To be or not to be, that is the question – or is it? Perhaps the real question should be 'what’s the use of being an actor if you can’t get a job acting?'
The days are long gone where you could leave drama school and join one of the numerous repertory companies scattered round the country, slowly but surely honing your trade on small parts and stage management. Nowadays you only have a short period of time to wow the people who matter with your talent before another coachload of aspiring actors are sent forth from their drama schools on the road to stardom.
Get out there and network
The old saying 'it’s not what you know, it’s who you know' will never seem so appropriate than at this time in your acting career. Therefore, it is in your best interest to get yourself out there and noticed. Think carefully: what do you have to offer that others might not? During the day you may be working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, but that is not going to be getting you jobs. So, in every spare minute of your time you should be sharpening your acting tool by attending and taking part in any workshops or rehearsed readings no matter how lowly they may seem – you never know who may be there watching!
The learning never stops
You’ve left drama school after three long years so surely you know it all, don’t you? Think again! An actor is forever learning his trade. A great actor will never stop learning. It is imperative that you never sit back on your laurels and never stand still – if you do, you could very easily get run over by some other burgeoning talent coming up through the ranks.
Constantly be developing your skills. You can never have too many special skills. Learn a new language, take horse riding lessons, an advanced driving course, brush up your dancing skills, learn to juggle! All these will keep your mind active and at the same time be adding to that list of talents on your CV.
Preparation is key
Keep a diary – not only will it help keep you organised but you can set yourself goals for the year. Realistic goals at that. Don’t put yourself in the realms of fantasy by setting a goal to be starring in some blockbuster movie by the end of the year – stay focused with a more attainable goal such as a couple of days’ work on television, a small part in a provincial theatre company. By doing that, at the end of the year when you have actually realised more, you will have a huge sense of achievement.
Be constantly prepared for that last minute audition. Don’t be relying on the old favourites such as Hamlet’s soliloquy – how many times have the auditioning panel heard that? You may think you have a new twist on an old favourite but, chances are, you don’t. Find some new pieces from new writers or dig in the archives and find something you know will grab their attention. Learn the audition piece so well that, even if the building around you started to crumble, you would still be able to carry on with no distraction.
Know who you are auditioning for. Know their names. Know the project you are up for so you can talk about it if asked by the panel. Know the time – don’t be late. You can read more of our auditions tips here.
Just keep going!
Never give up. You have to keep a positive attitude and you can’t do that if you are broke. Find a job that is flexible and will allow time off for those last minute auditions. Temping, receptionist work, stacking shelves, waiting tables, anything that allows you to bring in some money to keep your head above water.
Most importantly, keep a very sharp eye on what is happening. What auditions are taking place or coming up in the near future? Who is directing them? Have you worked with the director before? What parts are available for your talents?
Above all: Keep a positive attitude!