Tag Archives: pilot season
First, communicate with them.
It’s pilot season. Everyone’s stressed. You’re one of many clients on someone’s roster. Remember that they are working hard to get all of their clients jobs and it’s important to have faith that they know what they’re doing and they’re invested in helping you get work. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be working with you.
Perhaps it’s still early in pilot season and you haven’t gotten any auditions yet. You start doubting whether or not you’re with the right person or if they’re doing anything on your behalf or if they even like you.
Don’t hit the panic button. Often, the main roles for new shows are offers being made to famous actors so that’s why you’re not being seen. Once that part of the casting process winds down and the roles have been filled, the casting offices will start looking at other people for supporting roles and guest star and co-star roles.
You’ll get called in. Breathe.
Recently, though, I spoke to an actress who was not only not going out for pilot season, but when she was, her manager would undermine her confidence by giving her arbitrary bad feedback and tell her all the reasons why she wouldn’t get a role.
Everyone knows the business can be challenging. That it’s just numbers. That if you’re doing your best and getting callbacks things are working and it’s just a matter of time.
So when anyone doesn’t support the artist in that process, you have two options.
1). Say nothing and hope it gets better. (But we all know it won’t.)
2). Express your truth, create boundaries, communicate your needs, find a way of making things work if they’re salvageable. If not, cut your losses and get out.
I know that’s a scary thought. “Oh my God . . . I can’t be agent-less during pilot season.” But the irony is, if you’re working with someone who’s abusive and non-supportive – you kind of already are.
It’s like a bad relationship. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
It’s important to retain our dignity and respect as actors on our journeys. So many times, what is being asked of us and what is being said to us – can be demoralizing or hurtful. But you don’t have to stand for it just because you want a job.
No job is worth that. Nor is any agent or manager who makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you just because you haven’t booked a job for a few months.
You’re allowed to be human. Remember that.
The ones who care (and are excellent at their jobs) understand this. And they’re in it with you for the long haul.
So seek those people out if you’re feeling it’s scary to take the leap. They exist! Remember your self-worth. You deserve to be with someone who truly sees and celebrates your talent.
That’s not based on whether or not you sometimes tank an audition or don’t get a callback or get bad feedback.
That’s based on who you are.
How do you survive it?
What do you do when you test for multiple roles but don’t end up getting any of them? What do you do when you see your friends going out for weekly auditions and you haven’t heard from your reps in weeks? What do you do when you get bad feedback on an audition – and therefore no opportunity to test – when you thought you hit it out of the park?
Getting through pilot season requires the actor to not get caught up in the energy and frenetic pace in which agents and managers and casting directors are often forced to work.
Even though everyone else is stressed out and feeling the pressure and having to “deliver” doesn’t mean you have to.
What if you just practiced some mindfulness and remembered a few simple points:
1). Everyone is doing the best they can with the chaos of having to have everything done yesterday. From agents to managers to casting directors – everyone is trying to find the right talent for the right role. Sometimes that might be you and many, many times it won’t. It’s not personal. It’s numbers.
2). Remember that pilot season is a few short months. What does or doesn’t happen in those months doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be unemployed the rest of your life or you’re a terrible actor. It’s a tiny window of your life as an artist. You didn’t let only the first 3 years of your life define you as a person so why would you let a couple months do so now? Don’t let this moment now define everything you are and everything you’re capable of. (Everything is ultimately about the now but it’s not about your judgment of it and what you think it should be.)
3). Allow yourself to be human. You’re not a robot. That means sometimes you’re going to be awesome in the room and sometimes you might just tank.
4). Be patient. Sometimes the thing you think you want is really not the best thing for you. Let things evolve as they naturally will not as you force them. Besides forcing something never works.
5). Don’t catastrophe-ize. Don’t try to write your life story based on only one season of it. Don’t tell a doom-and-gloom scenario of what your life will be like if you don’t book a pilot. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be waiting tables the rest of your life or you have to move back to Ohio just because you didn’t book a network TV show. Jobs and opportunities come in all forms and from the most unexpected of places. Stay open to them. Not just the direct-line route that everyone tells you that you must book.
