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Yesterday I was talking to a potential employee for one of my businesses, and she mentioned that her boyfriend was an actor. She said that he had come out to Los Angeles for 6 months to act, before “failing” and going home. Failing. That was the perception. I couldn’t help but think that he hadn’t even been her long enough to buy a box spring and take the cover off his couch. Hell, I’ve been stuck on the 405 for longer than he’d been out here. Alright, that’s a slight (very slight…) exaggeration, but you get my point. I’ve written before (here, here, here, here, and here) on being in this for the long haul, and how it almost always takes at least a decade to build the careers we imagine for ourselves. This phone conversation, though, got me thinking about expectations, where they come from, and what people think they can, or should, achieve when coming to this city.
I’ve been in Los Angeles for a little over a year now, and started actively pursuing acting almost exactly a year ago (I had my first audition in Los Angeles last July). And here’s the deal: I haven’t been on TV. I don’t have a theatrical agent or a manager, though I did have a commercial agent for a few months (we have since parted ways, but that’s another blog post). I haven’t had an audition on a studio lot nor have I even auditioned for a major union commercial. There was no “pilot season” for me, and as of right now I’m not “coming to a theatre near you.” I’ve had meetings with 3 agents who decided not to take me on. That’s right. I’ve been here a year, don’t have any representation, no recognizable credits on my resume, and no auditions for major projects.
But guess what. I’m kicking ass. Honestly, my career couldn’t be going better. I stopped clicking and submitting via submission services in favor of relationship-based job getting, and now instead of auditioning I get offers. And when I do audition, I’m doing it for people who already know my work and call me in directly. I have a reel that I’m proud of, and footage coming in the next few weeks that will make it 10x better. A film I was in just got accepted to the LA Shorts Fest. The companies I started allow me to have a flexible schedule and pursue my acting career as I see fit. People read my blog and ask for my advice. I have actual friendships with casting directors, writers, producers, and directors. I’m friggin’ happy.
And, more than anything, I am constantly surrounded by amazing people. If there’s anything I’ve learned about success, it’s that it comes as a direct result of the quality and calibur of the people around you and the company you keep. I’m ingrained in brilliant communities that support and inspire me. The people around me have the right attitude, are always eager to help, and believe in me. They introduce me to people, refer me to others, and actively help me in my pursuits. Although it is not as obviously tangible as an agency logo or “NBC” on my resume, the strength of my community is how I define my success…and I have it in abundance.
So, are you in SAG? Who’s your agent?
Why is it that actors ask these two questions the first time they meet a fellow actor? It’s hard enough feeling like you constantly need to justify your career to “outsiders,” so why do we do this to ourselves? How is it that somehow having an agent legitimizes you as an actor? I know someone who has been with (a reputable) theatrical agent for 4 years…and had 4 auditions from them. I know actors with the TOP agencies who never work. And I know actors without agents who work all the time. Finding out someone’s union status or representation just doesn’t really tell you all that much.
For me, I have stopped asking actors I just met these questions, in favor of asking if they have been working on any cool and exciting projects lately? That leaves the door open for them to talk about pretty much anything, and hopefully relieves a little pressure that actors so constantly encounter.
I challenge you to start measuring your success based on your relationships. How many professional industry contacts do you have in your database? (You do keep track of that right?) What is the level of the people you have these relationships with? How strong are those relationships? If you randomly decided to shoot a short film next weekend, how many people could you get to show up as a favor to you ’cause they think you’re awesome or believe in you?
It’s much easier to your friends and family back home that you’re going to be on Criminal Minds next week than it is to say that you just had an amazing coffee date with some producer over at NBC who wants to meet again next month, but I would wager that the latter is a greater career success than the former.
What about you? What were your expectations when you came to LA (or wherever)…?
If you haven’t seen this video on how Ian McKellen is (was, *sad panda*) such a brilliant actor, then you’re seriously missing out:
I love this video because it reminds me that sometimes I make acting more complicated than it needs to be. I mean, there are 6-year-old kids who act brilliantly, so it can’t be that hard, right?
