Put in the Work: How Mishka Thébaud uses Motivation to Carve out a Career in Acting

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 3.14.21 PMWe all know the feeling. The one that glues your head to the pillow in the morning. The one that whispers softly, seductively in your ear, telling you that instead of risking the rejection and self-doubt occasioned by endless submissions, you should binge-watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Occasionally, we all listen to that voice, and that’s OK. But when it comes to building an acting career from the ground up, we need to cultivate the ability to silence that voice, and replace it with a manic, ceaseless, undaunted work ethic. In today’s showcase feature, February winner Mishka Thébaud shows us how.

Mishka’s story begins an international arc. Born in Miami, Florida, Mishka grew up in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. After high school, unsure of the direction he wanted his future to take, he took a year off. His brothers and father encouraged him to try acting, recommending York University in Toronto. Following their advice, Mishka was applied for the conservatory, was accepted, and soon realized he had made the right choice. “That’s where I discovered my love and passion for the craft,” he remembers. He completed his B.F.A. in acting there, describing the program as “a rigorous but impactful four years for me.”

Inside school and out, Mishka is a student of the greats, citing Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington among his inspirations. But his instructors made a more personal impression. “My acting teacher from school Melee Hutton has had a big impact on me,” Mishka enthuses. “She always finds a way to inspire and get the best out of me, I’ve learned a lot from her teaching. Also, the first acting book I ever read was that of Sanford Meisner, and I still use his repetition method all the time. He’s definitely helped me capture the authenticity in my work, his teachings taught me to keep things small and real.”

Following graduation, Mishka continued his steady ascendancy, booking his first television audition out of school and continuing to work in Canadian Film and Television since. He has worked on a variety of shows, including Saving Hope, Schitt’s Creek, Murdoch Mysteries, Defiance, Republic of Doyle, and Bitten. As do so many of us, Mishka dreams of consistent and meaningful work in television and film. “My biggest struggle has been dealing with the gaps of time between each gig. The desire to be working all the time can drive me crazy sometimes. That’s why I try to work on scenes or monologues as often as I can.” This kind of dedication is a reminder from which we can all benefit. Continually working your craft (whether or not you have a paying gig), is a great way to stay sharp and focused.

His persistence led him to Cast It Talent, which he discovered when searching online for ways to promote himself. “When I came across Cast It Talent it was one of those things where I had nothing to lose,” says Mishka. “…in the end it really paid off…Cast It Talent is great, it’s given me motivation to practice my craft whenever I can and to continue putting things on tape for fun. A free opportunity to be seen by American casting directors is amazing…It’s one of those unexpected things that drive you to work harder and it keeps your confidence growing.”

Even before his showcase win, Mishka reaped the benefit of his motivation. One casting director called his agent directly to compliment his work. In February, Mishka became the showcase winner, which he regarded as a bonus. “I treated it as an audition; it’s an opportunity for you to showcase yourself in a great light in front of some experienced people.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Mishka recently closed a play in Toronto and is back to auditioning. He plans on taking advantage of his dual citizenship by moving to L.A. this summer to meet with managers and work on expanding his career.

When asked what advice he would give to new actors, Mishka goes back to the core of his work: dedication. “If you don’t love it then don’t do it. This is a tough business, and you need that drive and motivation to push you through the rocky moments that come more often than not…Keep yourself busy and your skills as sharp as possible so that when an audition comes along you’re ready…Put in the work and good things will happen.”

I couldn’t have said it any better. Put in the work. It’s a lesson that I, for one, plan to keep relearning throughout my career. Mentors, instructors, managers, agents…these people are invaluable. They arm you and can set you on the right path. But in the end you are in charge of your career and no Miyagi in the world can save you in the tournament if you haven’t shown up for the training. We’ve already chosen a life that is riddled with uncertainty, rejection, and inconsistency. Might as well go in guns a-blazing.

 

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Cast It Talent All Cast It Talent blog articles are written by freelance writers that are currently working in the entertainment industry. Our writers come from a variety of professional backgrounds, and are comprised of talent agents, managers, casting directors, and actors, to name a few.

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