Actors come to us looking for the tips, tricks, and techniques to audition better, to find better (or any) representation, to crack the industry code. “I want to be more confident in my auditions.” “I’m ready, so why can’t I find an agent?” “I’ve been at this awhile, it’s not getting any easier, so should I pack it in?” A range of valid questions to which there is really one answer: take responsibility. You are the only person who can move your career forward. You are in the driver’s seat. That may take some reframing, but it’s the only way this works.
You may be thinking, I train a lot and I do tons of theater. I go to casting director workshops. So what am I not doing? You are very likely doing the right things and you want your hard work and dedication to pay off. Rightly so. But here’s the truth: You are one of thousands of deserving actors who works hard and wants it badly. Nobody will “give you a shot” just because you’re talented. Yes, talent plays a big part, but it’s not enough.
You have to take this very seriously. If you were a musician or a painter, you’d write songs and paint, no matter what. If you were an athlete or a dancer, you’d practice all the time. If you were a comedian, you’d tell jokes to anyone who’d listen. Well, you have to do all of that…all the time.
You have to continue to train, do theater, create your own work, and engage wholeheartedly with casting (and other) professionals when you can. You have to do it consistently. And you have to show up with the full force of your talent, offering your unique experience, and with artistic leadership.
You have to do it without looking ahead at the payoff. Sometimes it pays the rent, often it doesn’t. But this is what you signed up for. You have to embark on it with love and a gigantic commitment, practicing your craft every chance you get, for years, so that you’re doing the kind of work that will rise above the sea of actors who aren’t ready or don’t have what it takes to stick it out. If you do that, you’ll be able to walk into any casting room, onto any set or stage unapologetically, joyous, and whole. Giving them everything you’ve got. Then move on to the next one, doing it over and over again.
Here are seven (maybe hard-to-hear) truths:
- If you don’t have the stomach for it, don’t do it.
- If you aren’t here for the long haul, get out now.
- If you aren’t here because you love it and have to do it, do something else.
- If you’re looking for fame and fortune, cop to that and pursue that. It may mean not being an actor.
- If you expect others to take care of you, you’ll be disappointed, so either change your expectations or marry rich.
- If you don’t believe it’s possible, it likely isn’t.
- If the joy, ambition, or drive is gone, regroup. Figure out what you want out of this, change course, or change your mode of transportation.
If you’re committed to this journey, here are 12 powerful decisions that will help get you there:
- Don’t wait for permission. You’re an actor. It’s your calling. Accept that with every fiber of your being.
- You are in control. If you approach your acting and every part of your career with artistic leadership, people will take notice.
- Do the work fiercely and consistently. No apologies, no excuses.
- Have no expectations. Other than to bring your most personal, bold work and see what happens.
- Be generous. Offer your strong point of view. Collaborate.
- Trust your gut. When you allow your instincts to direct you, things align.
- Do it for the love of it. Do it because it brings you joy. Know how wonderfully contagious that it.
- Be a creator. Whether it’s preparing an audition, rehearsing, writing, etc., find your voice. Be the architect of everything you do.
- Identify your resistances and let down your guard. You’ve built defenses; they’ve protected you at times, inhibited you at other times. See what’s there when you peel away the armor.
- Vulnerability is your superpower.
- Keep going. Keep going. Especially when you hit the wall.
- Give yourself a break. You’re a sensitive human being. An artist. Allow for gentleness, even in (especially in) your intense pursuit.
So take this time at the beginning of the new year to ask yourself if you’re here for the long haul? And if so, welcome to your long, unpredictable, and extraordinary career!
Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!
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.