Thriving in Hollywood

Creative folks venturing into the land of show business need to concentrate on thriving not just surviving in Hollywood. Actors equipped with the right knowledge and tools can easily stand out among the stiff competition,

“On any given day, there are more than a quarter of a million actors living in Los Angeles,” said Bob Stewart, CEO of Now Casting & Players Directory. Stewart, who moderated the discussion at the Screen Actors Guild, also stated that 50,000 actors leave LA annually mostly due to burnout. 50,000 more flood back in through the revolving doors.

SAG invited local actors to attend a free seminar called “Thriving in Hollywood.” It was simultaneously live streamed to actors across the country. For many, it was a chance to hear firsthand from the experts on what to expect in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Panelists included SAG agent of the month Orion Barnes of Roger Orion Talent Agency, casting director Jami Rudofsky and actor David H. Lawrence XVII, who appeared on Heroes, Lost and Chuck. Each offered advice on how to maximize opportunities, setting goals and putting a plan in motion as well as avoiding mistakes other actors have sadly made.

Here’s a recap:
#1 Be Passionate about choosing a career as an actor and hone your craft by getting involved in theatre and student films even if you’re not LA based yet. “Sharpen the axe as much as you can and wherever you are,” shared Lawrence. Rudofsky encouraged actors to explore theatre as a great training ground. She also suggested eligible actors join the union once they’ve gained enough experience.

#2  Nowadays, guerilla filmmaking is quite popular. It raises the bar for each actor, who says they’ve produced, wrote and starred in their own production, even if it was on a shoestring budget. “Be your own production house and create your own content,” said Barnes. 

#3  Focus on your finances while laying down career building blocks.  Besides rent, headshots, classes and workshops are typical actors’ expenses. “The number one reason for failure of any business is the lack of capital,” stated Stewart. “You are the CEO of your own corporation. You have authority over your career.”

#4 Get a survival job to make ends meet while living your dream in LA. But make sure it’s flexible.  “Actors must be willing to risk the jobs when auditions come up,” said Barnes. “Surround yourself with a support team who believes in what you have to offer,” said Rudofsky, who has cast numerous films and TV shows including Gilmore Girls, The Practice, and The Apostle. Barnes said experience certainly counts, “If you are willing to put in work, the opportunities are there.”

#5 Artist should know that craft is key to everything said Stewart and work begets work at any level. He said, “By doing something everyday for your career is when you get fully engaged. The Herculean effort will kill you.” He explained, “It’s a machine and you cannot control your results. What you can control is your activity.”

If acting is your passion, stay on the path, don’t give up and don’t let rejection get you down. According to Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson reportedly said, “It takes 10 years to be an over night success.”

Career Cues is a show on Actors Reporter, a site on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Production.