Facing a career in the arts there is often an immense pressure to stand out.
While in school studying to get my BFA in Theatre at Adelphi University, we were taught that any aspect of our career that we CAN control, we should. As actors we should strive to stand out with professional headshots and a well-organized resume. We should stand out by exuding confidence, a positive attitude, and by being easy to work with! We should stand out by being prepared and on time! We should stand out by being pro-active!
But there is still always the voice that says “But that’s not enough!”
And then the anxiety of this thought can lead people to FORCE themselves to stand out and compete with others they believe are better at standing out than them.
If you’ve always wanted to make a web-series with your friends who inspire you—then do it! If making a webseries is not a dream of yours but you feel that that’s what everyone else is doing now to get noticed—then don’t! This is an extreme waste of energy put into a creative project out of desperation, not passion. And it is only when we act out our unique passions and true interests that we stand out as individuals.
Live for your obituary not your resume—by that I mean asking the question “What do I want to do that will be meaningful and fun and an honest depiction of my character” versus asking “What do casting people/agents want to see”
I am not saying not to build up a solid resume working and taking classes at reputable places but what I am saying is that there is a balance.
A few months ago when my contract with a theatre company in Minnesota was ending, I decided to go home to Missouri for a while to save up money and try to figure out what my next step would be. I had a great experience touring and acting full-time, but I also felt drained and found myself asking, “Is this it!”
Living with my parents in Missouri, I was finally able to give myself permission to dream. To give myself the power to make one of my dreams a reality.
I started an organization with a non-profit branch called V.I.P. Hospital Productions that provides customized entertainment for hospitalized children. This is not something that anyone told me I “should” do, in fact it was something I have always felt I MUST do.
Since working on my “thing” I have noticed a shift in my own behavior—I am generally more calm and confident. I don’t approach industry people with desperation, but rather with excitement to share what I’ve been up to!
How many articles have I read reassuring me that the most interesting thing you can do as an actor is to be yourself. I believe it’s very true. I also believe we all put up layers of what we want people to think we are, for fear that our real selves are not interesting enough. Let me assure you, this is false. You don’t even need to talk about your passion-project in order for it to help you with your career. Doing what makes you feel happy, energized, and empowered will radiate with you whether you’re at the grocery store or an audition.
All people (maybe especially people in the arts/”the biz”) appreciate genuine passion and authenticity.
So take some time and figure out what you want to do with your energy and time and not what you think others want you to be doing and then....go on gurrrl (or boi): DO YOUR THANG!