First off, what is there to be proud of? You’re in an industry where a million other actors are making a daily living of it in Los Angeles alone. That’s right, there may be 100,000 SAG registered actors, but for every registered one, there are 10 not so registered. It’s a big industry. So, if you ever get a small role in a non paying production, don’t be so proud of it, like you won the lottery. Stay calm, relax, do what you’re supposed to, and move onto the next role when all done.
When I lived in Cleveland, Ohio, I would be so happy to get a lead role, only to never have the movie produced for so many reasons. I almost became famous… in Cleveland…
If you want to be successful, you have to move to where the market is. Cleveland, or even Pittsburgh, with its many yearly productions, are not the place to be. One show may have made it out of Cleveland, out of all of the shows in the past. That’s a really tiny chance for success. And don’t think that producers in Cleveland aren’t trying. There are about 12 productions happening per day in Cleveland alone, be it a music video, a short film, or even feature. The market is there, just not enough of it.
Let’s just say, when you want to buy oranges, would you go looking for orange stands on the side of the road? Or will you go to where everyone else is selling their fruit at the market? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course you’d go to the market. Same goes with acting.
Move to LA! Ok, if you want to feel what it’s like to be in movies, check out your local market, and see how you like the acting scene. Be ready to do a lot of waiting in audition lines, on set, and after the movie is done shooting. Get a feel for it, fill up your resume with non paying lead roles for a couple of years, take some classes in the meantime, and them move to LA!
Once in LA, the competition will be super tough. You will basically start at the beginning, not knowing anyone. Network, network, and network. Attend classes and workshops. Meet people. Get to know as many people and leave them with a good impression. You will have a clean slate, but at least you will have some experience in the field from Cleveland.
A resume with some things on it is better than nothing on it. It will mean that you were on some sets, and understand what it may take to be a professional on set. It may also show that you’re not scared of being in front of the camera. It may even show that within 2 years, you were able to juggle many roles, which makes you seem like you’re more serious than 14 year old Johnny who was pushed into the audition by his mommy who wants to get rich of his paychecks when he turns 18… I exaggerate about poor Johnny.
Look good! Stay in shape if you want the camera to like you, or even love you. No one wants to see a movie full of Mimi’s. Yes, I went there. Out of the millions of actors out there, what’s the ratio of non standard looking actors you see on the set, as extras, as background, even as stars? Very small. So, look good!
I have a friend that makes his career on looking good. He makes good money doing promotional gigs. It’s a living. Hey, at least he’s not a waiter.
I asked someone once in LA, “Hey what do you do”? They looked at me and confidently said, “I’m an actor”. Then I asked them, “Oh yeah? Which restaurant”? They looked down in shame after that.
So, keep your pride in check. even when you’ve made it big, you’re going to seem much more professional if you don’t flaunt it, and that may just guarantee you the next big role.