by Kimberly Jurgen
One of the first things Carolyne would ask actors that she coached was – are you 1) curious to see if this industry is for you or 2) casually interested in acting as a hobby or 3) serious about a career in the entertainment industry?
If you answered 1 or 2, then there are many ways you can explore the industry – doing plays, student films and indie web series – without it costing you an arm and a leg.
Acting is a craft. To be a successful actor with a long term career, you must not only master your craft through diligent and consistent study, but you must also be a savvy businessperson. Since most acting schools don’t teach you how to be a business owner, here are some fundamental tools you’ll need and why each is important.
- A mission statement. Typically this will include the effect you want your career to have on yourself/family and your clients (such as the audience). It should also identify the type of work you want to create. A mission statement will put your goals into focus and prevent you from chasing someone else’s dream or diving down the wrong rabbit hole. Or taking a job that doesn’t help you achieve the career you really want. There is power in saying ‘no’ and your mission statement will help you know when to say ‘no’.
- A business plan. A terrific way to create yours is to work backwards. Think where you want to be in 5 years and reverse-engineer your route to that destination. For example, if you want to book a supporting lead in a tentpole feature in 5 years, what should you be doing in 3 years? In 1 year? In 6 months? In 3 months? Then create your calendar for the next month itemizing the tasks that must be accomplished each day to set you on the path to reach your 3 month goal. By itemizing your ‘to do’ list and addressing one task at a time, you will feel less overwhelmed and will become more productive.
- A budget. Once you know where you are going, you can create an annual budget to help you get there. List everything – classes, marketing materials, submission subscriptions, gas, parking, membership organizations, networking events, union dues, etc. And remember to include any specialized training which your goal may require, such as stunts or martial arts or teleprompter. This will also give you a clear idea of what income you will need to cover these business expenses.
While you are drafting these tools, keep a daily hour-by-hour diary. You’ll be surprised how much time you actually have available in your ‘I’m just too busy’ schedule. And look for organizational apps that can make your life easier.
You should re-examine your tools every 2-3 years to adjust for life delays which may have slowed down your progress or to shift for those rare and wonderful chutes and ladders that help you skip a few spaces along the road.
In the CBAA career class How to Hit the Ground Running, we tackle each of these tools and help each student create personalized strategic and marketing plans for their career. But these are all things you can do for yourself. In fact, make completing each of these a priority for your first month.