It’s only through failing that we learn, apparently, so taking 11 years til I made my West End Debut taught me a lot! Here’s some tips I think are useful, but as per tip 3 and 6 ultimately you have to find what works for you. So, take what’s helpful from the following thoughts and ditch what doesn’t work for you!
Get clear about exactly what it is you want. People think that if you get specific you limit yourself and set yourself up for disappointment. But I think that getting specific makes you more focussed and more likely to succeed. We have a finite amount of energy so you can spread it over 100 people or 100 jobs you’d like, or laser in on the top 5. I believe the latter will be more effective and have a greater impact. Passion is contagious, attractive. Be clear about what you want so you can focus on it. That way, you’re more likely to end up there. Focus on it with visuals if you like the idea of vision boards, and focus on it with your marketing.
Saying no, is as important as saying yes. Again this seems illogical but just try it. Once you’re clear about what you want say no to anything that doesn’t fit that goal. Unless its a genuine stepping stone. It takes real courage to turn down work in an industry that’s hugely competitive and where opportunities can appear scarce. But as most of us are doing this job because we love it, why choose to do work you don’t love and then find you are unavailable for the job you really wanted. Weirdly, once you demand a certain level, by daring to say no to anything else, you suddenly find you get it.
Take expert advice with a pinch of salt. My excellent career coach Dallas Travers taught me this important lesson amongst many others. It’s easy when you’re new to defer to the opinions of experts but they can often be wrong. There are no real rules. What one casting director finds proactive another may find it too much. So take each piece of advice as advice, not as a hard and fast rule. Ultimately it’s your career, so you decide what action is right for you.
Have good marketing materials. Seems obvious, but I think artists need reminding at times that they’re running a business. Do whatever it takes to get at least one scene onto a reel because TV and Film casting directors need to see you on film. Keep your resume up-to-date. Have a headshot that looks like you and makes people want to meet you. If you don’t know how to get involved in social media (facebook, twitter, blogging) then find a way to learn because this is replacing traditional marketing methods.
Dealing with the down time. An athlete 22 miles into a marathon will tell you that the strength to finish comes from the mind. They have trained themselves psychologically as much as physically. Because that is were the real challenge is. We need to build these psychological strengths too. Think about how you will keep yourself going through the periods of ‘perceived’ rejection, or when we’re out of work. They happen to us all. Working on your own ability to be centred and feel successful regardless of what is going on, is a habit worth cultivating whether you use meditation, visualisation, a support network of friends, exercise, or classes.
Finally be you. In today’s industry you will get cast for who you are so don’t hide it. Also you’ll enjoy your life a lot more if you are you. And then you’ll be in the right zone to attract the career you want.
To read more advice on enhancing your acting career chances buy my book here Talent Isn’t Enough.