Waiting is Death
Posted on: October 17, 2011 in category: Steve's BlogIt's Tuesday. You wake up around 9 or 10 in the morning. You make some coffee, check your email, Facebook, Twitter and read some news sites for an hour or so. If you're feeling inspired you go to the gym, maybe meet Sally and Joe for coffee, look at your sides for an audition later in the week and then get ready to work your night job.
You've been in LA a few years and you're making it work. You got a job, you're paying your rent, you got a decent agent and you're in the game auditioning a couple times a week. Things are comfortable.
And now you wait. You book a guest spot or a commercial every once in a while and you get decent feedback most of the time, but you're waiting for the right audition to come along, the right opportunity to show them how brilliant you are. "It's just a matter of time", an encouraging friend might say. And you believe her. So you wait. You're waiting for the industry to bestow upon you the fame, riches, and validation that you currently lack. You're waiting for that one agent, casting director, director, producer or executive to really see your talent and give you the opportunity to spread your wings and fly. You wait, and you've created a life that keeps you comfortable while you wait.
But as the months pass and the comfort sets in more deeply, there is a reality you're ignoring. The truth is that by passively waiting for the industry to shine it's light upon you, you are giving up your creative power. By waiting for the industry to choose you, your career strategy involves little more than crossing your fingers and hoping that you win the acting lottery. You are waiting.
Passively bowing in reverence to the great god that is the film and TV business in hopes that it will give you its blessing is for schmucks. By all means, an actor should do everything in her or his power to acquire great representation, be brilliant in auditions and book many amazing jobs. But in this day and age as much effort should be as invested into one's own work. You must create your own work. You must make your own opportunities. You must write, direct, produce, act in and/or shoot your own material. If you're not taking command of your creative voice you're giving your power to other (potentially non-creative) people and silently waiting for them to tell you what to do. You have become a child, waiting for a parent to tell you where to go and what to do. But technology has made it so that you no longer need mommy and daddy to achieve your goals. Cameras are easily accessible and the internet is your distribution company. You have to take advantage of that.
Beyond the powerlessness, playing nothing but the waiting game often results in an actor sadly waking up Tuesday morning ten years from now in very much the same place that she or he is in today. The industry is fickle. It's moody. It loves you, then it hates you. And the definition of success within the industry is narrow (book or not book) and often means that there are opportunities for but a small number of the masses of actors who are all trying to book that job you're auditioning for. Sitting back and waiting your turn often means either waiting for a turn that never comes or getting sent back in line again once that turn is over. Look around. You see it everywhere in this town. Older actors waiting for the business to save them. Waiting for the industry to rescue them from their bills and their insecurity, pat them on the back and tell them that they matter again. By creating your own material, writing, acting, producing, shooting and acting in your own work, you increase your chances of success within the industry and enjoy the satisfaction of a creative struggle that is your own, void of industry permission slips. Will writing a short and posting it on Youtube make you rich and famous? Maybe. Maybe not. But you'll have the opportunity of being seen and you'll be working on your craft. And that's better than waiting for the phone to ring.
The days of waiting for that phone call are over. Examine your life. Look at your career. Are you waiting for someone else to tell you that you can act? Are you losing sight of why you came to LA and took that job at the restaurant? If yes, and you still want to have a career as an actor then while you're dutifully answering your agents calls and kicking ass in your auditions, you need to eradicate the powerless reverence of the industry, take matters into your own hands and create.
Whether in a scene, your career or your life, passive floating, waiting for some external force, is death for an actor.