Now I’m most assuredly not saying that anyone can just pick up a script and be a brilliant actor. I dare you to try heading to your local supermarket armed with any script and get that lady next to the pomegranates to do a little scene with that dude stealing the cashews…not that simple. On the other hand those same people, sans script, are acting all the time. They’re interacting with the people around them, having conversations, living life.
I find it particularly important to remember this, especially when I’m acting on camera. On a film set you never bring your own props, they tell you where to stand and where to look, and at the end of the day all you need to do is talk to people. That’s what I tell myself if I ever get worked up. When all is said and done, it’s just talking to people. All of it. The business, the craft, the networking…it’s simply talking to people. I can do that. In fact, sometimes I can be pretty good at that. And I would wager that every now and again, you’re pretty darn good at it too… 🙂
So, I write about a time a lot on this blog. I’ve written about my thinking about time, that it takes 10 years to make it, what I was doing 10 years ago, how to look back and set goals for the future, more thoughts on how long it takes to make it, how I’m going to be a doctor, and my thoughts on patience and marshmallows. Continually, though, the topic of time comes up again and again in my conversations with other actors.
Most commonly, discussions of time revolve around how long it takes to ‘make it’ as an actor. If you go check out any actor whose work Grandma Ethel in Kansas would know, my guess is that 99% of the time there is about 8 – 10 years between their first IMDb credit and the first one that is highly recognizable. You can also assume that said actor was probably acting in some capacity for at least a year or two before their first IMDb credit.
Some people get discouraged by this–oh my God, I’m never going to make it, what do I do?!?!–but as I’ve written before, I think this is great news. It means that the vast majority of the time, people are making it because they work hard, are easy to get along with, and stick with it. I recently read a commencement address that Lisa Kudrow gave in which she talks about how she got fired from sets, had pilots not get picked up, and that it was 8 years until she got the role on Friends. Jenna Fischer has a similarly brilliant post on taking the long view and persevering. It took her 8 years in LA before she landed her role as Pam on The Office. The other thing to remember here is that while all of these actors were working their way up, it’s not like they weren’t acting or doing cool things. They were acting in plays, short films, student films, and doing small roles on TV as they progressed. I have to think that at least most of the time, they were enjoying the journey.
It also strikes me that if you don’t enjoy the journey you’re going to go crazy, because is there really a point where you would be totally satisfied with your career? If you’re making 30 grand a year on commercials, wouldn’t you be that much happier if you were pulling in 40? Once you get that coveted first network co-star, won’t you be itching for more, then disappointed that you don’t have a guest star credit? Then there’s the disappointment of all the pilots you’re in that don’t get picked up (George Clooney had about 7 before ER)…and won’t that single, lonely Oscar look better on your mantle if it had a golden friend next to it? The cycle is never-ending, so it becomes imperative to enjoy each step along the way, or you’ll never make it the 6, 8, or 20 years it might take to get closer to your ultimate goals.
So What the Hell is my Point?
Point 1: Celebrate
If you’re like me and the relative beginning of your career, then be gentle with yourself. Celebrate the seemingly small successes. You didn’t book “just a webseries,” you “booked a friggin’ webseries!!!!” There’s so much competition in this city, even getting called in for an audition means you beat out hundreds if not thousands of other actors.
Point 2: Note Your Progress
I’ve seen a lot of actors get discouraged because after a couple years they feel like they haven’t gone anywhere, but almost always they’ve made tremendous progress. Think back to when you first started pursuing acting. Did you have anything on your resume? Had you ever had an agent? Were a part of a union? Had been on a professional set? Read for a legit casting office? Or even been in something you were proud to show your friends? All the steps along the way can get lost, but remember that they’re all important. You’re honing your craft, meeting people, and (hopefully) having a blast. You really have come a long way.
Point 3: Take the Long View on Relationships
This point is probably worth its own blog post, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about and want to get out there. When you take the long view of your career, you lose all desperation with relationships. You don’t need that Casting Director you just met to cast you in something next week, because you have faith that you’ll cross paths with them again and again in the years to come. Moreover, the next time you meet them you will probably be further along in your career, and that CD/Producer/whomever might be able to help you significantly more than they before. Next week they might be able to read you for a co-star, but in 3 years they might have a series regular on a pilot that they could then call you in on. Start forming relationships just to form them, not because you need something right now. It might take decades for you to “cash in” on a relationship, but how much better will that be if you’ve spent a decade merely forming friendships and positive business relationships?
