As I’ve mentioned, it’s a common fear among developing actors, that existing credits are what stands between them and a job. It’s not fair that in order to get a job, you need to have already done the job. And no one will give you a chance. How the fuck are you supposed to get anything on your resume, if you can’t even get in the room?
Here’s a hard truth – a lot of people want to be actors.
Ground-breaking, I know.
But what I’m trying to convey is – I’ve literally gotten twenty thousand submissions for a one-line role.
Sometimes, you have the time and resources to audition five thousand people for a role. And sometimes – you only have the time and resources to audition ten people.
Now – in order for me to do my job well, I better damn well make sure that if I only have time to audition ten people, all ten of those people better be realistic possibilities who can kill this role. And whether I only got a hundred submissions, because it’s a tiny project that not many people want to do, or I got twelve thousand, because everyone wants to do it – I’m still going to make sure that each of those ten auditions count.
You may be thinking to yourself – okay, then, obviously you go with the ten biggest names. Or the ten actors that you know best. Or the ten names that are frankly – the best actors, whether or not this particular character is right for them.
Yes and no. In order to do my job well, I need a mix of all of those. I need some people in there that I can count on, I need some flashy names in case my producers can pay good $$ for this particular role, and I need to take a risk with some good actors who haven’t done this character before.
But also to do my job well, I have to include names that I don’t know. I have to explore and discover, because my mental database of actors needs to be ever-expanding. Finding a new face isn’t just good for you, it’s good for me and my team as well.
So I go to those submissions, and make an educated guess as to who might be able to do this. Sometimes it’s a gut instinct on a headshot, sometimes it’s a demo reel that shows your potential, and sometimes it’s your resume. If I don’t know you at all – a long list of credits assures me that you get out there, and that you work hard, and gosh darnit, people like you.
That long list of credits shows me that I can trust in you. I can trust that you’ll come in and do well, and that I can feel good about taking a risk with you. There are also things that I can glean from your resume that you might not realize. The level of work that you’ve done, where you were trained, the theater experience you have, the way you label the credits you do have – all of those things, whether you have them or not, give me a better idea of you as an actor. And just like finding someone for a part – just because something is higher level, or more prestigious, doesn’t mean that you’re right for the part. If someone was trained in London, and has a lot of BBC credits, that doesn’t mean that they’re right to play a cowboy from Kentucky. I’m not saying they can’t, they might be a wonderful chameleon. But just because someone has a “higher-level” resume, doesn’t mean they’re right for the part.
It’s a hard fact that in hiring someone, there’s a tendency to want to go with a known quantity. Someone you can trust. But that’s true in any hiring situation.
As an actor, all you can do is make sure your material accurately represents you, and represents you well. If you don’t have any material – focus on expanding what you have. There’s theater, there are student films, there are opportunities all over the place. Create your own, if you can’t find anything you want to do! But make sure it’s good acting, and represents you well. And then put it on your resume, so that when I’m going through those submissions – your headshot, your demo reel, your resume catches my eye, and I’m inspired to take a risk. On you.