Advice for the Beginning Actor

 Today’s Guest Blog is brought to you by actor Gabriel Voss. Gabriel is a prolific actor who recently received a Best Actor nomination from the World Music and Independent Film Festival for his lead role in the feature BRIGHT LIGHTS & PROMISES. Visit his inspiring and educational acting blog, see his monologue, and see his impressive resume on IMDB. Many thanks to Gabriel for stopping by Wannabe Pride and sharing his inspirational advice!

“Never, never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

If you are just getting your feet wet as an actor, then everything I’m going to say in this blog has already been summed up above. If you’re busy (as most of us are), you need read no further. The Cliff Notes version is in Churchill’s quote. If you have a few minutes extra and want the full story, read on. 

Perseverance is the key to success in any field, acting not excepted. When you’re starting out as an actor, it’s all excitement, all illusions of grandeur that you’ll be “discovered” in short order and off to Hollywood to make loads of money starring in blockbuster films. Even for the more grounded among us, it’s difficult to keep your head out of the clouds when it comes to envisioning your acting career. So snap back to reality with me for a moment. 

Typically, new actors struggle to get their first gig. By “gig” I mean acting job where you actually have lines to say – whether in a commercial, an industrial, or a film. Many wannabe actors get discouraged at this pupae stage of their career and decide it isn’t for them. For those that stick around and land their first gig, it’s completely intoxicating.

 You must be good or they wouldn’t have chosen you over the dozens or hundreds of others in the crowd. You’ve been discovered! You’re on your way! Next stop, Hollywood! Okay, I’m belaboring the point, but only because I’ve been guilty of getting carried away too.

The elation of landing that first gig starts to wear off the second shooting is wrapped and you realize people aren’t flooding your inbox and phone with requests to be in their next project. When you’re back to square one fighting tooth and nail for the next gig.

 Some get lucky here and book back-to-back projects (the film industry loves new faces, but only for a short while). Others have trouble getting the next audition and even more trouble landing another role. The first group is still at the top of the mountain emotionally, while the second group is beginning to understand what the dark and lonely valley of the acting world feels like. Eventually, even those that booked a lot of stuff initially will hit the doldrums, will question their ability and themselves. It happens to everyone.

 I say this not to discourage you, but to encourage you. To let you know that when you go through droughts (which is harder to take earlier in your career), you aren’t alone. No matter how much it may seem other actors you know are forever busy, they have their slow times too. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad actor or that no one wants to hire you. It’s just the nature of the beast. It will get to you, there’s no way around that. But don’t let it take you down. 

A personal example might help. I’ve been acting for a little over two years now, full time for almost 6 months. Three weeks ago I had the following 10 day schedule: spend 6 days in LA for a film festival at which an indie feature I was the lead male in won best musical, film a lead role in a comedy short, two auditions for major commercials, two shoot days on another indie feature film, and film a webcast hosting gig about lunar exploration. My schedule was packed and I certainly felt in demand and like things were taking off. Two weeks later, I had nothing – no filming, no auditions, no prospects. I felt like I was almost back to square one. What happened? What had gone wrong? 

Nothing. That’s just how it goes.

 There are incredible highs and heart-wrenching lows in the acting business. You never know what’s going to happen next. Maybe it’ll be the big break you’ve been waiting for; maybe it’ll be nothing at all. As a new actor the best thing you can do is resolve to just keep going not matter what. Eventually (and it could be years), you will get noticed, your career will pick up steam, you will find yourself going places. But you can’t get there if you give up. 

I’m not the only one saying this. Ask anyone in the business and they’ll say the same. Yesterday I got an email from a friend of a friend who is a low-level producer in LA. I’d asked him for insight on the LA scene based on his 5 years experience out there. The first and only piece of advice he gave me: “The best advice I can give you is to persevere and not give up.  Many of the people working in the industry are not there because of sheer talent but because they keep trying.”

 Never, never, never, never give up. If this is what you want to do, do it. Keep doing it. Day in and day out. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you in your journey – you will need them. You will want to quit, you will question your ability, you will cry.

 But if you keep at it, you will succeed.

I’ll end as I began, with the timeless words of Winston Churchill who knows a thing or two about perseverance: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” 

Welcome to the struggle. It is immensely difficult but ineffably rewarding. We are all rooting for you. You can do it.

 — Gabriel Voss