You can’t book a job you don’t audition for. Ok, maybe you can tell me a story of a direct booking from a director/production company you’ve worked with before, or even of a time you were booked from your headshot/resume/reel. It happens, sure, but not very often. You certainly don’t want to wait for those odds to kick in. I think you know what I mean. You have be around and available to book work. This remains true, even with the rise of self tape requests.

Commercial actors should never take a vacation when it’s busy in the industry.

As an actor, you own your own business. That sounds snazzy and it’s definitely a true statement, but running your own business isn’t all sunshine and roses. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved in running your own successful business. Investing time and money is a requirement. Thankfully today I’ll skip the financial sacrifices and head straight to your TIME.

The idea for this particular column came from a twitter post from an agent I know. She represents actors both theatrically and commercially. She was speaking theatrically here…

This was posted early August:

Dear actors: Getting ready for “the season”? It’s almost half over. Tons of shows already in the can. Are you in class or still on vacay? Get hoppin. It’s happening RIGHT NOW.

Did your summer vacation sabotage your theatrical career? Your commercial career?

I don’t want to say you can never leave town. Of course emergencies come up that must be tended to. You can’t avoid those. But you do have full control over when and for how long you get out of town for fun.

I know commercials. I know people who know theatrical. Here’s the one sentence, as the owner of your own business, you need to know when considering time off. If you are going to leave town on holiday, the best time (commercially AND theatrically) to get out of town is: A couple days before Christmas to Jan 1, and sometime from May to Mid June. That’s it. That’s what you get. If you are committed to your business and book a trip outside of those times, you have to be able to afford AND be willing to change your ticket if there is a need.

When asking industry veterans about the subject, it’s clear the “vacation at inappropriate times” subject is a sore subject.

Other things to think about:

Book out. As far in advance as possible. If you are taking a month long trip to Europe (you should consider strongly talking to your agent about it beforehand) you shouldn’t wait until the day before to book out. You aren’t fooling anyone into thinking it was a last minute impulse vacation purchase. If you are afraid to tell your agent you are taking a vacation, maybe you should consider why that is.

Annnnnnnnd… don’t say you can’t afford new headshots, a demo reel, classes or coaching when you are leaving town on multiple vacations. The word I got for that was “galling”. Gulp.

Remember when you aren’t “working” you aren’t necessarily free to travel. There’s a whole heck of a lot of training, networking, and relationship building you should be doing full time.

I honestly think it’s just a switch in thinking. Forget spring break, summer vacation and holidays. Instead, think Christmas to New Years and May-Mid June. Those are the golden get-out-of-town times with the least negative impact on your business and your business relationships. And don’t forget those long weekend trip options. They can be really rewarding and tend to be easier to hustle back to town if/when you are needed.

Whether it feels like it or not, being an actor is a full time job. It’s a career. It’s your business. If you are a part-time actor, you are bound to have part-time level success. No one is it this business for that. Take time for yourself at the right time.

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Laurie Records (Casting Director, CCDA) has been working in the commercial realm since 2004. In 2009, Laurie launched her own company. While she casts all types of commercials, she has broadened her horizons to include casting web content for network television, television hosts, voiceover, industrials, and dabbles in casting features and short films. Recent commercial jobs include: Head & Shoulders, Mercedes, and KMART. She also cast the new Movie Surfers for seasons 16/17, as well as online content for The Muppets.