There is no denying that all actors are going to face that frustrating period when the acting work dries up. It can feel like your acting career will never get back on track, others may tell you to think about packing it in and getting a “proper job”, you might even think that yourself; you might even start to question why you started acting in the first place. All of these worries are COMPLETELY NORMAL. Dry patches are COMPLETELY NORMAL and there is nothing wrong with you. But of course you don’t want to stay stuck in this rut, so I’m going to guide you by offering some practical tips for when acting work dries up to help you get things moving again.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WHEN ACTING WORK DRIES UP
You may have heard the saying that every action has an equal and opposite re-action (thank you Newton!) so when you’re stuck in a funk thinking things are never going to work out, the re-action to that is either moping around and do nothing OR doing something about it. Remember the choice is always yours. See which of these practical tips will be the most useful for you right now.
#1 RE-CONNECT – Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle of acting that we can lose sight of why we started pursuing acting in the first place and what an acting career truly means to us. Take a day off from EVERYTHING, including applying for castings, the industry, social media, people and go and hang out in nature. It’s a great way to re-connect, feed your soul and find inspiration.
Nature can help us to unwind mentally, physically and emotionally and re-engage. I suggest taking a notebook with you, allowing yourself to be present in nature, and when you’re ready to, find a quiet and peaceful place to sit and list all the reasons you’re passionate about acting. As you’ll more than likely be relaxed tune into yourself and note down any ideas or inspiration that come to you. My AHA moments always come to me when I get back to nature and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You may get an amazing idea of what the next step is to get your acting career moving in the right direction again.
#2 BACK TO BASICS – get back to your craft. When work dries up it’s surprising how quickly actors can start to feel creatively stagnant. Go to a class, a script reading or anything that involves you creating. This will help you get the fire burning in your belly again and get your creative juices flowing. Mentally it will also help you feel like you’re making progress, which of course you will be. The motto I stick by is “the craft first for long term success”.
#3 CREATE – If the work isn’t coming to you create your own. Don’t rely on anyone else or the industry to get your acting career moving because you could be waiting a long time – start writing that script you’ve been thinking about, put on that play you’ve always wanted to be in, create that sketch that’s been running around in your imagination, follow up on that idea your acting friend suggested of putting on a show and once everything’s in place, shout about it to the world. It may lead to something and it may not, but there’s nothing like getting up and giving it a go anyway. Lots of amazing theatre and film companies began with frustrated actors getting their heads together.
#4 REQUEST – If you’ve got an agent request a meeting with them. They’re working for YOU, and if you’re not getting auditions you need to put your heads together to find out why and come up with a plan to move you forward. Remember your agent is the one who is working to get you in the audition room with those casting directors who can help you raise your profile. If they’re subbing you on Spotlight and not actually following up that sub with the casting director, or are subbing you for everything and anything that’s a red flag. DO NOT be afraid to ask why. Ask them what’s working for their “most sell-able” actors and how you can replicate that.
Lots of actors feel like they’re bothering or pestering their agents, but if you don’t ask you’ll always be stuck in the shadows feeling frustrated.
And if they don’t want a meeting with you is it time to up sticks? You want to be working with someone who’s passionate about you, has contacts, can sell you, is pro-active, wants you both to earn money and isn’t going to leave you by the way side.
#5 DO THE ROUNDS – ping an email or letter across to the casting directors who work on the projects your casting type fits into to give them a quick update on you. You have to let them know you exist every once in a while or it’s as though you don’t. There’s so many actors in the industry that they’re likely to only remember the ones who keep cropping up so now’s the time to get on their radar.
Many actors get bogged down with what to write so here’s a tip: ask yourself what they don’t know about you (your acting) and tell them. Ask them to consider you for any roles they have coming up that they feel match your casting type, then mark it in your calendar to contact them again in maybe 3 weeks to a months time. Whatever you do, don’t be put off by the radio silence. They may not have seen your email.
#6 CONNECTIONS – Get back in touch with the people you’ve worked with in the past and ask them if they’ve got any projects on at the minute that you’d be suitable for or whether any of their director/producer friends do that they could put you in touch with. Remember these guys already know you, so (if you did a good job for them) they’re going to highly recommend you.
It can be so easy to get stuck in your own small circle of contacts and not break out of them, by tapping into your contacts contacts, you’re widening your circle.
#7 GET SOCIAL – Get a notepad out and make a list of ONE post you can share on each of your professional social media profiles each day to keep yourself visible, then post. Ask your acting friends and family to share these to help you build up your engagement.
# REACH OUT – have a look for those industry peeps on social media who are pro-active and reach out to them. Nothing may come out of it, or it may, but you won’t know until you start a conversation. It could also be the start of a new friendship or a new project. What have you got to lose?
Accept that you are going to have dry periods, but whatever you do don’t hide away.
I’d love to hear from you, have you found this useful? Let me know in the comments, which tip is going to be most useful for you right now and let’s have a conversation.
You can also share this with your acting friends by clicking the social media icons. It could be just the thing they need to help them get out of a funk.
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