And additionally, how can I nail auditions? Become a paid actor? And get an agent?
Before I tell you the “secret answers” to these questions, I first want to share something that I recently saw shared on Facebook that came from an “acting coach” in Jacksonville. In the post, they said the most important thing an actor can bring to an audition is confidence. * insert side-eye * ? YIKES!!!!
But it sounds sooooooo good, right?
Who doesn’t wanna have confidence?
The problem with that statement (besides it being false) is that it gives the reader the idea that as long as you’re “confident,” you will most likely get booked at the audition. It’s misleading, and it is absolutely, hands down 10000% NOT the most important thing an actor can bring to an audition. Of course, it has some importance (no one wants to watch a nervous Nelly), but in no way is it the #1 most important thing!
Again, for the people in the back…Confidence is NOT the most critical thing an actor can bring to an audition. I’m sorry, but that person is dead wrong.
SKILL SKILL SKILL SKILL and MORE SKILL is the most important thing an actor can bring to an audition and HAVE in general!!! And even with skill, you can still be absolutely wrong for the part, no matter how flippin’ confident you are. You can be too young or too old or too thin or too big or too tall or too short or just not at all what they envisioned blah blah blah. This is a business about looks, also! Film and tv are in compressed time. The actor’s look matters in the story, too. At no time ever in the history of ever has an actor’s skill and/or look been disregarded, and they were hired because they were just “soooooo confident”. Nope. Come on! This is a job. Can you do the job or not? Yes?! Great! Do you look like what we had in mind for this character? Yes?! Great!
Why would someone tell people this malarky?
Having confidence is not the # 1 thing in acting.
It’s skill. All-day. Everyday.
Still, need convincing? Let’s try something; replace the word “Actor” in the sentence with ANY other profession. Here’s the claim they made one more time in case you forgot: “Confidence is the most important thing an actor can bring to an audition.”
“Confidence is the most important thing a musician can bring to the recording studio.”,
“Confidence is the most important thing a doctor can bring to surgery.”,
“Confidence is the most important thing an accountant can bring to the office.”
YIKES Again!!! No, No, No!!! ???
But if you replace the word “SKILL” in those sentences…YES YES YES!!!!
“Skill is the most important thing an actor can bring to an audition” ⬅️??⭐️ BINGO!!!
Can you imagine selecting an actor to star in your film, a musician to play music at your wedding, a doctor to operate on your leg or an accountant to do your taxes because they were “confident” and not because they had actual skill???
Eeek! That should be a sketch though ? But for real, SKILL is always ALWAYS #1 in acting or ANY OTHER PROFESSION on the planet! Hands down.
The bottom line:
People with skills are paid.
People with skills have value.
People with skills are in demand.
People with skills will always be in demand.
I know dozens of people who have tons of confidence and no actual real skill. Their ego is so big, though that they believe they can do anything. Their confidence does not match up with their skill set. Most of them are all talk and no real action. And there’s nothing worse than a person with all confidence and no skill. You DO NOT want to be like that! YIKES for the 3rd time! Okay, so back to the original question. How do you nail auditions, get paid, and get an agent? The answer is straightforward. And maybe you’ve already guessed it at this point ?
The BIGGEST and most impactful thing you can do as an actor if you want to:
- Nail Auditions,
- Get Paid Money (not free, local TF projects that just include a credit and a snack) and
- Obtain a Reputable Agent so you can Start being a Working Actor (not a volunteer actor, but as a paid actor who is paid for every job) is to TRAIN and DEVELOP a SKILL.
You must TRAIN and Develop a Skill. You must become valuable. You must have something people want. Skill.
I know that might be a shock to some. I know that might not be the magic pill answer some people were hoping for. I know that’s an inconvenience if you are just looking for the quickest way to “get to Hollywood”, “get rich and famous” and/or “become a famous actor”, but really and truly, if that’s why you’re doing this work, to get famous or rich or so you can obtain a special zip code that starts with “902”, you’re not gonna make it anyway so don’t worry about the skill part and just keep drinking the kool-aid. At least be honest with yourself, though.
In other news and contrary to what some believe, creating IMDB pages, attending cliquey hangouts and “networking” events where you’ll meet local “directors” and “producers” or sharing your “Star Meter” status to Facebook will never ever EVER make you a great actor who has something valuable to bring to a production. It will never ever EVER give you SKILL. All of those things can make you feel good and like you’re a part of something for sure…no doubt…but it’s not going to give you skill.
Just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you’re moving forward. Developing a skill requires time, energy, pain, sacrifice. Growth is hard. Growth is painful. Growth is work, BUT if you want to WORK (as an actor or any other profession for that matter), you must put in the WORK.
You ? Must ? Have ? Skill!
If you want to know how valuable you are or have been to a production, ask yourself this. When is the last time you were mailed a paycheck for acting that was over $250? If the answer is never, you’re most likely 1. Just starting your acting journey, and that’s great, and hopefully, you have a better understanding of what to do next 2. A hobbyist have not trained at all with no plans to or have put in very little training (less than 6 months); or even worse, 3. you’ve “trained” at a studio that’s just taking your money, giving you busy work and praising everything you do and not actually teaching you proven, universally-recognized and taught acting techniques that help you develop the SKILL to be able to produce real, authentic, truthful emotions on cue (one of the main jobs of an actor, by the way). #1 is excellent. And if you’re the #2 or #3 boat, you still have time to get on board with developing skill, so this time next year most of your short term goals are being achieved ?
Actor Challenge: Ask your coach to see their demo reel. Even if it’s an older reel, you need to see what they’re bringing to the table. Ask!!!! You’re paying for their expertise, after all. Ask them.
Here’s the thing: You will always reap what you sow. And you will always ALWAYS have to face the consequences of your decisions (or indecision).
I am so passionate and opinionated and honest about my feelings on all of this because I’m an actor, and I’m affected by almost everything very deeply – especially seeing people be dishonest with others or themselves. I’m also an acting coach, and my job is to be real with you. I care… a lot…it keeps me up at night because my brain never shuts off. And quite frankly, I’m tired of the bullsh!t I hear and see from people that don’t know wth they’re talking about. Just be real, especially with yourself.
This is what I can say for sure: I’m here to build meaningful relationships and do meaningful work with students and people who are serious and take their craft seriously. People who are passionate and hardworking like my crew and me.
I’m here to work with those who understand that great art reveals and affects people on a level unmatched by anything else on the planet.
I sincerely hope everyone’s 2020 is an honest and fruitful one and for goodness sakes…one that’s focused on developing a skill or developing even more skill.
Just don’t let it be another volunteer year!