As a quick tangent, I should also say that it is much more personally and professionally rewarding to approach relationships with the goal of helping the other person, rather than hoping that your new acquaintance can help you. It builds up your brand as a quality person, and in the end makes people want to help you even more. Just think, if you were able to refer 3 of your incredible actor friends to a Casting Director and helped to solve their problem, how much that CD would love you and desire to help you out (not to mention if just feels good). Whether it’s karma or basic human psychology, when you are a good person and help others, they want to help you.
Enough rambling…it’s been a couple weeks since my last post and I’ve had a lot on my mind. Hope it’s been of any value. As always, we love reading your comments. =)
The subject of student films seems to be coming up a lot lately, and the discussion usually goes something like this:
Actor 1: Student films suck.
Actor 2: Yeah, seriously. Students suck.
Actor 1: Yeah, like, totes. I refuse to do any movie unless James Cameron is already attached
Actor 2: Word. You should hold out. I mean, you had that one line on 1000 Ways to Die. You got cred.
Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but my point is that student films seem to get a very bad reputation. (And that actors often have poor criteria in choosing projects.)
Below is a trailer for Dilated, a project in which I played “Private Parts” (true story):
Now tell me that looks like a “student film,” directed by an undergraduate with an entire crew of students. (Impressed? Find out more about FPS Productions.)
Now, I’m not saying that all student films are good, or that you need to rush out and do as many as you can. However, don’t discount a project just because it’s being done by a student. The three absolutely best films I have done in my life were all done by undergraduates in film school. None of those student films paid me anything, but I much preferred them over the myriad projects I’ve done that paid me (sometimes well) but ended up looking like they were filmed by an untrained monkey walking around during an earthquake.
There is also a widely-perceived belief that there are only a couple good film schools in Los Angeles (USC and AFI often rise to the top of that list). Would that it were that easy to judge a film’s potential. I’ve done projects for the “best” film schools that sucked and projects for the “worst” film schools that turned out great. Most stereotypes are there for a reason, but just because a school has a good reputation doesn’t necessarily mean the student has their $hit together.
Before you do any project–student or otherwise–here are some questions to ask yourself in order to determine how worthwhile the project might be (and in the end, trust yourself):
- What are they shooting on?
- How big is the crew?
- Do they have a DP? A sound person? A lighting guy?
- What are the sides like? Is the script any good?
- What is their budget?
- How many days is the shoot? (compare that to the length of the script)
- Did they give me a phone number to call (if they did, call them!…you will find out oodles of good info)
- How professional is the communication from the project?
- How thorough is their breakdown?
- Is this a role I would LOVE to play (and might not get to otherwise)?
Pros of Doing Student Films
- They probably have a deadline for their class, which means there’s a good chance there will be a final product
- Students are often super thankful that you are doing their project, and will go to great lengths to help you (like going out of their way to get you your reel footage)
- If something goes terribly wrong, you have someone to go to (their professor)…as well as someone to sue (the University)
- Students often have access to the best equipment in the business
- SAG makes it quite easy for a student film to register with SAG (and thus use SAG actors)
- The student is probably getting a grade, so they have an incentive to do good work
- Many students have an easier time getting money for their films than “normal adults” do
- Students can be young and naive (i.e.: they think their film could make them millions so they work their ass off) 🙂
- Most students aren’t total dicks…some adults are
- Steven Spielberg was a student once…just sayin’
Cons of Doing Student Films
- Very rarely will you get paid
- There is no guarantee the film will be any good (but is there ever?)
One warning I would proffer is to never go into any project expecting that it will yield great footage for your reel. There is never any guarantee (for that, you must produce your own work). Do the project for the experience on set, to meet great people, to look like a bad ass (see trailer above), and to get precious time practicing your acting on camera.
I think it vitally important to be selective about the projects you do. There is a tough balance here. Many actors become fed up with the way they are treated or the final product of lower-budget films, but without more significant credits/a beautiful face/a famous parent it becomes that much harder to get work on more ‘legitimate’ projects. Moreover, if you have only done, say, a handful of student films, it is rather unrealistic to expect that you are going to get a lot of work on full-fledged projects. It takes time. Whatever project you do, please ask yourself why you are doing the project, and keep your expectations in check.
