BE THE ANT.
In Aesop's fable, the Ant & the Grasshopper, the ants worked feverishly to stock up for the winter, while the Grasshopper partied all summer long, running around and playing his fiddle.
At the time I thought, what kind of crap fable is that!?
I was totally fine! C'mon! I had a fantastic year on the books, going from show to show dappled with cabaret performances, special events, fundraisers, hosting local award shows and a few commercial voice overs...you know, like you do. And then...(cue crickets) the year ended.
Just like the fable, THIS grasshopper was back at zero, left out in the cold with no work in sight, while his wise friend the ant scoffed and sipped champagne at her own opening night party.
That’s when I decided to BE THE ANT.
When we graduated, we felt like there was some BIG SECRET that everyone knew but us. We later discovered that most performers have no freakin’ idea where to begin. Sure, some work falls in your lap (and that’s awesome), but how do you make a consistent living as an actor? We hate to break it to you, but there is no secret formula that guarantees you the amazing career of your dreams. However, every successful career starts with a lot of self-evaluation, formulating a plan and being consistent.
So, let’s look at how you can work smarter, not harder.
What's been working and what hasn't? (Make a checklist)
- I'm auditioning around town and getting smaller roles. (Working!)
- I’m always hearing about auditions at the last minute and don’t have time to prepare, so I end up not going. (Not working!)
What do you want from your career?
- To book more consistent work
- To play my dream roles
- To create strong and lasting relationships with companies across the country
What does your ideal career look like?
- Do you want to be a stage, film or tv actor?
- Do you want to be an actor with a family?
- Do you want to create your own original material?
What’s holding you back?
- Not having representation
- Not knowing what to do next
- Inconsistent follow through
Once you've taken a good look at your answers, it's time to use that information to your advantage.
Set specific goals and hold yourself accountable. Talk about them. Write them out and put them in a spot you pass by regularly. Tape a list to your bathroom mirror, put reminders in your phone, or put Post-It notes on your dashboard. Remind yourself of your target on a daily basis.
Find support. The struggle is real, and lack of focus is the number one foil to the performer’s career. Seek out a career-focused network. If you don’t thrive in that type of atmosphere, then find a coach whose job is to guide you and help you focus.
Leveling up your career strategy takes thought, time and determination sprinkled with a lot of trial and error. Strategizing and becoming consistent will win out over "talent" every time.
Soon you will be giving advice to other grasshoppers, while sipping champagne on top of your bountiful anthill.
Let us know if you've found your tribe of ants in the comments below.
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Natalie Cordone & Kevin Kelly - theConnectedPerformer.com