Wendy A;ane Wright with Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett, Jr.
The # 1 Secret To Becoming A Working Actor Overnight.
by Wendy Alane Wright
Common in so many actors is an underlying tension that flows through them. It's so thick you can cut it with a knife. If you stand near them you can feel it. When they open their mouth you immediately hear it. It says, "How long will it take for me to make it?" "Shouldn't it have happened by now? "I mean really, how long until I am on television and I'm a famous actor?" My answer is tomorrow. You can do it by tomorrow.
Are you stunned? It's true, by tomorrow you could be a rich, famous and successful actor. You could also be a doctor, the President of the United States, a lawyer, senator, teacher, astronaut, CEO of a fortune 500 company, certified public accountant, professional basketball player, maxillofacial surgeon, coach of a major league baseball team, nuclear physicist, nobel peace prize winner, biologist, architect, pharmacist, engineer, veterinarian, cardiothoracic surgeon, orchestra conductor, pediatrician, dentist, optometrist, construction manager, IT manager, commercial airline pilot...all by tomorrow. Of course.
As a Talent Manager, I can't tell you how many "actors" come to me and want an agent in their first few months of being in LA. They also want to be on TV within their first year here. It's ridiculous and so completely unrealistic. I hear them whine "I have been here two years and still not on tv! I'm not getting enough auditions. I can't find an agent, or, my agent isn't getting me out enough." Oh Vey!
Here is the problem: these people are not even thinking about becoming great actors. They are thinking about becoming famous. Every good manager, agent, acting teacher, and casting director can tell the difference between a great actor who has intensely worked on the craft of acting to develop mastery, and the one who thinks they can waltz into an acting job, off the cuff. Guess what? The actor who has acted for years in small unknown theater productions, often unpaid, who has studied with great acting teachers and worked closely with acting coaches to master the art of acting are the ones who work. They are the ones that have succesful acting careers. And believe me, they are the ones that become the stars. Ok, I lied. You cannot become a succesful working actor by tomorrow.
When I attend acting showcases I am handed so many resumes of actors who are looking for a manager and they have taken only a handful of acting classes, or trained for only a year or two, or only have a college degree from an acting school. That's right I said that, you heard me correctly. Yes, the degree shows a consistent interest in the arts, but to industry pros, who knows what kind of training you have received there? You still are at ground zero. We will see what level of actor you really are.
There is a strange misconception about the career of acting. People think it's is different than other careers. I don't know why. Maybe because it looks easy and they see people on TV doing it all the time. But people from around the world they think they can come to LA or NY, get an agent, get an audition, land a job and become a star. Oh you think I am exaggerating? But I am not. For some reason many people believe that all you have to do to be an actor is stand in front of a camera and "be." Just be you. They think because they talk and move that is enough to be a great actor, but of course it isn't. Anymore than you or I can stand in the operating room and cut open someone's head and do brain surgery on them... just because we're, well you know, us. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but I am not far off. Ask anyone who has been in the business for awhile. Actors who come newly to LA sound like this for the first few years, that is until reality kicks in.
In order to bring the kind of performance to the screen that makes an audience really feel moved to the core by an experience an actor is having, an actor has to learn how to go deeply within themselves and bear emotion that is true to their core - without any concern for how they look, who they are, or how they feel other people are perceiving them. Most people can't get to this level. They are so hyper-conscious - especially the ones that want to be actors. Quite frankly, this kind of actor is the exception, even with training. It takes a special kind of talent and an extensive amount of trained skill to have this much command of yourself, and this level of vulnerability - which 9 out of 10 times is only accomplished through years of genuine acting training and experience. Even Stars are getting coached continually with great acting teachers. This is not a field you can waltz into and be successful in by tomorrow.
This kind of strange misunderstanding about acting is bizarre in a field that has such high levels of competition. You would think people wouldn't even put themselves into the casting room until they knew they were better actors than anyone else around. When there are 2,000 submission for 1 role, your chances of getting it are slim, like winning the lottery. So you better believe you need training, and something incredibly special about you that you can identify and sell. An average actor is not going to get the job. If you are an average actor, you better go work with an amazing acting coach until you are the best actor in your class - if you want to work - because producers, writers, directors, managers, agents, casting directors and networks are looking for the best. Not the average, not the under-trained, and not the confused.
And it goes beyond your training. There is a general rule in Hollywood -- talent won't get you there, but persistence just might. With training and talent you are halfway there. Now you need luck and persistence. It's crucial that you don't give up. You need to give yourself realistic goals and time frames. It take years and years to become a working actor. Actors that can't hang in there for the long haul aren't going to be successful working actors. If you can't hang in there and be happy on this journey...that's okay. Go find something else to do. Whining about how long things are taking and beating yourself up for not being an "overnight success" is not healthy. You have to love the process, the journey and the work. If you don't, my advice is go find what you do love. You deserve to be happy.
I'm sorry if I am being to harsh, but as a Talent Manager I have to tell it like it is. Would you want less? Here's the truth, if you want to be on TV, the answer is yes, that is do-able. I will tell you exaclty how:
1) You are going to have to work really hard at becoming a great actor.
2) You will need to work for years to build connections and relationships with people in the industry such as casting directors, producers and directors. It really is who you know in this business, and more importantly, who knows you.
3) You will need to get very lucky.
Indeed, you may book a few jobs here and there, but remember only 5% of actors become successful working actors. So if you really want a career in show business, a paying one, you better get off your high horse, get your head out of the clouds and give yourself a reality check. You have a lot of work to do. No, you will not be on TV tomorrow, you likely will not be a rich and famous actor by tomorrow, not by next year, and not before 10 years. You still want to be an actor after knowing all that? Great! Then maybe you are cut out to be one. You could be in that 5% of working actors. In fact, I hope you are. There is no reason you couldn't be. After all, life is what we make it.
My professional advice is always go for your goals and dreams, temper it with reality of what you need to do to accomplish them. Know that with hard work and determination almost anything is possible. Keep a good attitude and develop the ability to enjoy your journey. That includes it's ups and downs, the acceptance and the rejection, the wins and the disappointments. If you stick with it, you will get to have extraordinary creative moments, so deeply fulfilling, challenging and rewarding. You may even get paid to do it!
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Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager and the President of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. They have booked TV shows including “Modern Family,” “Blackish,” “Extant,” “The Colony,” “Animal Kingdom,” “My Haunted House,” and “Henry Danger,” as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Hot Wheels, and many more.
Prior to being a manager and a talent agent at Burn Down Entertainment, Wright assisted many high profile managers, agents, and publicists. For 20 years she was a recording artist, actor, and music producer, and is now the author of five books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of schools including the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina and LA Acting Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”