Would love to hear your experiences with student films in the comments below!
I recently heard Tracy Curtis speak at The Actors’ Network. Like my posts on Jonathan Prince and Lauren Bass, below are lessons I learned from an industry professional. Look for many more of these posts in the coming months. I might be just some dude with a blog, but these people know their $hit. Enjoy. 🙂
Tracy Curtis has extensive experience in the industry, from acting to editing, to being a commercial agent in San Francisco. Her father was an Emmy-award winning producer/director, and she recently opened the theatrical agency Talent House LA which is doing extremely well. Oh, and she has 2 dogs and enjoys the outdoors.
Tracy prides herself on having an eye for talent, but what is talent exactly? Talented people have “charisma,” she said. They are very comfortable with themselves. It comes down to knowing in your heart that acting is your calling. Any doubt you have is very transparent.
How to Attract an Agent
Your Reel: In attracting agents, “the reel is everything,” Tracy said. The goal of (most) any actor in Los Angeles is to get cast in moving pictures, so what better way to demonstrate your value in that arena than a reel? A stellar reel also gives an agent a tremendous tool with which to sell you. But don’t freak out thinking you need 27 minutes of material. Even one 30-second clip (that is good!) is enough to get started. Just know that you should constantly be updating your reel as you get new material.
Tracy also mentioned that she can often tell within 5 seconds of watching a reel whether or not she would be able to help that actor get a job. While at first this might sound like an insanely short amount of time to make a judgment, I challenge you to start watching actor reels and see how quickly you “get” the emotional value of a scene. You might find that 5 seconds is an eternity. J
Relationships: Cliché or not, this is a relationship business. Relationships are absolutely vital, and you need to be aware that they take time to build (which is a primary reason why it takes time to accrue success in this industry). Demonstrating to an agent that you have, and will continue to form solid industry relationships is priceless. Want to blow an agent away? Show up at your meeting with a detailed list of all the casting directors, producers, and other industry professionals you know.
And as an actor, don’t be afraid to ask a potential agent how they develop relationships. The main reason an agent will be able to get you an audition, is because they have a solid relationship with a specific casting director (or are able to leverage a relationship you have). Tracy, for example, takes general meetings herself. Knowing that she is a newer agent in town, she put together a book of her clients which she takes around town as a networking tool. Find out how your representation is developing relationships and how you can both work together to leverage those.
Being Proactive: I don’t have to tell you how competitive this business is, but what does that mean for you? Well, it means that you need to be working harder than the next guy. And I assure you that the next guy is working pretty effing hard. Agents and managers want to see that you will continue to work your ass off in furthering your own career, even with representation. It’s not enough to just get an agent then sit by your phone and wait for a call (which sounds really boring, anyway). Demonstrate that you’re out there meeting people, taking class, producing your own material, doing whatever it takes to keep your career moving forward. Give your agent ammunition to shoot you auditions! Okay, that was the worst analogy I’ve ever made, but you get the point.
What She’s Looking For
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s extremely important to research and understand the individuals you’re targeting (be they casting directors, agents, whomever). Tracy runs a very boutique agency, and perhaps more than other agencies is interested in comedic actors. She views the ability to be funny as a gift not to be taken lightly. Even dramas often require a sense of comedic timing (think Dexter), and more and more improvisation skills are an audition requirement. Furthermore, Tracy commented on the increasing number of ½ hour sitcoms that came out this year, noting that this is likely a trend that will continue over the next couple years.
In addition, like many of the agents I’ve heard from, Tracy is looking for emerging talent and culturally diverse actors. Agents are often interested in actors who have a good acting background—Second City Chicago, extensive theatre experience, and the like—who are also still young enough to be molded. There also seems to be an increasing demand for more ethnically diverse casts on TV.
As with most agents, Tracy also wants actors to at least be eligible for SAG. (For more information on SAG and how to join check out this post.)
