As an actor, it can be easy to fall into the trap of waiting for opportunities to come your way. It’s natural to feel like you need to rely on others, whether it’s a casting director, agent or manager, to give you a chance. The truth is that you have the power to create your own opportunities and build a successful career as a strong and independent actor. I’m talking about “The Power of One”. Yes, that means you, and you alone.
Embracing Your Acting Independence
Embracing your acting independence means taking ownership of your career and pursuing your goals with passion and purpose. It means being proactive, taking risks and staying true to yourself in the face of rejection and setbacks. (See our previous article to find out if you have what it takes to become an actor.) You have the ability to make professional decisions and choices without relying on others, such as being able to work independently without constant supervision (i.e. arriving to set on time), having the skills and knowledge necessary to perform your job duties without assistance (i.e. learning your lines) and being confident in your abilities to handle challenges or obstacles that may arise in your work (Follow us at DirectSubmit NYCastings to comment what obstacles you’ve encountered on set.)
There’s also life independence, which is something you should work on in order to be comfortable with acting independence.
Independence means that you’re able to take care of yourself and make your own decisions without relying on others for assistance. It means that you’re self-sufficient and can support yourself financially, emotionally and physically. Being independent involves taking responsibility for your actions and the consequences of those actions.
Here are key steps to help you embrace your independence and achieve success as an actor:
Define Your Goals: Before you can take control of your career, you need to know where you’re headed. Take some time to reflect on your strengths, passions and career aspirations. What type of roles do you want to play? What kind of projects do you want to work on? Once you have a clear vision of your goals, you can start taking action to make them a reality.
Build Your Skills: As an actor, your craft is your most valuable asset. Make a commitment to continually improve your skills through training, workshops and practice. Invest in yourself and your career by seeking out opportunities to learn and grow.
Create Your Own Work: Don’t wait for someone else to give you a role. Take the initiative to create your own projects and opportunities. Write a script, produce a short film or collaborate with other artists to bring your ideas to life. Not only will this help you build your portfolio and gain experience, but it will also showcase your creativity and initiative to potential employers. (If you’re not sure how to do this, or don’t have the funds, you can start out by making YouTube and/or TikTok shorts.)
Network: Building relationships with other actors, industry professionals and casting directors is essential for success in the acting world. Attend events, join online groups and connect with others in the industry. Building a strong network will help you stay up-to-date on industry trends, discover new opportunities and make valuable connections.
Stay Positive: The acting industry can be tough, and rejection is a common experience. It’s essential to maintain a positive attitude and keep pushing forward. Remember that every audition, every project and every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Believe in yourself, stay focused on your goals and keep working hard.
Related to being an independent actor includes being a responsible business owner (yes, you are your own boss) and financial duties.
Business: Acting is a business, and as an independent actor, you will need to understand the industry and how to market yourself. This includes developing your own brand, creating a website and social media presence and building relationships with agents casting directors, and other industry professionals.
Financial Management: You’ll need to learn how to manage your finances. This includes understanding how to budget your income, keeping track of your expenses and paying taxes. Expenses include rent, headshots, acting classes, travel and props. I must bring up MC Hammer, who was a millionaire rapper in the 90s. Go ahead and read this article about how he lost all of his money and his home. If this scares you, then good! Be sure you know how to handle your finances.
Below is a quick bullet list of some business and financial items you’ll need to incorporate as an actor. Be sure to head over to DirectSubmit NYCastings to read more helpful information on topics discussed here.
Marketing: Actors need to know how to market themselves to casting directors, agents and potential employers. This involves creating a professional portfolio, building a strong online presence and networking with industry professionals.
Contracts and negotiations: Actors should be aware of the legalities of the industry and understand how to negotiate contracts with casting directors, agents and other professionals. They should also be aware of their rights as performers and seek legal advice if needed. Do not, I repeat, do NOT sign a heavy duty contract without consulting an entertainment lawyer. There may be things in the contract that are not beneficial to you. On the flip side, what if you want to add something to the contract?
I asked attorney Alesha M. Dominique about adding a rider:
NYCastings: What if an actor / musician wants to put their own riders into a contract? Do you advise against “certain” requests or just put them in?
AMD: Riders are typically attached to an artist’s contract as a requirement for performance. It may be a technical requirement such as certain stage dimensions and lighting while performing, or things that simply make an artist more comfortable while touring, such as a special candy or foods to accommodate a dietary restriction. Unless you are a very well established artist, I would avoid over the top requests which may turn someone off.
Time management: Actors need to be able to balance auditions, rehearsals and performances with their personal lives. They should be able to manage their time effectively to ensure they can attend all necessary appointments and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Continuous learning: Actors need to keep learning and honing their craft. This involves taking acting classes, attending workshops and seminars and staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices.
Embracing your independence as an actor can be a powerful tool in your journey. The Power of One, the concept of taking ownership of your career and being proactive in creating opportunities for yourself, can help you stand out from the competition and make a name for yourself. By taking control of your life, career, developing your skills, building your network and seeking out opportunities, you can achieve your goals as an actor. Success as an actor is not solely determined by external factors, but also by your own personal drive and determination. So take the reins of your career, embrace your independence and let your talent shine!