The Consequences of Being an Actor
Don’t sweat it. There are NO consequences in our industry.
There are plenty of life decisions that can have a consequence at work, with friends or even immediate family.
I bring this matter to actors who are first starting out that have survival jobs and know that if they’re late to said job or do something outside of company policy, often quickly a supervisor or peer informs them they might get a pass the first time, but a second time, there’ll be a consequence for that.
Bottom line: They learn there are consequences to doing or not doing certain things.
How does this apply to the business of acting?
Well it’s difficult for actors to truly experience consequences if they (or we) are not daily/weekly/monthly pursuing the business.
What Actor "Actions" Create Consequences?
Let’s start in the audition room.
What you do and/or say as an actor can have both positive and negative consequences — and I know this personally from my early years in Los Angeles.
Since actors are on one side of the camera and everybody else is on the other, the people “over there” — representatives, executive producers, writers, casting, etc., when you’re not a star, are especially tuned to what you do or say.
For example, when they don’t inherently need you as a talent, chances are they won’t say anything. Not a thing. They’re going to see what you did or what you said and they’re going to render a judgment — which is kind of human and normal, right?
And then what’s going to happen — and this is the important part — there exists the possibility they might never consider you again.
Why? Hard to say often. It’s just something you have that they don’t want. It can be as simple as just being likable and the decision-makers don’t want to have you around.
How Do We Manage Our Actions?
Acting is a solo profession. We are our own CEO. Your representatives are your representatives. They’re not you.
I have said it on other posts, but once you take being an actor so seriously that your actions loudly shout to anyone watching you that this is serious for you, you will be fully engaged in managing your actor life and gracefully managing the consequences there from.
How Can I Better Manage The Results Of My Career?
First, let’s not talk about the craft of this profession. That will be the next blog. I’ll comment on acting classes since they are important — but it’s not what I’m discussing here.
Sadly, far more people treat this profession like a hobby than they would like to admit. In fact, we aren’t really required to do anything. Anybody can just wake up on a random Tuesday and say… “I’m an actor.”
You don’t have to go to class to say that. You don’t have to actually have work to say that.
In fact, wherever you may be right now, you can probably just pay some money to upload your photo on a talent site in your city and you’re now an actor.
Now, does that really make you a professional actor? It does not.
Second, be mindful you could be destroying your career with every audition you take because your skill set is not high enough yet to get them thinking highly of you in terms of your talent.
Do you know what casting offices won’t do? Well, typically they’re not going to give feedback. Now in a smaller market like Atlanta or Nashville, it’s possible you can get your representative to get you feedback.
But in a larger town like Los Angeles, it’s not likely someone ever calls or emails you with career-defining guidance.
So you don’t ever even really know what consequential results you created by your actions.
This is tough because we’re talking about human behavior. So when you don’t have something to lose and you’re not aware of how you’re doing or progressing, then how do you know where you stand as an actor inside this professional community?
Well, let’s look at the next question.
What Then Do I Really Need To Consider?
So, how do we as actors get evaluated???
Well, many years ago, you could pay to go do what are called workshops. These workshops would be in front of a casting representative.
Would they give you the real feedback on what they thought of your work if it was not something that they felt was up to what I call contemporary professional standards???
If they didn’t, then the consequence for you was money and time and the quiet conclusion they may never call you in. Is it fair? No. Should there be an expectation they will at least give you some direction?
Here’s the reality.
AT ALL TIMES… You need to focus on the “business of show business.”
Yes, there’s the show part — your skill in the audition room for which you may or may not get feedback, but then there’s the business part.
This is where you have to be the master of your own destiny.
You have to create a GIANT, ALL-CONSUMING consequence for yourself that nobody is going to tell you one day that you cannot be an actor!!
This is your business and you’re going to treat it as such. You’re not waiting for the call, the pat on the back, the peer to peer approbation.
You’re just you.
With work to do..
You have to make tasks and lists. You need to set aside time for yourself and start to plan out short and long term plans. You have to create your own consequences through goal-setting and self-discipline.
Turn your focus to short/medium/long-range career goals.
You must define — or re-define — what your acting career pursuit is!
It is NOT just a headshot and being in acting class.
That’s not enough. You are now raising the bar and creating consequences for your career that will benefit you greatly.
Pursuing an acting career is making sure that on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, you are making a consistent effort to put yourself in front of the professional acting community without worry and full of confidence!
Create a game plan, a weekly strategy, so that and if you’re not accomplishing it, then you’ve got to give yourself some kind of consequence for that.
For me, I have to do better because, as we all know, someone, somewhere who has not seen me, will hand me sides and say… “Let’s see what you got!”
AND WE NEED TO BE READY!!
This is THE danger in the entertainment profession.
Forget actors for a moment.
Can you call yourself a dancer and then not dance? IF someone asks you to dance and you pull a hamstring in two seconds, are you a professional dancer? If you say you’re a writer then at some point someone’s going to ask let me see what you wrote.
But as actors, sometimes the only time someone asks us to “act” is at an audition. Otherwise, many of us will not take to the streets and perform for passers-by.
So create consequences in your life if you are not moving forward. Be harder on yourself than any casting office, producer or director.
YOU ARE THE CEO and the master of your own destiny. Show the world what you got!