Most agents and managers have their own unique way of conducting a meeting with an actor. Tracy requires 2 scenes from a current TV show or feature film (preferably 1 comedy and 1 drama), which you will read with her assistant. Beyond that, she might require a couple cold reads, and if she’s still not sure about you she’ll call your acting teacher (you are taking classes, right?). Which, by the way, is another reason not to lie on your resume. Talk about an awkward phone call…
Whatever a specific agent requires, I’ve found it wise to always have a comedic and dramatic scene that I have rehearsed and memorized ready to go at any given time. While monologues are a lot less required in Los Angeles, I think it also prudent to have a comedic and dramatic monologue in your back pocket at all times. (And no, I don’t mean literally have them in your back pocket, I mean have them memorized and polished silly.)
The opinions on managers in this town varies greatly, but Tracy’s basic point was that the more people you can get on your team, the better. Obviously you want these people to be good and work with you to further your career, but so long as that’s the case the more the merrier!
(Side note: managers generally charge 10 – 15%. Agents by law can only charge 10%.)
Actor Websites and IMDb
Tracy noted that an actor’s website can certainly be helpful, especially if there is information that she could point a casting director to in order to help sell you. However, she said that IMDb is the most important resource for actors to have updated, as a casting director will immediately pull up your profile when getting pitched.
As with so many others, Tracy demonstrated the importance of loving what you do. The passion and enthusiasm that comes with that is utterly infectious. Tracy is clearly head over heels in love with what she’s doing. Are you?
“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It’s never of any use to oneself.” ~Oscar Wilde
I often find myself drowning in a sea of actor “advice,” with very little good information rising to the top. As I continue to speak with actors around Los Angeles, I find this to be a common theme. There are a million coaches, teachers, classes, books, websites, and the like which proffer advice on how to “make it,” how long your reel should be, what colors you should wear to an audition, and how to say your name.
Unfortunately, I think there is very little great information out there for actors, and even less information on what you should actually DO. With that said, there are some wonderful nuggets of information out there, they just take some digging sometimes. Here are some thoughts on how to sift through all the noise.
Check Your Sources
Whether you’re getting advice on your headshots, your reel, or your website, whomever is giving you the advice has their own set of experience and world outlook that is going to shade their advice a certain way. Is this person an actor, a casting director, some lady who was on 3 episodes of a series 17 years ago, or just some dude with a blog (wink wink nudge nudge)? Is that actor working? Does the CD cast TV? Feature films? Low-budget indies? Is this person trying to make money through their advice? Does this person normally give advice to amateurs or seasoned professionals?
Always Ask WHY
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is ask why the person is giving the advice they are. Finding out what experiences led to their outlook is absolutely crucial, and should very much help you determine how to interpret the advice to your situation.
Check the Advice
See for yourself. Take the advice someone gives you and see what happens. Does it get you more auditions? What are those auditions for? Has your callback ratio gone up? Are you getting more compliments on your reel? Learn by doing. Just because someone hasn’t seen success or isn’t an actor, doesn’t mean they have bad advice. There are sports coaches all over who couldn’t play the sport they coach to save their life. Doesn’t mean they can’t coach, but you should test the advice anyway.
At the end of the day, it’s your life and your career. You don’t owe anybody anything. The more experience you get, and the more advice you investigate, the better you’ll be at recognizing good advice when you hear it. If something jives with you…go for it. Trust. Yourself.
A philosophy that seems to work really well for me is to get absolutely as much advice as possible from as many people as possible. After a while you start to see trends and pick up on common themes. You see who gives what kind of advice, and more importantly why they give that advice. I find it wise to keep a critical eye of what you’re hearing, and when all is said and done…go with your gut. You’re a rock star. Keep on makin’ it happen.
Hopefully you’ve heard this phrase a lot, because it’s friggin’ true (and because Joe wrote about it a couple weeks ago). This really is a relationship business.
My acting coach has been around the biz for decades, and has had the fortune of watching countless people make it to the very top. I asked him what sets these people apart: “They do lunch,” he said.
I’ve been feeling a little concerned that a lot of my time is spent “doing lunch” or otherwise spending time kinda just hanging out with fellow industry people. Shouldn’t I be editing my reel right now? Maybe I should go finish that mailing? How many actors DOES it take to screw in a light bulb?
