Fighting the Frustrations of Being an Actor
So…you’ve decided you want to get into the most competitive business in the world…bar none! The most heartless business there is…you want to be a professional actor. I’m sure you’ve heard people say you need thick skin to be in this business….but what they don’t tell you is that you can’t just “have” thick skin…you need to earn it…I don’t know if people understand that. A guitar player needs to build calluses on his fingers…you can’t just say “don’t worry, I have them”…they come over time…you earn them.
Actors- you’re going to face frustration throughout your career…first you want to break into the business, then you have to deal with acting class then you finally get a headshot, then you just want an audition…then you just want an agent, then you want the agent to send you out more, then you’re sick of booking 2 lines roles…then you want to be a series regular, then you’re getting type cast because you’re too well known from being a series regular…and eventually you’re PISSED OFF because you didn’t win at the Academy Awards…wow…remember when all you wanted was to be able to afford a good headshot?
Everything in this business is a climb….and it’s one HELL OF A TALL MOUNTAIN!
The most common complaints are; 1) I can’t get auditions, 2) I need an agent and 3) Nothing’s happening in my career…All valid…and believe me, I’ve been there…often STILL there. So let’s address these;
1) I can’t get auditions. I don’t think actors realize how many people submit PER audition…when you submit on actor’s access, hundreds of other people are as well…and when you add in all the agent and managers submissions…trust me, it’s more than you would believe. And they can only see so many people…often less than 10% of the submissions…and it all comes down to a look at this stage…so be sure you’re headshot is up to date and really professionally shot. Bad headshots turn people away quickly! Just keep plugging away! Check often, submit early…and stay positive. Now, understand this…even when you get an agent or manager, it’s STILL HARD TO GET AUDITIONS!! You think your life is going to be so different when you get representation but it’s still an uphill battle! Agents also have to deal with the frustration of not being able to get their clients auditions…it’s just NEVER EASY.
2) I need an agent- SO DOES ALMOST 98% OF ACTORS OUT THERE! Seriously…it’s easier to find a NORMAL, attractive person on match.com. Agents need you too…remember that…only, they have a hundred thousand actors a year trying to get on their rosters and they can only have so many people…Before you go searching (and complaining) about getting an agent, ask yourself some questions; 1) Am I well trained. 2) Is my headshot awesome? 3) Is my resume good enough? This is a tough one…you can’t get good jobs without an agent and you can’t get an agent without good jobs…Just be sure you’re out there hustling…getting whatever you can….showing them that you can book work on your own! They’re not gonna fight for you if you’re not out there fighting! Build that resume! 4) Do I have a reel that is strong and shows me off in a good light? OK OK- I have all that! Now how the hell do I get this mythical agent? Those workshops where you meet agents and casting directors are an awesome place to meet them because you get in front of them-listen to them- perform for them and hopefully impress them! Don’t want to do a workshop…OK…there are other ways, but they are harder. Mailings are old school and don’t have a great percentage for working out…but it’s a shot. If your headshot captures them, they just might call you in. And many are now accepting online submissions. If you know someone with an agent, ask them to refer you…if you’re not the same type. Do an off-off-Broadway show in Manhattan and invite them. (But honestly, it’s really hard to get them to come). Finally…pray…probably won’t work but you have NOTHING TO LOSE!
3) Nothing is happening in my career…I love when people who have been really pursuing this for like a year complain to me about it…I totally understand their frustration but hey…I’ve been doing this sh*t since you’ve been born so chill out! You do everything you can- classes, headshots, submitting all the time, making your reel, making your website…you spend time, money and energy and nothing…you’re not making money, your parents and telling you you’re wasting your time…your husband/wife asks if this acting phase is over yet…and you keep dreaming of being a regular on a network TV show or in an actual Hollywood film…damn it, you’ll even be a zombie on Walking Dead at this point! The answer is- there is no answer. You either tough it out or you quit. You have to work your ass off, you have be sharp and ready when the opportunity comes and you have to understand that this is a LONG, LONG RACE…so pace yourself…I have had numerous psychics (yes, psychics) tell me the reason I wasn’t getting acting jobs was because of….me. My desperation, my negativity, it was holding me back…that energy was coming into the room with me…and I had to change that before anything good was gonna happen. You might not believe in that…but energy does follow you…when someone desperate approaches you in a club or a bar…it’s a turn off…same in an audition. Change your attitude…change your photo….change your energy! I heard a great quote…it said, “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. I once asked casting director Twinkie Bird about a problem I was having…I was bitching about my former agent and that nothing was happening and she said…don’t blame them, start with you. Are you doing EVERYTHING it takes to make this happen?
Finally…you can’t do this…this “acting thing” if you don’t enjoy it…it’s suicide. And you sure as hell can’t do it for the money…you do it because you love it…and when you start to work, you’re REALLY gonna love it…the payoff is worth the struggle…believe me. But when your life becomes a frustrating mix of I’m not getting auditions/I need an agent/my career is going nowhere…it’s hard to love it. Fight…get back the reason you wanted to be an actor in the first place. Watch the actors that inspire you. Every time I watch an Al Pacino film I remember why I wanted to do this in the first place. BUT GET BACK THAT FEELING….it’s gonna help you. Get back the excitement of being an actor…no one gets excited to be a plumber…or a receptionist…or a garbage man… you know….oh and going through all this…all these ups and downs. This entire struggle….THAT is what gives you thick skin….you have to earn it. Now stop being frustrated and go watch GlenGarry Glen Ross- you’ll remember why this is the greatest business in the world and you’ll realize…it’s wonderful to be an actor and better to be a frustrated actor than a frustrated anything else….Except a doctor, it’s pretty awesome to be a doctor.