Monday, June 22, 2009

Pursuing an Acting Career

Been on vacation - had this in our email Inbox when we returned and wanted to share with our blog subscribers.

Just wanted to share with you these tips that were submitted by one of our readers - hope you enjoy them!
- Chad Gracia

PS: Use coupon code MV3 for 15% off all acting supplies:

Balancing Dueling Professions: Tips for Fruitful Careers, On-stage and Off

It is likely that when you told your parents that you wanted to pursue a career in theatre they answered brashly, "You better have a back-up plan!" Whether you took this advice and held it close to you, or threw it out the window, because well, you wanted to do what you wanted to do, is another story. However that choice can be pivotal to your approach to the profession now.

Whether it was the cynical parent who refused to pay for a theatre degree or the acting professor who told you to try another route if there was any possibility you could be happy doing so, you probably earned some skills to reassure mommy dearest that everything was going to be okay.

Contrary to popular belief, an actor can have a healthy and fruitful career without sacrificing the chance at another stable profession. Now I'm not saying that doctors should leave their patients unattended while they perform a stand-up routine (although Patch Adams made it look easy), but there are ways to find flexible jobs that will allow time for the stage as well.

Here are a few tips on balancing dueling careers:

Don't be afraid to freelance. Are you a good writer? Are you a self-taught Photo shop master? Perhaps you're good with a camera? Got a knack for voice-overs? Think about the hobbies that you might have, and turn them into lucrative jobs. With websites like Craig's list, Twitter, and others, people are able to make immediate calls for work. Finding odd jobs through these sites can start as short term, and potentially become long term, plus it allows for ample flexibility. Finding jobs that allow one to set their own hours is invaluable when trying to give enough face to the stage. Ditch that temp job and have two careers that you genuinely enjoy! Who knows what possibilities will develop with time.

Stay sharp by taking night or weekend classes. Lots of studios make it possible for career men and women to engage in workshops and classes that don't conflict with time on the clock. Sunday nights and Monday nights are prime times to get out and sharpen up the game, and you won't even have to worry about missing that teamwork luncheon that you're oh so looking forward to.

Work for an arts organization. Find a job with people who are passionate about the same things you are. Working in a theatre or another arts organization gives you access to knowing tons of people who can help you get a foot forward, not to mention theatre spaces, access to equipment and more, if you play your cards right. Now with this one, it's important to not overstep any boundaries. Your responsibilities to the company (whether it program advertising sales or box office management) are still number one, but it can be very beneficial to work in an environment like this, if only to meet other creative people. There's no harm in getting together with some of the co-workers to put on an improv show after hours. Or maybe you're looking for someone to do some writing with . . . the possibilities here can be endless, but the balancing act can become more difficult. Be wary and make sure that you're entirely passionate about the other job that you're doing. There's nothing worse than the lackluster production assistant who wants to be the lead actress.

Learn impeccable time management. Where there's a will, there's a way. You know the old phrase. If you can learn to balance work and play, you'll accomplish more with each and every day. That's the real key to accomplishing any of the above routes.
The real lessons here are to hone skills that you enjoy performing, and manage time effectively. If you can handle this, you've got yourself a successful life. Being a performer is what you make of it. Besides Oprah Winfrey was still working in broadcasting when she had her film debut in The Color Purple. However, if you're the governor of California, you might want to take a break from the screen.

- Megan Venzin

ActorTips / The Gracia Group
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