So many actors have big dreams of breaking into Hollywood, the West end or Television but so few actually manage it.
It can cause actors everywhere to become fed up because financially – not to mention emotionally and mentally – it can be draining. With very little financial rewards, paying the bills becomes a huge battle and the lure of the full time wage can suck you in leaving you feeling defeated and a bit of a failure for being another actor the industry chewed up and spat out.
How to break the cycle of low paid/unpaid work
Firstly you need to get clear on what isn’t working that you’re currently doing, there’s no point putting a plan in place if you’re going to do some new things and more of the same. You can also get clear on what is working for you and do more of it. You may need to make a list of everything to get out of your head and stop it feeling like it’s swimming.
Next step is to ask yourself why you’re only doing low paid/unpaid work. Is it that you’re grabbing at anything to keep your CV fresh, is that you’re scared you’ll not get higher paid work, is it that you’re not looking in the right places, are you struggling to know your worth as an actor? It’s important to understand the root reason behind only doing low paid/unpaid work so you do any learning or self-development needed to turn this around, which will help you shift your focus. .
Once you are clear and have deleted some of the things that are wasting your time and energy, which have served their purpose in the past, it’s time to crack on and go full steam ahead.
- Get clear on where you fit in the industry – is there a place for you in the market? (the market being the acting industry). You can’t be everything; man, woman, Chinese, British but you can be who you are. So start with who you are then move onto the types of roles you seem to get a lot of. Both of these help you find your place in the market.
- Create a CLEAR plan – What is it you want to achieve and how are you going to get there step by step? Sounds boring doesn’t it, but if you don’t know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there you’re going to spend a LOT of time chasing your tail. You can then also see how close you are to your big goals and tweak along the way.
- Create a killer cover letter – When writing to agents and casting directors what can you highlight in your cover letter that sells you and also shows your personality? Keep it to the point and keep in mind that these will probably only be skim read so make every word count and highlight what’s important.
- Create a killer CV – yes even with your current CV you can highlight the highlights of your career. Casting Directors are looking for things they recognise as it builds up trust. What would they recognise on your CV? If there isn’t anything, that could be one of your goals. There’s always something to work on.
- Be persistent and consistent – everyone is going to have bad and good days, the key is not giving up. If one route isn’t getting you towards your goals you’re going to have to find another route. There’s more than one way to achieve something. You only have to read up on current successful actors to figure this out.
- Review and reflect – You must get into the habit of doing this. This is how to become successful. When reviewing and reflecting you must be ruthless by letting go of what isn’t working in favour of those strategies that are even if you’re scared of trying something new (which is totally normal, human way to feel).
By using these suggestions to guide you, you will eventually (if you stick to this way of running your acting business) fade out the unpaid/low paid work. However this is an effort based industry so if you fall off track be sure to stay positive, review why you’ve fallen off the wagon and get back on as soon as possible.
Has this helped? Let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.
If you’d like to learn more about breaking away from the unpaid/low paid acting jobs our actor’s career masterclass may be just the thing you need.
Here’s to your successful acting business!
Don’t give up, just keep learning.
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Louise O’Leary is a professional actress, method acting coach and Artistic Director of StandBy Method Acting Studio. Her mission is to help as many actors as she can launch their careers and become the best actor they can be.
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