"You apply and audition and train and dream but you’re not getting the roles you feel you should. Is fate the problem? Or is it you? You might be sabotaging your own acting career without realizing it."
Take a moment and investigate deeper into what you do and how you do it. Then make a list of any changes and improvements you can make to your process. Below are 5 things to help you get started.
1. Headshot Perhaps you got a discount on a photo session, or you're using a nice picture from your best friend's cousin's wedding for a headshot. Regardless, if your picture does not look like you (on a good day), or isn't up to industry standards, don't use it. It doesn't matter how great you look in the photo, if you're not using something is an accurate representation of your appearance, it won't help your career move forward. Sure, you may get called in based on the photo, but casting will be confused when you arrive and don't look anything like the image they have in their possession.
Along the same lines, don't use an old picture. You may not be able to get new headshots, but if you're using one from 10 years ago, and it no longer looks like you, stop. We've heard countless stories of actors being called in for auditions based on pictures that show a middle-aged man, only to have grandfathers show up. It's not honest, and it usually turns out to waste everyone's time.
Make sure it’s a professional photo, no snapshots. We once saw an actor who used a photo of herself with her boyfriend. She had cut the boyfriend out but the resulting photo looked awkward, wrong, and unprofessional. Remember, your photo is a representation of yourself. You don’t have to break the bank for your photographs, but you do need a good, high-quality headshot.
2. Résumé Just like your headshot should accurately represent who you are, so should your resume. Some people may say that it's ok to "embellish" your resume, adding credits that don't exist. In this day and age where information can be found with a quick Google search, it's much easier to verify every single line on that page.
Also, don't exaggerate about your special skills. If you can barely throw two balls in the air, don't say you can juggle. If the extent of your British accent is "Blimey!" don't list that accent as a skill. Remember whatever you put on your resume, casting may ask you to prove. If you're not able to convincingly fake it, don't list it.
It should go without saying, but when at auditions, if you have a scheduled time, be early, but not too early. If you see that casting is still setting up for the session...you're too early. But, as the saying goes, “if you’re on time, you’re really late.”
While you’re waiting for your audition, don’t gossip or talk loudly in the waiting area. You never know who will overhear you. You may inadvertently bash someone the director knows or you may be so loud that you're overheard in the audition room, irritating the production team, and making your life more difficult when you finally enter the room.
4. Communicate Communication is key in all facets of life, especially for actors, so make sure you can get the calls and messages that could lead to a job. Check your emails, voicemails, and text messages often, especially if you're expecting to hear from a casting or production team. If you receive an invitation to audition, don't wait days, or as we've seen even weeks, before you respond. By then, you've missed the audition, and the opportunity has gone to someone else! Keep your voice mailbox clear. If a casting or production member calls and can't leave a message, there's a chance that they just move on to the next actor.
5. Attitude Finally, remember to keep a positive attitude about your career. It can be difficult, especially if you haven't been cast in a while, but keep pressing on, keep going out for roles with a feeling of optimism. Walk into those casting calls with the mindset that something magical can happen...because it just might.
As first published on Backstage.