The #1 Way To Guarantee An Audition Win Every Time

The incorrect idea that acting success equals more booked roles shackles many actors. It’s too narrow a version of progress. Success is about building your ladder and many of the rungs that will propel you upwards are the byproducts of doing brave work. Sometimes this equates to landing a coveted role. Other times it’s a different kind of win: a call back or a producer session, or someone from production or casting fell in love with you and your performance—sees you as a problem solver—and will bring you back in over and over again until you book something amazing. It’s possible to guarantee a win every time you audition and part of that is determined by your willingness to make huge, brave, seemingly crazy acting choices to stand out in every audition scenario.

PRE-GAME

Too many actors rely solely on their reps for relationship building and establishing allies. Such an attitude is a deferment of responsibility, as there is always a right way for actors to develop such pre-existing relationships that will give them a competitive advantage and nurture the overall blossoming of their careers.

Anxiety sets in for many actors in the hours before the audition. Nerves are connected to a host of problematic thoughts and beliefs, though the biggest one is that you require something from this audition process. If you go into the audition with a sense of need, such as needing validation, approval, to be liked—or a booked role—then the balance of power is inherently off. You’ve created a perfect environment for nerves to flourish. In the quiet time before an audition, remind yourself that at the end of the day, you don’t need anything from this experience.

IN THE ROOM

The actor’s primary job in the audition is to stand out without screaming. Too many actors bring their fear of embarrassment into the audition and parlay this fear into a performance that oozes a need to fit in, play it safe and to keep things contained. This is a strategy that will ensure you will be forgotten.

This also means standing out as yourself when you walk into the room. The person you bring into the room can often have more impact than the performance. Expect to be interviewed as yourself before you start acting. You must establish three things:

1. You’re someone the production team personally likes.

2. You’re fun to play with.

3. You pervade zero desperation—that you don’t “need” anything from anyone.

Projecting zero desperation is more about the attitudes and behaviors you don’t enter the room with—rather than the vibe you do bring in.  

 And, most importantly, the actor’s job is to never try to “please” a casting director. Getting lost in attempting that will never get an actor a job as it only serves to introduce an element of desperation in the room. This element, combined with an irrational fear of rejection, means that too many actors continue to need things from the audition experience that they need to give to themselves—like self-love or validation.

BRAVERY = TIPPING POINT

Making brave choices requires bravery—the kind of bravery that is often born out of the confidence of experience. Every single one of the major feature film and TV roles that clients have booked in the last year was due to the actors making phenomenally brave choices. This was something that the other actors competing for a role didn’t have the courage/guts to do.

A phenomenally talented friend and client recently booked a series regular on a new JJ Abrams pilot. This actress has had years of experience and knew that the best thing to do was to make an incredibly brave choice. She decided to play the comedy like a drama. Some months after she was cast, JJ Abrams wrote her a personal letter describing why he cast her. He essentially thanked her for being willing to take a big risk and cited it as the reason they didn’t need to see anyone else, making her the only actress they wanted to see on the show.

LETTING GO OF OUTCOMES

Letting go of outcomes also means relinquishing the need to control the piece or the character. The marvelous part of the artistic process is that there are mysterious elements at work that emerge via spontaneity and inspiration. If you have too tight a grip on things, you choke the magic from manifesting.

After reading a script or sides, you must thoroughly let go of your idea of how you think it should look or the final rendering. If you don’t let go of the outcome, you’ll always be tethered to your notion of how you thought it was supposed to be. It makes it a lot harder to give birth to a truly brave, spontaneous, fun choice.

POSTGAME

It’s not enough to simply show up to an audition and deliver your best performance. Your follow up—either on your own or via agent/manager is crucial. It’s part of a holistic strategy to lay claim to important roles.

As I’ve mentioned in many previous articles, only 1% of agents and managers are going to deliver results for their clients. The reason is that most representatives do not know that part of their job is to make hundreds of pitch phone calls on behalf of their clients. The good news is there’s a right way for actors to do for themselves until they attract high-level representation.

