Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the toughest point in your whole career! Now you can relax, because it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
Jokes. The pain is not over. Whether you loved every second, or struggled to retain a skerrick of your sanity throughout the whole ordeal, it was all an experience in of itself. Let me explain what I mean by this, hopefully in a way that neither belittles those who have trained or those who have not.
Drama school is like auditions; it is a separate phase than the job of acting. It can be all the things a job is: challenging, satisfying, rewarding, a learning experience. But it can also be completely alien in the pursuit of indulgent, selfish, individually focussed growth. Drama school affords you a glorious opportunity to be completely blinded to the rest of the industry and really focus on the minute of your craft. It’s great.
On that note, do whatever it takes to avoid a post-graduation slump.
But now you’ve emerged from your cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, it’s time to take a look at the world around you. It’s a rough transition now that nobody knows, or to put it brutally, cares who you are. You have a job to do, a role to play, and you are here to prove that you can deliver the best product available for the task at hand. Drama school gives you a level of professional preparation in the same way any structured environment does, with deadlines, progress marks, foundations and transferrable skills. While this will give you a head start on the untrained folk, don’t expect that name-dropping a drama school will open any doors. You still have to deliver on the X-Factor front.
On that note, do whatever it takes to avoid a post-graduation slump. Yes, you have burned yourself out during the intensity of your study. Yes, your naive, unfettered passion for the pure joy of your craft may have been somewhat doused, or at least tempered by reality, time, and hard work. The magic has dissipated a little through drills and a general concretisation and demystifying of your artistic process. In the career world, you are not allowed to wait until inspiration strikes. You simply need to create inspiration on demand.
Despite all of this, find your pre-drama school joy. Go back to what really makes you love this, and rekindle that flame as though it were your first born. There is no shame in bailing now if the joy is gone completely. This will not be a kind career if you aren’t addicted. If there is literally anything else you can see yourself doing, then go and do that. Drama school is an excellent education in being a good human, and will never be a waste, regardless of the job title you end up holding.
As it is a thankless industry, you need support. The number one most important thing to do in your first year out of drama school is to find your people. Hold on to the people from acting school who light the spark of your motivation, whether they are past, present, or future alumni. Get involved in projects with your peers to keep your hands and brain busy. Don’t move back home if that environment makes you regress to a childish version of yourself. Don’t fall back in with old friends if they don’t respect your career or if they don’t lift you up. And most importantly, find a mentor. Take some people out for coffee and ask them to talk about themselves.
Read: Working with Friends
Almost everyone in this industry is so willing to hold out a hand and pull you up the rope ladder of the hypothetical industry clubhouse that you are short-changing yourself thinking they are too good, or too important, or too busy. Have patience, because it is quite likely that they are all of these things, but be persistent in finding people who do what you want to do and asking them how they did it. Don’t ask for jobs, don’t ask for chances, ask for stories. That is what networking is, not cold-calling professionals with your bare CV. Get involved in the world, and the world will begin to involve you.
And truly, congratulations. You’ve completed a hugely impressive journey, and now you’re ready to begin another. Go get ‘em, tiger.
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