Breaking Down an Actor's Career | Working out your Goals as an Actor
Actors Career

Breaking Down an Actor’s Career

Written by on | Acting Industry Actor's Health

“Bring yourself to the part of taking hold of a role, as if it were your own life.” – Stanislavski

Sometimes it all becomes a bit blurry, what am I doing here? I want to be there. It’s not fair.

We’re here to help. Here’s some guidance on how to answer these questions, or dismiss them all together.

Read on to gain god-like wisdom and clarity. Or don’t, it’s your life.

Script Analysis For Your Life/Career

Working out your goals as an actor

Motivation

Find your authentic WHY

When you’re losing track of what you actually want in life , it’s time to take a step back, and rediscover your why.

What is your purpose in the world?
What truly inspires you – at your core?

Is it “to share my unique view of the world” or “to live truthfully and authentically as a human being” or simply “to tell stories”?

The acting game is not an easy one: you’re battling low employment rates, high emotional pressures and financial instability. Just like understanding your character’s motivation, understanding your own motivation will guide you through the tough times, as well as help you navigate which jobs and opportunities to take or not to take.

Objective

WHAT do you want in life?

Alright, now that you’re clear on the why, you can start figuring out wants.

This can be as broad as “what do I want in life?” and as narrow as “what do I want to achieve today?”

Don’t just sit there staring out into space, write your goals down! Dump all those crazy, weird and possibly frightening thoughts onto a piece of paper. It will help, you’ll possibly feel a huge weight lift off your shoulders, you might feel like singing, and you can begin on the path to enlightenment (maybe, no guarantees).

So think about the type of projects you want to work on, the people you want in your life, the contributions you want to make to society, the person you want to be. And even the money you want to earn. No need to feel dirty about this, the world revolves around money, it’s a fact of life. But once you’ve written it down, forget about it, and get on with it.

Don’t stop at acting career goals, include life goals. Rather than compartmentalise your life, embrace your life as a whole, it’s all related and it’s all yours.

Do you really want to be working a hospo job (which you hate, obvs) just to ‘pay the bills’? We get it, very rarely do people make a living solely from acting. That’s why we encourage you to make a list of your skills, talents and passions and create a life where acting fits fluidly into your wonderful, exciting, fulfilling life matrix.

Meditate in the joy of those goals, every sensation of it. Journal any feelings of resistance or fear, identify ‘impostor syndrome’, procrastination, self-pity and other mind-monkeys and affirm your worthiness (you got dis).

Turning Point

Allow for CHANGE

You must, must, must (!) allow for change. Your goals can change. Your life path can change. You may want something different, and that is ok! Life is a journey, your past does not dictate your future. It’s all lessons and experiences, none of it will be wasted.

The mercurial nature of the industry means that we simply don’t know what opportunities will exist in 5 years, or even next week. Technology, politics, society, culture, economics, climate – all these things affect the entertainment industry. While our innate drive to create, explore and express is unchanging, our medium is ever-evolving. What was a web-series 20 years ago? People are now telling unique, engaging stories on SnapFace… Or was it MyBook?

Given Circumstances

Have a FULL life

Fill the well! As creators, we are continually drawing from our internal ‘well ’ and generating energy outward. Spending too long in the struggle of work (both creative and the bill-paying kind), can deplete us of our most valuable resources. Focus your energy into things which fill up your creative ‘well’, and ignore the rest. It may be travel, yoga, hugs from your bestie, food, skydiving, patting a cat, day dreaming, going to the cinema, dancing, food (did we say that already?). You will be energising your creative flow and sense of play, and in doing so, ward off any feelings of desperation that may be creeping into your work… and the audition room. Trust us, people can smell it. It doesn’t book jobs. More on staying creatively inspired.

Scenes and Beats

Break your big goals into smaller GOALS

Remember high school? #Nostalgia. And remember S.M.A.R.T goals? Break your big goals into smaller goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Your smaller goals are going to be the factors which enable the big goals, the ones that get you places and get you doing things. Otherwise you are just living in dreamland. You may need to do some research: talk to mentors, scale the internet for opportunities, and examine the path of actors that are where you would like to be (no comparison allowed, only inspiration).

