“I BOOKED THE JOB! I booked the job! I’m so excited! Now what do I do?” Be prepared when opportunity strikes by building these three tips into your everyday life and you will be ready to make your next job a success.
1. Increase your skill set. Young actors often perform comedy in roles for sitcoms, film, theater, and commercials. Though we all have had funny moments, it is actually hard to be funny. It takes timing, honesty, and a unique way of appreciating life’s crazy moments. The best place to learn these skills and many others is in an on-going acting class—you won’t learn them in a weekend workshop, while preparing for an audition, or after you have landed a role in your first pilot. Classes provide guided instruction and practice in the same way it is necessary to work with a music teacher to learn the violin. It would be foolish to go straight to the violin recital without instruction and practice; don’t make the same mistake with your audition. Go to class to learn the craft and expand your skill set.
2. Get organized. Young actors and their families are often overwhelmed when they wait until landing a role to develop a system that supports schoolwork, acting, personal, and family commitments. Avoid burnout by organizing and coordinating schedules through a shared family calendar, such as Google Calendar, that can be accessed from any smartphone. Coordinating in this way gets young performers to be much more thoughtful about what they do with their time and makes it possible for families to manage priorities—both of which are essential skills to making it as a happy and well-balanced working actor.
3. Practice collaboration. Although we practice monologues all the time for auditions, there are very few solo shows in which to perform them. Acting is largely a collaborative art performed in scenes with other actors. While this is obvious, the skills to perform collaboratively are not always obvious to young actors. First, acting is about truth; you cannot be collaborative unless you truly practice it. Get to acting class early to help set up chairs or volunteer for community service, for example. Second, practice exceptional listening skills when acting in scene work. You cannot receive from your partner unless you are truly listening. Always notice how your partner sounds and looks, and adapt your response appropriately. That will help you give the director what he wants: a natural performance.
Be ready when you hear these words, “Congratulations! You have landed the role and you are a real working actor!” Do not overlook the commitment and preparation to successfully work in the industry as many aspiring young actors initially do. You learn these skills by proactively trying them and experimenting. So, try them out and I’ll see you in acting class. By the way, come early to set up the chairs.