After working in this business for over 30 years as an artist, then talent agent and manager, I have seen people win and people fail. I have learned what common traits the winners have, and I want to share their secrets to success with you. People make this career so complicated, and it really isn’t. You just need to learn what steps to take, then take them persistently, with patience and perseverance.
Here Are 10 Ways to Succeed as an Actor:
1. You need to get the best training you possibly can. Immerse yourself in many techniques, starting with Meisner, Stanislavski Method and Improv.
2. You need to excel at auditions. Get separate audition training.
3. You need to have outstanding casting profiles on Casting Networks and other casting platforms which includes your résumé, your headshots and your acting clips.
4. You need to be networking 24/7 with everyone you meet, staying in touch with the people you meet on set, do workshops with, hire, cast and who you have organic, authentic relationships with. Pour into these relationships. Don’t have your hand out.
5. You need to stay in touch with your agent and manager and keep showing them your new acting clips as you get them. Keep self-submitting for short films, web series and indie and feature films to build your experience, résumé and your connections. Always be creating your own content. Don’t wait for a career to be handed to you, or you could be waiting forever.
6. Have a positive attitude, and be friendly and kind to everyone you meet. Managers become producers, and agents become casting directors, so you will run into the same people over and over again down the road in different positions and they may be in the position to cast you (or not) in the future. So don’t burn any bridges — don’t be a doormat, but don’t burn bridges.
7. You have to trust that your agent and manager are working hard for you because they don’t make a cent until you are working. Before you blame them for your lack of success, make sure all your ducks are in a row. Sometimes your package may need a massive overhaul and what you are giving your reps to work with is not your strongest work. Craft your package to win.
8. It’s your job as the talent to keep your agent or manager interested in working with you. If you show up late or are not prepared for your auditions or not taking your career seriously, you can be dropped like a hot potato and “squashed like the cockroach you are.” (Thank you, Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank.)
What are you responsible for? You are responsible for giving us the best quality headshots that represent your types, as well as acting clips that feature YOU and demonstrate your acting at its highest level — or we have nothing useful to convince casting directors that you are worth their time to audition. Presenting yourself as an amateur with amateur materials is one sure way of getting absolutely nowhere. So many actors do this for years, and years and years.
You are responsible for knowing yourself and becoming confident in who you are and what you are selling… YOU.
9. Agents and managers all submit to the same roles. We know which projects are available when they become available, or if we are reading scripts and talking to production companies. What matters is the passion of the person representing you, not the size of the agency. Relationships are everything in this business. Pour into the people who believe in you.
TRUTH: Agents, managers and casting directors see actors as an endless sea of “ wannabee potential” but only a handful really stick out and present something GREAT. And those are the only actors we are ever really interested in. If you are one of those hard-working actors, congratulations! Then we will see you on the red carpet.
UNDERSTAND THIS CRITICAL FACT: “Agents and managers run with the wolves” (as my beloved friend Amy Lyndon says). In other words, we run with the actors who are running. We gravitate to the actors who are standing out, who are getting auditions, who are getting call backs, who are getting momentum, who are booking the jobs. We run with the wolves.
The process of submitting, pitching, identifying projects and preparing the actors is often the same for actors. However, the process only works for some, and those are the actors that reps are all interested in. This is a business. You aren’t the only one with bills to pay, children to put through college and elderly parents to care for. So do your part. Show up for yourself and for us.
10. Recognize that this acting career is a lifelong profession. One audition that you book means nothing. Getting on a TV show as a series regular for two or three years still means you’re out of work as soon as it’s canceled. Acting training never ends, and you are only going to be successful if you keep showing up and showing up year after year, after year, after year. This is a lifestyle, not a lottery.
After 30 years in this business, I have seen a plethora of actors come and go. My friend Sandy Bressler, who has been Jack Nicholson’s agent for over 30 years, said to me, “every single actor thinks they are going to make it, and the fact is, only 5% do.”
No matter how hard you work at this business, some of you just are not going to make it to the top. That’s okay. Strive for the top. Dream as big as you can. Try to become the best actor that you can be, and find your niche in this business. You may become a star or a working actor, you may become a producer, a director, a writer, showrunner, costume designer, set designer, editor… enjoy the process, and enjoy discovering yourself.
DREAM BIG, WORK HARD AND BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERY ACHIEVEMENT YOU HAVE, SMALL OR LARGE. YOU ARE AMAZING!
You are a gifted, talented human being who deserves great things. You have something beautiful to share. Remember the end destination is not always the most important thing. The journey is what matters.
Be confident, believe in your greatness and your value, share your spirit, your heart, share your talents, strive for big things and enjoy this amazing gift of life.
Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager, Author, and Acting Business Coach. She has authored seven books about breaking into show business in a series called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” She helps new actors understand the business and how to realistically get started via her popular YouTube channel, which has 5 million+ views. Wendy created TMFA (Talent Managers for Actors), which is a 75,000+-member Facebook group to help connect actors, agents, managers, coaches and casting directors. She also created The Hollywood Winners Circle Academy, the most advanced online acting business training program in the world. FREE MASTER CLASS.