Commercial actors should never flounder when it’s slow in the industry.
There are times when it’s busy in the commercial industry and there are times when it’s… not. While I preach things are always changing in commercials, there are some things that remain constant-ish. There are times of the year when it’s unbearably busy and times when it slows. You can count on it to a certain extent. We, my friends, are making our way through one of the slow times. We are heading into summer and it’s slow-ish… the good news is it will pick up soon with back to school, football, all the holiday and superbowl ads. Auditions are coming soon, but what do you do so you stop climbing the walls now?
Well, that depends on your priorities and where you find yourself… career-wise or emotionally (or both!). So a little self assessment may be in order.
Are you finding that your spirits are a little low? It’s easy to feel some depression or distaste for the industry from time to time. In fact it’s probably unavoidable. The key is not to get stuck in that place. When there’s down time, I say there’s no better time to fix it. How you fix it is up to you, but you need to find a way to renew the love. There are some really great groups of actor/peers out there that might provide the supportive community that you need and reignite the love. I can think of several in Los Angeles (and I can only assume in your neck of the woods) right off the top of my head. While I don’t want to endorse any one in particular, you should be able to talk to some actor pals, union friends or your agent to see if they can point you in a direction. Social media can be a good resource as well. Finding your tribe might be the most important thing you can do, long term, for yourself. Taking a class might remind you why you’ve chosen to pursue this crazy profession and introduce you to some proactive and likeminded actor friends. You’ll also get the chance to flex the actor audition muscles and work out the kinks that come from slow periods and get you in shape for the (hopefully) deluge of upcoming commercial auditions. Win, win, win!
This leads me to encourage self evaluation time. Are you content with the commercial audition opportunities you had over the last year? I’d say down time = tool time. You might want to seize the opportunity to examine your tools. By “tools” I mean: headshots, resume, reel, clips, skills, training, and networking/relationships. These are the things that get you the audition. You can have amazing audition and acting skills but no one will ever know because your tools aren’t up to the commercial industry par. Really everything needs to be in tip-top shape. If you aren’t getting auditions, you should assume something (if not a lot of things) are out of whack, tool-wise. Get some help from someone really in the know.
Did you book a job/several jobs when it was busy… several months ago? Capitalize on it! You’ve got some extra time on your hands to use your recent booking(s) to build your relationship with the casting director who booked you on the job, promote and show to other casting directors/industry professionals, or use it to help secure representation. Post the spots on social media. Update your website. Use the fact that you booked a commercial to become a bigger commercial booker. It’s how it works. Casting directors love to call in actors who book. Make sure they know you have.
Are you feeling broke… literally? This might be the time to put in some extra time at your day job. There are fewer auditions, so you won’t need to scramble to cover your shift as often (but always be ready to, of course). Add an additional side hustle by driving for your favorite ride share company, or walk dogs! Whatever floats your boat. It’s stressful to be strapped for cash while preparing and driving from audition to audition. Make some extra cash now and squirrel it away for the busy times in the industry when you aren’t able to work as much at the day job. You won’t be giving stellar auditions if you are worried about being evicted or hungry, and actors absolutely do deal with this. Make some money now to relieve the pressure later.
Take a break! In the commercial industry, there are better times than others to take a vacation… and that’s when it’s slow, of course. If you don’t find 3-4 day getaways rewarding or if you are tired of making out of town plans that are flexible enough to make a change for an audition/callback then flee when it’s slow, keeping the missed opportunities to a minimum.
Last but not least, consider volunteering your time. You can do something actor-related while working with kids or for fellow actors in need. Check with your union or actor friends for ideas. There are opportunities out there. OR… take the opportunity to do something that has absolutely nothing to do with acting, which can be refreshing, rewarding and necessary. Some of the best actors are great citizens and kind people. I always say that people in commercials are: warm, likable, nice, relatable… so, you as an actor need to exude those qualities in an audition. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that was just the natural YOU? Do something selfless for others.
Do a play. Write. Perform stand-up. Shoot a short, web series or sketch. Work on your memorization skills.
Whatever your need… wherever you are at, use your time in slow season wisely and productively.
**Want to take a 4-week Commercial Class with Laurie Records? Check it out and sign up now at: www.laurierecordscasting.com.**