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Everything You Need to Make 2017 the Year of YOU

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So 2016 wasn’t your year. But it’s over, which means a new one is is yours for the taking. To help make sure 2017 is the year of you, we asked our Backstage Experts to share some advice on how to start the year off on the right foot. Let these tips and tricks guide you to success in the next 12 months.

“If you don’t already have one, try to find a survival job complementary to your lifestyle. Keep your eye open for opportunities that let you audition and may be flexible with your schedule if you get a part.” Joanne Baron and D.W. Brown, owners of the Baron Brown Studio

“Leverage your time. Focus on mixing business with pleasure. In terms of PR and publicity, that could mean opting for a red carpet event over a club or party. Yes, these events can be “work,” but why not rub shoulders with a group of peers? Aside from the potential press opportunities, the networking could wind up benefiting you and your career.” Rick Krusky, co-founder and a senior publicist at MWPR

“Keep your eyes, brain, and heart wide open. Art is not about yourself but about the world around you. Allow yourself to truly take in this world in order to have something to give back.”Ana Margineanu, theater director

“Listen for clues. Good acting starts with listening, and so does a good acting career. Tune into your gut and the right answers, information, and mentors will always be at your fingertips.” Amy Jo Berman, casting, auditioning, and career expert for actors

“A great way to bring in the New Year—and new work—is to be enrolled in a January masterclass. Start the year inspired and reminded of all the great things you as an actor and performing artist have to offer. Work with a teacher that truly inspires, excites, and focuses you and your work.” Jeneffa Soldatic, acting coach

READ: How to Use Social Media Wisely

“Spend less time on social media. While you're posting on social media someone else is out there hustling and improving their craft. Be the hustler.” Jamie Muffett, voice actor, audio engineer, and filmmaker

“Realistically take stock in where you stand in showbiz right now. Then ask yourself, "If I had it all to do over again, what would I do differently?" Have that alternate reality in mind when you hit the reset button this new year. You can start from scratch and become who you would like to be. Push yourself; nobody else will.” Ryan R. Williams, on-camera acting teacher and founder of Screen Actors System

“Train, train, train. If you’ve been working primarily in theater take some on-camera classes. Take a dialects class to learn something new. Work on a new monologue. Study with a teacher you’ve never worked with before.” Denise Simon, acting coach

“In auditions, many actors end up looking like acting class actors rather than film actors. They don’t get called back or cast because we’re not casting for an acting class, we’re casting for a film. The smartest thing any actor can do to prepare for 2017 is to find a situation that teaches them how to make their acting look like it belongs in a film before they walk into the audition.” John Swanbeck, writer-director

“Find somebody with a decent camera and get some clear, well-lit video of yourself acting, telling jokes, singing, or whatever it is that you do well. If I recommend a performer to an agent or casting director, their first question is, “Do they have a reel?” Make sure you do and that you look good in it!” David Dean Bottrell, actor

“Create a business plan. You are a business and the only employee, so you must treat yourself as your own business. Have a monthly budget for what you’re mailing out to agents/casting directors, etc., and create a schedule of workshops and classes. Within this plan should also be a strategy to acquire auditions, networking, and a list of new skills you’re going to work on to be more valuable to agents and casting directors.” Tammy Hunt, founder of Hunt Talent Management

READ: 6 Ways to Be Consistently Great on Camera

“There's a right way and a wrong way to directly pitch yourself for every role you're right for. This starts with building and maintaining game-changing relationships with the people who actually cast you—the writers, directors, and producers of the projects you love.” Joseph Pearlman, acting coach

“Be gentle with yourself. Stay creative. Produce your own projects.” Lee Brock, artistic director of the Barrow Group

“If you are auditioning for college musical theater programs, you should be taking three ballet classes a week to prep for the dance combo. Ballet is to dance what Latin is to language: it’s the basis of everything!” Mary Anna Dennard, college audition coach

“It’s easy to spend like your non-actor friends but this is a luxury you don’t have. Whether it’s eating out or dressing the ‘Hollywood’ part, posing isn’t going to magically transform you into the real thing. In fact, it might mean an unhappy ending to your big screen dream. What willkeep you in movie star motion is funding the fundamentals like acting classes and amazing headshots.”Steve Rohr, founder and president of Lexicon Public Relations

“Find a way to bring the political into all of your work. Use your voice. Make a statement. Examine your art in relationship to what is going on in the world right now.”JV Mercanti, head of acting for the musical theater program at Pace University’s School of the Arts, author of the monologue book series, “In Performance”

