The whole point behind finding your market is to make your career more successful and your life easier. Why struggle? If you focus on the one thing you do best and perfect that, you will develop a niche, a market entirely your own, for which you are known. And that, is the key to creating a successful career.
Examples? – Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld both did stand-up comedy for a number of years before being offered sitcoms which led to being offered films. Their strength was comedy but it opened doors to amazing careers because they just focused on one thing until they were really excellent at it. Bebe Neuwirth and Kristen Chenoweth are both singers/dancers as well as good comediennes. They booked Broadway shows which led to getting work on sitcoms which led to where they are now- film and TV work AND back to Broadway. Some of the highest paid actors in NY and Hollywood began as models or doing commercials until they were really good at it and making a living working on camera.That skill led to getting work on Soap Operas, Prime time TV and major feature films.
So, the trick here is to focus – Choose one of your many talents and develop it – intensely! Follow the 10,000 hour rule. What is that? If you spend 10,000 hours working at ANYTHING you become a master, a genius. Mozart had reached that level at around age 7. Not to be discouraged, how many hours have you worked on stage? on TV? on film? Start logging those hours and you’ll become amazingly good, brilliant as an actor especially in one media.
If you spend your time and energy going in many directions, grabbing every audition for everything in every media trying to just be a “working actor”, you’ll probably succeed at just that, working but not succeeding at your highest potential. Instead narrow down your choices in the order of your priorities. What will make you extremely happy if you could be doing it every day?
Answer these 3 Questions and you’ll be clear about that one thing.
1. What do you do best? What do you love ?
2. In what media do you work the most right now? Theater, musical theater, commercials, daytime, prime time TV, film, voice -overs, sketch comedy or improvisation?
3. Where are you most comfortable auditioning and performing? On stage, in front of a camera, in a recording studio, with a band, in a comedy club?
OK, here’s the follow through for that one thing:
Make a list of the top 3 medias in which you would love to be working all the time. Then, follow through with #1 on your list. Spend most of your time learning that craft, studying with the top masters in that media, taking every course and workshop with those masters, hanging around that theater or studio, learning, absorbing, meeting, networking, developing – with an obsession, 24/7. Breathe it, live it, taste it, become a clone of the masters, see how they got there, ask questions, ask them to be your mentor, assimilate.
No other profession requires this much commitment. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen/women-they all need education, training and have to work hard but they don’t have the same level of competition as you. They can get full time jobs in the first years of their careers. But you have to fight with the only tools you have- your talent and training! You have to be the absolute best in every audition if you want to get just one little booking, not to mention a full time job! There’s no such thing as a full time job for an actor. Even TV series are lucky to last 4 seasons or 5. Most acting jobs end after one hour, one day, one week. And then you have to start over, audition and get the next offer to create a career. It’s a long haul to survive and make a living. It’s a lot tougher for you.
But, if you follow through as above, guess what will happen? You’ve just set yourself up for that golden opportunity- the “door-opener” that will jumpstart your career. Being around “greats”, being in the right place at the right time with the right skill set is creating your own lucky break. Believe me, it happens! And of course, promoting your accomplishments.
Gwyn Gilliss is the Founder and Executive Director of TAM, The Actor’s Market