Not all goals will be immediately achievable. You cannot play the last scene – or even the second scene – until you have done the first. It is unlikely that you will book series regular before you get into a casting room, and highly unlikely that you will get into the casting room, without an agent (unless you have exceptional self-management skills / are a unicorn).

Tactics & Actions

Don’t put down your pen yet, we’re almost there:

Now break your smaller goals into tasks. Make a ‘to-do’ list at the same time each week, get a diary, hire a receptionist. Look at your week as a whole, look at your month, and then 3 months. Stay in the present, but don’t lose track of where you are and what’s ahead. Set dates to achieve certain things, and hold yourself accountable to them. And then most importantly, reward yourself! (Baths, chocolate, Netflix, food, sleep-in, food.)

As an actor, you are essentially your own business. Allow that knowledge to empower you to take responsibility for your career (and life).

Acting Career Essentials

Get real about what’s in your ‘actor’s tool-kit’ – essentials for your small business.

  1. Your craft
  2. A popping headshot
  3. Clear & updated resume
  4. Casting Profiles. Showcast, Casting Networks and IMDbPro profiles up-to-date.
  5. Social media presence (a good one)
  6. Good portfolio of footage – showreel or self-tapes, that show you in your best light, and a means of getting it out there
  7. Self-taping knowhow and ability
  8. Audition skills
  9. Audition wardrobe
  10. Industry knowledge
  11. Good relationships – both cherishing your peers, and nurturing professional relationships
  12. Money
  13. Time (and time management)
  14. Creative community and support network
  15. Ninja mind-set.
  16. Holistic Wellness

and the list goes on…

No actor’s journey is the same. Allow your unique motivations, objectives, goals and tactics to identify the specific tasks you will undertake on your journey. What extra skills to you need? What connections are available to you and how can you nourish them? How can you grow your network? How can technology and social media assist your career?

Remember that success is ‘preparation plus opportunity’, and it also looks a lot like hard work.

So be prepared, work hard and stay open to opportunity.

Obstacles

We’re sure you’ll have no problems identifying these. There is so little within your control as an actor, and that will never change. So change your mindset instead. Choose to enjoy this crazy, frustrating journey and trust that you have all the resources you need to navigate your way through. There will be surprises (we can guarantee this one.) 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 5 steps sideways and 13 steps diagonally.

When those unexpected opportunities arise, be prepared to ‘just say yes’, but never lose sight of your why. But in saying that, allow yourself to say no (without guilt or judgement) as well.

Who Are You?

Actors must have a great understanding of self and also a great love of self. Make it your mission to continually explore who you are. You are your most invaluable resource. Feeling is freedom.

Greater understanding of you and your triggers will allow greater vulnerability in your acting. Greater self-understating and acceptance will help you determine your why. Greater self-acceptance and love will provide you the ‘skin of a rhino, heart of a child’ resilience which can dictate whether you’re in it for the long-haul.

actor's career

F*@% IT!

The ‘most important step’ of any technique: Let. It. Go.

Are you letting love or fear dictate your decisions? The acting game is not an easy one, but it is a bloody fantastic one. Be gracious, be joyful, make fearless choices, and be your daring, curious, creative, fabulous authentic self.

But, in saying all this – “it’s your life. Create your own method. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you.” (Stanislavski)

Good luck, and if no one else does – we love & support you. <3

About the Author

Pip Edwards

regularly teaches acting, screen-acting, auditioning, and ‘business of acting’ at many of Australia’s leading drama schools and studios, as well as through her private coaching, self-taping and mentorship studio ‘Pip Edwards Creative. As an actor, Pip regularly works in television, film, theatre and TVCs. Since graduating NIDA, she has trained extensively in both Australia and the US. Pip has been host/presenter on a number of live and recorded events, panel discussions and programs.

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