Be A Long Term Investor

Long term financial investors follow a set of a few simple rules:  Develop a strategy and stick with it, focus on the future, adopt a long term perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff!  As an actor, you are your own commodity and your career trajectory is very much like that of a stock. 

Consider any enormously successful multinational company such as Apple (AAPL) Google (GOOGL) or Facebook (FB) and take a look at their stock chart.  But don’t look at their five day, one month, three month or even one year growth. Look at their their five and ten year progress and beyond.  You will unequivocally see hills and valleys, but also an overall significant rise in price. 

Your acting career is no different.  Resist the urge to analyze it every day.  Not only will that drive you insane, but it is not smart investing.  Don’t asses where you are at any given moment, but where you are overall.  Yes, if after ten years, you are not further along than you were a decade ago, it’s time to rethink some things.  But you have chosen a tough, extremely competitive profession that requires hard work, tenacity and perseverance.  No young lawyer graduates from law school, passes the bar and expects to try a high profile murder case right out of the gate.  No young surgeon graduates from medical school and expects to waltz into brain surgery.  If so, they would be highly let down. 

I moved to LA in 1991 and met a lot of young actors at that time who were expecting to “give it a couple of years…maybe a few” with the hopes of landing the next 90210.  Over the years I’ve wondered what happened to many of them.  When IMDB came along, I realized that none of them worked much past the mid nineties.   Now, I did meet a few actors who were in it for the long haul.  Some are very successful today.  Some have turned to producing or directing, but they all continue to train and plug away despite the valleys between their hills. 

A few years ago an enormously talented, hard working, extremely funny client of mine was frustrated about her career.  She had been in LA nine years, had fantastic rep, done several guest spots and tested for bigger roles, but she had yet to land a series regular or that “star making” part.  I pointed out to her that Jane Lynch had worked sporadically in her twenties and thirties, but her career did not really take off until the age of forty when she landed BEST IN SHOW.  “You’re a lifer” I told her, “embrace how far you’ve come and work diligently every day, but don’t think short term.”  Being a flash in the pan is one thing – crafting a long term career is another.

Acting is not for the feint of heart and not for those who aren’t all in.  Expect that there will be ups and downs and don’t analyze your career every day.  Look at it it from a much broader perspective.  And if you’re feeling down, glance through the stock charts of the companies I’ve mentioned as well as dozens of other successful enterprises.  Develop a strategy, stick with it (but be malleable), focus on the future and don’t sweat the small stuff!

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Be a lifer.  Be a long term investor. 

Shit Just Got Real 2.0 #StudentTakeover

Welcome to our first #StudentTakeover on the blog.  I have a ton of great topics I will get to in the upcoming months, but when I recently received the following email from a long term client of mine (and outstanding guy), I knew immediately that I wanted to share it with you.  Here goes:

Subject Line: A Story

I miss you and the studio a ton, but things are going really well in New York! I’m digging my job with The Future Project. I’m a “Dream Director” and work with high school students.  I have also had a great run of work! I’ve booked 4 shows (QUANTICO, BLUE BLOODS, HAPPY!, and a recur on GOTHAM) in the last six months and wanted to share a story about my last episode on GOTHAM…

I’ve played a news reporter and have appeared in each episode for one to two scenes or a few lines or short speech. For this last episode, it was the same..and then the afternoon before I was scheduled to shoot, production sent me an email with “some additional dialogue” – it was the attached pdf.

A full page monologue! No prompter, no cards, no cuts. I, of course, got to working on it as soon as I could.. and honestly, from prep for your class, I KNEW HOW TO WORK ON IT. I knew what it took for me to get a full page of dialogue completely prepared, so it wasn’t a shock or overwhelming in any way – it was just the work we do.

