Embracing the Actor's Uncertain Life

I've been very deep in thought about 'uncertainty' because it's something I always find myself in...and I believe all our lives are in a place of uncertainty all the time yet we put ourselves in routine - is this to distract ourselves from the truth? We all feel safe in certainty don't we? I know I do. What's an acting career full of? Yep. You guessed it. Uncertainty.

I've found myself in countless encounters lately with fellow actors who just want to work out what the formula is to get more auditions, book jobs, know what the acting class is that will transform them in a millisecond so they become an overnight success... and if there is no answer they get frustrated, upset, down - you name it.

I fully empathise with this. These questions do rise up in me also at times also. However, there just can't be any formula, acting isn't an equation - I've had the pleasure of working in casting previously and I can tell you that there isn't really a formula to that either - in fact casting moves so fast a formula couldn't keep up with it!

Now I know what you're thinking "But Scott dude, if there isn't a formula how the hell am I going to know what to do in order to work in this business?!" - again, I ask myself this at times too...so lets jump back into the casting element as an example of the non-formulaic uncertainty:

A Casting Director, let's call her Jane, gets invited to read a script for a feature film and then have a meeting with the director and producer. Jane takes some ideas of actors to the meeting who she feels would be good for two of the lead roles, (this is basically how a Casting Director auditions to be attached to a project just like an actor auditions for a role). Jane has no idea if the taste of her ideas and vision will inspire the directors and producers - she may have looked back over the teams work i.e. projects they've worked on before to get an idea about them as well as put her own spin on things but just like anything else in life this is almost a shot in the dark...

I mean does Jane know exactly how this meeting is going to go? Does she know she will bag this job and be attached to this amazing shiny project? Will she and the filmmaking team work again after this? Will the discussion be smooth sailing? Will everyone be very friendly and open or will it be very business like, not as well connected and straight shooting? Will she get another interview again? Will she ever work again? None of these things are certain at all - all Jane has is what she's practiced for years and years (casting) but nothing other than that and herself - the rest are an array of variables that are out of her control. Uncertainty. 

What is certain for Jane?

The Experience and Time She Has Spent With Her Talent (and continuation of that)- Hopefully Faith and Self-Belief also.

It cannot be said more simply than that. I'm not saying disregard any amazing acting business courses that can give you tools just like an acting class can (shout out to some I've mentioned before Bonnie Gillespie, Actor Salon, Anthony Meindl Actor Workshop, John Rosenfeld Studios etc.) but what I am saying is that it is uncertain that a class will have all the answers for you, an acting business course, an acting guru, your mom - whatever and whoever it is - it will always ooze uncertainty - and the challenge is to get comfortable with that and trust we are doing all we can for ourselves, pushing ourselves in a very loving and nurturing way. Also, TIME, all this stuff takes time and more practice in your art, in the business and on self is the way forward for years.

I have a couple of rules I follow when it comes to delving into a new course or class that is going to cost me time, energy and money, feel free to apply them if it helps.
  1. I must be coming from a place of curiosity with the content not validation - I've found if I'm coming from a place of validation then I'm showing up for the wrong reasons. Self improvement is a must - a pat on the back isn't
  2. Discomfort must be showing up - the kind of discomfort you feel from when you are entering a new space of self development you've never really shown up in before or returning one that is mega dusty and rusty!
  3. Good People Only - sometimes it's hard to gauge this one but it's pretty darn important. The community of a space just needs to be supportive full stop, no trolls or debbie downers - just people who can relate to one another with little or hopefully no judgement.
  4. Must have fun! - I mean this ones a given ;)
Oh, also, break the rules. No seriously, break them if you want to. Hell, isn't there a saying Rules Are Made To Be Broken...you might be curious about what it would be like to break the rules and do it your way. You may feel discomfort from breaking the rules. Perhaps breaking the rules will help you find some really Good People in life. It may actually be Fun to break the rules!

Do what feels good and scares the crap out of you at the same time. I'll promise to do the same ;)

Till Next Time!

Scott Michael Wagstaff

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