BOTTOM  LINE

Any audition is like a jump across a yawning chasm. You have to trust your preparation, skills, and interpretation are there so that you can leap with confidence. This confidence is unconcerned with how the wind will hit your face, whether you’ll somersault or sail, or whether you’ll land with both feet together or one after the other. This kind of bravery fosters the magic of winning moments in the audition room.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

How To Guarantee A Win Before You Start Acting

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The audition story of how Emilia Clark booked Game of Thrones has become the stuff of entertainment industry lore. Clarke was auditioning for the president of HBO and asked what she could do to lighten the mood

“…David [Benioff] asked, ‘Can you dance?’ And without missing a beat, Emilia did the robot,” [D.B.] Weiss said. “She did it with commitment and she did it well…and even the president had no choice but to smile. She got the job 10 seconds after she left the room.”

So many actors would have never considered posing such a question (what can I do to lighten the mood?) in an audition because most actors would be so focused on regurgitating their rehearsed performance. These actors would totally miss the human needs of the room and the opportunity to connect. Furthermore, many actors would never dare to engage in a dance move as dorky as the robot because they would have thought: “but no, I am a serious actor and I cannot do such silly things.”

Such a notion takes the humanity out of this industry and neglects to acknowledge that actors work with other people. These people frequently become stressed and have needs as well—such as the need for levity and childish humor.

Some of the most useful and exciting meetings an actor can go to are general meetings with producers, directors, casting directors, etc. These are meetings where virtually no acting ever takes place. So how do you show you are the best actor for the job if none of your acting is being assessed?

Invest in an acting preparation that doesn’t compel you to whip yourself up into a state in the hallway before you walk into an audition room. Otherwise, you will miss a crucial moment where you can establish that you are someone who is fun to play with and that others personally like.

Below are three elements to focus on to conquer the pre-audition conversation.

1. Harness Self-Awareness to Showcase the Winning Aspects of Your Personality

Producers know that they may spend years working with you, so we arrive at a place where your personality becomes your greatest asset as an actor.

A casting director friend of mine who recently spent about seven years as head of C.S.A. (Casting Society Of America) recently told me that he can tell which actor is going to book a role in a particular project based on the personal interaction that he has with them prior to any formal auditioning actually taking place.  

You need to foster enough self-awareness of the aspects of your personality that people actually like when they meet you and lean into those aspects during the “personality audition” portion of the audition. One client of mine knows it is his sharp wit that he can tag anything said to him with some of the funniest one-liners, yet in that effortless way that doesn’t look like he’s trying to be funny.

Another client has an indescribable quality of validating people through her smile and eye contact. She is able to sense the fears and insecurities of those around her and, with her warmth and grace, reassures them that it’s all going to be okay.

All of these clients have enough self-awareness to understand the aspects of their personality that people gravitate towards. They lean into these innate traits to show the human being underneath the actor during the audition.

2. Zero Desperation.

Part of being someone that others find fun to play with is the ability to project zero desperation.  People don’t want to feel that one wants something from them, both in life and in the industry. In this state, there’s no investment in the outcome. The actor arrives knowing that their life will be great whether or not they book the role.

Some people call it confidence. In reality, it’s the inner knowing that, no matter what happens, your personal happiness is not dependent on this job.

3. Connection to Your Silliness.

You’re silly. Yes, you! Everyone has things they get silly over (Star Wars, conspiracy theories, Real Housewives drama). Embracing your own silliness and not being afraid to share it with others is the pinnacle of confidence. It’s endearing and it makes people trust you instantly.

This brings us back to the brilliant courage of Emilia Clarke. If she had been more attached to a sense of self-importance, superiority, or the narrow notion of audition conduct, she might never have gotten her famed role as the Queen of Dragons. By sharing her silliness with the room, she showcased her confidence, her lack of desperation and the rare aspects of her personality. Winning combinations like these give the production team no choice but to hire you.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

6 Red Flags When Auditing Acting Classes: Part 2

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Given how much hype pervades through the entertainment industry, I cannot stress the importance of auditing a prospective acting class enough. In both New York and L.A., I’ve seen teachers with questionable practices (at best) build very large cult followings. Sometimes this occurs because the teacher lucked out and happened to coach some actors who became major celebrities. Other times, it’s because the teacher’s methods are just so odd that actors figure it must be the path to success. Acting classes are a business and actors are the customers. You have a right to insist upon certain standards of excellence and to reject particular red flags.

#1 The teacher can’t guarantee a breakthrough every class.

