The social media and internet focus that has modernized our world may come with its challenges, but for actors and filmmakers, it’s led to some huge career advantages as well.
When I started acting, if you didn’t have an agent you really didn’t get to audition unless you stood for hours in a long line with a bunch of other actors waiting to be seen at an open call. Getting an agent or union card was and continues to be a challenge for actors, typically requiring a lucky break or recommendation. Directly contacting a casting director was, and still is in most cases, considered to be unprofessional and inappropriate.
Getting in the door to be considered was not easy or in most actors’ control, and getting hired was completely dependent on someone picking you. While traditional avenues for employment remain firmly intact, there are also new ways to create work and “pick yourself.” The middleman is sometimes being replaced with new structures and opportunities that open the door in a dramatic way to an actor, writer, director, or author to create product and content on a variety of platforms and choose themselves.
An actor can cheaply create his own show by writing his own script, shooting it on an iPhone, and posting it to a personal YouTube channel or Facebook page. A network doesn’t have the only power to pick talent and create content. In fact, networks may even look for talent and material to transfer to their production companies on self-created actor sites.
This independent approach has launched acting careers just as it has launched singing careers for artists like Justin Bieber, who was discovered by his manager through his singing videos on YouTube. But Justin had already picked himself by performing on a platform with an audience. A standup comic can shoot her own show and sell it directly to an audience too. You can create a variety of content and share your talents with the world without waiting for someone else to choose you to do so.
There is a powerful desire to be chosen and picked by the powerful who can launch your careers. But an independent creative spirit affords you the opportunity to write and perform, and modern technology allows you to capture your performance and post it for public view. That means you don’t need anyone’s permission to work.
When you pick yourself, who knows who will see you and pick you because of it? And if they don’t, you’ve done what you love and no one can take that away!
*This post was originally published on May 21, 2019. It has since been updated.
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