I talked to a casting director friend of mine the other day who said, “I wish I could hire my favorite actors for each role, but it just doesn’t happen that way.”
That comment helps actors understand it’s just not personal. Ever.
You may book a job you may not. You may test for a show you may not. The casting directors may bring you back for a role you think you’re perfect for or they might not. You might bomb your audition or you might kick ass but very few outcomes are really an arbiter of your talent. There are so many intangibles that you have no control over.
Your job as an actor is to not get caught up in things you can’t control. It’s instead about letting go of control.
All you can do is show up. Do your best. Breathe. Surrender. And trust.
And remember as John Lennon so aptly commented on life itself, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Why do we run away from who we are?
Well, it seems pretty obvious. We feel we lack his charm, her looks. His intelligence, her sexiness.
We erroneously think that the qualities we possess are inadequate and unlikable.
And we judge them.
But something you might have discovered about life is that no matter how much you run from yourself, eventually, you keep returning to who you are.
If there’s no escaping it, there’s only one choice.
Learn to love yourself.
Accept all parts. Embrace the qualities you judge and are scared of. Unapologetically.
As artists, it’s only by understanding and using all our parts that we can get work.
The business is built on “types.” And you’re going to get work according to your type. But we often have so many judgments about those parts of ourselves that we exclude ourselves from even being considered for the job.
A “type” doesn’t have to label you. It doesn’t have to limit you. You do that to yourself.
It merely indicates the kinds of parts we can play because the medium (of TV especially) doesn’t see beyond the physical.
It’s not intended to keep you from booking jobs. Instead, it’s trying to show you how you can work. Casting directors want to hire you based on how they perceive you, but you don’t like your own self-perception so you prevent yourself from committing, from having fun, from being free and expressed in the audition. All because you possess qualities that somewhere along the line you have been taught they’re not OK to have. That you are less a person for having them. That if you show them you’ll be punished or made fun of or unloved.
No one is really perceiving you the way you perceive yourself.
Give yourself a break.
You are cast-able as you are.
You’re able to book jobs as you.
Life’s too short to waste any more time squandering the gifts you’ve been given.
Whether those gifts show up as incredibly good looks or an offbeat voice. An imposing physical-ness or an awkward nerd. A heavy or a dingy blonde.
Celebrate who you are. Because if you can’t, none of us will ever be able to celebrate with you.
When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t like myself very much. I had low self-esteem and a lot of self-hatred. I thought I was dumb and unattractive. Too “this” and too “that.” Too much, too gay, too weird, too “out there.”
So what did I do? Well, like most 20-year-olds at that time, I spent most of my energy trying to be someone I wasn’t. Duh.
I’d try really hard. To overcompensate for my perceived lack, I’d always put on a good show. On dates, I was so surprised when someone actually liked me, I’d ultimately sabotage the experience because of my insecurities. (Not more than an hour after a date ended, I’d call them and leave a voicemail – this was before cell phones! – asking if they had a good time and wanted to do it again!)
In my acting, I’d try to pretend to be someone else being the “character.” So I’d play ideas or mimic famous people or show caricatures because how could I ever believe that someone would ever be interested in merely watching me. That could never be enough, could it?
I learned the hard way. By running away from who I was, I discovered, over time, that the only way I made any sort of progress in my life – whether it be acting or dating or creating or relating – it all came down to me being me.
And ultimately I discovered that who I was (who we each are) is all I got.
You want to know the simple answer to any question you might have about anything you’re wanting in life?
Whether it’s about booking a job or landing the promotion or nailing a successful interview or having a second date or getting your TV series?
If you don’t know who that is yet, you’ve got time to figure it out.
But stop postponing.
The world is waiting for you to share who you are.
And really, you’re waiting to discover yourself.