acting advice: where to begin

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.

YOUR TOOLKIT:

-professional headshot
-formatted resume
-acting clips
-solid training
-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

Take vacations

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

Read this post about I wrote on this topic.

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.

note to self

I call myself an “actress with an appetite”, right? You’ve seen the appetite part, but where does the actress come into play? I haven’t starred on a hit TV show, let alone had a one-line role on a sitcom. Perhaps the title for my blog should be “aspiring-actress-with-an-appetite-(that-she-should-control-because-the-camera-adds-10-lbs)”. But it’s not. And never will be.

As a 5 year old, I told my mom “I want to be an actress and waitress” (smart kid I was!). And I have been pursuing that dream ever since. Not always in the most direct routes, but one of the things I value in life is to “experience it”. Fully. I chose to attend college, I leave LA to visit friends and family frequently, I don’t obsess over calories, and I don’t allow fear of not being the person they [Hollywood} want dictate my decisions (98% of the time). Obviously there are moments when I doubt myself, AND I didn’t waltz in to LA three years ago with this mindset. But I’ve learned self-confidence and a good dose of “you are enough” mantras of are key to a happy creative lifestyle.

Right now I audition, not frequently, but getting into rooms. I am making my own content and wine videos. It’s not the average path to getting a role, but it’s my way. There’s a quote out there about how “when a spaceship launches it inevitably ends up diverting off the scheduled-course numerous times before landing on the moon.” I have to be my own champion and define my own success in order to not throw in the towel. I am going to land on the moon damnit! It might not be next week, but I will keep working hard in order to land that role.

NOTE TO SELF:

I am an actress and I have a huge appetite for life (donuts, fried chicken, and cereal milk soft serve). Keep doing you. It’s worth the time spent. Believe in yourself.

NOTE TO FRIENDS AND READERS:
  • Stay creative (if that’s what you like)
  • Do things that bring you happiness (try a bunch of activities if you’re not sure what that is)
  • Define your own success (if you leave it up to others, you’ll never feel fulfilled)
  • 99% of the time, at least look at the dessert list (1% of the time you’ll be so full you’ll need to be wheeled out of the joint)

Let me know what you’re pursuits are, I’d love to watch, listen, participate, and promote in any way I can.