Many, if not all, actors have a story about when or how they decided to dive into acting. I’d expect that every actor can easily name their dreams and goals for their career. It might be star in a film with so-and-so celebrity, win this-or-that award, or be a lead in a blockbuster feature or series regular on a network show. Usually, and understandably so, a commercial goal doesn’t make the big list. People don’t typically decide to pursue acting as a career to book commercials, but most will agree it makes a great day job. A really great day job. When pressed, the commercial goals may have something to do with national network commercials, LOTS of national network commercials, or to be the next FLO or “Most Interesting Man in the Universe.” I love the big goals. You certainly don’t want to be caught aiming too low. But there’s a danger in having the big daddy goals without the incremental ones that will get you there.
Commercial actors should never neglect to set the small goals.
I’d love to simply list what your small goals should be. You could simply adopt them and our work here would be done. But, as we know all too well, there is no one path to commercial success and therefore, no set group of goals.
Happy New Year! Yes, it’s also just the next day in the week, but there’s something about 1/1/whatever that begs for a fresh start, a huge launch, an audacious goal. The problem is choosing which thing on a long list to sink your teeth into first.
If this is your conundrum (as it has so oft been mine own), allow me to humbly suggest “the frog”—that is, the nastiest, gnarliest item on your to-do-for-a-better-“me” list.
Go On: Dig In!
The phrase “Eat That Frog!” came to me via motivational self-help speaker/author Brian Tracy and his terrific book of the same name. (He lifted the phrase from Mark Twain, who originally put it like this: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”) In his preface, Tracy calls your frog “the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment,” and he goes on to exhort you to get in the habit of tackling that biggest-bang action item first every day, before doing anything else.
This logic is easily recognizable as the advice to address the nasty before indulging in the tasty, e.g. to exercise in the morning rather than putting it off until evening (when it will never, ever happen, especially in winter), or to dig into your creative work upon rising, rather than rolling over and checking email or social media. Not only do you have the advantage of getting it over with early (especially during a reboot, when it can seem like an onerous task), but you often get a bonus rush of righteous accomplishment that can push you through the rest of your day.
Happy New Year.
There are certain things I don’t write about because I think the information is too elementary, but throughout the year some recurring mistakes jolted me into thinking I should relay this information to you, so I decided to start out the year more cut-and-dry, relaying seven steps that can make a positive difference in your acting career.
1. Include a photo and resume in your e-mail communications.
When you are connecting with someone, whether it be a thank you, a question, or any kind of communication, include a photo, resume, or a link to your website. The most seamless way to do this is to have a website and include the link to your website after your name.
A casting director is only human and does not always remember exactly who you are. It can take up three times to remember.
2. Make your handwriting legible in your written communications.
I appreciate the time, thought, and business organizational skills it takes to write a thank you card. Many times I receive these cards and I cannot understand the talent’s signature. I don’t know who the heck I got the thank you from. Not a good situation.
Think about what you’re thinking in 2017.
2016 was rilled with an unusual amount of loss and change. We lost many deeply loved cultural greats and our political landscape changed dramatically. People may have mixed feelings about the New Year. On one hand, you may be happy that 2016 is over, but on the other, apprehensive about 2017 and what it will bring. Often, fear is handled by getting in the “doing” mode. For example, focusing on making lists or setting goals in order to feel more in control. But before you sharpen your pencil, ponder this thought: Goals are about the future, and your life happens in the here and now. A wise person once said, “When you’ve got one foot in the future and one in the past, you’re pissin’ on the present.”
It’s wonderful to take the time to set the course of your life, but while focusing on your future, be sure not to cheat yourself out of all the wonderful moments happening right now. The quality of your life will be reliant upon how well you can balance your focus between the two—tomorrow and today. When your mind wanders more towards the future than the present, you can unconsciously set yourself up for a lot of anxiety and disappointment over things that haven’t even happened yet. Remember, thoughts can be helpful or harmful, so start to become aware of what you’re putting in your head. If your mind is continuously like a checklist that must get finished, you’re leaning too much in the fast-forward mode and not living in the present moment. When operating on that level, you’re only half-living, unable to take in what is happening right before you. It’s like coming upon a tree of singing birds with earplugs. You’re going to miss out. Listening to songbirds will have a positive effect on your heart and soul, while crossing tasks off a list…meh.
Remember last month we finished the blog on a cliffhanger? “Do actors feel what the character is feeling, whilst onstage in front of an audience?”
In psychology, emotion is often defined as a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behavior. Many professional actors I work with admit that this never happens to them whilst performing. Emotional things do happen, yes, but not emotional identification with character. At any rate, not in performance. It may occur briefly as part of the rehearsal process, however, not onstage in front of an audience.
This raises a number of vital questions doesn’t it?
