“If only,” two words that can make you feel like a victim and keep you stuck in negativity the rest of your life. If only I was 3 inches taller, 30 pounds thinner, and could sing and dance like Beyonce! It goes on and on and on. When your happiness is reliant on the external instead of the internal you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Seeing everything through a negative lens robs you of joy, zaps your enthusiasm and leaves you feeling as if something is always missing or not quite right.
You’ve done all the things you can to have command and control over your career. You are a solid actor, you have a well-developed resume, you are comfortable auditioning and you know how to be in a room. (see blog What Hamilton and Commercials Have In Common). Even after doing all you can do to take control, there is one element you have no control over that can work for or against you. That is the element of luck.
After you do everything to create your own luck, let’s look at where this mystical area comes into play. Bringing these areas to light can eliminate the stress of fighting against something you really have no control over.
GO FOR IT! IF YOU DON’T SOMEBODY ELSE WILL
Your fear can be the answer to why you are here.
What is it that makes one person go for it and another just talk about it?
Honestly, I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. When I go for it I do it full force, and when I talk about it, well, I tend to do that full force too! After a while, I get tired of hearing myself talk about it and I am sure all the people who have had to listen to me are just as exhausted as I am!
I’ll admit, I’m a little excited and a little scared. I’m attempting to tackle a topic that doesn’t have a clear answer: How an actor finds commercial representation. I’ve had many actors ask and my answer is always something close to shrugging my shoulders. But that’s a cop out. There are MANY ways an actor can obtain a commercial agent and I know of plenty of them. The painful part of the process is no one can say which one or which ONES will work for you. There are variables that are in your control and out of your control at any given time. In the end, you just need to try things and work at it. But making informed decisions is a good thing, and that’s where I (hopefully) come in with some help.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I very clearly remember having it. I was talking with an actor who has been at it for quite some time. He isn’t famous but has been hired plenty of (MANY) times over the years—you know, where lots of actors find themselves, somewhere in that grey, middle area of the success arena. He told me, “When I go to a theatrical audition, I know I can book it. When I go to a commercial audition, I never think I will.”
Commercial actors should never give up on commercials without realizing it.
For the past 3+ months, I’ve been enjoying my first time back among the ranks of the fully-employed in 25 years. And I’m not kidding when I say “enjoy”—far from finding the 9-to-5 (or in my case, 8-to-4) burdensome, I’ve found it quite freeing, and in ways I wasn’t really expecting.
Since many, if not most, actors need some kind of day job to survive, I thought it might be worth enumerating what I’m learning from my new gig, how it’s shaping the rest of my life (including my creative outlook—and output!), and other reasons why that thing you may be regarding as a set of shackles could be the very thing that frees you.
Our May seminar speaker was the fantastic Michael Sanford. Michael and his wonderful team have worked with many top commercial, television, and film directors, as well as production companies and advertising agencies. Several of these clients have been nominated or have won the Oscar, Emmy, DGA, and various other awards while collaborating with Sanford Casting. In 2006, Michael broadened the company’s vision to include casting projects in the Spanish Language market. In 2010, he launched a feature-length and short film division whose recent credits include A Pebble of Love, A Reason, California Solo, The Artist, I Melt with You, Mosquita y Mari, The Sleepy Man, and Dustland. He shared the 2012 CSA Artios Award with his mentor and fellow casting director Heidi Levitt for their collaboration on The Artist. Additionally, Michael received the 2013 Seymour Heller Award for Commercial Casting Director of the year, which is given by the Talent Managers Association. He is also currently serving on the Diversity Committee with the Casting Society of America.
Here are just a few tips that came out of the seminar.
Nobody gets away with never being disappointed, especially actors. You have to deal with disappointing others and, even more harrowing, disappointing yourself. Fighting this fact rather than getting comfortable with it will only bring more torment to an already difficult situation. Hearing a lot of no’s before you get to a yes is the likely path of an actor. In fact, if you talk to anyone who is at the top of their game, most of them will tell you it wasn’t an easy ride getting there. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone, in fact, you are in very good company.
If you want to win an award, write your own role!
Don’t wait for something to happen for you, make something happen for you.
Actors, how many of you are waiting around for that perfect role or, for that matter, that one audition that will give you the role of a lifetime?
WHAT IF instead of waiting for something to happen to you, you make something happen for you? Write your own role, win an award, and create your own destiny.
My mom has always said, “You become who you hang around.” Such true words! Think about the influence our friends or acquaintances have on us; hey lift us up to their level . . . or drag our asses down. Misery loves company, but not our company! We’ve got goals to accomplish and real friends by our side to help us obtain them.
There’s been a lot of insightful sayings in my family, so let’s pretend you’re at my Sunday dinner. Another serving of veggies for you? Okay, kidding, couldn’t help myself. Grandpa would look dead in your eyes, “You choose your friends, you choose your future! Now what’s it going to be?” My cousins and I would laugh as kids, but man, this makes so much sense. Surrounding yourself with friends who have a positive outlook, set goals, work out of their comfort zone, and always strive for greatness will have a huge impact on all those areas of your life too!