I love hearing when other actors do well in their careers whether I know them personally or not.
Recently, I came across an Instagram post by a young actor I worked with on a film. A couple of days ago he announced that he could finally reveal that he had been cast in a major studio picture being directed by one of Hollywood’s most famous directors. I was at first stunned and had to read the post over and over. Then, it occurred to me that his career would now be catapulted into the stratosphere. I felt joy as if I had gotten the news about my own casting. It may sound corny, but I do really love when other actors do well in their career. It reminds me of how far I have come and that the possibilities of me catching that brass ring, is just a step away.
However, how do other actors do well in their career?
A Support Team
Now, this actor I speak of may be young, but he has already had some success before his “Big Break.” Most importantly, he works at his career day and night. He has a fantastic and caring team behind him that includes his parents and representation that truly looks out for him. He is also an actor of colour and he has been cast over and over again as a regular kid who happens to be Hispanic. (Check out our Diversity Casting, Finally post) I have been following him on social media, liking his posts, and commenting on his achievements or happenings. He has done likewise in a timely matter. In other words, we use social media to champion each other. I never thought that through someone’s iPhone, I could feel supported and cheered on.
Do the Work and Know Yourself
Having a good team at home and in the business are wonderful and important things, but none of it would exist if it wasn’t for the passion and commitment this young man devotes to his craft and profession. I would argue that there is another element that seems to be present in most working actors that I have known, worked with, or admired and that is the concept of “Knowing thy Self.” What I mean by that is the idea that when you are in the business you work towards being employed. That is a fair assumption and one we shouldn’t ignore. However, I would say that my early training as an actor focused on being wide open and be able to play any role that would come my way.
What I discovered when I came to Los Angeles from New York was that the opposite seemed to be true. I needed an act. Who was I as an actor to the casting directors in Hollywood. A very wise actor friend of mine once told me, “How can you get auditions when they don’t even know you exist,” and “How can they possibly cast you, when they don’t know what you can do?” The second quote really hit me hard. What is it that I do that can get me cast. It doesn’t mean I cannot play other roles or even audition against type, but what it meant to me is to know what I can do well, convincingly, and at a drop of a hat. My young colleague has mastered this principal. He knows what he can do well and his whole team works towards putting that act out there for all to see. He is about to embark on an incredible journey and I for one applaud him and will continue to champion him.
An Act Not Typecasting
So what about the rest of us.? Do we have an “act” that casting directors, producers, directors can easily see in us when we walk into a room? Can we conjure it up at a moment’s notice? How do we even decide on a particular “act?” Am I completely wrong on this idea of an “act?” It wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about such matters. Just to be clear, I am not talking about typecasting yourself, or deciding on a stereotype to assume. What I am talking about is to look within and examine your strengths as an actor. What roles have you been cast in and do they share any common characteristics? You may find that the best way to get ahead in this town is to champion yourself and you too may do as well as my young friend.