by Colleen Wainwright | The Communicatrix
Act Smart!: Twelve Ways to (Not) Guarantee a Successful Career
After over six years of advice about how to act smarter, maybe it’s time to look at things from a different angle. Want to know how to make sure your acting career tanks and takes you down with it? Read on!
- Always show up unprepared. To a meeting, an audition, a job—whatever! It keeps things fresh and spontaneous.
- Ignore anyone who can’t help you get an acting job. Assistants, security guards, that nice guy who made your half-caf Americano. So what if they are the possible collaborators of today and gatekeepers of tomorrow? Right now, they’re nothing but a waste of your valuable time. So don’t get sucked in! In fact, go it one better: be rude to them! But wait—that’s not all…
- Pester important people until they notice you. How do you think successful actors who book work over and over again do it? That’s right:they bother the crap out of anyone who has access. Too exhausting? Add variety and give yourself a rest by alternating between this tactic and the following one…
- Wait to be discovered. You’ll be fresher that way when it happens, which it certainly will. And don’t initiate any of your own projects in the meantime. You don’t want to be caught having fun, or looking like you have initiative. Producers will think you want their jobs!
- Quit your day job. Immediately. Having no means of supporting yourself will keep you hungry and on your toes. You’ll be like a lean jungle cat! Only in the jungles of Hollywood, New York, or Kansas City!
- Drop anything in your life unrelated to acting. This includes, but is not limited to: friends & family; community service; learning new skills; travel; recreation; and hobbies. Why, I’ll bet you have a few time-sucks sitting on your calendar right now you could clear off to make room for more important things, like theoretical acting jobs. Keep your eyes on the prize!
- Limit acting-related skills to three or four. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Or overly engage your brain.
- Don’t waste your time reading anything not immediately and obviously related to acting. In fact, stop reading entirely. It might interfere with your concentration as you wait around to be discovered.
- Only work on a project if it pays. Are you an amateur or a professional? Do professionals get paid or do they not? Quod erat demonstrandum.
- Don’t take more than one acting class, ever. If it was any good, you should know how to act, right? Remember, every additional class you waste your time sitting in equals a couple of hours that could have been spent pestering important people or waiting to be discovered! Besides, classes screw with your natural talent—do you really want to risk tampering with your virgin uniqueness?
- Avoid watching TV and film. There is no substitute for the adrenaline of showing up at an interview with absolutely no idea of the style or story of the thing you are auditioning for. Worried that the casting directors or producers will think you are a lazy, clueless bum with no business acting on their show? On the contrary—they will respect you for being your own person!
- Ignore the Internet. It’s a stupid waste of time where nothing of importance ever happens.
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BOOK(s) OF THE MONTH: With multiple demands on your attention (not to mention the stress of family gatherings, crowded stores, and Mass Holiday Fever), this time of the year can be tricky for reading. My suggestion is not to stop, but to adapt: enjoy a collection of engrossing (no pun intended!) interviews with actors and other artists; pick up a book of short stories; or re-read an old inspiring or engrossing favorite you haven’t picked up in a while. Just don’t give up—reading makes you smarter and keeps you saner!
Want more ideas? Sign up for my (free) newsletter! Almost every month I send out useful (and specific, and nice) information about how to promote yourself without being a tool, and connect with people in a way that makes them love you. It’s not about acting explicitly, but since you’re a smart actor, that shouldn’t scare you.
Colleen Wainwright is a writer–speaker-layabout who started calling herself “the communicatrix” when she hit three hyphens. She spent a decade writing commercials and another decade acting in them for cash money. Now she uses her powers for good instead of evil by helping creatives learn how to strut their stuff in a way that makes the world fall madly in love with them.