Thankfully, the Universe has a way of sending not-so-subtle hints when you’re on the right track. Today I booked three different projects I didn’t audition for, all because of relationships I had developed with fellow actors. Moreover, these relationships are not necessarily super close friends. They’re people I’ve met through friends of friends or worked with on other projects in a rather limited capacity.
Meet people. Stay in touch. Make a good impression. Be fun to be around. Get creative: use the lunch break of your day job to schedule meetings with industry-friends. The most important thing you do for your career today may very well include a spicy tuna crunch roll. Score.
P.S. I would not have been contacted for one of these projects had I not been Facebook friends with the person…be easy to contact!
I think about time a lot (and write about it here, here, and here). I wonder if I’m spending my time in the right places. If I’m using it in ways that will help me achieve my goals. If I’m taking enough of it for myself. I also wonder how other actors are spending their time. How much of their day is devoted to furthering their career?
From the actor standpoint, I think it’s important to simply look at how much time you spend on your acting career per week. How does that compare with where you spend the rest of your time? What does that say about your priority to your acting career? What does that mean in terms of having realistic expectations of results?
My former roommate (and all around bad ass) recently sent me an email noting that what we actually spend our time on is a better reflection of our priorities than what we say they are. Basically, we make time for the things we actually care about…or at least the things we choose to prioritize. He then asked me what my priorities (read: what I spend my time on) says about me, and if that matches with the person I want to be. Some time-related conclusions:
- I prefer to write blog posts at 2:37 am then to sleep
- I spent between 30 and 45 hours on acting-related endeavours (including class, watching TV for research, actor-specific networking, and the like) per week
- This is a relationship-business, and it takes a lot of time to develop relationships
- Sometimes I need to listen to my own advice
- The little daily things over the course of 10 years add up to monumental change, even if you don’t notice it along the way
- I always make time for friends in need. Always.
- I am fortunate enough to have a life and schedule that afford me tremendous amounts of “personal time”
- Large amounts of this personal time are spent reading and researching
- My first year in L.A. has been spent primarily learning. Learning the business, learning how to be a better actor, learning where the heck my apartment is (our complex is confusing, ok. Don’t judge me).
- In effect, I consider all of this learning a sort of working actor’s grad school (which I think should be the new motto of The Actors’ Network)
- I’m getting better about scheduling my own time
- Attempting to further multiple careers successfully requires sacrificing things like sleep, always remembering to eat, and shaving both sides of my face.
- It’s extremely hard to get a sense of how long things take in this industry
- I spend a lot of time “waking up.” This is perhaps related to the fact that I don’t get quite enough sleep. It is also most assuredly related to the fact that morning suck ass.
How are you spending your time? What does that mean? More importantly as my buddy said, do your calendar-priorities match your heart-priorities? Are you living in a way that your goals will be manifested?
Brief Grad School Auditions UPDATE:
Audition 1 of the Grad School experience is complete. Two days ago, I took the Metro North Train to New Haven and performed my heart out for the Associate Department Chair at the Yale School of Drama. It was an amazing experience, if anything, riding a train above ground for the first time in many months. Feeling the sensation of sun on my face as I stared out at the scenery passing by and contemplated my monologues. My goal for all of these auditions is of course to get into the programs but, moreso, it is primarily to experience the grad-school-audition process (and figure out if it is where I want to be). My immediate goal for the entire day was not to cry or to make people laugh or to even get a callback: my goal was to be present. (Well, and not get lost on the train).
A well respected professor at CU Boulder once told me that Grad Schools are not looking for the perfect actors or the perfect auditioners, they are looking for someone with that special something in his or her energy, in his or her eyes. I interpret this as presence. I am present to learn, to perform, to work with you, to grow, and to take on the enormous task of joining a Masters program. Those were the thoughts in my mind when I walked into the very friendly room and inhaled before becoming Mayella Violet Ewell and Luciana (and again, as Hamlet, when they asked for my third piece).
I had prepared two pieces initially and then, on the train ride there, realized that my classical piece was not, in fact, in verse in the original folio versions, so I had to scrap that at the last minute and thank my BFA program for preparing me with at least 5 other classical monologues in my back pocket. Let is slide off. There are some problems, fiascos, moments where you can freak out and let them change your entire perspective on the day or you can breath in (let), breath out (go), and move on. Go with it. I chose the latter and everything went very smoothly.
