There is such a thing as being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, and it’s not something to aspire to. There’s also something to be said for not having all your eggs in one basket. I’m just a fountain of idioms and figures of speech, aren’t I? Allow me to inch toward the point. I have a front seat to observing and listening to actors on a regular basis. Being a commercial actor is an exciting thing. Unfortunately, being a commercial actor can also be a long, hard, frustrating haul at times. A career in commercials will be both, count on it. But there are some actors who go with the flow better than others, even when they suffer the same inevitable set backs. They keep on the sunny side and don’t let bitterness take over. I’m intrigued by these actors, so I’ve studied them. Do they possess superhero powers to deflect the effects of rejection? I don’t think so . . .
Commercial actors should never have just one ball in the air.
In my observations, the most content actors I’ve seen/met tend to do more than just attend commercial (and sure, I’ll throw in theatrical) auditions, callbacks, or shoot the occasional gig, take an audition technique class, or even attend full blown acting classes at a school. They may or may not have a day job. Surely you’d rather not have a day job, but I don’t think “day job” equals bitterness and no “day job” equals happy actor. I do, however, think having only these one or two balls in the air could be a danger zone. When all your focus is on the commercial career/theatrical career, it allows for a lot of scrutiny. Let’s face it, the classes are to lead you to commercial/theatrical success, and the day job is to allow you to live to pursue your commercial/theatrical success. Your life, in this scenario, is only about your pursuit and success in these fields. THAT’S GREAT . . . AND POSSIBLY TERRIBLE.
This is not when I suggest actors take up knitting or yoga or plan once-a-month trips to Disneyland. I’m all for it, but this is not where I’m going.
The most content, non discouraged, go-with-the-flow actors I know tend to have something in common. They all do something else that’s industry related. It’s not that these actors possess superpowers to keep the crowded lobby filled with kids, the long wait, the rude casting assistant, the 12th avail with no booking, et cetera from bothering them. It’s not a superpower. Sure, personal temperament or a strong support system can be a contributing factor, and yes, maybe yoga can help with the ability to just breathe and roll with it, but I’ve also noticed other industry involvement as a common denominator.
So, what are these magic industry related activities these oddly satisfied actors take part in? They perform stand up, do theatre, and sketch shows. They are Moth storytellers or work with Young Storytellers. These actors post YouTube videos with them serving as host for traveling locations or for cooking techniques. They do voiceover. Perhaps these actors are only taking standup/improv/voiceover classes, but it’s something other than simply audition technique or acting classes. If you are in a major market, you are fortunate to have ample opportunities to tend to your artistic soul. You are artists, after all. The industry tends to neglect the art aspect at times. Consider broadening your focus just a bit when it all begins to feel crushing, and tend to your artistic soul. These activities may not feed your pocketbook (though maybe they will!), but it will help stave off the feelings of bitterness you feel from time to time, and one thing I know for sure, bitter actors don’t book jobs. Find the inspired actor within again. One of these activities might help cultivate that for you.
Here’s something new! Laurie is teaching a Commercial Class. Check it out at www.laurierecordscasting.com.