Gerald Langiri
April 20 / 2016

There is a school of thought that claims an actor’s career has, at the minimum, 5 years before they shoot to stardom and success. And this is 5 years actively participating as an actor in the industry. If you have a solid plan for your acting career, the 1st three years are to establish yourself, get to know people and basically get one foot in. The 4th and 5th year are for your become a brand.  A household name so to speak, a recognized face that can easily be termed an actor. The 5th year and beyond are the years of stardom. You have now put in the blood and sweat and are now getting jobs without much of a hustle because people have seen your work; they like you and want to work with you because they know you are dependable commodity.

What is sad though is that many would be actors give up within the 1st three years of getting into it. They have attended a couple of auditions and never got picked and gave up. They had a bad experience on set one day and that was enough to kill their dream. They worked on a project and were not paid and threw in the towel or whatever other valid reason they may have, most actors give up within the 1st three years.  Many would be actors have this picture in their head that the day they declare they want to be actors, it’s going to happen the following day or the 1st time they attend an audition, solely depending on their talent to get them there.

So there you are feeling like you are going nowhere? Oftentimes, it's one thing that is holding us back. We can spend a lot of time and energy on auditions, but if we don't remove the one roadblock in our way, we're going nowhere.

So what is it that stands in your way? If you've been acting for a year or more, you can find the answer to that question by taking a good look at your career and going down this checklist of likely things to get in a performer's way.

1) Training

If you've been on a number of auditions and never get callbacks, maybe it's time to ask yourself whether you are ready to compete in the professional world as an actor, or if your time would be better spent in a good acting class. Training is not always the reason for not getting callbacks. A misleading headshot could also be the cause, but actors usually know when they do well at an audition. If you can't tell, take a few casting director workshops where you will get feedback and specifically ask if the casting director thinks you are ready to audition. If you are an accomplished/trained actor, maybe the only thing keeping you from a successful career is a good audition technique class. The best actors don't always get the roles, but those who excel at auditioning and cold readings usually get work.

2) Type

If you want to be a screen actor, knowing your type and marketing yourself as such can be a key ingredient to success. Are you marketing yourself as a type you're not? Maybe you are a character actor going after lead roles? Or maybe you are a lead actress but your headshot and your look don't really sell that type? Once you've figured out what your type is, you still need to work on it. For example, if you're a leading lady, your appearance, hair and makeup, and wardrobe should suggest that type.

3) Headshot

Your headshot is your most important marketing tool as an actor. Casting directors sift through thousands of submissions a day. Your picture must be special enough to have them stop and think about calling you in to audition. Headshots are expensive, so take your time preparing before the shoot and choosing the right photographer, but if you don't get it right the first time around, don't hesitate to get new headshots. If your headshots don't work, you don't work. That being said, keep in mind that there is usually a delay between the time you start submitting new headshots to castings and the time you start seeing results. It takes a good 3-6 months for your face to get around, so give your pictures the time to work before you decide you need new ones.

4) Time

Even if you don't work all the time, acting is a full-time job. It can be hard to be successful if your day job is taking all your time and energy. If you have a special skill, you could teach it, or you could work in other areas of the entertainment industry. If you have a good voice, look into getting a voice-over demo. There's no easy solution, but if you spend more time on your day job than acting, it's time to find a better way to pay the bills.

5) Attitude

What kind of networking efforts have you done for your career lately? If you're just going to auditions, that's not enough. Make the decision to do one thing every day to create new opportunities for yourself: it could be making professional connections online (through a Facebook fan page or Twitter, for example), attending an indie screening (and dropping off your business card with the director) or signing up for a new casting director workshop. Whatever it is, the more energy you put out, the easier networking will become and the more things will come to you. The important thing is to keep putting out positive energy, to keep going after what you want.

Remember... For most people, making it in acting takes time, so be patient. Actors are rarely considered for star roles until they have several co-stars under their belt. So go after these smaller roles first, and before you know it, they will add up to bigger things!

By Gerald Langiri

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