I got to basecamp feeling solid and continued running it while I waited in my trailer. When I got to set, I sat in a chair with the rest of the cast and pulled out my sides to review them.  The series reg next to me saw my pages. “What is THAT?” she says. I reply “My scene.” She immediately responds` “what the? — I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

The director then comes over, introduces himself and asks if I had any questions. I tell him I’m good and he says they’re losing light so we’ll need to roll on the scene quickly and get it in the can. Great.

I get outside and see that there are about 40 extras behind me, other cast members, police cars, etc. and all their action is motivated by parts of my speech. I’d never been in a scene with so many moving parts.

After we’re set, the director calls action and I go – it’s word perfect and then – CUT for camera. I almost pass out, my heart is beating so hard. So we have to take it from the top – and we’re really losing light. We go again.

And I nail every word. It was kind of surreal. The director comes over and gives me an adjustment. I take it and roll through again, word perfect. We have time to run it 3 more times and I don’t drop a thing. It was amazing.

I definitely thought of you and the studio and the work ethic you’ve instilled in a very big thank you!

My response:

You’re welcome, Scotty, and thank you as well!  I’m thrilled for you and extremely proud of you! As I say below guys, get ready and stay ready because at some point every actor realizes…shit just got real. (2.0)

(Blurred out to honor the show’s privacy.)

Shit Just Got Real.

A client of mine who is enormously talented fought for a number of years to get good rep. He had just guest starred on FRESH OFF THE BOAT (an audition he procured on his own) and finally landed with a prominent agency. Within 24 hours he received his first audition from them. It was for the lead role in a comedy pilot and he was asked to prepare two scenes.  The first was, I kid you not, a single spaced monologue more than a page long that contained a massive amount of beats, builds, turns…comedy technique galore. The second scene was four pages full of rapid paced, witty banter and a fair share of jokes.  He received the audition notification at roughly 8pm for his appointment at noon the following day.  While I was teaching class that evening, he scheduled a late night coaching.  At 11pm I met him in our waiting area where he handed me the sides, looked me dead in the eye and promptly said “Shit just got real.” 

We quickly got to work. He was remarkably prepared after having had only three hours with the material.  By the end of our session, he could rattle off the monologue with hardly a glance at the page and scene two was tight and completely off book.  We were both satisfied and confident about his audition.  At that point he had been a student of mine for two years and he thanked me for for pushing him every week and demanding the most from him.  I then told him what I’ve repeated to numerous actors: I can help you make strong choices, find jokes and navigate your way through the audition with precision and specificity, but you have put in the time. You have to study and prepare like a top tier athlete. You have to be able to retain dialogue quickly, take adjustments on the fly and then deliver in the room. This actor not only made this audition happen through his sheer tenacity, but he busted his ass in class, rehearsals, workshops and honed his skills relentlessly for years to get ready for it. 

As actors, you work arduously to acquire auditions and good representation, but you need to ensure that when the opportunities come, you are ready for them because, as in sports, they come fast and they come hard.  You can rapidly make fans in the room or get knocked on your ass just as quickly.  Get ready and stay ready because at some point every actor realizes…shit just got real.

Success Is Infectious. Failure Is An Epidemic.

Success Is Infectious.  Failure Is An Epidemic. I say it all the time and I believe it wholeheartedly.  

This is a crazy business. This is a hard business.  It will elevate you to enormous highs one moment and knock you down the next. Don’t EVER let it keep you down and always GET BACK UP!!! Surround yourself with a community of actors and teachers who push and challenge you, but who are also genuinely happy for you when you succeed.  And CELEBRATE YOUR WINS – EACH and EVERY ONE OF THEM!!! Stop saying things like, “well, I booked this part – but it’s JUST a student film” or  “it’s JUST a co-star”.  Do you know how many other actors wanted that part? Do you know how many people wish they had the courage to take the leap and pursue their dream of being an actor? You are here and you are fucking doing it! Surround yourself with positive people, avoid negative ones like the plague and good things will come your way.  It is a basic law of attraction and it can make ALL the difference!!!

Success Is Infectious, Failure Is An Epidemic. Don’t go to the second place.


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