If you are trying and trying to make a name for yourself, and asking, “WHAT SHOULD I DO?”
Here is my advice to you.
Give yourself options. Don’t be a poor actor. Don’t be like everyone else. Don’t have your only skills be acting and serving coffee. Don’t spend your time in classes, endlessly practicing your craft.
Do things a little smarter.
1. Watch working actors on set and learn from them. Those guys have been there, done that. Ask them where THEY get their training and go to those people! Those are the coaches to learn from!
2. Spend your time doing jobs that build real skills. Make no mistake about it, the skills you learn when you get inside the business are worth money. A few years of working behind the scenes gives you inside knowledge and also makes you a kick ass person!
3. You’ll attract more success if you’re making good money. No one wants to associate with someone who is broke and struggling. That shows that you don’t know HOW to make money because if you did, you wouldn’t be broke and struggling. So, people who are successful like to associate with people who are successful themselves too. If you’re making $100,000 a year, you’re doing OK. You’ll feel better and will come across like a real player to people.
So building skills so you can make good money is worth going after! Right?
4. Feed your creative rat. Generate lots of ideas and implement those ideas! Look at Lena Dunham, she is an idea generator and look at what she’s done in 6 years.
You can’t feed your creative rat when you’re on the couch by yourself. Or with people who are not in the business. The best place to feed your creative rat is when you’re in the environment where you can implement those ideas. Where you see other ideas and say to yourself, “WOW! I can do a version of that, shoot it this weekend and show it to this person!” Your ideas are good and they are only going to be better when you’re around people where you can get your ideas shot and seen!
5. Learn to do it well. OK, I have a story to tell ya. When I first started in wildlife filmmaking, I went shooting with this guy, Jeff Foott. He’s a National Geo filmmaker and an incredible wildlife photographer. I showed him my shots of lions and elephants that I took in Africa… and he thought, “Not bad.”
So then we went out shooting (pictures) in Yellowstone. He wanted to see my talent. Well, I shot some weeds and thought they looked pretty. I tried to shoot a chipmunk. Blurred, too far away and bad lighting. I thought I was good, but the fact was I sucked. Really sucked.
And he told me so. But nicely. “Ahh, Janet, you don’t have an eye.”
I was like “I can learn composition and lighting!!!!”
Since by then we were friends, he said OK. He said study these books. Study this photogaphy and tell me why it’s good. He’d quiz me what the photographer did, the lens, the f stop, the time of day and why it was good. I was learning. And I got better.
I actually shot some stuff that he ended up selling!
So I’m telling you, you may think you’re good. But it’s not proven yet, until a professional tells you that you’re good. And by professional, I don’t mean a professor. I mean someone who has earned a living on their talents because they are the real deal.
Fact is, I wasn’t good. But I got around a professional and became good. I would have never known what to do, until I learned it from him.
6. Learn from someone who has what you want. Jeff made himself a millionaire as a wildlife filmmaker. That’s someone I want to learn from! And he was my mentor and is still my best friend to this day.
7. Don’t let fear ruin your life. When I say ruin your life, I mean it. It will. They say, “The number one thing that gets in the way of people’s success is fear.” People simply can’t get past the fear.
Then, they don’t go after their dreams like a shark in a feeding frenzy and they live a mediocre, low income life. What you do today affects where you’re at tomorrow.
Who you become tomorrow depends on what you do today.
If fear is paralyzing you, then it must be crushed. I have an entire course I teach on not letting fear stop you.
If there is anything to truly fear, it is letting fear stop you…. because fear will ruin your life.
8. You are an average of your 5 friends. Who are your friends? Are they successful? Living large?
Are you building friendships with people who are going places? This Director I work is a writer for Saturday Night Live. A good group of people to know. He’s tight with Justin Timberlake, everybody at Saturday Night Live, the people at the show “Girls”? (He’s also an actor on “Girls”.)
He made friends with these people as he moved up and it all happened through work. He didn’t contact people on facebook and try to get somewhere. NO…… He made these friendships on the studio lots, on set, in the production offices. Through WORKING.
The friendships benefit him and his famous friends. He has become famous himself, actually. He can do shoots with his famous friends and get them on Saturday Night Live. It’s good for him, good for them too. That’s truly how you get to the top, if you want to know. You keep creating value and making important friends while you do it.
9. Always be working. If you’re always working, you’ll never go through a dry spell. When the roles aren’t there that match your type, you’re writing and producing or doing camera work.
My friend Tracy, makes $500/day as a Camera Assistant when she’s not doing principal acting roles. She has an agent, but she also gets acting roles through working as a Camera Assistant.
She told me she worked with this Director we all know… he found out she’s an actor, and said, “Why don’t you audition for this role?” and he also said, “But no promises. This just gets you in the room.”
Well guess what? She booked the role. Big national commercial. $$$
He’s also a big feature film director. You want to be in his stable of actors and she is now.
10. Learn to feel great about yourself when you do things that are uncertain. Know that you are moving forward when you’re taking action. Do things even when you’re shakey. When you don’t feel like doing it, do it anyways.
There is no “way it is”. The “way it is” is in your head. Your head can tell you, “I’m scared, I don’t wanna do this, but I’m gonna just do it and see what happens, cause that’s how I roll.”
And if you do that, because you want to be someone who pushes yourself beyond your limits, you’re going to benefit big time.
You will change. You will become someone who is impressive.
Because that IS impressive.
Most people won’t admit it, but they have chosen to stay small. They live the small life because deep down they are scared. And they are paralyzed by that fear. They push it back in their head and say, “There’s no jobs. I tried. I don’t have money and can’t get started.”
I almost lived a small life. But, then I saw a vision of myself middle aged, single, boring, and dumpy. It scared the crap out of me and it was balls to the wall after that. That fear motivated me. I would do anything to not live that life.
Well, the balls to the walls attitude ended up being the key to everything.
That attitude gave me the balls to come up to people and say, “Hey, I want to watch you work.” “I’ve studied your work and want to learn from you.”
You are almost there. You have desire. But now, you just need to work on yourself to become that person that becomes super successful.
If I can do it, you can too. I’m not that smart. I’m not that gorgeous. I’m not super witty or creative.
But I have balls.
I pushed my fear into the back of my head and went forward.
You can do this. And I hope now, you can see the massive rewards waiting for you when you do.