The Difference Between a Dream and a Pipe Dream

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Photo Source: Photo by TK Hammonds on Unsplash

I can always tell if an actor isn’t serious about his/her career. The tip-off? When they only talk about the perks: money, fame, a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, an expensive luxury car, designer fashions, being a regular on the red carpet. When these shiny objects are at the forefront rather than expressing how passionate they are about acting, it’s clear he or she is just dreaming about being rich and famous aka a pipe dream.

Listen, I understand. Being rich and famous sounds fun. But there are easier ways to become rich than struggling as an actor. Whether you love the craft or not, to become successful you still need to understand how to set up a business turning your dream into a reality.

So, what’s the difference between a dream and a pipe dream? Simple: the act of actually taking steps to make your dream happen. And in order to take those steps, you need a plan of action, specifically, a marketing plan.

Part of a marketing plan—and working with a marketing expert if you choose to do so—is having a strategy for every step of the way. The first strategy is to get training and information, then getting the tools, meeting the right people, connecting with those who can support and hire you. Every strategy is a step that gets you closer to your goal of being a working, paid actor.

Without a plan and a strategy, you’re just hoping for the best. “Maybe somebody will see my headshot and call me for a role. Maybe I’ll meet a famous director. Maybe someone will find me at a party or see me on Facebook and hire me to star in their film.” That’s like buying a lottery ticket: not a good way to run a business or a career.

READ: These 2 Toxic Myths Are Holding Back Your Career

If you want to get serious about your dream, follow these three steps to make it a reality.

1. Get training.
You need to train in your craft. Consider a college or university drama programs, a conservatory, or a yearlong acting program with a top acting teacher. If nothing else, get into as many classes as you can.

2. Invest in marketing tools.
Sell yourself to the industry via headshots, a résumé, professional credits, a sizzle reel, and website that market you and your brand. Yes, you are a product and a brand so think like the Kardashians. Well, at least understand how they became so successful. It’s all in branding, marketing, and recognition. They’re selling beauty, style, and glamour, and you’re selling talent, personality, and a unique look that enables you to play specific roles on camera.

3. Hire a marketing coach.
If you can afford one, a marketing coach will be your greatest ally when it comes to guiding, advising, and connecting you with agents. They will help you get your career to a professional, non-pipe-dream place. They will also be a great help when it comes to branding and clearly defining your product and making it highly marketable.

Find your team of experts—no one gets there alone. Believing you can do so is ith wishful thinking.

Saying, “I want to be a movie star and make millions” is a sure sign you’re not serious and that what you have is a pipe dream. There is nothing wrong in thinking positively but creating a serious plan and taking steps tells the world you’re determined to be successful and clearly grounded in reality.

Though the destination is different, this path is no different than those friends who have a dream of being a lawyer, doctor, or business entrepreneur. Most likely they plan on going to college, then getting into grad school to study further. They have a realistic plan and so should you.

Then when friends, family, and colleagues ask, how your acting career is coming along, you can answer, “Well, I’ve graduated from XYZ University in the drama department with a BFA, I’m enrolled in a graduate program, I’m spending the summer in England at RADA studying Classical technique, my Meisner-trained acting coach has prepped me for auditions, my career coach has introduced me to top-level agents, and I’m auditioning consistently.”

You’ve shown them that you’re serious because you have a plan and are implementing it. Only then does your dream become a reality; you’re actually making a living doing what you love!

With coaching clients on both coasts and internationally working in all medias Gwyn is the premier role model and marketing coach with winning strategies and first-hand knowledge of the TV, film, and theater industries which she generously shares to help new actors succeed. Gwyn offers actors a complimentary 15-minute career consult upon request: gwyngilliss.com/contact.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Gwyn Gilliss
As the “Foremost Marketing Coach for Actors,” Gwyn was a successful actor herself working in all mediums. An Emmy Award nominee, she appeared on dozens of network daytime and primetime series. Her film scripts won awards from Beverly Hills to Cannes. She’s the premier role model with winning strategies and first-hand knowledge of the TV, film, and theater industries which she shares to help actors succeed. Request a complimentary 15-minute career session: gwyngilliss.com/contact.
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