Friday, April 22, 2011

Failing Forward

The hardest part about an acting career in Hollywood is getting an acting career started.  People get their breaks in different ways, but I know for a fact that I won't get my break sitting at home, waiting for my agent to call me about an audition.  I've been taking my career into my own hands by networking and getting myself "out there", but it still isn't enough because I know what I know and I don't know what I don't know.

I've got the idea in my head that a manager would help get me noticed more.  Right now, people in the entertainment industry don't know that I exist; and if they do know, they don't really care.  Having a manager to help me on a more personal level might open more doors or at least get me some more introductions to the people who matter.  Basically, I'm looking for someone to take me under their wing and build me into a unique brand for Hollywood to ingest.

I began my pursuit for a manager by sending out letters to two managers that I had some sort of connection with; I've either met them before or knew someone who knew them.  One of the managers called me right away.  We spoke briefly on the phone and set up a time to meet in person the next day.  I was given some material (2 scenes from the newest Wonder Woman series) to go over and would be performing during our meeting.

So far, so good, right?

I go into the meeting, having never stopped rehearsing my lines, even while driving.  I knew that since I've never booked anything significant, a lot would be riding on my performance.  We chat for a few minutes; pretty typical "why do you want to be an actor?" and "why do you want a manager?" questions, and then proceed to perform the material I was given.  I had all of the lines memorized, but I still held onto the script as a security blanket, keeping me relaxed knowing that I could look down for the words at any moment (I only had one evening to learn the lines and craft out a performance).  The scenes went off without a hitch.  It ended with me singing a few lines from Green Day's "September Ends" (the script called for it), to which the manager softly replied "... beautiful."

We finished with a small Q&A about the management company and how they operate.  Pretty standard fare.  I was told they would discuss the matter and be in touch with me shortly.  I raced home, mostly to beat the traffic, but also so that I could get a thank you card off to the post office before they closed.  How cool is it to meet with someone and then get a snail-mail thank you card the next day?

The next morning I received an email from the management company, thanking me for coming in and for the work that I put into preparing for the meeting, but ultimately, they would not be able to take me as a client.  They are streamlining their operation and refocusing on their current client list.  The note also went on to say that they aim to provide the highest personal service to each of their clients, and if they have too many people depending on them, then they can't guarantee that service.  I sent back a quick reply, thanking them for the email and for their honesty.

But what was the Universe trying to tell me?  Do I need more acting training?  Did they not want to represent me because I'm not a "cash cow"?  I've noticed that a lot of agencies and companies are "streamlining", which is a nice way to say "if you're not making money for us right now, we're dropping you".  If everyone is only holding on to their star players, who is helping to develop the B-team?  Gone are the days where companies had a section dedicated to developmental clients.  We have to develop ourselves and be at our best so we can be at the right place at the right time when that mythical "break" comes.

Most people would say that I failed at obtaining a manager.  While that may be true for this particular instance, I think I've only "failed forward".  Now the management company knows who I am, they can put a face and a personality to the name, they know I'm not crazy (this is VERY important in our industry) and now I have an open line of communication with them.  They might remember me in the future for a role that's being cast or I may approach them again in a year's time to update them with my achievements.  Maybe they'll want to work with me then.  The fact that they even responded to my unsolicited letter means that they saw something in me.  I know many actors that send out hundreds of packets/emails and never get a single response.

As long as you're putting one foot in front of the other towards your goal, it's impossible for you to go backwards.  The only ones moving backwards are the people standing still while you march towards your destiny.

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