As many other actors, I wasn’t always getting paid to act. One of my numerous jobs was that of a door to door sales person. It was at PI Advertising where I learned the 8 steps to success. Some of the greatest sales people in the world follow these or similar steps. At PI advertising we abbreviated to TAP-WW-CAKE to make it easier to remember. It wasn’t until later years I realized that being an actor is much like being a salesperson. You are very much selling you or the idea of you in a role. This realization led me to start following my sales success steps for my acting career. As a result I started getting called in to audition more often and my career was transformed.
So what are these secret steps? Turns out they are rather simple in theory, but to follow them all consistently is where the challenge comes in. Here they are, with a breakdown of how you can use them. Any variation will do:
T-Time. Be on time. You are probably saying “duh”, and you would be right. This is one of the key elements of anyone successful in business. But you would be surprised the number of actors who neglect this basic step. Hitting traffic, train delays, etc. are all excuses. Leaving an hour earlier could solve those problems. If you cannot be time for an audition how can you demonstrate to a casting director that you will be on time for a production? Being even 15 minutes late for a production can push a crew into overtime and cause thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.
A-Attitude. Have a great attitude. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are excited about your performance, chances are the person watching is too! Positive thinking is one of the strongest tools an actor possesses. Adversely, we all have seen an actor who hasn’t booked in a while, who is down on themselves and the whole process, and that negative energy will kill a performance.
P-Preparation. Always prepare for an audition. Know your lines when you have had time to do so. It does not necessarily mean to be completely off book if you received the materials an hour ago, but you should know the material well enough that the script is not a crutch. If your lines are second nature it will allow you to be more in the moment. Focus on your choices and provide honest reactions. There are a lot of points to preparation. Another is to carefully read your audition invite. Be sure to read all of the instructions from the casting director, not just the time and location. They may want a specific wardrobe; for example-“Upscale casual” or two headshots since the client will be in the room. Often they include notes about the character as well. Preparation will allow you to shine in the audition room as well as show your professionalism and the ability to follow direction.
W-Work 8 hours. At this point you are probably scratching your head. How am I supposed to work 8 hours when I only have one audition? Or how do I work 8 hours when I am not even booked today? When you follow the steps to success your down time from bookings and auditions is actually your work time. This is when you make yourself a strong sale. Take an hour out to: learn a new monologue daily, go through breakdowns and submit to the ones that fit, run lines with an acting buddy, self-tape yourself as different types, practice meditation, update your marketing materials, build a new website, build your skillset with a class, research upcoming projects, etc. The possibilities are endless. But if you put in 8 hours a day you will be a force to be reckoned with!
W-Work your territory correctly. Leave no stone unturned. If you are a full time actor you are always looking for consistent work. One of the best ways to find work is to network. Opportunities are everywhere if you know where to look. Attend film screenings, classes, stage troops, sign on for 48 or 72-hour film projects. Connections are not made sitting in your apartment staring at the wall.
C-Call. Make a call immediately after a sale. In sales this means once you get a sale keep up with the momentum and don’t stop. The same is true for your acting. When you book something keep that level of energy up by using it. Send a postcard or thank you to the casting director who got you the booking. Update your resume with the new “sale”. If you’re looking for representation send a note to the agent with your newest highlights. Harness that “I just booked” power and use it into your next audition. It is strong!
A-Attitude again. Keep a great attitude. There are days where this can seem almost impossible in an actor’s life, but not only is it the nature of the business, keeping positive is the only way that leads to true success. You just need to do it. Find a way to turn any rejection into a learning experience. Get back up and dust yourself off. Surround yourself with positive people, take a yoga class or take up a new activity. Celebrate each success no matter how small. Also, when you do receive a compliment from a Casting Director be sure to store the positive feedback in your brain or write it down in your journal so you can recall it when needed.
K-Know. Know why you’re here. Everyone needs motivation, especially in the competitive business of acting. What are your dreams? Are you going to win an Emmy some day? Perhaps an Oscar? Will you be a regular on an episodic? Having a clear goal of where you are going is essential to getting there. Hard work should pay off. So, know why you are doing it. Write down things that you will get because of your hard work, whether it be a new car, a Hawaiian vacation, a new wardrobe, etc. Be specific with what motivates you. Cut out some pictures and put them on your mirror to see every morning, or on your calendar. Make a vision board. Having a clear motivation will help you glide past difficult times.
E-Extra. Go the extra mile. This doesn’t mean to drive farther. It means do the extra work needed to reach your goals. A little extra goes a long way. If you were to personally submit to 5 more breakdowns a day in the course of a business week that is 25 more opportunities to be seen. That’s over 100 a month. The same strategy can be used for meeting people to expand your network, send postcards, thankyous or tweets. Similar to the approach in sales, this is in many ways a numbers game. Think about the extra something you can do to get yourself seen and improve those booking odds.
The bottom line is just like sales, acting is hard work. Contrary to popular belief there really are no overnight successes. Success is a culmination of careful and calculated steps. These 8 steps to success will help you focus on the task at hand. That task being to sell your talent. If you can follow the steps consistently it will definitely position you to close the deal and eventually make that sale!