This month is going to seem like I’m pulling out the tough love. A possibly RUDE choice during these jolly holiday times. Some may jump to sharpen their pencil to send me disapproving thoughts. I would urge you, however, to be open to the possibility that the topic this month (and every month, frankly) comes from a place of love. Yes, out of love for the brave actor artist. I’m on your side.
With that being said . . .
Commercial actors should never half-ass their career.
Now that is rude. Believe me, I actually looked up synonyms for the half “arse” word. And nothing seemed to pack the necessary punch. So I’ll stick with it.
Let’s be clear: I’m not advocating giving each commercial audition 110% out of my own casting director self-interest. Half-assing your commercial career/auditions is a minor inconvenience for me. It can be a major self-esteem anchor for you. Heartbreak. I’ve seen it.
Let’s get to the bottom of the matter.
Do you groan when you get a commercial audition? It’s worth asking why. Perhaps you feel like you don’t know what you are doing or haven’t caught on. Take a commercial audition class. You may be the most trained/talented actor on earth, but that doesn’t mean you understand the art of the audition, much less the art of the commercial audition.
Do you think commercials are stupid? Then don’t do them. You certainly don’t have to. You can pursue a theatrical career without a commercial career. I’d just like to remind you that a commercial gig from time to time may be more interesting (and lucrative) than slinging espresso or shaking cocktails, but maybe not. Maybe you don’t have a day job. But money isn’t the only reason to do commercials. There are plenty of people (directors, producers, etc.) in commercials that have theatrical aspirations or already established careers. Doing a commercial could be a great way to meet them. There are casting directors that do a healthy mix of both theatrical/commercial jobs. Those people are good to meet too. But don’t let me talk you into it. If you’re in it for the art, commercials may not be in the plan.
Have you stopped preparing/doing your homework? Stopped being thoughtful about your wardrobe? Did you look at the copy ahead of time? Did you actually work on it? Have you started arriving whenever you want?
Are you booking out here and there? For a week or a month? That’s self-sabotage. More than you think. Seriously. That topic is so big, I’ll leave it for another day.
Do you find yourself complaining excessively about driving all over town, lobby waiting time, the “all-back,” the parking, the changing on the street, having to take another round of headshots . . . you get the idea.
Be honest with yourself.
You could be burnt out. The grind and hustle can make anyone weary. Maybe a hiatus to get the zeal for your career back is in order. Maybe a class. Maybe surrounding yourself with driven and supportive (v.s. bitter and angry) actors could do the trick. There are endless potential solutions actually.
But here’s the TRUTH (sorry it’s taken me so long to get to it): you may be a commercial half-asser because you haven’t experienced success/are in a booking rut. Maybe you aren’t doing as well as you thought you would. Maybe you aren’t doing as well as the other actors you know. The worst news of the day is that if you are half-assing your auditions time after time, you will never book a thing. And I never say never, so I’m being bold. It’s self-sabotage. It’s a waste of time to continue participating in the process. If you are giving 50% in your commercial audition, for whatever reason, how could you possibly compete with the 110%-ers? You can’t. You won’t.
We all have bad days. Half-assing an audition every blue moon can and will happen. But when you are doing it all the time you owe it to yourself to be honest. What’s going on? Do you want to fix it? Are you waiting for the booking that will never come (due to your 50% effort level) to fix it?
When you half-ass your commercial career and still (or even increasingly) feel the pain of rejection, when your self-worth is tied to the result of something you aren’t giving your all and really don’t want to be doing, you’ve got to be honest. Reconsider. Search your soul. An all-in or all-out decision may/will lead to peace. Even bliss. Middle ground is miserable unless you have no ties to the result. Middle ground is heartache.
Because there’s value in so many aspects of commercials, I’m going to encourage finding the solution leading to the all-in decision. Then, go book a Superbowl commercial with your renewed commitment to the glorious commercial.