Many actors are graduating school this year with a BFA or BA (acting) but will be lost out in the real world. There are no schools that teach you how to get yourself known and out there. Like any other person graduating, undergrad or grad, most are thinking, “what next?” I think every graduate program should invite a top casting director from each genre of casting to talk to the graduating class. How else are you going to learn this information?
No, it’s not easy and it’s honestly harder than ever. With a great connection, it gets your foot in the door, and then you’re on your own. Are you taught how to reach out? Are you taught the importance of pictures and the different shots you need for different things? I would hope you have been taught that your pictures must look like you and your resume MUST contain true and accurate information. When Sally Fields accepted her Oscar for Norma Rae, she said that a great actor, if they really work hard, would always make it. This always stuck with me.
Times have changed and as talented as you may be, you need to be seen. I have said it before, but with more supply than demand, any extra edge you have, you must take advantage of. Why do you think so many celebrities’ kids are doing so well? It’s not that they are not talented but without a connection, they may have gotten over looked. This is not the only way or chance for success. It’s just an avenue that, if available to you, you should utilize. Don’t say, “I don’t want help.” Everybody needs help.
Talent and perseverance are huge. The economy is not great. Kids graduating college, especially with strong degrees, might have a bit of an edge (my younger son is graduating from Northwestern University with a mechanical engineering degree), but there are still no guarantees. My nephew is graduating from the Actors Studio, a step with extra training that is important, but still no guarantees. I have huge respect and a big soft spot for new actors because of the things I have learned from him, but there’s only so much help I can offer. My biggest piece of advice for graduating students is to not let yourself think you’re too good to start at the bottom. An extra degree doesn’t mean you get to start out as president.
Don’t take a job in a profession that you’re not interested in because of the pay. Once you’ve gone off course from your original goal, it’s hard to get back on track. Give it time and don’t think you’re too good for anything. Getting coffee, if there is job growth in what you want to do, is a way in.
I started at the bottom at a time when casting was not only an unknown profession, but it was a profession I didn’t even know existed. If you were in the right place and you liked it, there was opportunity. Picking a casting career is not something people wanting to act think about, but it’s a possible career path that you might enjoy if you don’t think the acting thing is going to happen. Again, start out interning, prove yourself, learn the business, and it could turn into a great and rewarding career. I have received more resumes for starting positions or internships this year than ever before. Once you’re in, you have to do anything, work hard, and if you think it’s a career path you want, work your butt off. Don’t wait too long. Stay on your career of choice if it’s what you really want. Don’t settle and change until you know in your heart that it’s time. No job in this industry is easy and there are less and less jobs, but I will tell you as a company owner, I want people that truly want a career in casting and are hungry for it.
There are many other jobs that actors can opt for – casting, producing, being an agent, and even directing. Though at this point I can’t figure out how to really pursue directing – talk about more supply than demand. You have YouTube available, something we didn’t have. Use it. You have to know when you’ve been at it long enough, so I can’t stress enough to keep trying but stop when you know it’s time. You will never truly be happy unless you feel you gave it your all. Be realistic, accept anything that fits your goal, and try. Any artistic area is a struggle. Wanting to be a professional musician is even harder.
I would love to share my experience with you on how I got into the biz but even back then, a connection helped. Though I did settle for a career that I knew nothing about, I got to learn and found that I was good at it, and there was job opportunity.