Dear grasshopper, there are many ways that you can get what you want out of your career and out of life itself.
It starts with the way you act. The beauty of our business is that you don’t have to come from a long line of successful actors to be accepted. If you look at the current crème de la crème, you will see that they are all the only ones that “made it.”
Sure, some of them come from a showbiz family, but they will without exception tell you that it’s only hindered them. Being, Will Smith’s son for example has more challenges than just being Jayden.
What’s great about the industry is that if you do what successful actors do you will eventually get the same result.
If you study the biggest achievers in the industry you will see that, without exception, they went all in and committed to mastering their talent, and more important, they committed to mastering the game.
Peel back the layers and you will see that they are rule breakers, refusing to abide by “the way it’s always been done.” They’re the square pegs in a round hole.
And it goes way beyond our industry. While I want to focus on how this all impacts your acting career, I have to introduce you to a few people for it to make sense.
See we are all governed by our rituals. Our rituals are our long enduring habits. If you kick off your shoes, throw your feet up on the couch, and tune into Netflix for 4 hours after work every day, that’s a ritual.
The people that have failed to accomplish what they set out to have negative rituals.
Like Michael, the literal rocket scientist who never landed a job in his chosen field, despite having a PhD. His rituals consisted of talking about aerospace engineering. He did the bare minimum to get by.
In a highly competitive field where a fraction of an inch means life or death, his peers left him in the dust. Their rituals consisted of practicing their field of study. Less talking and more doing.
Today Michael finds himself working the nightshift at Ralph’s, longing to be at a launch site somewhere.
Ask yourself this question. “Am I being an actor, or am I just talking about being an actor?”
See if you look at anyone who has risen to the top of their industry, you will see that they have in some way become an organizer of it.
Here’s what this means to us actors. If you study the career trajectory of the actor you most look up to, you will see that their careers really took off when they crossed over into the role of an organizer.
I’ve chronicled some of them for you in previous articles. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were virtually unknown until they crossed over into organizers with the film Good Will Hunting.
Sylvester Stallone would likely not have a career at all today, if he remained in the role of an actor instead of crossing over into being an organizer with the Rocky series.
Even Mindy Kaling did the same thing. She went from actor to A lister when she moved into the role of organizer with The Office and later The Mindy Project.
The way you become an organizer in the industry is to get involved in the production process. This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your acting career. What it means is that, if you want to have longevity and a deep impact on the industry, you have to learn it in inside and out.
By simply going through the process of writing a screenplay, you will learn so much about character development that you can use on screen. It does not have to be an Oscar worthy masterpiece, just a good effort.
Think of everything that you would learn experientially, if you were to hop behind the lens for a change, or sit in the director’s chair.
In order to step into mastery, you should also be able to step into any creative role on set and execute it with precision.
If you ever catch yourself in Buda, TX with some time to kill, you might want to hunt down the world’s smartest bartender. She won’t be hard to find there’s only 3 places she could be.
Samantha was the embodiment of a success story in the making. She grew up in Chicago and graduated as valedictorian of a class of over 2,000 students. She was accepted into every Ivy League school she had applied to and ultimately ended up at Brown.
Long story short, Samantha didn’t have a tragic fall from grace. She never really got off the ground. She coasted on the accolades for a semester or two and never really went all in.
She was studying medicine but never explicitly set out to be a doctor.
She always had a “Plan B.” She said that she could be a teacher, or do research if she couldn’t make the cut as a doctor.
See, when you give yourself a “Plan B”, you immediately accept failure. Your mind starts to look for ways in which to act on Plan B and forgets all about what should be on your mind: Plan A and only Plan A.
So, if you want to be an actor, then you have to set the intention in your mind that you are going all in. Scrap your Plan B and burn the boats. When you do this, you will find a way or you will make the way.
Sylvester Stallone had nothing left, except for his dream. He was so defeated that he literally had no money to eat. Desperate, he sold his best friend (his dog) for $200. It was grocery money that allowed him to survive, and he did anything and everything to forge ahead.
There was no way for him to break into the industry in the “traditional way” so he made a way. When he sold the rights to Rocky, he bought back the dog for $15,000.
Most people you know will talk a lot about becoming successful. While that’s far better than being negative, nobody successful, becomes successful. They start there.
When you act as though you are, at some point you’re no longer acting. You just are.
So, if you want to be an actor, be an actor. Instead of taking an off day, find something to work on. At some point, you will no longer be trying to be an actor. You will just be an actor.
Remember that your rituals are like a crystal ball, looking into your future.
I love the story of Jim Carrey and the check. Feeling like he was ready to give up, Jim Carrey wrote himself a $10 Million Dollar check. In the memo field, he wrote “For Acting Services Rendered” and he gave himself 3 years to cash it.
He then went to work. He adopted new rituals that drove him toward the goal he laid out for himself. A lot of us have goals, but without the rituals to drive us toward them, they will remain dreams.
It was almost 3 years to the day that Jim Carrey was holding a $10 Million Dollar check for his role in The Mask. It was all because of a clearly defined goal and the proper rituals driving toward the achievement of that goal.
As a teenager, Seven Spielberg snuck onto the Universal Studios lot, strolling past the guards as if he ran the place. Before long, he did run the place and had 2 of the highest grossing films of all time.
He too practiced rituals that drove him towards achieving his goals. He didn’t sneak onto the lot to talk to pretty actresses, or kick rocks. He spent his days visiting every soundstage, to observe production techniques and learn the process.
He would interact with the cast and crew to build a working rapport that served him well later on. The end of his days consisted of working on scripts.
Success is always designed and on purpose.
If you want to find success as an actor you have to adopt the rituals that will move you in the direction of your goal.
Do this and remember that you don’t become a successful actor. You already are, so act like it. Never quit and there is no way that you can fail.
You can either do it the hard way, hoping to be discovered on the audition circuit like everyone else, or you can do it the smart way and skyrocket your career on purpose instead of hope.
So, what’s it going to be grasshopper? You’re running out of time to decide, so go here and get the details before you miss out.
See you at the top,