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the art of unemployment

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into when I decided that I wanted to pursue acting as a profession. While most of my other friends graduated from college and got hired to work in offices of various sorts, I apparently chose unemployment (or so my acting coach says). But I have to say, it’s true.

Acting is a tough business. And that is exactly what it is. They don’t call is show business for nothin! I am essentially the CEO of business, and just like any other business, I have to work to build my company from the ground up. That takes time. I am constantly training and consistently auditioning.

As actors, our job is to audition. Getting the part is just a bonus. What?! You are probably thinking that this makes no sense whatsoever. But if you have this perspective, it will actually get you “employed” a lot faster… Here is a recent quote by Willl Ferrell that I read in BackStage to help explain. He is referring to his acting coach, Ian Tucker:

“… He gave me great advice when I got my ‘SNL’ audition. He said, ‘Just don’t view it as trying to get the job. View it as an experience: a fun trip to New York, a great audition experience. Don’t even think beyond that.’ Which is still hard to do, because you’re thinking about the ultimate prize. But I tried to be true to that and not worry about the rest and stay focused on just having it be a cool experience. It took the pressure off, in a weird way.”

So there you have it. If we don’t try to get the job, we are more likely to get it! My dad always says, “Work like you don’t need the money.” And as an actor, I think that is such wonderful advice. I have to “audition like I don’t need the job.”

I have been fortunate enough to have been on many auditions, in Dallas and here in LA. But within the past few months, I have been auditioning even more frequently than ever before. I had sort of an “Aha!” moment at one particular audition about a month ago… I had gotten the sides for this hilarious pilot, did my homework (knew my character, could say my lines in my sleep, etc.) and showed up to the audition not feeling nervous at all. I was actually just excited to get in there and have some fun with the character. The casting director was very friendly, and after my first read, she said that she liked my instincts and gave me a couple of notes as a redirect. Because I was so prepared, I was able to take her notes and incorporate them into my next read. I found that I even surprised myself by saying one of the lines in a way I had never though of before.

Like Will says, it’s hard to not think about getting the job. But my goal is to continue to have audition experiences that are anxiety free and completely enjoyable. Why not just have fun for those five minutes (or less) that you are in the audition room. If I don’t get the part, I am not losing anything. In fact, I’m gaining experience. I’m getting to know casting directors. And if I’m not the one for that particular role, hopefully they will keep bringing me in until I am!

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