Your ability to succeed in this very competitive industry depends on 4 main factors:
1 – HARD WORK; 2 – BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS; 3 – TALENT; 4 – LUCK.
HARD WORK – An actor who is prepared, both from honing his or her craft and skills, and from applying that craft to the audition at hand, is far more likely to succeed consistently than the actor who tries to slide by on his or her talent alone. Martin Ritt said, “Talent is genetic. It’s what you do with it that counts.” Peter Coyote said, “…the most radical thing anybody can do today is be excellent. Excellence itself implies all sorts of constraints on character and all sorts of restraints on indulgence and all sorts of personal honesty that cut across culture…”
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS – “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s not a total truth, however there is some truth to it. Whom you build relationships with and how you build them, will affect your future. On every job, whether it is a small Equity waiver play, or a studio film, you will meet other artists and business people in the industry. If you are friendly, honest, trustworthy and responsible, people will want to work with you again. Even if you are not the most talented person they have ever met, your personal quality and social grace – YOUR ATTITUDE – will create friends and ‘fans’ alike. If, however, you act like an ass, if you have a bad attitude and are unprofessional in any way (being late, unprepared or simply difficult to collaborate with), it will come back to haunt you. This industry feels huge, but it is very, very small. The more you work, the more you will appreciate how tiny the professional working community actually is.
TALENT – As Martin Ritt says, you’re born with your talent. What he doesn’t say, is that it is not only hard work that allows your talent to come through, but as well, bravery, courage and faith. You must have the courage and faith to really live through and embody a part. If you only “act” a part, play it ‘cool’ or ‘safe’, not investing your true feelings and point of view, taking no chances that allow the deeper, more interesting, more unusual truth to come through you – then you have not used your supposed ‘talent’ at all.
LUCK – If there is anything that ‘makes’ luck other than chance, the cosmos, God, coincidence – it may be karma and ‘hustle’. My understanding of “karma” is: what you put out into the world will return to you. If you give love, act lovingly and appreciate your abundance – you will receive love and abundance in return. If you give hate, act selfishly and focus on ‘lack’, scarcity, or negativity in your life – you will receive hate, selfishness and scarcity in return.
The philosophy of “hustle” in sports is: if you are ALWAYS HUSTLING, working hard, trying with all your heart – when the ‘loose ball’ hits the ground or the chance play happens – YOU will be the one nearby to take advantage.
Do not let ANYBODY infect your attitude towards your work as an actor. Not critics, not family, not friends from home, NOBODY. You know the truth of your journey and your talent. You are brave for undertaking this challenge to not only be an artist, but to ‘make it’ in a very tough business. Stay strong. Stay focused. Keep your eye on the prize. Artistic integrity and originality – that is what you are after.
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt