The entertainment industry is a tough racket. I may not be Marlon Brando, but I’ve picked up a few good pieces of wisdom over the years. Here are some tips that I hope make this racket a little less tough for you.
Follow the footsteps of the greats
I don’t mean you should mimic their every idiosyncrasy and emulate their every career move, but legendary actors are legendary for a reason. That’s as true as it is for silent film trailblazers like Conrad Veidt as it is for contemporary performers like Daniel Day-Lewis. Never assume that you can’t learn from the past just as well as you can from the present.
Trends and techniques may fall in and out of fashion, but the essence of acting has always been the same. Whether you view acting as an emotional art form or just really advanced lying, it’s all about transformation. It’s about putting on the skin of an entirely new person and making people believe that’s who you are. That was true at the end of the 19th century. And it will still be true at the end of the 99th.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
That means occasionally throwing out the rulebook and ignoring expert advice. And, yes, that includes all of my advice, too. There is no scientific formula that reliably creates great performances. If that were true, there would only ever be great performances and we’d all have a shelf full of Oscars in our homes. Be open-minded. Be willing to listen and learn. But don’t follow every last tip to the letter 100% of the time.
If you have an idea for your performance you think is good or interesting, chances are someone else will think that, too. So give it a try. It won’t always work out, but sometimes it will. And when it does it pays off big time. The only way you’re going to get any big wins is by risking a few losses.
Hollywood isn’t the only option
There’s more than one measure of success. Figure out what yours is and pursue that instead of working towards what you think your goal is “supposed” to be. Not everyone wants or needs to be a big movie star. Many of us actors just act because we like it. Being able to make a steady living doing something we enjoy is success enough.
If that sounds like you, think twice before assuming you have to relocate to California or New York to pursue an acting career. From live theater to independent films to local commercials, actors can find work in small towns and big cities alike. We live in the age of Google, where all it takes sometimes is a casting director looking up “actor for hire near me,” so put yourself out there, wherever “there” might be.
Don’t take anything personally
Just because you didn’t land a role doesn’t mean you’re not a talented actor. There are lots of factors that go into casting decisions other than acting ability; sad but true. And just because you didn’t nail an audition doesn’t mean you’re a failure. If you think this all sounds like idealistic, wishy-washy platitudes, think again. On the contrary, I can tell you that success is often a matter of cold, hard statistics.Say you’ve come to the conclusion that the chance of you finding that breakout role you’ve been looking for is 1 in 10,000. Well then you better get searching, practicing, and auditioning. Because 9,999 is a big number, but it is still just another number. And every time you pick yourself up and try again, that number gets a little smaller. Persistence pays off. Never waver.