Like a bear after hibernation, I emerge. And with the most practical, business-centered blog post yet.
In my last post, I mentioned how I intended to write a blog post at the beginning and end of each new adventure. The very next post I write (this one) is coming out at the halfway mark of this contract. The irony is not lost on me.
BUT I have good reason, and I’ll get to that. (It’s the audiobook)
Over the last few months, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from friends asking how I booked certain gigs or found this or that theatre. First of all, let me be clear:
I do not have some fancy theatre-career-guru helping me to map out my life and guide my footsteps.
I have a Backstage account, friends with good career advice, and a series of lucky shots in the dark. I also have a pair of running shoes to run off the “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING” stress so I can come back and keep pretending I know what I’m doing.
When I started this blog, it was with the intention of providing an inside look into what “being an actor” looks like—the good, the bad, and the ugly—for the sake of entertainment, encouragement, and/or inspiration. I remember meeting multiple actors with Broadway careers (many that launched right out of college) and wondering what happened to the hundreds of other actors? They couldn’t all be living in NYC waiting tables. There are too many theatres, theme parks, cruise ships, etc. in the world for them to all follow the standard
College --> Showcase --> Agent --> Auditions --> #bookedandblessed
formula. So where did the others go, and what are they doing, and how did they get THEIR jobs? Does anybody have a map (*cough* reference *cough*) for that trajectory?
I’ve gone on a tangent. Bringing it back.
I’ve decided to write a post listing everything I’ve done since graduation, how I found it, and why I think I booked it.
I attribute my continued work thus far to 5 things:
This is anyone who can get a company to pay attention to you and, by extension, your audition; Agents, friends who’ve worked there before and can vouch for you, a director who’s worked with you before… (this goes back to my “the more you work, the more you work” motto)
2. Being a Decent Human Being
People talk. And Karma will come back to bite you. Or on the flipside, come back and bless you. Just do your job and cop the attitude.
3. Working Your Tail Off
YOU are in charge of making sure they don’t forget you. A large part of the job is sending “HI I STILL EXIST REMEMBER ME HERE'S A NEW VIDEO AND A 6TH COPY OF MY HEADSHOT AND RESUME” emails on a monthly basis to casting directors and theaters I’ve connected with previously (either via auditions or showcases, etc). I spend a chunk of time each week updating my Backstage, website, and social media accounts and submit video auditions on a regular basis.
Fun fact: this has gotten me three auditions, and four different job offers. Don’t skimp on this ingredient. It’s like vanilla in a cookie recipe—it’s hard to add too much. ;)
Talent merely qualifies you for consideration. After that, it’s about the look, the sound, the experience…literally anything else.
The reason I booked my last job is because of my red hair. They already had brunettes in the cast, and they wanted variety, so I won out. It had literally nothing to do with my talent.**
Let’s not pretend there isn’t an element of luck to every success. I’m sure the other girl put just as much work into her audition as I did, but my red hair won me the job. That’s luck.
It’s lucky when you’re the perfect “type” for a show, or when the director knows one of your college professors and wants to throw you a bone. Those lucky breaks have nothing to do with the work you put in—but they are an influencer in this career.
Without further ado: A list of every job I’ve had since graduation and how it came to be
(and the portions of each ingredient that resulted in the happy “booked” cookie). Hopefully this can give some of y’all actionable ideas beyond “you have to want it enough,” which is honestly the most annoying and cliché piece of advice you can get from someone.
1. Greenville Little Theatre Resident Company Member:
Booked as a result of an audition at the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions in Memphis, TN in Spring of 2016.
GLT would not have seen me if I hadn’t been accepted to the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions—so in that way, the conference was representing me and vouching for my talent by accepting my application.
30% Being a decent human being:
GLT asked for a LOT of references. After having worked with them for a year, I know that one bad reference can easily be the difference between being offered a job and not.
20% Working your tail off:
Sent a follow up email and promptly responded to anything they needed from me (references, interviews, etc.).
I sing and dance. Surprise. Yay.
They took a gamble on me. They cast a person they knew very little about as the lead in one musical and the primary antagonist in another. I’m blessed, grateful, and lucky. That doesn’t happen often.
2. The Maggie Valley Band Music Video:
They found me on Backstage and shot an email out to me last minute.
They didn’t know me from Adam. They just saw my profile and videos on Backstage and shot me an email.
0% Being a decent human being:
I could have been the worst. They had no way of knowing. So this played no part in helping me book.
30% Working your tail off:
My Backstage profile is literally the only reason I booked this.
They saw enough on my profile to know I was an actor and could handle a camera in my face.
Truly. They were in a pickle and in the market for a young actress on short notice. I happened to be available. This was pretty much a “stars aligned” scenario.
3. Audiobook: The Turning by A.L. Noble
I submitted an audition to A.L. Noble via my profile on the Audiobook Creation Exchange www.acx.com
We were connected via ACX, but knew nothing about eachother besides that prior to partnering up.
5% Being a decent human being:
We established enough of a rapport to enter a working partnership, which probably wouldn’t happen had either of us sucked as people.
50% Working your tail off:
I had to record, produce, and then submit the audition. And then, of course, the book itself. This is the first time I’ve been both the actor and the producer of a project. I bought all the equipment, searched for and watched hours and hours of online classes about building home studios and sound production, and put in the time. There were a lot of learning curves.
Voice talent definitely plays a larger role in this one. Because I could be a 7ft tall person with purple skin or look like myself and it wouldn’t matter. All that matters in the world of audiobook production is the voice and sound results.
This is the first time I’ve recorded and produced an audiobook and this is the first time A.L. Noble has had one of her books turned to an audiobook. We had patience with eachother and learned together, and THAT is incredibly lucky. And I’m lucky that she liked my voice.
Submitted a video audition to the Alluvion Stage Company at the prompting of the music director (a friend of mine) when we ran the Raleigh marathon together this past spring.
I have this job because I had someone vouching for me. She is the one who made me aware of the show, suggested I submit a video audition, and vouched for me in casting. Because I had somebody in my court who could recommend me, the Alluvion Stage Company was more willing to hire me as an unknown entity.
15% Being a decent human being:
If I sucked as a person, Katy wouldn’t have recommended me, or even been my friend. But I’m a relatively decent human being. So here we are.
20% Working your tail off:
I got my foot in the door because of my connection, but I still had to put together a good video audition and submit it. That means selecting material, getting a piano track, choreographing a dance audition (jazz and tap) filming, editing, and emailing all the right people.
I had to have something to add to the cast, right?
They decided to add two more girls to the ensemble than is originally scripted. That’s luck.
And of course there are other things on the horizon that I’m waiting to hear back from—gigs/projects resulting primarily from connections and working my tail off, but because of non-disclosures and a barrage of uncertainties, I’ll leave them secret for now.
So in short, there really isn’t a simple 5 step process or single tool I’ve used to find work. It’s those five ingredients in different amounts. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just spend a lot of time seeking auditions, nurturing connections, and trying to keep my head above water.
So I’ll leave you with two word bites for thought:
1. It's easy to forget that you’re still juggling when you’re so focused on not dropping any balls.
2. It’s easy to lose sight of your successes when swimming in the pool of uncertainty.
**The director told me this during a dinner break in rehearsals. This is not a cheesy made-up example.