How To Succeed As an Actor

Do you know what Facebook, Apple, Ford, and Google have to do with your acting career? 

It’s simple really, but incredibly powerful. 

These are some of the biggest companies in the world. They all achieved success the same way and it’s the way that you should approach your acting career, if you want to make meaningful progress towards your goals. 

You may have heard about this if you are pursuing day-job-type of goals along with your acting career, but almost no one connects this to acting. 

Here’s why… 

As actors we are highly creative people and thrive on doing something new and being different. There’s a difference in doing that in your creative pursuits (in a scene for example), but when it comes to the business side of the industry, things change. 

In that regard, you need to do what others who have come before you have done, or not done. 

It’s called modeling, and it’s the surest, quickest way to success. 

When you model someone you basically build a roadmap of their career success and start traveling the same path. 

To take this concept to a completely different level, you could also model someone who completely failed at what you want to achieve and do the exact opposite. 

That’s what the companies I mentioned did. 

They did not create a new “thing.” They followed a roadmap of companies that came before them in the same field and either did the opposite or followed the roadmap and improved on some aspects of it. 

Remember Friendster? That was the precursor to Facebook, who improved on the market strategy. Friendster tried to go far and wide to a big audience that wasn’t ready for it. Facebook controlled the roll out strategy and created hype behind which campus would be next to get it. 

Once the demand was sky high, they rolled out to the masses. 

Apple did not create computing or cell phones. They looked at was there, saw that it was boring and ugly, and created offerings that were colorful and sleek. 

The key is to model and improve. 

So how do you do this as an actor? 

Let’s look at Kate Winslet for example. 

She has had an incredible and enviable career full of blockbuster hits and plenty of creative projects too. Here is how you would model her success.

She first appeared on a TV commercial for breakfast cereal. After a few years and a few more small appearances, she left school at the age of 16 to pursue her acting career. 

Keep in mind that she had not had any meaningful success at the time. 

She then moved on to British Stage Productions. This is key! 

Later, Kate Winslet began appearing films. Her debut was Heavenly Creatures directed by Peter Jackson. A few more films and then came an Oscar nod. Shortly thereafter came her second. The rest as they say is history. 

Here’s how you would model her career. 

Track her career path to yours and see where you are. 

Are you currently in the TV commercial stage of your career? What was her next step? Did she go straight from commercials to film or did she make a stop on the theatre circuit first? 

If you have been trying to make the leap from commercials to film but haven’t been able to make the leap just yet, should you consider a pit stop in between? 

After appearing in her first film, did she back track to shoot more commercials or keep moving forward and going on to better films? What should you do in that case. 

It’s tempting to take a role “just because” and sometimes that’s ok, as long as you know which road you are taking. Are you acting as a hobby, or are you building an acting career? 

Now let’s look at someone who has failed at what you want to achieve. Let’s look at our friend Joe the “actor.” He started his career when he moved to LA. Arrogantly, he thought he owned the town and never sought to make any connections, feeling as though people should come to him instead. 

He went on auditions when his agent found something (luckily), did zero prep work, and showed up there at the last minute. 

Joe was unfocused in his pursuits, went after anything and everything, and did not put forth any meaningful effort to market himself to the industry and never thought about building his career on purpose. 

Here’s how you anti-model Joe the actor. 

If he never sought out connections to advance his career, you should make that a priority. 

If Joe only relied on his agent to stumble on something to audition for, you should probably look to diversify and proactively seek out additional opportunities. 

Since he went out for anything and everything, rather than creating a category of one as I call it, which should you do? 

Since he didn’t build a career on purpose and just hoped that things would come together and fall into his lap, you should probably devote a lot of time to career planning and design.

If Joe the failed actor did not put any effort into marketing himself to the industry, that means you should make marketing yourself a daily activity. 

Here is an easy fix for that.

Remember that early on, we established that modeling is about doing what other have done and then improve on it. Something that our core example did not have when building her career was a way to build a platform and an independent verification of her industry reputation. 

You have both of those at your disposal. 

If you have been in the industry for any length of time, you probably know that the more connected and reputable agents won’t even consider taking on new talent that does not meet their expectations of an IMDb ranking. 

For some agents this is 20K-30K, for other agents it’s a bit higher but the bottom line is that there is a reason they trust IMDb as a leading factor when they decide whom to represent...

It’s because Casting Directors do too. 

So, if you want to model and improve upon Kate Winslet’s model of success while doing the opposite of what Joe the actor did, should you focus on your IMDb rating and go out and audition with the power of a good ranking on your side? 

The answer depends on whether you are acting as a hobby or whether you want to build an acting career and do this for the long term. 

So which actors will you look to model? Who are you going to anti-model? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email. I read every one that comes through. 

I realize that this may be a departure to what you have been told by industry peers so far but remember: if you do what you’ve always done, you will end up getting what you always got. 

Choose accordingly and I hope to… 

See you at the top,