"There are seasons in the entertainment industry when things slow down or even shut down, and without having particular jobs to pursue, an actor is well served if they can make the best use of this down time. Overall, unless pursuing an academic, theatrical degree or attending a particularly structured private acting class, an actor who is not currently working has no external expectation for themselves and must, on their own, determine ways to further improve themselves and manifest the discipline to do these things.
Leaving aside this later issue of self-motivation, here are some of the ways you might put your time to good use (and keep from going stir-crazy) until the i industry picks up and that next audition comes through.
1. Research. Study successful TV shows (current and old) and catch up on important movies. Researching the kind of material that you’re ultimately going to be auditioning for can give you a huge leg up in knowing what and how to prepare for work on these types of projects. Catching up on shows in the zeitgeist also educates you about the people currently working (writers, directors, producers, casting directors, etc.) and will give you a better understanding of with who you will be working.
2. Network. Increase your sphere of influence through your social media presence, reestablishing old contacts (going to lunches, dropping by offices), and generally putting yourself out there. When nothing else is going on, sow some seeds.
3. Get in shape. Apply yourself to that meal plan or go after an exercise regimen. Get serious about acquiring that skill appropriate for your type. Every actor should be constantly working on their speech and voice. Do you practice the Alexander Technique? Why not?
4. Sharpen your marketing tools. Whether it’s good headshots or an impressive demo reel, you improve your odds and your representation will thank you (and take you all the more seriously). You can use the services of a professional or learn how to make reels yourself using the many devices and computer programs now readily available and make additional demos that are even more type-specific.
5. Get good. Keep working the muscle. A top-notch acting class with a strong reputation is probably best, but if not you can at least be getting together with friends and doing play readings or you could be working on a monologue. If you want to create a little performance incentive, shoot something and give yourself a deadline to post it on YouTube.
These are just five ways you can keep busy when things slow down in the industry. However, whether it's busy or slow, you can always sharpen your plan of action to feel yourself moving forward.
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Lisa Price is the founder and Head Talent Agent at The Price Group.