Let’s have a look at the first question from my last blog.
Why is the actor in performance not experiencing inner emotional alignments with the character being portrayed?
In a bit of luck, I had lunch with my friend, well known London-based Australian actress Frances O’Connor (The Missing, Mr Selfridge, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Conjuring 2), who is currently in Sydney filming the groundbreaking ABC series, Cleverman, created by Ryan Griffen, and we got the chance to discuss this very topic.
Photograph courtesy of Chima Luke Okifor
“Every day is new and unexpected. You walk in having blind faith, determination, and passion for a product you know you can deliver on, but at the same time trying to convince everyone else you can too!” – Adi Alfa
This month, British actress Adi Alfa brings us her 5 Top Tops to success— a journey which has seen her overcome personal hardships and limited opportunities to become a multi award-winning actress, listed as one of 2016’s Most Influential Creatives. This, however, is just the beginning for Adi, who has not only founded her own production company, BOSSS Media, this year, but continues to write and produce her own comedy, drama, and action work as well as star in two upcoming feature films (to be announced).
Her secret? Don’t doubt, do!
“What excites me as a writer and actress is the ability to create the world I choose, and the people and beings I desire. Creative freedom is such a wonderful thing!”read more
Prudence Holloway – Actor, Singer, Voice Teacher.
This month the worst thing happened to me: I lost my voice. On set. This has never happened to me. I am diligent about health and have a killer immune system – if I do say so myself. The last eight weeks have been a very busy time and my tenacity weakened. My health became a second priority as I rushed from A to B and sleep was put aside in order to find more hours in a day. I also travelled from summer to winter for five days and my body just shut down. I wasn’t gonna stop, so it stopped for me! My voice, unfortunately, was the main casualty.
Luckily, I had the wonderful Prudence Holloway on set with me. Singer, actor, and voice teacher, Pru helped me manage my vocal performance with little strain and maximum result. I thought I would know what to do in a situation like this, but my sick, spluttery, foggy brain was so clouded I couldn’t think of anything.
It got me thinking – imagine if I didn’t have Pru on set with me! I’m sure I would have pulled it together somehow, but wouldn’t a go-to list of what to do when such a disaster strikes be awesome to have on hand?
So that is what I am giving you this month!
2017 is nearly upon us, folks – in fact, by the time you read this, you’ll have just a couple of weeks left, until you are waving 2016 goodbye, and coming up with another New Year’s Resolution, that you’re probably going to break by mid-January. Statistically, most people break their New Year’s Resolution by January 17th. The reason behind this is pretty simple. 99% of people DO NOT know how to goal-set properly! If you’ve been saying, “THIS is going to be my year . . .” for the last decade or more – and that year has yet to actually be your year – this blog post is especially for YOU!
I got into strategic goal-setting back in 2014, and was fortunate to be mentored by one of the world’s leading authorities on productivity and high-performance, Michael Hyatt. After working with Michael and setting strategic goals, 2014 became THAT year I’d been saying I was going to have for so many years before that. I began to book more jobs than ever in my acting and voiceover careers, I got into the best shape of my life, I launched two new online businesses, cultivated some incredible personal and professional relationships, and tripled my income – pretty phenomenal all round really.
Casting Networks International are very excited to be guest curators in the upcoming programme at the Actors Centre, the UK’s leading organisation which supports actors throughout their careers.
We will be bringing a range of workshops Q&A’s and events to the Actors Centre in their January – March 2017 programme. In addition, Equity and the Actors Centre will also be presenting a series of events and workshops to highlight, explore and celebrate the importance of greater diversity in the arts, as part of the Equity Play Fair season. Most notably they will be hosting a panel discussion on casting and diversity which Casting Networks International are delighted to be a part of.
We will be hosting a number of events in the programme open to Actors Centre members, including an informal question and answer session with casting director Manuel Puro (Moon, Northern Soul), a how to self-tape workshop, plus a commercial casting workshop where actors will receive live feedback.
The programme will be launched at an exclusive Actors Centres members networking evening at the Actors Centre from 6pm on Tuesday 3 January. So if you are a member make sure you come along!
If you are not a member of the Actors Centre and would like to find out more, you can check out their website: www.actorscentre.co.uk
See you there!
In the studio
Congratulations! You have booked your job! This normally happens on the strength of your demo, the popularity of your sound, and a recommendation from your agent. Nine times out of ten you won’t receive a script prior to the recording and that can make you feel like there is nothing you can do to prepare. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you are ready to go. On the way to the gig, you should pick up a newspaper and read aloud. I also use signposts to read from on my way into the studio and I practice using the accents I know I will be recording in. You could also do a voice warm up at home or in the car on the way in. If you are on the train this is more difficult but not impossible to do some breathing work and articulation work.