Sometimes it feels like you’re a thousand miles from the industry, like no one knows you and no one cares. No agent is calling, no casting director is noticing, no one is inviting you to work.
You’re doing everything you can to make it happen. You’re hustling, training, submitting. But you’re rewarded with silence. So your head starts to spin. It starts simply enough with, “Maybe it’s my headshots” or “Maybe I need to re-edit my reel” or “Maybe I need to do more casting director workshops.” And then...“Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m not talented.”
The sink-hole of doubt deepens, eating an ever-widening swathe of your confidence and joy as you desperately try to think through a problem that can’t be thought through.
No matter where you are in your career, there’s only one way out of this hole, one door that leads to an actor feeling whole and finding success. That answer? The Work.
The craft of acting is what ignited your passion in the first place. The work propelled you across the country or the world to give your life to acting and make it your career. The work is what gets you booked. It is your product. It’s what attracts agents, managers, casting directors, etc. The work is it.
But as you approach the industry, connection turns to competition. You focus on the industry instead of the art. But the industry responds to your art so it must be your focus. You, the thinker, resist the work and say there must be another way. You, the artist, knows differently.
Before you look for another new agent or spend another $1,000 on headshots, you must know three things:
1. Your “why.”
“Should I keep pursuing this or should I give up?” is the wrong question to ask. Before asking if you should do this, ask yourself, “Why do I act?” At every turn in your acting career you need to come back to why you do it. The answer will be unique to you—a product of your desires and values. And it will be the fuel that fires whatever action you take thereafter. You must take your “why” with you to every audition, every industry meeting, every headshot session, every time you approach the work or the industry. It must guide you.
2. That your acting matters.
Long before there was an industry, there were storytellers who helped communities understand the world around them, helped them process their emotional lives, and made them feel whole. Artistic warriors have always risked their own feelings by navigating the rough emotional waters of life so that others may understand it. Millennia from now, after all the networks crumble and the industry is ancient history, actors will remain. Actors are necessary. You remind us of our humanity and we need that now more than ever.
3. Actors act.
You want to act, so act. Write, shoot, distribute, collaborate with other artists, create art. Don’t wait for the industry to tell you to act. Be your own industry. Success and fulfillment happen in the doing, so do. It’s never been easier to create and distribute art. You can’t choose to not act and then get pissed that you’re not acting. If you only want to act within the classic industrial model that requires an agent to work for you, a casting director to vouch for you, a director to invite you, and a studio and network executive to pay you then you want it easy. And success isn’t easy.
We get it. You feel like you’re on the outside, but remaining in that place keeps you small. Movement out of that place happens when you know why you act and that your acting matters, then doing it no matter what it takes. If there’s a path to success, that’s it.