Being a working actor can be terrifying. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most fickle and over-subscribed industry on Earth, with hundreds, if not thousands, of actors applying for every single role that you apply for.
To make matters worse, if you don’t have an agent you’re probably only seeing 10% of the roles that are being passed about by those most terrifying, and wonderful, of gate-keeping humans: Casting Directors* (pay attention to the asterisk – it’s coming back later!)
I’m reminded, now that I’m back pounding pavements, just how difficult it is to be seen by the right people to make any progress in this business. The level of anxiety that can produce is very real. But how can we overcome it?
I’ve been reading up on advice given by Casting Directors and one phrase really jumped out at me:
Christ alone knows how difficult that can be when you’ve sent off your 10th pitch of the day and recieve crickets for your reward. The sheer force of silence on the other side of the casting divide is both deafening and deeply disheartening. But I understand what they mean when they say Stay Positive. I get it.
Because if you have the tenacity – if you get out there and be positive about yourself, your ability, your look and your aims, the right casting director will eventually see you at the right time for the right audition. You just need to trust the process.
Here’s the thing about that: *Casting Directors are lovely people – I know a couple of wonderful CDs (hello you!) and I can say this with complete conviction. Casting Directors want to find great actors and put them forward because they love TALENT.
They love finding a great actor as much as an actor loves finding a great role. If you are confident in your ability to deliver a performance that will win the part why should you be afraid to reach out and ask to be seen? I mean, don’t do it constantly – god no! They’re busy and don’t want to be bombarded – but a very occasional hello to remind them you’re active is fine. Encouraged, even.
Belief in your ability is what will hold you together. Not to a concieted or egotistical level (no no no no) but with a confident conviction that, actually, you are good at what you do. That you can demonstrate this. So long as you have this belief, you’ll be able to keep on punching through. Keep on fighting. Keep on reaching out to the people who need to see you.
Sometimes that belief will falter so go out and talk to other actors, directors and producers. Get out there and become part of a supportive network who will keep you fresh, keep your talent sharp and help to remind you that you deserve your part in the mix.
I was very humbled to recieve some beautiful feedback on an audition the other day. I was so nervous heading in for it – I hadn’t gone in for a face to face audition since long before Covid, but I had a monolgue that I knew I could deliver really well (rehearse, people!) and an idea of the character I was casting for that I knew would show thought and consideration.
Indeed, I used the nerves I felt outside that room to enhance my monologue – a character filled with an internal rage and self loathing. I turned that nervous energy inward, just as I’d learned to do over the decades I’ve been at this.
I came out of the audition knowing that a) I’d done my very best and the applause I’d recieved meant I hadn’t fucked it up (phew!) And b) that, actually, I probably wasn’t a perfect physical fit for the role, compared with other actors there.
I was very happy to hear, afterwards, that my instincts were right: the Director and Casting Director loved what I’d done. They loved my audition and my monologue to a point where it made them reconsider the character.
I’d come so very close to the lead role I’d gone for,… but my physical look meant there was another choice who – rightly – got that part instead.
(NB: I never feel bad about loosing a role if the right person gets it. Never. I love film. I love theatre and TV and drama and creating great work: why would I be upset that the film I wanted to be in is now cast perfectly? Makes no sense.)
But what it gave me was reassurance: I’d proven to myself that I was needed in that room. That I was worth their time. That I can deliver a performance that can make Casting Directors, Directors and audiences sit up and pay attention.
And for that I was so grateful.
It gave me my Positivity.
What else do you need? Well I’ll be going into that in some depth over the upcoming weeks – how to plan, who to connect with, what to create yourself (and why) and more. Hit subscribe and keep up to date to learn more about my process and my progress.
See you next time!