As a paying client and a devoted artist, you are entitled to expect a breakthrough every class. Some readers might say I’m being unreasonable with this standard, but those are only actors who have been conditioned to expect mediocre results from their acting coaches. If it’s possible to have an undeniable acting breakthrough and transformation every single class, why not demand it of your acting studio/teacher? There’s no reason why actors should leave a class not having experienced a breakthrough they can own—where the work feels cathartic, fun, and alive and truly great. Only lazy or limited acting teachers would balk at delivering such results.

#2 The teacher is viewed as a fragile prodigy with all the answers.

Some acting teachers fancy themselves to be great directors and visionaries. They believe that their interpretation of a scene is the most inspired choice. Many times the coaches for child actors will treat them like little monkeys, giving them the exact blocking and delivery for a scene. Certain famed acting teachers are no better, dictating the exact performance of a scene to their adult actors, or pushing for a certain choice—shaping a performance rather than letting the actor shape it. While this might sound harmless, it robs you of your most authentic and inspired decisions and discoveries—the ones that come from inside.

Your best choices will never be found in the text, they are born and distilled from it. Some acting teachers give you what he/she thinks are directorial notes or suggestions for how you should play your role. The best teachers and coaches will ask the right questions to allow you to discover your best, bravest and winning choices for on-set or audition success.

In a word, no great acting coach will prevent you from having the autonomy and authority to sculpt a role.

#3 The class culture is too reliant on video playback.

I love using cameras and video footage of actors for feedback when needed. It can be a very valuable tool to show certain mannerisms, flickers of eye movement and subtle differences between takes—in a way that few other things can. However, overuse can turn this tool into a crutch. It can also be a colossal waste of time in a class as it represents time not spent on the actual work. As I mentioned in my recent article, great actors know the work was great because they feel it, not because they watch playback in class. For certain actors, watching playback can be toxic. Video playback should validate when an adjustment or approach to a scene has worked, but the first say should always come from the actor. The actor should constantly be checking in with their internal GPS to determine how something feels.

#4 Context is never mentioned.

Any and every piece you work on in class should have a specific contextual approach. There are over 20 different ways of auditioning: pre-read, cold read, callback, producers session, chemistry read, video audition, etc. You should also be able to work on a piece as a scene study for an upcoming booked role. To practice how you play. Classes that are strictly scene study, with no context for how it applies outside the bubble of the acting class, should be regarded with caution. In such classes, the end goal is to please a teacher. Acting classes should be an extension of what private coaching work is for top-level elite actors. They work and prepare pieces for the real world of high-level film and TV or auditions.

#5 The environment is all kinds of toxic.

The best learning environments are ones in which positivity and respect are the foundation. Given the lax boundaries that can pervade show business, it’s important that you be able to suss out any aspect of the class dynamic that is off, inappropriate or downright abusive. If the teacher is flirtatious with students, treats the male and female students differently, or uses the captive audience of the students to overshare about their own life (a la therapy session), you’ve got the seeds of toxicity present. Similarly, sometimes the “fragile prodigy” acting teacher uses the legacy of their “brilliance” to engage in an abuse of power. A teacher should be able to clearly tell an actor what was and wasn’t working without breaking down their confidence or abusing them. The teacher must then be able to help that actor find an immediate fix for what wasn’t working before that actor sits down again. Abuse-based classes abound here in Los Angeles and also in New York. They are taught by bullies who get off on directing their self-loathing outwards.  

#6 You’re forced into a partnership.

Many acting classes are a colossal waste of time where actors are burning up their availability outside of class meeting up with scene partners to ‘rehearse’ scenes. Many acting schools do this in the name of dedication and to assert a sign of devotion to their craft.

The best classes are those in which you are not forced to work with the scene partner. Scene work allows acting studios to pack classes like sardines. It’s lucrative for the studio and often frustrating for the actor. Scene work puts you at the mercy of a scene partner who might not have the same availability, work ethic, or skill level (yes, even if you are in the same class). Also when you perform your scene, sometimes the coach is focused on correcting or finetuning your partner, leaving you to feel neglected of feedback.

Closing

While perhaps no class nor teacher can ever be perfect, paying attention to these red flags can protect you from getting sucked into a studio that is unhealthy, unproductive or just eyeing your wallet. You know you are in good hands if the work feels “great” after receiving time and attention. This will guarantee you have a very clear and fun way of guaranteeing a win both on set and in the audition room.

