We’ve all been brought up on the stories of the huge celebrity who is “discovered” in some random, unlikely place and suddenly catapulted to fame.
In the old days, she was a waitress in a midwest coffee shop who happened to wait on a big Hollywood producer who was passing through; these days it’s someone who is caught on video doing something stupid/clever/heroic who goes viral and catapults from having a middling YouTube channel to inking a network deal.
These are indeed people who were in the right place at the right time. But for most of us, you could pour coffee for several thousand years while peering out the window waiting for your big break to roll up in a shiny new convertible and sweep you away to Hollywood before you catch your big break.
And anyway, it would seem like being in the right place at the right time is something you can’t really do anything about…isn’t it?
Well, yes and no.
If there’s one thing we all should have learned in our first acting class it would be the importance of understanding the root of the word acting: “to act,” which is to perform actions of some kind.
As actors, when we perform, we choose actions, we act on impulses, we DO things. The thought of sitting around and passively waiting for something to come along just doesn’t sit right with this kind of mindset. So looking at being at the right place at the right time through this lens, here are some ways you can take action to guarantee yourself the best chance when opportunity does come knocking!
1. Get Yourself In The Right Place
In order to be in the right place at the right time, you have to start with being in the right place. All the preparation in the world means nothing if you’re sill working in that nowheresville Kansas diner. Sure, the occasional producer might pass through, but they’re going to be few and far between. You’re probably better off if you get your purty face in front of as many casting directors, producers, agents and directors as possible. Especially if you don’t have an agent yet, you’re going to have to do some leg work to really get yourself out there to find the best opportunities possible to get cast. Luckily we live in the digital age – you can connect instantly with casting directors and agents right here! By checking out the Casting Notices on NYCastings you can view hundreds of available roles, broken down by genre, region and character type. All it takes is to join (for free!) and you can immediately start scanning the NYCastings listings for those “right place/right time” opportunities that uniquely fit you. Better yet, by uploading your headshot and resume, you can automatically submit yourself to be viewed by thousands of casting directors who are looking for talent. You can also help yourself to work simply by signing up for one or more of the email lists NYCastings has, lists that connect actors looking for work with the biggest industry professionals who are looking for talent –YOUR talent! So join today and Start Submitting Yourself to Work!
2. Be a Good Scout
Be prepared, in other words. The closer you are to the finish line when you start, the better. If you’ve ever chatted with someone in line at the coffee shop and found out that they work in the industry, only to discover you have no resumes or headshots on you, then you know what the reverse of this is like. Another common fail in this regard is going to an audition and not having hard copy of your headshot and resume. Being in the right place at the right time means nothing if that moment slips by without you taking advantage of it. Despite this being the digital age, you should always try to have a visual, tactile way for people to remember you, even if that means business card-sized headshots/resumes. And while we’re on business cards – which I realize some of us hate – it’s a good idea to consider thining more like a businessperson. Networking is key to this business just like any other; stop thinking of auditions as just being about that one job you’re up for; you never know what members of the production team might have coming up down the road, or what a fellow actor is working on, or any one of a thousand other scenarios where someone at the audition might be looking for talent like your own. And make sure these essential tools are up to date and professional. If someone who got your name from a mutual contact emails you asking for your info because they might want to cast you in something, you don’t want to have to scramble around trying to feverishly update your resume or offer some long-winded explanation as to why your headshot from ten years ago features a you with green hair.
3. Be Prepared, Part Deux
While tales of the completely inexperienced waitress in nowhere Kansas hopping into a convertible and rolling into Los Angeles or New York to become an A-List starlet overnight are lovely to think about, the truth about acting, as we all know, is that it requires hard work. If you’re not out there chopping wood every day — taking classes, working on projects even if they are low or no-pay, performing in improv and open mic nights, doing anything and everything possible to develop and hone your acting skills – then when that big moment does come along and you’re in the right place to catch a break, it won’t be the right time because you won’t be ready. Acting is a lot of things, but one thing it definitely requires is muscle memory. And anytime you let those muscles go flaccid, it shows, especially to other professionals. In the off-season, even the most talented and naturally gifted professional athletes don’t sit on their asses; they work out, hard. Treat your natural acting talents with the same respect: even if you are between jobs, memorize some new monologues, audit a new class, check out the ads seeking actors at the local film school – keep working so your skills are razor sharp when the moment comes along.
The bottom line is we all have so many opportunities to make our own luck these days. If you aren’t taking advantage of each and every one of them, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Acting is a hustle in many ways, but the rewards – tangible and intangible – are something most of us wouldn’t trade for the world!