This is the time of year where you sit around the dinner table on the holidays, and your family asks you "How's the acting going?" and you stumble on some response about how many callbacks you are getting, how you are focusing on your craft, and all they care about is when they can turn on the TV and see your face. As we near the end of 2016, we should spend a few minutes and make some serious actor goals for ourselves in 2017. Real, tangible, accessible goals. Not "I wanna be a series regular." We all do. Let's start smaller.
Here are some easy goals for every actor for 2017:
1. If you have an agent, stop by the office. Make a plan of action for pilot season, episodic season, make sure they are happy with your headshots, your demo reel, and everything else. Let them see how great you look, and how excited you are. If they haven't seen you in six months, you are out of sight out of mind. Stay on their radar.
2. Be ready to self tape. That means have a corner of your apartment/house/cave that is totally dedicated to self taping when the appointment comes in last minute. Use the right lighting, good sound, a non-white backdrop. Self taping is everything these days. Read my tips here.
3. Make a targeted list of agents/casting directors/managers. If you are represented, make a list of 10 casting directors you want to meet. A targeted list means you feel like you are the right type for the shows they cast, and you think you should get in front of them. If you are unrepresented, make a targeted list of agents and managers that you think would be a good fit for you. If you know your type, and focus on what shows are right for you, then your time and energy is better spent being clear and specific about where you fit into the market. Not just "I wanna get an agent and get on tv."
4. Create your own work. It's easy, affordable, and will fulfill you in ways waiting for auditions won't. I can't stress this enough. That idea for a webseries that's been brewing in the back of your mind? Write an episode now and shoot a 5 minute teaser with your friends, then raise money to do a longer version of it. Write a role for yourself that you are passionate about, and that nobody else can do. Dont' be lazy. Get it done.
5. Update your headshot and demo reel. Don't have a reel? Now is the time to tape two scenes and post them on Actors Access. Make sure your headshot is current (taken within the last year or two), and make sure your demo reel footage is recent. Make sure you have a website with all of your information on there that you could send out on a moment's notice.
6. Build your resume. Do whatever you can to build your credits. If you are new, it's hard to get an agent or manager excited about you without this. Submit on Actors Access, Backstage, Mandy, for anything and everything that you are right for. Submit every day for anything that is the right type for you. Do all kinds of projects, from music videos to short films. Get footage and build your confidence and craft, as well as your connections to other people in the industry.
7. Train train train. Take a class to keep you fulfilled. On-camera, improv, scene study, whatever. Get out of your comfort zone. Fail miserably. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, try out roles you would never be cast in. Watch yourself back on-camera and hone your on-camera technique. Learn and network from other people in an acting classroom. The only way to become a better actor to to make mistakes and suck in an environment where it doesn't matter, where you don't feel the pressure of being cast, and where you can "work out the kinks" in a safe environment so that you are ready when that golden opportunity comes your way.