There are two things that are crucial to your success which will determine how far your career will go. The first thing is talent. Presuming you have or are training and have talent, the second is just as important and compliments this. I should throw in at this point that the value of training is so much more than nurturing your talent. If you are trying to get by without training for any reason, I would highly recommend you invest in it to give yourself the best shot in the industry. But I digress… So what is this second *thing*?
Your reputation of course!
I’m going to share with you how to build a sterling reputation so everyone you work with has nothing but great things to say about you.
Why is your reputation so important?
To get straight to the point, your career relies upon it. Have you ever been to a restaurant and found the staff to be unpleasant, seemingly bored and behaving like they’d rather be anywhere but the restaurant?
Have you had excellent service in other restaurants, in which the waiting staff take an interest in you and go above and beyond to make sure you have a great time and that the food is just right?
Both these examples affect your experience as a customer and affect whether you will return to this restaurant, but most importantly whether you will recommend it. What you have to say about the restaurant to others is very important, especially in today’s day and age of instant online reviews.
How does this relate to your acting career?
Everything you do, from the way you conduct yourself at the submission stages all the way through to production, affects the experience of everyone else, including the other actors, crew, director, the extras, producer, runner… I think you get the point.
No matter what someone’s job title is on the production they are all as important as each other to make sure it runs smoothly, and guess what… they all talk!!
As an actor, you are self-employed. You are a business. One of the ways self-employed people gain work is via word of mouth, reviews about you don’t go online as an actor unless you ask for them, but they do pass from person to person in dialogue. Dialogue is a much more powerful review than any online review because with that comes tone of expression and body language. If someone had a great experience working with you, the way they talk about you will say a lot more than the actual words they use. The same is true if someone had an awful experience of working with you, and it all starts from how you present yourself in your training all the way through to being on the job. Your reputation precedes you no matter where you are on your acting journey and will determine whether you are recommended, just like my example of the restaurant.
How to build a sterling reputation
There are many things you can do, but here are just a few, which are common sense more than anything else.
- Have talent – this speaks for itself. The only way to develop your talent is to learn – in training, on set, from others. Never stop learning.
- Do the prep work – don’t wait for a director to tell you what to do or where to stand, make informed choices based upon the script. Bring something to the table for the other actors and director to work with. You’ll get a reputation for being a reliable actor.
- Be punctual – turning up late gives the impression that you can’t be bothered or that you don’t care about the production. Turning up early shows that you are keen and ready to get to work.
- Introduce yourself to everyone – this includes runners, supporting artists (extras). Nobody owes you a favour, remember the way you conduct yourself affects the experience of EVERYONE and the production itself.
- Be polite – if you’re “getting in the moment” or “need time to focus” be aware of how you tell people this when they are wanting to talk to you. Just because you are an actor doesn’t make you the star of the show, everyone’s job is just as important to make the production run smoothly. Say thank you – to the director for casting you, to the ADs who get you in position, to the make-up artist who spends time making you look good. Thank you costs nothing to say, but the impression it makes lasts a lifetime.
- Build good working relationships – careers that last are built upon relationships, more importantly the know, like and trust factor. You don’t need to make a hundred new best friends but you do need to be professional, friendly and help contribute towards a good, safe atmosphere on set.
- Work hard – remember that someone’s money, time and effort has gone into making this production possible. Dossing around isn’t a great way to impress someone if you want them to bear you in mind for other roles.
- Be reliable – which is a combination of all pointers above.
Take a look at Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio for example. Leo ticks all the boxes, he’s got a good reputation AND talented and that’s why him and Scorsese have a great working relationship. There are many other actor/director relationships like this too. Perhaps you can think of some.
So there you have a few of the basics of how to build a sterling reputation. These tips can and should be used on production, with auditions and in your training.
They’ve worked well for me in my acting career and for my acting friends, and I drill it into my acting students so they too can prosper from every production they work on.
What resonated with you? Let me know in the comments box below, or share with your acting friends, it could be just the thing they need!
Here’s to your success!
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 achieve their acting dreams and become the best actor they can be. Join the hundreds of actors around the world who have downloaded her eBook “Respect your craft, discover my top 45 method acting secrets to launch your career“. Download here and be on your way to acting success today!
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