Why You Must Break The Rules To Win

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The achievement of success in the entertainment industry continues to have a mysterious quality to it. Some actors find success through years of hard work, slow and steady progress, and then they land one part (the fabled “big break”) that kicks all the doors open for them. Other actors land that big break much faster, leaving their cohorts behind in amazement. Others are shepherded into the industry by an already successful friend or relative, allowing them to jump past the hurdles of auditions for costars and commercials. And still, others begin as children, building a career so that by the time they reach adulthood, they can contend for the top parts and command salaries to match. Some have more inexplicable paths to success, such as a successful music or dance career, or by being a viral video creator, etc.

Given there are so many pathways to success, people in the industry try to create “rules” or guidelines to how one forges a lasting career. This is an attempt to find patterns in what can sometimes resemble chaos. Sure, actors still need to show up prepared and polite. However, the shifts the entertainment field has taken demonstrate that actors need to unthink many of the things they have been told. A lot of this is fear-based advice that deserves to be thrown away.  

Hence, all the ‘rules’ that actors have been brow-beaten with—you need an agent to pitch for you on your behalf, pleasing casting directors, or the best acting coaches are a little mean—are often backwards and just plain wrong. Below are the main reasons it is in your best interest to not follow the many rules dictated to actors.  

1.  There are no rules when you’re great.

It’s not enough to be “good,” you must be “great” to compete at the Olympics level of this industry. Remember, casting and production are looking for great people to hire. If you are truly great and are at the top of your game, then you should have the confidence to pick up the phone on your own behalf. The ability to use the phone properly separates the doers from the dreamers in this industry. 

Likewise, you should have the bravery to make the opposite choice of “gleeful confidence” in the audition room when the character description and stage directions decree “character X must be anxious and awkward” at the start of the scene. Great people can take those kinds of risks because their talent supports them. Many actors make the mistake of thinking that character breakdown and stage directions are rigid acting directions that must be obeyed. Those ‘directions’ on the page and character description (often written by casting or “Breakdown Services”) are simply notes to help you better understand the world and style of the piece. They may also be part of a writer’s pitch to producers to help paint a visual picture when selling a script.

2.  Everybody is scared.

Not just actors: producers, writers, directors, casting directors are all afraid that they may not keep their jobs or work again. This is why actors get snapped at and why the session runners of auditions often look so pained. Breaking the rules with confidence can give you the air of an elite surgeon that is able to saw through the skull, separate the halves of the cranial cavity, remove the tumor—and save a life. Essentially, your self-possessed presence can take the work off someone else’s plate by being the solution to a problem. 

3.  It doesn’t get easier, you just get braver.

Success in this industry goes to the brave. The bravery to pick up a phone and build a game-changing relationship with a major producer, writer or director. These acts of bravery might never feel enjoyable to you. But if you have the discipline to do them consistently over time, they will lose their intimidating quality. Instead, picking up the phone to pitch yourself for a role will feel as daunting as doing a load of laundry.

You will not catch fire by picking up the phone. Devoting your life to this work has required a certain level of bravery from you. Support that bravery with more bravery and make choices that stand out, ignoring the urge to fit in, please, and obey. 

4. A variety of people cast actors.

Obviously, casting directors do this to an extent by culling the herd, but producers, writers, and showrunners make and approve all final casting decisions. Too many actors have been taught that CDs jingle the keys to the kingdom when that is far from the truth. A change that has occurred in the last couple of years is that an incredible amount of major feature film and TV roles have been cast miles before they ever arrived at a casting office. There’s a right way and a wrong way to build game-changing relationships with major production teams to compete for these premium roles long before they ever go to casting. In other words, by the time it goes to casting, it’s too late to meaningfully compete for a role if you don’t have pre-existing relationships with the production team beforehand. A strong post-audition follow-up game is also critical.

The onslaught of unsolicited “advice” from other actors and industry professionals is not going anywhere. It is your responsibility to check each guideline against your gut. Determine if it is fear-based, limiting, antiquated, or based on assumptions. If it hits any of those red flags, discard it. Each day more actors carve uncharted paths to major success for themselves. They launch their careers using tools, opportunities, and innovation that previous generations never had.  

