How To Land a Leading Role At Least 20% of The Time

Can anyone realistically land a leading role 20% of the time? Absolutely, without a doubt: yes! 

You might think that it’s impossible or that I’m just plain wrong or even crazy, but it’s simple math really. There is absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t be landing a leading role at least 20% of the time you go out for one. 

If you are at the point in your career where you are going out for supporting roles or bit parts, the odds are even better because there are even more of those available. 

Without further ado, here is how you can land a leading role 20% of the time you audition for one… 

See, because the industry is so big already there exist thousands of opportunities for you to be cast. 

For most actors that are not making the career progress they desire, it comes down to one of two things. 

  1. Not enough activity 
  2. Not doing the right kind of activity 

Here’s what that means. 

Most actors have way more (exponentially more) off days than they do working days. I don’t just classify “working days” as those spent on set. Working days are the days that you take focused action towards meeting your career goals. 

This could be making serious attempts to contact someone in the industry by putting together your Demonstration of Power Packs and sending them out It could also be the days that you go auditions and of course the days that you spend on set. 

It’s difficult to keep track and some reports have stated that actors spend an average of 15 days per year working, as stated above. Some reports are higher than this and some are lower so let’s consider this to be a good medium ground. 

What happens during the other 350 days of the year. 

A former assistant for Tom Cruise was asked about his boss’s work ethic and habits. He stated that Tom Cruise woke up everyday and approached it as if it were his first day in the industry. 

He would make a plan every single day for what he needed to accomplish and who he needed to reach. 

Keep in mind that Tom Cruise hasn’t had to do this in decades. Given that only a handful of other actors have had such an illustrious and long career, there something to be said about his approach. 

Rumor has it that this is how he ended up in Tropic Thunder: through a phone call with Robert Downey Jr. and later Jack Black. They both happened during his daily career building routine. 

The role he played in that film is often credited as having reignited his career. 

What if he didn’t make those calls every day? What if instead, he relied on his agent and management team to bring the opportunities to him? Would he still be a one man industry powerhouse? 

That’s what performing the right activity everyday is all about. Updating your reel and building your social media following is important and there is a time and place for that. 

However, if you want to build the career of your dreams, break your time down 80%-20%. 

Spend 80% of your time cultivating relationships and building your industry reputation. I have given you many resources for cultivating relationships with people that can move your career forward and I have created an easy and hands off way for you to build your industry reputation. Here are the details on that.

The entertainment business is a people business most of all and that’s why the majority of your efforts should be focused here. 

The remaining 20% of your time should be spent on the administrative tasks such as your reel, headshots, social media, and even acting classes would fall into this category. 

As for performing enough activity, this is about getting out into the world and making things happen. 

If you don’t have an audition lined up, find one. Don’t have any idea how to do that, you will figure out if you are determined enough. Not only are there a ton of resources here at Boost My Star, but all it takes is a little bit of resourcefulness. 

If all you did was go on 2 auditions per week, that would be over 100 auditions over a year. How many of those roles do you think you could land? Even just playing the numbers would get you hired more times than 99% of all other actors. 

When he was an intern, Steven Spielberg would work on production for the half day he was assigned to be at the studio. 

He would then spend the second half of the day walking from one sound stage to the next getting to know the actors, studying production techniques, and getting to know the other directors and producers. 

This was the right activity, performed in adequate quantities to yield a successful outcome. 

Tom Cruise, with the example above, didn’t take a day off from his career building activities. Not even holidays. According to his former assistant, he perceived them as an opportunity to double on the outreach without raising eyebrows. 

When you approach your career this way, things come together. Part of this happens on a quantum level, but let’s stick to the practical side of things. 

This year, at least 500 series will go into production. On average, there will be about 5 leading roles in each series. 

That’s 2500 leading roles up for grabs. 

There are about 100,000 actors in the US. Instantly, that makes your odds at landing one of these roles 1 in 400. However, not everyone is suitable for every role so let’s cut that in half because some actors will be too something or not enough of something to work out in the role. 

Plus, no one can double up on this as these roles come with exclusivity. NBC is not going to allow an actor to simultaneously play a leading role in an ABC production. 

So, now we are at 1 in 200 as your odds to land a leading role in a series. 

Only about 1 in 6 actors have agents that will submit them to these productions. 99% of actors without agents will simply not be able to make their way into these auditions. 

This puts your chances at roughly 16%, factor in scheduling conflicts and other fallout from contract negotiations and you are at a 20% chance of being cast. 

What’s most important to note is where this all stems from. 

  1. Performing enough activity 
  2. Performing the right kind of activity 

The actors that can bypass a good portion of this and instead be invited to audition for a role that is all but guaranteed, have built an unshakeable industry reputation. 

You can either spend the next several years doing this too, or you can take a shortcut.

Why make things harder than they have to be? Besides, at some point whether it’s before you audition or during the selection process, casting directors will look into this. 

Make sure you are prepared. As you start to open up more doors in this town and forge relationships, be sure that your industry reputation matches your potential.

So what will you do next Grasshopper? 

Let me know in the comments below or send me an email. I read every one that comes through and I always help however I can, because my goal is to… 

See you at the top,