There’s no one clear way to become a successful actor. Aside from the fact that everyone defines success differently, it’s not like going to school, doing your fair share of unpaid work, and having an ever-growing list of IMDB credits guarantees that you’ll be Hollywood’s next big star. It’s just not that easy (Because if it was, heck, everyone would do it!). So, instead of dwelling on the unknown, it’s important to take note of the things you can control. And one of the most important things that’s in an actor’s control?
Your ability to show up!
I know, “showing up” doesn’t sound like it’s that big of a deal. It’s not the magic key to success you were hoping I would give you. But allow me to explain. Because while showing up may seem obvious, you wouldn’t believe the number of actors who take opportunities like going to an audition, attending a class, or even showing up on a set for granted. And, as Woody Allen famously said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to turn things around in my acting career. Instead of being the actor showing up to the audition room, I was asked to be the casting director for a national online advertising campaign. It was a paid, non-union job (and if you’re non-union you know that paid opportunities don’t come around that often) that required only one day of filming but a promising amount of exposure. Since I knew the filmmakers, and I wasn’t right for any of the roles, I helped them pick out actors to call-in and hold a professional audition. And what did I find out? That “showing up” was a lot harder for the selected 20 actors (out of the couple of hundred who submitted online) than it should have been. Between the actors that didn’t respond to their audition request emails, to the actors who emailed me canceling at the last minute, and including the actors who just didn’t show up without giving any notice (the worst kind), I almost lost hope in the very people I usually am proud to call my colleagues.
Now, let me just get something straight. Of course other acting jobs, work commitments, sickness, and other family emergencies and responsibilities get in the way. But, considering the fact that it also happened to be a gross rainy day, it was hard to fully believe excuse after excuse that was blowing up my email. Or the actors who straight-up ghosted us. It was just not cool. And, honestly, it doesn’t look so great for a casting director when the clients who hired him/ her to bring in actors calls in so many unreliable people. You’re not helping how you look to the casting director or how the casting director looks to the director and producers. And this is a business based on relationships.
So, what ended up happening? Luckily for one of the parts, an actress came in who completely blew us away. So we didn’t need to worry about casting the part. But that’s not to say that the other people who didn’t show up saved themselves from wasting our time. In fact, now we will never know what other actors we might be missing out on. And as for the woman who got cast? Well, their lack of effort simply benefited her career. However, things got crazier when it came to casting the male part. In fact, the turnout was so bad that we had to take to online submissions once again. And, at one point, we ended up highly considering an actor who wasn’t necessarily right for the part. Just because he showed up. Yep, you heard that right. He essentially almost got cast just because we were on a time constraint and there was so few people who showed up in the first place. Now, I’m not saying that that is going to happen every time. But it’s certainly a testament to how many actors took the job opportunity seriously.
That’s why you need to show up. Would you bail without notice on a job interview? Would you send your resume to something if you know you don’t want to try and get the job anyway? Would you waste someones time when you know you’re not available for what they’re asking of you? No, no, and no. Acting is a business so treat is as such. All you have to do is show up. And as for the no-shows? Well, it’s their loss. You’re already ahead of the game.