I was recently asked by a rising college senior, let’s call him Greg, what “THE most intelligent move post college?” should be upon graduation for beginning his acting career.
Below is my response:
I am not going to bullshit you in my email, I’ll lay it out for you and hope it serves as a tool to help you make your decision.
You cannot make a wrong decision (unless you choose to go climb a mountain without proper supplies- I wouldn’t say it’s wrong, just foolish)
My hope in telling you that is to take off the pressure, not add to it. Graduation and entering the real world is a big transition, so don’t add on to that adjustment by hemming and hawing over what’s “THE most intelligent move post college”. Learn to trust your gut.
Treat Whichever City you Land in as if you are entering the olympics
When you go to LA/NYC/Chicago and enter your preferred field of TV/Film/Theatre/Improv, treat it as if you are entering the Olympics-that’s relevant right?! There are loads of talented people and even less-talented people who you will be competing with. Your job is to train your ass off so walking into an audition is just another “race in the pool”. Yes, you want to book the role, but you must be striving for your personal best, not your agent/manager/best friend/neighbor/girlfriend/co-worker etc best. Your job is to analyze the text, know what the writer’s aim for the scene is (she’s been hired after all, you haven’t yet), figure out your relationship with the other character and bring yourself to the scene. I’m still practicing that. All. The. Time. And honestly will be throughout my acting career.
Regarding rejection, it happens all. the. time.
Unlike the Olympics, you won’t have the benefit of seeing your “score”. So how do you deal with all of the countless “no’s?” You keep doing the work, you get a massage, go for a hike, find a solid group of friends. I can’t stress that enough.
Find your tribe and cling to them. Meet every week and hold each other accountable for tasks. As an actor we are building our own business.
That’s something that’s not highlighted enough in college. You must realize that you are your own product and despite acting because you “love the craft” that’s only about 50% of the job. The other half (arguably more) is self-promotion/business.
-be realistic about what your type is: ask people/friends who aren’t biased what roles they’d see you playing. If you’re getting a lot of “mean girl” or “computer nerd” DON’T play against that initially. That will only help Casting Directors, Agents and Managers effectively pitch and cast you. And for you, that makes choosing scenes and headshots a lot easier. Play to your type!
get off your pedestal
Currently, I wait tables as my steady source of income. Do I wish I could stop today and only be making money via my art? Hell yes. But as actors we are freelancers, and until you reach a certain level the odd-jobs will be necessary to stay afloat. Bottom line: don’t think just because you went to university that you can’t do “menial jobs”. Obviously hold onto your self-worth, but realize that 99% of creatives, especially in LA, start at the bottom of the totem poll. Show up and be a team player- not someone with a sour attitude who bitches about XYZ.
Acknowledge jealously and be gone with it
There will be others who book jobs faster than you-don’t fall into the trap of sitting in jealously, the faster you learn to do that, the more open you are for other opportunities.
Everyone has a different path to success
AKA don’t be scared to leave for “fear of missing an opportunity”. There will always be others. Operating under the veil of fear will never your friend.
Relationships are key
Building them into lasting friendships is even more so. Don’t be the kind of actor who only reaches out when you need something. Become a trust-worthy ally. Casting Directors will bring you back because you’ve shown up in the past and rocked it, Directors will bring you back because you treated everyone respectfully, Casting Assistants will eventually become Casting Directors and will remember if you brushed them off. You know how Jennifer Lawrence worked with David O. Russell 3 films in a row? There was a trust and respect element there. Aim to bring that to all the people you meet!
define your own success
and last but not least: you are a badass
Pursing acting is tough as shit, so keep reminding yourself that you are a badass. There will be lots of highs and lows, but they will all be easier if you have a healthy amount of self-love.
Hope this helps!! Let me know if there are any other specific questions you have and I’ll answer them too.