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Jul 15, 201312:40 PMMad @ Mgmt

with Walter Simson

How to be OUTRAGEOUSLY successful in freelancing

(page 1 of 2)

One day while I was in the middle of making a decidedly unconventional career change from international banking to the holy calling of advice-giving, I came across a free alternative paper that had this eye-catching headline: “How to be OUTRAGEOUSLY Successful in Acting.”

As it happened, I had just done a commercial for the New York market that had been seen by a total of three people. (Backstory: The director wanted someone who was wearing a suit in his commercial. The casting agent only knew one person who owned a suit. Me.) Wow, I thought. That first commercial was easy. Maybe this free paper could help me finance my consulting career with quick, easy, and lucrative acting work.

Big disappointment. The article provided exactly what it promised: a guide to being outrageously successful. However, it provided nothing in the way of quick or easy.

I was about to throw it away when I realized that it could be a more-than-passable guide to being a successful consultant. Just change a few key phrases to business-oriented language and it becomes a very handy guide for the self-employed consultant or coach.

I cut the article out and hung it on my refrigerator, where it proudly reigned until it was displaced by the handprint of our first-born. The actual paper has now been lost. However, its lessons are timeless. Here they are:

  1. Get known. Have you personally met every casting director in your market? If not, you are not sufficiently well known. Get out there.
  2. Audition. Are you auditioning at least three times per week? If not, you are missing the main avenue for success in the business. No one says “bravo” to an actor still in in his pajamas.
  3. Head shots. Are your head shots up to date? Do they have your updated biographical information, including recent roles and skills, on the back? If you have done Shakespeare but it is not in your CV, the Shakespearean director will put your name to the side.
  4. Study. Are you studying acting with the best coaches you can find? Not for job-hunting, but because you are so very determined to build your craft. No one hires rusty actors.
  5. Networking. Are you networking for jobs? Do you know about all the road tours, experimental productions, summer stock, church-basement, and floating-barge productions in town? It is your job to know about jobs. Until you have an agent, you are your agent.
  6. Do you have an agent? It is your agent’s job to help you find work. If you can’t convince an agent you have the stuff, how do you expect to convince producers?
  7. Skills. Are you building your skills? Actors need to know how to sing, dance, fence, fight, speak languages, perform stunts, and do myriad other skills that help the portrayal of real life. Adding these skills gives the actor confidence and the casting director confidence in the actor.
  8. Health. Are you taking care of yourself? You must eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep to be ready for the big role. Not only to look great — that is a given in this field — but to be ready to take on the physical and emotional challenges of life onstage, not to mention the disappointments and challenges off.
  9. Not yet. Are you taking disappointment in stride? No does not mean “no” to the determined actor. It means “not yet.”
  10. All the above. Are you taking the above points and practicing them for as long as it takes? If you do, you will be OUTRAGEOUSLY successful.


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