1. Your talent is personal
At the beginning I was waiting for someone to “find me” -a big hand in the sky perhaps. I had an idea that if I was truly good enough people would seek me out. I was so fixed on this opinion that I very nearly gave up acting as a result, even though, at that stage, not one single casting director or agent had seen me or indeed been invited to anything I was in. I am now of the opinion that talent is personal (or it is more helpful to think of it like that). It is your design. In terms of prospective employers etc., your job is to market that design to them.
2. Office work
Agents, casting agents and even directors to a certain extent, work from offices, or at the very least they do office work. Whatever the general trend is for how office work is being done at a given time is most likely the way they are doing it. There is nothing shameful about learning how the system works, it is not a form of manipulation or slyness, it is in fact part of the job of an actor. When I started out I wasn’t very interested in the Internet and I didn’t think it was of much importance to me; I didn’t have very much experience sending e-mails. I probably didn’t even know what a casting agent or agent was. I just wanted to act, and to be the very best actor I could be; this however, may matter little when it comes to finding work. Forgetting about the big hand in the sky -a casting agent or agent can’t know you exist unless you approach them. Commitment, passion and perhaps even talent will most probably be judged initially by how a person presents themselves and not by their acting. Being an actor is also about being a business person.
Because of the highly competitive nature of the business, information and advice sources can be very closely guarded. To find something as basic as the name of a good photographer, actors may need to be networking with other actors. Acting is not like school or a college or a university course where you are given book lists and sources of necessary information and where the basic job is to learn to use these resources. The first step when learning about the business side of acting is finding out what you need to know, you do not even know what you need to know. Most acting courses teach very little outside of the practicalities of acting.
Have a little faith in yourself and go after what you want. Don’t take it too seriously. The entertainment industry can be like the wild west -beware the cowboys. If you believe in yourself it is the best protection. Navigate towards those you admire not those that are most critical or difficult. Develop a filter.
5. The steps
Most things worth doing take time, as the saying goes. Don’t delay taking the right steps because you want a quicker option. At first, I didn’t want to go back to study acting for two years. I strongly desired to be started on my career already. But I got an agent (in Ireland) from the final showcase and began mixing with others in the industry.
On the other hand, don’t waste time or your other options by sitting looking at the door you want to “make” open. If you do the work, I think the next step is to have a certain amount of faith that things are unfolding as they should and use your other time productively.
7. Money is nice too
If nothing else there are certain creative restrictions involved in working on zero budget productions. People tend to be in pissy moods for one! (Understandable when people are struggling with basic challenges like how to pay for transport and food). If you are debating working without payment I would humbly advise to consider carefully what can be achieved from it. I believe that basic survival such as paying bills must come first. Don’t wield it as an excuse but be aware of what your doing on a personal level. Juggle. Commitment doesn’t mean you are a fool. Don’t let anyone manipulate you with this word, any other words or interpretations of them.
Find people who support you and what you are doing. For all intents and purposes most people outside of the industry seem only to deem an actor successful if they are an instant commercial success, well known, permanently employed and their talents internationally recognised and celebrated. It should not be necessary to constantly defend and explain your life choices and career to anyone no matter how well-meaning their concerns. If life were a game where you picked the best players to help you achieve your objectives these people would be of no use to you.
9. The state of play
Film and television are quite visual mediums. There are a lot of good looking people in TV and on Film. It is good to be aware of this fact, what you want to do with the information is up to you.
10. Most importantly
Be brave: As I heard a twinkly-eyed elderly actress advise members at an Equity meeting.