Why Acting Isn't Enough, You've Got To Live Too. One Sure Fire Way To Make Yourself More Employable as an Actor.
Put yourselves in the shoes of a casting director for a moment and imagine their conundrum. Project after project, day after day they're on the search for characters and project after project, day after day all they seem to attract is actors.
Actors who come into the room for an audition, ready to deliver "an actor". A well trained, technically proficient performance, that does't deviate from the character brief and is a slave to the script. An actor completely stripped of any and all individuality.
This is a problem, a very serious one - because art cannot imitate life, if the actors employed to imitate it, don't have one. A life that is. They can perform an idea of one, they can research and use empathy to understand what it would be like, but there's no substitute for the real deal. Life experience is like an actors currency. A valuable commodity that makes the owner richer and builds their character.
That's why, as an actor it's so important to invest in yourself. To have stories to tell, to travel and learn skills outside of acting that help shape you as a person and colour your point of view. So when you go into the audition room you stand out, you deliver a person, a rich, multifaceted, detailed, clearly defined character. And you're memorable. Not technically correct, not the same as everyone else. Different, unique, with your own voice.
But this problem isn't isolated to the audition room, it affects the communications we have well before then as well. Think of the percentage of emails sent to agents and casting directors that start with the sentence: "Hi, [agent], my name's [your name] and I'm an actor." If you, like me, put that number in the high nineties, you can see the problem. There's nothing remarkable about telling an agent you're an actor, big whoop, you and everyone else that's emailed me lately. You need more differentiation than that.
On the other hand, if you were to meet someone at an industry event that had just come back from three months mountaineering in South America, or volunteering as a PA shadowing a prominent startup entrepreneur, or from a weekend bootcamp with a former member of the Australian SAS. They'd have some stories to tell, some life experience and some instant, magnetic, character.
Ask yourself the question - what can you say about yourself, other than the fact that you're an actor? If somebody was to ask what else is there to know about you what can you say? If the answers are slim, it may be time to dive into learning some new hobbies, I'm not saying stop training your acting muscle, continue that by all means and keep it fit, but remember to keep adding strings to your bow. Conversation starters and points of interest for a casting director or agent. If you're able to talk about a project that they've done or are doing, and relate it to a skill that you have like, say you took a course you took on how to dismantle and reassemble an AK-47 blindfolded.
If you've read one of our early articles on "Embracing your Niche" you know that you can't be all things to all people, but if you look around, you may well find that your peers are trying to do exactly that, pitching themselves as an everyman. An actor for all seasons. In marketing terms it's like pitching yourself as the Kmart of actors. You can find everything here, not much of it's high quality, but it's available. But If you find a niche, a small group of characters that suit you to a tee and develop skills that sell those characters, then whether your marketing yourself as a Lamborghini dealer or a BCF, as a lulu lemon or a tree of life, it's a hell of a lot better than being a Kmart, because when I need that specialty item, I'm coming to you and if the products good, I'll rave about you.
This way of thinking is exactly what inspired the idea behind our first Entrepreneurial Actor masterclass THE STORY OF THE FIGHT. Did you know that:
Film and Theatre Actor Based in Sydney. Creator of Script Gym. Lover of Stories.