6 Signs You’re Ready for Pilot Season

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As one of the most competitive acting season approaches, you spend your days preparing mentally, physically, and emotionally. Here are six signs you’re ready for pilot season.

1. You don’t buy into the myth of representation. You’re not lulled into a false sense of security that your agent or manager will pitch you for every role you’re right for. The responsibility of getting into the room is your burden alone. You know how to pitch yourself for every role you’re right for and you don’t blame your overwhelmed reps with their often overly full rosters for not getting you into the room.

2. You’re a worthy opponent. This is the Olympic level of the game. You must be at your absolute best before going into major casting offices, otherwise you risk closing more doors than you open. To stay competitive, you must get a vigorous acting workout every week. I cannot stress the importance of a small class where you work every week! At my studio, every student leaves every class having experienced an undeniable acting breakthrough, or they don’t sit down!

It’s also important to have a clear context for the work you bring into class. Ideally the pieces you devote your time to should not be just for the bubble of the class: it should have a clear context (film, TV, or theater) and purpose (scene study, refine audition technique, practice cold-reading, fine-tune a workshop piece).

3. You don’t fight your personality, you embrace it. You’ve long stopped trying to guess what “they” are looking for. You know that it’s your job to assume you are what they are looking for. You’ve done the work and have brought yourself to the piece with fun and impactful choices.

4. You’ve got a backbone of steel. This business is so tough, it’s practically a war zone. If you’re really, truly ready for pilot season, you’re able to shrug off the near-misses, almost-bookings, and toxic industry members with grace and aplomb. Being pinned or put on hold for a major role and then not booking it happens to actors in this business every goddamn day. The real professionals shake it off and resume their place in the chain-gang. Nor does some poisonous casting director rattle you or some eye-rolling producer who yawns through your audition. You don’t take any of the garbage seriously or personally because you know your survival in this business depends on it.

5. You’re a walking encyclopedia. You realize that part of your responsibility as a professional actor means being acquainted with the style, tone, and expectations of the different networks. You understand that you could take a single scene and do it 12 different ways for 12 different networks. You know which networks prefer actor performances that are more grounded, and which prefer more character-y reads. You know which networks like comedic performances that are more “up” and which like those that are more “thrown away.” You have this knowledge hardwired to your brain like the last four digits of your social security and you are able to adapt at the snap of one’s fingers.

6. You’ve got a sense of perspective. At the end of the day, the cards are going to fall where they’re going to fall. You understand that as professional, talented, and deserving as you may be, you might not end up attached to a pilot when all is said and done. And even if you are one of the lucky few who books a pilot, you understand that its success and longevity is largely out of your hands. Whatever happens, you get that there is only a finite amount of what you can control, and you’re at peace with that.

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Joseph Pearlman
Joseph Pearlman is a celebrity and on-set acting coach for Hollywood’s top actors, musicians, and comedians. He works with clients such as Zooey Deschanel, Skylar Grey, Michael Welch, and Julian Sands, and he also coaches presenters for all the major award ceremonies. Pearlman Acting Academy was voted the best acting studio in Los Angeles by the Backstage Readers’ Choice Awards.
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