a vacation in a far-flung land where I can relax and enjoy drinks with umbrellas in them. That’s why I’m surprised to find myself writing this column inside an ancient monastery about 200 miles south of Madrid. I don’t speak Spanish, but that’s not a problem because no one speaks here. We’ve all taken a vow of silence.
The rules in this monastery are as clear as the Andalusian sky: No talking and no contact with the outside world. I suffered from iPhone withdrawal during the first few days, but I’m alright now. The monks allow notebooks and pens, so that’s what I’m using to write this. I came here to clear my mind so I could think up the perfect list of New Year’s resolutions. And hey, this isn’t just about yours truly—these resolutions are for both of us!
My list is almost done and I’ll make it public next week, but right now I want to focus on you. So, after a great deal of silent meditation, I’ve come up with three resolutions that will help move your career forward in 2020. None of them will guarantee success, but they’ll certainly set you on the right path.
1. Self-tape or bust. The most important skill every actor must master in today’s industry is the art of self-taping. Nothing matters more. Here’s how I want you to look at it: A self-tape is an audition you control. If you’re in the room reading for a casting director, that person is in charge. You get one shot to get it right. But if you’re self-taping, you can try over and over until the perfect take emerges. So, here’s the plan: Put together a group of like-minded actors who can share the expense of buying everything you need to make an amazing self-tape. Then take turns practicing. Support each other. Become an amazing team of self-tape masters!
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2. Consider a change of scenery. There are three cities that house most of the American production scene: Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. There are also secondary spots like Chicago, New Mexico, and a few others in the Southeast. Your ability to find work as an actor will increase dramatically if you can be a local hire in any of these places. Start thinking about who you know where and if there’s a feasible way to make this happen.
3. Health matters. Introduce a new routine into your life that is designed to make you a healthier person. An actor’s body is a tool, so you might as well get that tool in shape. I’m not asking you to become an annoying yoga freak who can’t stop talking about their downward dog, I just want you to do one new thing every day that improves the quality of your life. Why? Because feeling good about yourself is an important part of being a successful actor!
So, there you go: simple wisdom from a Hollywood dude in an ancient place. I’m as surprised as you are. And who knows? If I stay here any longer, I might come up with a way to save network television and the dying world of union commercials. Stay tuned—and happy New Year!
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 26 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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