Following the rules limits the scope of your future. When your acting is truly great, stop waiting for breadcrumbs and handouts from others. Give yourself permission to bravely jump into the red mist.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

Zen And The Art Of Surviving The Waiting Room

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Much is spoken about how to conduct yourself properly when you walk into the audition room, but very little has been said about how to survive the psychological minefield of the waiting room. The more you can tune out the distracting and often toxic and sabotaging chit chat of other actors in the waiting area, the better your work will be when you get into the room.

I’m certain many of you have crossed paths with these pre-audition misfits.

1. The Nervous Talker: This is the guy/girl who strikes up a conversation with other actors out of abject terror. These people seem harmless, as they are often friendly and chatty. Their chosen subjects of conversation appear innocuous enough (current events, sports, the weather). However, conversing with them sucks you into their web of anxiety and can indirectly impact your performance.

Solution: Do not engage. A polite “yep” with no eye contact should give them the message. Bring headphones.  

2. The Status Signaler: This actor will try to psych you out by letting you know that they are better than you. More accomplished. These are people who talk very loudly about “my time at Juilliard” or “I miss working with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.”

Solution: The key to this person is paying less than zero attention to them. Do not look at them and try to figure out which project they worked on with P.S.H. (it was a short film no one saw; Hoffman did his lines via ADR). Do not wonder if they were at Juilliard when Lupita Nyong’o attended. Do not allow a single brain cell to engage with their blather. Headphones.

3. The Legit Psycho: This person is more toxic than the status-signaler because he/she takes their remarks up to the next level of psychological warfare.

This person might talk about how the cinematographer of the project is their dad, or how they booked their last audition with a black eye and strep throat. They might even throw out something really provocative and head-scratchy like “I once had to give Daniel Day-Lewis a shot of adrenaline in Prague.” They desire attention and know how to get it.

Solution: Ignore this person and the reactions they get from others. This person goes the extra mile to psych out their competition by putting on a show. Some actors in the waiting room are guaranteed to take the bait. Pay no attention, particularly when other actors start to engage with this person, which they almost always will. Headphones.

4. The Helper: This actor may try to throw you off your game by offering you fear-based “advice” based on their limited knowledge of the casting office, the project, the industry as a whole, or what they think will win over the room. This person thinks he/she is being helpful, but it’s really just a buffet table of insecurities. This person is looking for reassurance or someone to join forces in worry. She might say something like, “I wore flats because the lead is already cast and he’s 5’9” or “This office likes a really thrown-away read.” 

Solution: A terse “sure” with no eye contact should deliver the message that unsolicited advice is not wanted. If not: headphones.

5. The Omitters: These are some of the most common people you’ll encounter. There might be a last minute change to the prepared sides (“everyone just read page 2!!” or “we are doing cold reads with new sides”) that has been announced to everyone in the waiting room. You arrive and have missed the announcement from the CD or the session runner. As you sign in, the session runner might be busy or stepped away, and all the waiting room actors look at you, knowing that you need the new instructions. However, no one says a damn thing.

Solution: Do a cursory check with the session runner or casting associate as soon as you can (“Hi, any changes to the prepared material I should know about?")

6. The Office BFF: This actor likes to pretend they are the good buddy of the casting or production office. They greet the session runner like they’re old friends and often make reference to previous (wild) social engagements (“Next time let’s get our own strippers and helicopters!”). This person will refer to the CD by their first name, often shortened (“How’s Nance doing?”) or might have a nickname for the casting director (“Jimbo’s new little girl is precious!”).

Solution: Redirect your attention away from this person and the elaborate dance they are doing. If not: headphones.

These other actors and the noise they make should be as threatening to you as a determined mosquito. Your protection is your preparation: it should be accessible in flash, as if on the tips of your fingers. When your preparation is solid and simple, you have the freedom to show production/casting who YOU are a person before you start acting. You must walk in with the understanding that your personality may be the very thing that gets you the job before any acting takes place. If your success is dependent on a technique that requires you to fluff yourself up in the waiting room before you go in, you’re going to be vulnerable to these mosquito-actors.

