THERE ARE A MILLION WAYS TO GET THERE.
There’s always a different way to do something other than the one that’s not working for you. There’s never just one way to do anything. There’s always an escape hatch, a different tunnel. Don’t stop looking. If you are doggedly determined because you’re unwilling to compromise on what you want your life to look like, then you will not stop.
There’s always another hall. Turn around! Be open to the possibilities. Ask yourself, “Is there another way I could do this? Do I have to do it this way?”
Often what we think we also have to do stops us from doing it. For example, actors often tell themselves “I need to get an agent to have a career.”
They will wait to start their career until they have that perfect agent. It’s not necessary! I had my first perfect agent eleven years into my career, with big plays under my belt. Actors can get stopped by believing there’s only one way to do things.
For instance, if an actor comes up to me and says “I want to be on Justified.” I’ll say, “Great. Go get on Justified.”
Then a year later, I find them and ask, “So how was that getting on Justified?”
And they say, “Well, I thought to get on Justified, I needed an agent. Oh, wait, before I got an agent, I needed a reel. And so on…”
So, for the last year, they’ve been stuck in “I need to get a reel, so I’m not getting onto Justified.”
I say, “Why didn’t you just go knock on the door of Graham Yost, the creator of Justified?” What is the harm in that?
And their answer is, “Oh, I never thought of that.” They’ve been told this is the way you have to do things. And it’s just not true.
Most of the time what I tell my coaches is, “Did you look for a different way for them? Did you try this, or did you try that?” That is what we are always working on at Actor’s Fast Track – looking at creative, imaginative ways to find new solutions.
So when you start thinking there is only one way to do something, stop thinking that way! Always look for another approach. It’s there and often even better than your original plan.
THERE ARE MANY NOS ON THE ROAD TO YES.
So many actors get stopped by one no. The truth is, you’re going to collect a lot of nos to get that final yes.
Some actors can get turned down for years. And it’s very disheartening. But generally, if you have been told no for years, there are probably some things you can learn at Actor’s Fast Track to turn those responses into yeses.
Having said that, I believe if you are putting yourself out solidly, clearly and concisely for one year, you’re going to get somewhere. But you are going to get told no a lot.
And when you get told no, you may wail, “But I am so amazing! And I have this great stance.”
My advice is to stand strong with your flag planted in the ground and be true to who you are – because there will be people all around you telling you to change. And then all the energy you should be using to get YOU out there will be spent in trying to change yourself. It won’t work.
Stay the path. And expect to see no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, all the way to YES!
Actors don’t get picked. But that’s not because they’re not worthy of being chosen.
How you make a million dollars is you do that thing that works over and over again repetitively until you’re bored with it. So be steadfast and unwavering in your goal.
Don’t let just one no stop you. If you’re one of the many actors who gets stopped by one no, just realize you’ll be told no multiple times before you get a yes. It’s part of the job.
For instance, I was at a benefit one night and Ed Norton and Mary Louise Parker were there. I was sitting at the table with two actresses, and one actress said to the other that she never had a career because she couldn’t figure that agent game out because thirty years earlier an agent she thought was going to sign her didn’t. This actress got stuck for 30 years due to one no!
It made me think, oh my god, what if I had been stopped by times I was told no? Those crushing refusals scared the heck out of me at the time. But I didn’t let them stop me.
YOU HOLD THE KEY TO OPEN YOUR OWN DOORS.
Don’t wait for the industry to give you permission to enter the marketplace or for when you’re “good enough.” Too many actors are waiting to be invited in. That elusive invitation is just not going to arrive in the mail.
Actors often think an agent is going to come along and tell them who they’re going to be and what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. But as I’ve mentioned in previous chapters, that’s just not true.
You have to come from your own point of view and build that vision. Create your “whatever-you-want-to-be” and boldly put it out there.
If you see yourself as a philanthropic Mark Wahlberg kind of guy, then do charitable projects you care about and get a strong support system around you to deliver your message. Then you can become known for who you are: a caring and involved person.
At my workshops, I always do a little skit where I’m standing outside of a party and I say to an actor, “Hi. How are you? I’m going to the party. Are you going to the party?”
Then this guy saunters right by us and goes directly into the party. HEY! He just went right into the party! How did he do that!? Pure and simple. He did it by just walking right in.
So don’t wait for the industry to invite you in. You don’t need anyone’s permission. Just walk in.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY? BRING BUYERS WHAT THEY NEED.
Actors tend to show up hat in hand with nothing to give in return. Rather than ask what others can do for you, think instead about what you can do for them. Don’t just say, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Think like a business person.
Instead of complaining about not getting auditions or waiting for that big break, be of service to your career, your agent, and your scene partner. Don’t ask them, “What have you done for me?” Rather, say, “Here’s what I can do for you.” Be clear about what you’re selling and then offer it to them.
