Succeeding After Pilot Season

Pilot season descended upon the town like a dense fog, lighting a flame of hope and excitement in every actor’s heart. And just as that flame was dimmed a month or so later by the reality of it all (no auditions and nothing booked, or many auditions and nothing booked), gold glitter fell from the sky, a big, bright red carpet was rolled out on filthy Hollywood Blvd. and actors got drunk on the notion that 20 minutes away from their current location, people in overpriced clothing won Academy Awards and maybe one day they could too.

But as the shine of that too begins to dim, actors who aren’t shooting pilots or waiting to hear if their pilot is picked up, begin to feel a lull this time of year. The highs of a month or so ago level off and then descend into a boring reality without gold glitter. But actors who book consistently know that this actually is the time to double down on the work. They know that an acting career is built during the plateau, working your craft when everyone else is curling up for a long hibernation and nursing their pilot season and awards show hangovers. In fact, it’s not about how much you trained between January and March. An acting career is about how much you trained between March and January.

There seem to be seasons for an actor. Pilot season, awards season, episodic season, etc. And most actors think about committing to their craft or leaning harder into their careers just as these arbitrary and arguably insignificant seasons approach. “Oh shit, it’s Jan. 1. I better get back into class and get new headshots because I have the potential to be a TV star in the next three months.” Inspiration is everywhere. The whole town is bubbling over with anticipation. “Maybe this year will be my year!” But being pulled solely by the hope of success, a slave to these fabrications of the industry, is not the sort of mentality that books work. The dream has to be met with the work. All year round. Merely reacting three times a year—cranking it up for the possibility of work, then losing hope and being complacent for a few months—isn’t the level of commitment that leads to success. Acting is a lifestyle and the actors who book consistently don’t see the work as three or four points on a calendar. They turn it to action, into a lifestyle of creative output and artistic exploration which has roots deep enough that the whim of the industry can’t topple it.

Losing yourself in a world of “what-ifs” and “when I make it big I wills…” assures that you will never achieve the success you want. If after watching the awards you spent the next weeks dreaming about the gown, the interviews, the speech, and the statue, you’re no closer to making any of that happen. If, however, you watched the show and were inspired to write that second draft of your script, call about theater space for your one-woman show, draw up a production schedule for your short, get back into class, or do anything else that doubles your commitment to your art, you are taking steps that inch you closer to success. You had the dream, were inspired by it, and then let it lead you to action. You’re not dreaming. You’re doing. And that’s what all those award winners did. Most of them passed the requisite 10,000 hours of work long ago—and they’re not stopping. Because the work is what they love and who they are, even after they have achieved what might have been the dream. Their work is bigger than passing fancies, bigger than a “season,” bigger than Hollywood hoopla. Their work is a lifestyle and their inspiration isn’t seasonal. Success comes from doing. No matter what it takes. With an agent or without. With an Oscar or without. The actors who book pilots and win Oscars are doing.

And here’s the good news. This level of commitment is a practice. You can teach yourself to be in and of the work all year round. You can train yourself to create, to be in a class, write, shoot, do theatre, etc., as a lifestyle that transcends the calendar. In fact, a successful actor has to train her or himself to be in and of the work even when it’s not convenient, even when it’s not sexy and there is no hope that they will become a TV star. A successful actor finds a way to create, to dig deeper and explore farther, even when all the other actors are booking vacations and just waiting for episodic season to start.

So start now. This is the lull. This is the time to re-commit yourself to the work. This is the time to remind yourself that you are an actor, an artistic leader who can create art whenever she damn pleases, pilot season or no pilot season. Be that kind of actor who doesn’t wait to be told to act, who doesn’t wait for the smell of a pilot or an Oscar before she takes steps towards both of those things. Be an actor who does, who works all year round for its own sake. If you start that practice now, think of how far you’ll be by next pilot season.

Get in the practice in a class at The BGB Studio and check out our brand new website: And be sure to check out our latest BGB podcast, “A Different Kind of Teacher.”

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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.

Risa Bramon Garcia
Risa Bramon Garcia is partnered with Steve Braun in The BGB Studio, dedicated to revolutionary acting and audition training. Risa has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher for over 30 years, collaborating with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the world.
Steve Braun
Steve Braun is an L.A.-based acting coach and communication consultant. Over his 15-year career, he has starred in movies and has been a series regular on television shows. He is also an acting teacher and coach.