It’s hard. You’ve heard the statistics on working vs. non working actors. You are aware of the changing levels of union vs. non union commercial jobs. And if you aren’t aware, I’m not going to be the one to break the news. I’ll leave you to your own research and let’s just agree that it’s hard. But the one thing that I find most heartbreaking is when actors, who are already in a challenging profession, continually shoot themselves in the foot. I have to wonder if they know they are doing it. You have to control what you can control.
Commercial actors should never be their own worst enemy.
Can we all just pledge to stop the self sabotage? You know this is a thing, right?
Show up. If I could only choose one, the one thing I would eliminate from the actor’s list of (self sabotage) options is to decline/no show an audition. You have to go to the audition to book the job. (Don’t get me on a technicality and talk to me about self tapes, you get it. DO the audition.) Other reasons to show up to the audition, every audition, is to make the casting office a fan of your work, to get called in again, to book a future job. You must attend the audition to further your career. Basically, you can’t get anywhere as an actor if you don’t show up. It’s your job on the most basic level. Talk to your agent and make sure they know the minimum dollar amount you are willing to work for and any moral issues you may have with a brand. Be relentless about booking out. Knowing they won’t submit you on any jobs you won’t do/aren’t available for… go to every audition you are given. Figure it out. Get it in your head that missing an audition is the biggest and worst offense against yourself possible. You are your own worst enemy when you don’t show up.
Important note: over the last couple of weeks I’ve had several occasions where I’ve known in my bones that the talent who cancelled, was a no show, or arrived after the session was closed would have booked the job had they shown up. I know who booked the job, and I know they were a similar type, but better… if only they would have walked into the room.
Participate. I recently had a conversation with an actor that declared that his “work was done” after signing with a new (quite good) commercial agent. He was excited to focus on other artistic interests as his commercial career would now be taken care of. Huh? What? Do actors really think this? Yes, obviously. And I know he’s not the only one. You have to participate in your own commercial career, even after acquiring great representation. Especially after acquiring great representation. That’s the time to kick it into high gear! Soooo long gone are the days of simply waiting for the phone to ring. Now more than ever you are in a partnership with your agent. You are in charge of identifying your commercial types, getting the perfect wardrobe for your headshots and your auditions, studying commercials, taking commercial, improv and comedy classes, establishing and nurturing industry relationships, making sure your resume is clever and accurate, video clips, skill clips/photos, connecting with industry on social media… catch my drift? There is a lot on your plate after signing the contract with your agent. Coasting is self sabotage.
Follow Directions… of the people you’ve put your faith in (mentors, agents, industry professionals). When your agent asks you to take new headshots, do it. If you are asked to revamp your resume, get on it. Whether the request is to get into class, get a better “mom shot”, update your sizes or get some commercial clips together to post, for the love of Pete, do it! Trust the people you’ve placed on your team that, frankly, know more than you do. Trust the requests are to benefit everyone involved. The examples above require money, that’s not lost on me. Get it in your head that t
here is a cost of doing business and you will consistently be asked to invest. Other requests will be made of you as well… ability to accommodate same day auditions, length of time to confirm your audition appointments, no booking out during busy times in the industry, being prepared (memorized copy) for your audition. Do what you are asked to do by people who are in the know. Anything short of complying with your mentors looks suspiciously like intent to fail.
Make it happen. That speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Be honest with yourself. Everyone has some level of self sabotage in their life. I do. You do. The more honest you can be with yourself about the level you participate in, the better. You can’t change the bad habits don’t realize or acknowledge you are doing. Identify the areas that you are guilty of being your own worst enemy and fix it. Now.