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Begin Acting. Be Everything.

6. The Overnight Success Addiction

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“Well I just graduated from desperate school and would like nothing more than to be a BIG star…you know like a really BIG STARRR.”

Ooh yes make me famous, like today!

Perhaps it would be more apt to call it the “Overnight Success Syndrome”.

In an industry like ours we will all come face-to-face at some point with future Paris Hilton wannabies (let’s call them PH’s). A number of actors forging their way to a full time career are all too consumed with the notion of immediate success – they become addicted to the idea of it. It’s like a lollipop they want to lick for eternity as opposed to chasing the thrill of doing what they love.  True actors aren’t on a reality TV show pitching their blonde moments to the world.  True actors are working on their craft every week, they’re rehearsing for their next show, and they’re learning new monologues for their next big audition. 
And when I think about the PH’s of the world I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like to be a casting director…..
Casting Director
Hi. And why do you think this role would suit you?

Actor
Well I just graduated from desperate school and would like nothing more than to be a BIG star…you know like a really BIG STARRR.
Casting Director
Brilliant… we’ll be in touch!
Urgh, I’m bored already.
And then we have the next phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.  Social media. Tweet tweet tweet so I have a million friends. Or hey I’ll just buy my followers in units of 1000.
Is social media helping at all with the “Overnight Success Addiction”?  Possibly not.  The other day I had to read about 3 chocolate bars one actor had consumed (my fault for following I guess).  Can social media be a good thing? Absolutely.  You just have to learn how to use it as a tool to accelerate your career rather than causing irreversible harm (and less followers). Talking about a chocolate bar may not be an issue, but other things you tweet about can be used against you. Remember the well known casting director who tweeted about her auditionees while auditioning them.  She had to make a very public apology after that faux pas.
It is very important to step back and find out why and how we use Social Media tools, why we chose auditions and roles, and how we avoid getting caught up in the idealistic mentality that it’s all about becoming an overnight success.  It’s not. It’s about you progressing week by week by carefully choosing better and more challenging roles that allow you to build your showreel, your CV and your acting credibility.  PlayBills vs Paying Bills is a wonderful blog that shares weekly insights into all of these things.
And how do you deal with the constant influx of little wannabies who flutter in on Dating In The Dark, Big Brother and Celebrity Whatever-it’s-called? You don’t. It’s as simple as that. You aren’t up against them. You are a talented brilliant actor who has chosen a path that does and will take time to progress. Overnight success is not an option…just ask Geoffrey Rush. I’m pretty sure he can attest to the fact that it’s a looong journey to the top. 
Have you ever taken time out to read the bios of your favourite three actors?  It’s amazing finding out what they did to get where they are now.  Even the internet is a major source of information if you cannot afford to buy their books.  Find out what their secrets weapons were. I can almost guarantee right now that their successes have nothing to do with the any Overnight Success Addiction.
And while you’re at it, check out Bob Fraser.  His weekly emails and his E-books are incredible.  Surround yourself with advice from talented, gifted and proven artists.  You know, the ones that do it the right way.

1 Comment

  • Rebecca Jameson Reply

    I'm an actress and have also worked as casting assistant for UK actors in France. It was very insightful to be on the other side of the table. I realised that the casting director wants it to 'be right' just as much as the actor does. Nothing better than the actors that come in and we think 'YES'!!!! I now walk into a casting knowing that the casting director will be as delighted as I am if I really am right for the part – which as we all know – is based on external factors also. We had an actress in once who was perfect for the role, did a fantastic audition, was very professional and seemed like a lovely person. The only problem was that she was a few inches taller than the actor who would be playing her older brother. It just wasn't going to work – it was 'thanks but no thanks'. It made me realise that I shouldn't get so stressed about it – really just do my best and see if I am right for the part. I used to FREAK OUT at auditions – now, i just make sure that I am as prepared as possible (know the text (if there is one) backwards-forwards-sideways, read the script at least twice, research as much as possible (what has director done before etc), arrive EARLY, chose what wearing at least three days before (i also have back-up outfits for those next day castings), take my promo file etc etc) – then I walk into the room knowing that if I am right for the part I will get it. You are more likely to light up the room if you are smiling on the inside – if you are stressed and in knots it will come across. Instead of crying beforehand like I used to I just walk in with confidence and a smile – everyone in the room (the actor AND the casting director) wants it to work out – sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it really, really does 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :- ) 🙂 🙂

    thanks Ang (an actress who ALWAYS lights up the room!) for yr blog – it's great ! xxxx

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