New Haven is beautiful, by the way. It looks like Lodo in Denver and Boulder, CO had a genius love child and put it next to the sea. It is a place where I would love to live and never leave. I have realized from this tiny day trip that New York City is perhaps not my dream destination. I can stay here and, if I have to, I will stay here, but there are so many other places in this world where I can be happy. In addition (side note), I am planning a trip to India in the spring/summer to learn more about the world, myself, yoga/meditation (in Rishikesh), and get out of this city. New York is incredible but its hard to breath here. And for a girl who already has some respiratory problems, perhaps its not the best match.
I digress: the audition was wonderful! I was myself, I was present, and I feel incredible about the pieces that I presented. I dont think that they were the best contrast, I dont know if they were the most interesting pairings but I did them better than well and I have nothing to regret. There isnt a lot here that I can write about in terms of how to audition for grad schools or what to do right or wrong for your personal pursuits. All I can tell you is this:
They want to accept you. They want you to succeed. If you know this, if you believe this, then you WILL succeed. I succeeded. Unfortunately, they called back ONE PERSON from the entire day. They posted the “callback” list and we all, my entire group, rush to the callboard to read: ONE NAME. The Name. It was a dude, by the way. Perhaps I’d feel a bit more upset if it was one person and she was female. But he wasnt. The Name fell back behind the group (I think in a bit of terror for his life to be honest) and we all packed up our things to go our seperate ways. Congrats to him! Well done, sir. However, this, my friends, leads me back to the truth of this industry. Its very competitive and it doesnt make sense a lot of the time. There are no explanations for reasons why you weren’t selected for a role, an opportunity, or a job. But I will say this: from my half of the exchange, there was no reason why I wasnt called back. It was one of the schools reasons – perhaps I wasnt right for that year, perhaps they have enough girls, perhaps they think I am too young, or too precocious, or too brunette. These are things that I am. And these are things that will not change.
So, to you, Yale: next year awaits us both. If at first you dont succeed, try, try again!
I will admit that I am more than a bit frustrated with the world and the state of the industry right now as I feel that I am finally ready for the world… and now it doesnt seem ready for me. Since the New Year and my Bikram challenge, my recent focus, groundedness, and drive have allowed me to consistently put my best foot forward and feel 100% positive about my work (and the casting directors agree and give me incredible feedback and callbacks) and yet… still no bookings or schools. “They” say that opportunities are missed so that other opportunities can arise but I wonder what those will be since nothing seems to be working out. I am not giving up, of course. Two more schools/trials to go and we will see how NTC and Juilliard feel about me. All I know is that I feel great about me. I am just waiting, patiently, until they are ready to accept that I ain’t going nowhere.
…I’m moving in right next to Johns Hopkins, and I’m gonna do “the doctor thing.” I’ve always dreamt of being a brain surgeon and it’s time for me to make my dream a reality. You always told me I could be anything I wanted. I’ve graduated high school and I’m giving it a year. If I’m not operating on brains by then I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Wish me luck!
Think about someone saying that. I mean, actually saying that. How many milliseconds would you give them before you started laughing in their face at how utterly insane they sounded? Maybe like 2? The above statement is just as insane as moving to L.A. and giving yourself a year to get your own sitcom, or whatever the (unrealistic) goal is.
Part of the reason why the doctor scenario is so obviously ridiculous, is because there are all kinds barriers to entry a doctor must complete successfully in order to move on to the next level as it were. Like pass organic chemistry or go to med school.What’s different in the acting realm, is that the are, in a sense, zero barriers to entry. If you show up in L.A. with a picture you took of yourself on your iPhone, you can call yourself an actor. You can be in the same classes, at the same parties, and even sitting next to the top people in our field. No special degree or gpa needed. This creates the illusion that there isn’t much difference between the background actor in a scene, and Jeremy Piven sitting at the table next to them (for those keeping score at home, the difference is decades of experience, hard work, and relationship-building).
With very few exceptions, it takes doctors years to finally become an actual doctor, much less a leader in their field. Why would acting be any different? Is it possible to only be in L.A. for a couple months during pilot season and get your own show? I don’t know, perhaps. But it’s incredibly unrealistic.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.