When you show up to buyers, know what your value is, whether it’s trackable through your conversion rate (how many auditions it takes for you to get a callback) or how many mailings it takes for you to get an answer to emails or drop-offs. Be ready to say, “I am worth this.” Get a little too big for your britches!
Remember, you’re there as an actor to help your buyers make money.
YOU MANAGE YOUR OWN IMPRESSION AND LEGACY.
You control how other people think of you. You are the contractor of your career. So go build! No one is going to give your career to you.
It’s your life. You leave a legacy from the time you’re born, including what people think about you depending on how you treated them throughout your life. How you measure that is through the majority’s perception of you. You create how you are seen.
For example, what is your perception of O.J. Simpson? There was a split decision in 1995 regarding his innocence and guilt for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. But as his reputation began to crumble and the veneer of his personality cracked, even those who supported him in the beginning began to realize the likelihood of his guilt. Now, twenty years later, it’s pretty clear to most people that his lawyers used perfect social and political timing to manipulate the outcome of his verdict and that he was most likely guilty. His legacy is now completely tarnished. Plus, he’s serving time – a very long time – for an unrelated crime: armed robbery.
Everyone also thinks Britney Spears is a cuckoo-potamous because she shaved her head in the middle of paparazzi. We all watched her shave her head and show her va-jay-jay to the camera because she chose to do that. No matter how much she comes back, that will always be a Scarlet Letter for her because she created it in the public eye. She has a great career but she’s still a cuckoo-potamous. She did that to herself.
In contrast, everyone in this town loves Reese Witherspoon.
Recently Reese was honored at a ball in Beverly Hills and she greeted all 250 guests personally at the door. The gesture was so beautiful that when I heard about it, it made me cry with respect. Her reputation in the Hollywood community is so good. And she’s made that happen.
She’s the one who’s learned everyone’s name on set. She’s the one who writes thank you notes to people. And she’s the one who has created herself as loveable. No one did this for her.
George Clooney is the same way. There are so many great, wonderful actors who are doing so much more for the world than acting.
We’ve been the jesters of the world for centuries, ever since there have been clowns. It’s what we do. But I think we’re doing much more now. Actors are giving back to the world and really trying to help people.
The crux is how do you want to be seen? This is BIG. It’s about your reputation, vision, manifestation, implementation – and ultimately, your legacy.
DON’T GO CHECK IN WITH THE HERD (other actors, acting teachers, friends, family) BECAUSE ALL YOU’LL GET IS THE “WELL, I HEARD…”
This one is my personal favorite because I imagine all these cows on a hill and they’ve all been congregating there for years. They’re mooing, “I’ve been an actor for seven years and I’ve tried everything.” Or the teacher cow that used to be an actor is standing on a mound, bellowing, “Well, you can’t really make it in this business.” The cows are all there, chewing their cud.
You’re a frisky calf and you bound up enthusiastically, saying, “Hey, I was thinking it might be a good idea if I made some cookies and took them to this casting director!”
The naysayer cows all turn to look at you, snorting disparagingly, “Well, I heard if you take the cookies they’ll yell at you and you could actually even get arrested.” Or, “I HEARD….”
So, with your enthusiasm dampened, you don’t do it and quietly join the herd. You may even start talking to yourself in negative “cow-speak,” moo…boo…boo.
My advice? Don’t go check in with those cows! Don’t listen to them. Don’t let them put those thoughts in your head so you start doubting yourself. There is no need to check in with them. Instead, check in with a good guide like Actor’s Fast Track because we will say, “Go do it, my child. You should just go do it!” Because that is what we are about.
We’re a supportive community that won’t discourage you from breaking the rules. We won’t listen to your excuses. The most exciting thing about my company is the community that’s occurred. They are so different from any other acting community.
Get out of that herd mentality which will talk you out of doing what you want to do.
Actors are notorious for asking their actor friends what they should do or think. These same friends don’t have a credit on their resume.
Therefore, if you want to go and do a drop-off to an agent’s office, don’t ask your friends. They will tell you, “Oh, you’re not supposed to do that” or “My friend went to an agency and they yelled at her.” Also, don’t check in with your family or your acting teachers who don’t have an active career or never have had an active career about what you should do with your business.
Don’t listen the “HEARDS.” Let your impulse design your action. Genius is inspiration. Fear motivates the “HEARD.” The herd will always hate the right action. They’re ALWAYS going to tell you not to take the big risk. The big risk is what’s going to get you the job.
GO BEYOND YOUR FEAR CURTAIN.
What are you afraid of exactly? Is the casting director going to bite you? Not like you? Are they going to yell at you?
Really. GET DOWN TO IT.