“Give thanks for the lessons of 2016. Look forward to 2017 with excitement and joy. Prepare for added success in your life.” Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd, casting director and executive producer of Twinkies Hollywood Monologue Slam

READ: Taking Risks: 5 Ways to Grow as an Actor and Person

“Actors need to have a long-term approach, but should have short-term goals with deadlines. It takes a lot of time to build any successful career but you also need to have a series of logical steps to follow.” David Patrick Green, founder of Hack Hollywood

“Do what scares you. The biggest breakthroughs you will have as an artist are from doing the thing that scares you the most.” Wendy Braun, actor and founder of actorinspiration.com

“Actors, you are your own brand! It’s important to have a robust online presence so update your website, and remember to send postcards with your pic to industry pros you have met over the past year!” Jessica Rofé, artistic director of A Class Act NY

“Actors should learn to transfer their acting skills into the world of voiceover. It's lucrative and actors already have half the skills they need, and way more than your average voiceover newbie. They have characterisation, they know how to deliver a line, they know how to deliver to their audiences. The world of voiceover is a natural step for good actors, and it's easy to supplement your income with this unique area of the industry.” —Hugh Edwards, co-founder Gravy for the Brain

“Chase your dreams like [they're] the last bus of the night.” Wendy Alane Wright, talent manager and president of WAW Entertainment

“Write down three goals you would like to accomplish in the new year, one action step to take right now for each, and three action steps to take by the end of February 2017.” Douglas Taurel, actor-producer

“Actively and aggressively work to end gender-based pay inequity.” Harvey Young, chair and a professor of theater at Northwestern University

“Become a reader or intern for a casting director. There is such a benefit to see the casting process and hear the conversations that take place when ‘actors’ are no longer in the room, and you make connections and show a little of what you can do. At your next workshop, ask the CD there if they ever need readers. There is almost nothing better in terms of a learning experience.” Jamison Haase, founder of L.A. On-Camera Training Center

“Look up from your phones every so often and connect to people in the real world. Not only will you inspire people and find sources of inspiration for your art, but in the entertainment business, real world connections are invaluable.” Marc Cartwright, L.A.-based headshot and editorial photographer

“Review your list of what you did last year. Repeat what actually worked and made a difference. Dump what didn't no matter how much you like it.” Bill Howey, acting teacher and coach

READ: Backstage Experts Answer: What Should Actors Wear to Auditions?

“Get your tools in order. Updated reel footage, headshots, audition outfits...these are all things that should be in place and ready at a moment's notice.” Retta Putignano, partner and head writer of Create Your Reel

“Commit to living every moment of every day as an artist. Great actors aren't actors only when they're acting—they use their entire lives as a creative laboratory and every experience they have is seen through the lens of the artist. Living this way will make you a happier person and as your work starts to contain the truth of all of your life experience, your acting will grow in leaps and bounds.” Craig Wallace, acting teacher

“The first thing to do in preparation for 2017 is reflect upon the past year. Are your strategies working? If not, revise them to be more likely to achieve the results you seek. Use your passion and newfound reflection and revision to confidently rededicate yourself to this life you've chosen.” Paul Barry, acting4camera.com

“Update your headshots, reel, and casting profiles if they’re over a year old. Treat yourself to that casting director workshop, dance class, or vocal coach on your wish list. Mentally prepare. Relax. Recharge. Rest. If 2017 is anything like last year, you’ll need it.” Jackie Reid, manager and owner of L’il Angels Unlimited

“Find the balance in work and self, and honor your contribution big or small—it all has worth.” Caroline Liem, casting director, teacher and coach

“Change the way you think about yourself. Your uniqueness is your currency. Don’t try to be what they want. Trust you are enough and own it in every audition.” Philip Hernandez, audition coach and working actor

“Ask and answer: ‘Why should they hire me?’ The audition waiting room is filled with actors exactly your type, all dressed alike, and all talented enough to have gotten the audition. So why you? Actors who create careers are actors who know themselves and what they have to offer. So before you hit the pavement in January, figure that out and perhaps you might just have to figure out what to wear to next year’s Oscars!” Tom Burke, image consultant and creator of the Castable Actor

“Sometimes actors forget that we are running a business and that we are the product. Having a smart business plan gives us our best chance for success. Figure out your type. How are you realistically going to get cast? Know the types of projects do you want to book and stay focused in those areas. Keep reading acting and acting industry books to stay on top of how the industry runs today. Have fun.” Aaron Marcus, author, acting and modeling career coach, and full-time actor and commercial model

If you haven't yet been cast, check out our audition listing!

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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