You wouldn’t try to make friends at the baggage claim carousel at the airport. Take that same mentality to the audition waiting room: a bare minimum of politeness, with little to no words exchanged at all. If you have a solid preparation and a great final choice for your audition then you are impenetrable. You simply get to live off of the interest of your preparation. Just put on your headphones and tune out the waiting room.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

How To Have The Best Booking Year Ever On Your Own Terms

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With the massive shot in the arm of new content this year, it has been the busiest year for actors ever. While we can’t predict what next year will bring, we can look back at this last year in order to determine where we were challenged and caught off guard. We can use these moments as instructive springboards to be more prepared for what’s to come. 

Here’s a recap of what this year has taught us, and what we need to know to have the best booking year ever:

Be great.

It’s not enough to be “good,” you must be “great.” If you’re regularly going out for major film and TV roles, you are competing at the Olympic-level of the industry. The mafia level. The highest stakes game in the world series of poker. If you are really truly trying to a build a career in this industry, you must be great. If you are willing to go into the room with a less than stellar performance, perhaps you don’t really love acting. Take stock of what is preventing you from devoting yourself to being the best actor possible. 

There are no rules.

When you’re great, there are no rules for proper etiquette. Actors shackle each other with fear-based advice that only put obstacles in your path and screw with your head. Stop trying to model your path to success after someone else’s, as yours will definitely look very different. 

Everyone is scared. 

Not just actors. The jobs of producers, directors, writers, and casting directors are all on the line at all times. Take all hostilities with a grain of salt and take nothing personally. The casting director is trying to please the producer or agency. The director, just another fragile artist, is trying to impress everyone and show off his or her great directorial skills. The producers are trying to please the network, studio or investor team. At the end of the day, show business is a carnie lifestyle with more money on the line and accompanying panic. If someone barks at you, demeans you, mocks or dismisses you, just know that it is coming from a weak, fear-based place and view them with compassion while retaking your power back. 

Let go of outcomes.

A preoccupation with outcomes, in general, is toxic—especially for actors. With regards to the craft and your career, you must let go of your attachment to how you think something is supposed to go. The life of an actor is one big metaphorical road trip. The auditions are all the sights along the way. Just appreciate them and value them for what they can teach you. Use them as opportunities to build connections in the room and impress your peers so much to the extent that your name/face is always at the top of someone’s mental shortlist for a prospective role. 

It doesn’t get easier, you just get braver. 

This means that no matter how successful you are, sustained success in this industry is directly proportional to your work ethic and ability to do the best acting you’re capable of, and your willingness to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Some actors I meet are great at winning over the room when they walk in, but fall short with their performances. Some actors deliver perfect auditions that build on their brave performances in our coaching sessions, but stumble during the small-talk part of the audition, coming across as aloof or resigned. Other actors I work with are great at networking at cocktail nights, and at building powerful friendships in the industry, but they can’t seem to focus on preparing a solid audition despite their enormous talent.

Few people have all the tools they need to succeed. Investing in your personal development is part of the job. The parts you need to develop will force you to do scary stuff you probably aren’t crazy about doing. Your success depends on it—being brave. 

Work ethic + No/Low ego. 

Successful actors work like dogs. Sure, the work can and should be fun, but many actors simply don’t have the stomach for what it takes to make it. They aren’t willing to constantly work on their craft, seek out next-level training, and they typically scorn auditions for smaller projects because they think they’re too good for such things. Laziness combined with ego is like cyanide for your career. 

Relationships are Key.

While it’s important to form good relationships with casting directors, they do not actually cast the bulk of the roles. That is the job of the production team. Only a small percentage of major roles—series leads/series regulars, leading/supporting roles—actually go through a traditional casting office. The majority of major roles are directly cast through production companies by the producers, networks, showrunners, and writers—miles before they ever are in a casting office. Casting directors who also teach acting classes are going to tell you that all casting goes through them to propagate the false notion that casting directors are the gatekeepers of your career. They’re not. It behooves you to understand the limitations of casting directors, while still forming warm relationships with their offices. Production offices, producers, showrunners, and writers should be the center of your focus when it comes to relationship building. There’s a right way to meet and stay in touch with them, updating them on your career path when appropriate.

Very few people I work with are doing everything they can to inch their career forward. Let’s all agree to meet the new year with a renewed spirit of bravery and a commitment to proactive effort. We can all meet the challenges of this industry, along with the ones inherent in ourselves, head-on and with vigor.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.