The first thing you need to do is determine what big action you want to take. What is that thing you’re thinking of doing that you’ve told yourself you can’t do? Such as, “Oh, I’m thinking of calling Leonardo DiCaprio.”
What scares you about it? What is he going to say? “You’re a fricking terrible person for calling me. I don’t want to talk to you and don’t ever call me again!” If he does say that, can you live with it?
But of course, even as I’m writing that possibility, I know he’s not going to say that. Why would he? You share a passion for the same craft he does. You can offer something to him, such as, “I’m Valorie Hubbard. I want to know you and play your mother. I want you to see what I’ve done. Can I send you my stuff?”
Why can’t I do that!?
I just took you over my own fear curtain. That’s the best way I can show you what I mean. Most of our fears are unfounded. They’re stupid! When you say them out loud, you go, “Okay, come on! How can I be scared of that? It makes no sense.”
I mean, what could be the worst thing that would happen if Leonardo said to me, “Are you flipping crazy? No effing way!” It’s not as though it’s going to ruin my life, even if he did. But he just wouldn’t.
Of course, you have to know that what you’re bringing to the conversation is worthwhile and what you’re offering to Leonardo can help him before making that call.
But you can call him if you know going into the phone call that what you’re offering is genuinely positive and beneficial to him. You know you’re not just calling with your hat in hand asking for a handout. This belief in yourself gives you courage to actually make the call.
Going through this process and experiencing your greatest fear puts it into perspective. Actually writing about it in this book makes me realize right now where I’m blocked.
When Kristy Staky booked her role on Switched at Birth, I asked her, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? That Dee Dee Bradley says, “How dare you send me a fricking video on my Facebook page! You’re an idiot!” or “You’ll never work as an actress!” Can you live with that? Yes? Well, then just go do it!”
“Valorie has taught me how to be self-confident and believe in myself. But for almost a year, I didn’t do anything she told me to do. I didn’t contact casting directors because I’d go to casting workshops and hear them say, “Don’t submit anything directly.” But Valorie would say, “Go, go, go!” And, oh my god, I was so scared. I didn’t know what their reaction would be. And then I finally did it – and it worked! After my first drop-off, I got called in for a studio pilot, a leading role, and went straight to the producer session.” – Ana Maria Perez, actor/Actor’s Fast Track client
LUCKY BREAKS TAKE A LOT OF CONSISTENT WORK
If I could only find that magic pill to solve all my problems, book that perfect role, and find a great agent. Well, this isn’t going to happen unless you win the lottery or you’re Alice in Wonderland. Also, even those chance windfalls often cause more problems than solutions.
There is no such thing as a “lucky break.” That’s a crock of nonsense.
Luck is a lifestyle choice. The journey is a flow. Andrew Bachelor did not get lucky. He worked for it. He posted three Vines a day. He was consistent.
I had a young man over here last night. He’s going to be a megastar! Many people want to leap ahead when they’re not ready. So, when he started looking at publicists, I said, “Okay, I have a recommendation.” But just to be sure, I checked with him first, asking, “How’s your structure doing?” Because you have to build that Noah’s Ark, baby, before heading out into the waves.
The magic in your life and career will happen due to a lifestyle of regularly nurturing relationships, having product materials ready all the time, working your craft, reaching out, creating your own opportunities, and having an attitude of gratitude and excitement, etc.
GET, USE, AND GROW YOUR SUPPORT BASE.
Here’s what happens: People get excited about their career, they do something like hire me or go to acting school, and then they end up hiding or giving up. They start and then stop. Star and start again. Start. Stop. Change. Stop. There’s no fluidity to their business. There’s no flow.
I represent one idea: me. And there’s just so far my own mind can take me. But if I am in a community of successful people, they can help me be more successful because their views will help me grow. Don’t stop growing!
Seek out the people who have done what you want to do. GET the resources they used. An exercise bike is worthless without a rider. So USE the resources you put in place. Ask for help, attend meetings, show up for support, and it will show up for YOU. GROW, NURTURE, and SURROUND yourself with people to help you build your support base.
WHAT IF YOUR ACTING CAREER WERE A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH?
What if you had to make a living acting? If you’ve been paying attention in this book, by now you know part-time actors only get part-time results.
But if you had to be working as an actor full-time, the first thing you would do is take stock of your situation and then show up. This is not a hobby!
If you’re starting a company to pay the rent and want this business to deliver a living to you, then you’d better give it “living” attention. Become non-negotiable and this acting career becomes non-negotiable.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
The scourge of most actors is that they are part-time actors and they’re thinking that means if they play at the semi-amateur ballgame then they’ll be able to play with the Yankees. The actual truth is that they have no connection. They will never leave the semi-amateur ball field. You have to play with the big boys before you’re ready to play with the big boys – and show up as a smart business person.
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