|Photo by Kwame Lestrade|
I went to a talk this week, held my Masterclass, and the guest speaker was Ray Fearon. Ray has just been performing as Mark Antony in the RSC’s Julius Caesar. And what a gentleman he was. And the thing that stuck with me from his talk, was this idea of being ready.
I am constantly discussing this very topic with actors. If you aren’t ready, if your ducks are not all in alignment, then how can you hope to nail the audition, role or meeting?
I often meet actors with excuses. I bet you do too. They have the most valid excuses – but I’m just waiting on new headshots before I get a website; oh but I’m just saving up before I join Spotlight (insert Showcast (AU), or Casting Networks (LA) etc) ; I have to find the right monologue first because none I’ve read so far are any good. Wow. Their excuses are actually, sort of, good. I mean, some actually sound legit. And then it hit me during Ray’s talk.
He shared stories of times he has worked with or knew of actors, even well-known film and TV actors, who had been lazy. They turned up on set and started ad-libbing the text, or paraphrasing the scripts, or worse, suggesting parts be cut out. I could hardly believe it. Actors suggesting LESS time on screen. Confused.com! What did it come down to? They were not prepared. Rather than stay in and learn those lines, they thought they would wing it and see how they got on. Makes sense for the lazy actor. Makes absolutely no sense to me.
A few months back I attended a workshop with one of the UK’s top Casting Directors. He knew me but he’d never seen me work. The night before that workshop I sat in sipping tea and learning those lines word for word. When I rocked up the next day a bunch of the actors milling around waiting for their turn to do a scene, whispered “did you learn your line? I didn’t”. Wow, these actors paid a lot of money to be in front of one of the best and didn’t think perhaps they could impress him even more by being off the page, and taking his direction more easily, rather than worrying about the lines.
We all have chances daily. Weekly. Monthly. Annually. If you aren’t already ready then I am absolutely certain there are another 100 more motivated, more committed, more passionate actors happily ready to vie for your spot. As Dame Judy Dench is often quoted…we are all jobbing actors.
There is no time like the present. Waiting for your new headshots is just another way of not getting off your butt and getting out there. If you look even remotely like your existing picture then use them for an extra week while you wait for the new ones to come back. If you think you’re better off doing your website after a few more credits, remember it will take longer to get your SEO up. If you think learning that monologue or accent right now really doesn’t matter, just wait until your agent calls you tomorrow with the biggest casting of your life to-date.
“Always be closing, always be closing” – Glengarry, Glen Ross
ABC’s. We are essentially all sales people. You’re just selling yourself instead of a product. And when you aren’t ready, you aren’t going to get the work. Ready, set, done!