11 Habits Of Highly Effective Actors
I recently read an excellent article called 5 Tips for Actors. When I say excellent, I mean
really good ... really good advice. (Due to a senior moment, I do not know who to give
credit to for this great article. I'm sure someone will tell me. I'll give credit in the
newsletter, for sure.) Anyway, these five tips were all crucial advice to anyone who wants
a career as an actor. They were all steps that must be taken. They will work.
However, even if you take these five excellent tips and put them to work immediately, if
you really want to get somewhere in this business (with any pursuit really) you MUST
have or develop some work habits.
These are bottom line (absolutely necessary) habitual behaviors that every actor must possess.
You must be on time.
If you can't get anywhere on time now, you'd better learn how before you attempt the
'real world' of show business. On a big film the money is going out the door at about
30 grand every 20 minutes. On a network TV show the rate is only slightly less. If you
are ten minutes late for a job that pays a five hundred bucks - you will be heartily
disliked by the producer and everybody that works for him. People will scream at you.
If you are late for an audition, the casting director will worry that you won't get
to the job on time. If you're late for a job, that casting director will also have
people screaming at her. Understand? NEVER BE LATE.
You must be able to work a long day.
There is no such thing as an eight-hour day in show business. In forty years, I've had
about 23 eight-hour days. And two of those were because somebody died. If you cannot
work a long day, you are unsuited for success in show business. IT'S LO-O-NG HOURS.
You must be an early riser.
I know it's nice to laze around in bed when you've got a day off, but this is
a habit you cannot afford. Grasp the idea that if you want to be in the movie
or television business, you must be the kind of person who can get up at 5
in the morning. All the time. Period. If you work in the theatre, your early
rising will fall about 10 AM - because you work into the night. But if you plan
on working in 'the industry' you'd do well to make early rising a life-long habit.
WAKE UP THE ROOSTER.
You must be a pleasant person under these circumstances.
Early starts and long hours means that you will be spending (on average) about
half your life with co-workers. If you are a pain in the a@# - you will be heartily
disliked by other people who are also working 12 hour days.* Word will get around.
It will be harder to get work. BE NICE.
You must love the work.
You have to keep your 'creative juices' flowing during the entire 12 hours. If you
don't love doing this kind of work, being 'on' for 12 hours is impossible. Don't
forget why you are doing this. LOVE
You must be well groomed and clean.
You are not the part. Even the guys who play bikers and bums wear deodorant.
The teeth are clean. The breath is pleasant. Etc. I know this seems nit-picky,
but a co-worker who literally 'stinks' will get a reputation and lose opportunities
because of it. I've seen it happen. And when it comes to casting people, who see
hundreds of actors in a day or two - well, that's their number one pet peeve.
Far and away. CLEANLINESS IS IMPORTANT.
You must not complain (with one proviso.)
Those actors on sets who complain about the dressing rooms, the food, the director,
the co-star, the costume people, the lack of work, the hours, the script, or pretty
much anything - are labeled as "complainers" or a@#h*%s and they are rarely appreciated
or tolerated for very long. Besides, complaining about circumstances doesn't work.
People near the bottom of the ladder who think it's 'smart' to gripe about every
little screw-up, are putting a bullseye on their butts. Don't become one of those
people or you will find yourself near the bottom of the ladder for a long long time.
Nobody reaches out to complainers. Nobody, including you, even likes complainers.
If you want to be thought of as someone NICE -- DON'T COMPLAIN.
(The proviso to this is that you must never let anyone abuse or berate you -- in those
cases, complain to the authorities -- loud and often.)
You must not spread rumors.
Rumor-mongering is the first sign of someone who isn't really interested in the job
at hand -- someone so bored or so shallow that they must talk about other people.
When you hear someone say, "Oh, I worked with (fill in the name of a movie star),
he's a pig." -- excuse yourself and go somewhere else. You do not want to be around
this sort of person. 93.3 percent of all rumors are false. The other 6.7% are
probably none of your business.
Again, people who are rumor-mongers are labeled and eventually work dries up.
Talk business, talk philosophy, talk about the weather -- but avoid the temptation
to talk about other people (except in the most glowing terms). Watch the stars when
they are asked about other performers. Have you ever heard a star say, "She's an idiot."
No, they are always upbeat, positive, complimentary -- because they know the rumor mill
is a two way street. If avoiding this sort of thing is good behavior for stars
(and most behave this way) then what's stopping you from adopting the same habit?
Drugs, drinking and screwing around.
I'm sure you know what people think of people who are more interested in sin than
cinema. You will be labeled. People will not forget. Work will be harder to get.
JUST SAY "NO THANK YOU." (BEING NICE)
Jealousy and other bad feelings.
Jealousy is one of the main causes of "messing up" on one of these crucial behaviors
listed above. Jealousy leads to bad decisions. Bad decisions lead to bad results.
And jealousy allows you to blame others for your results. You begin to believe that
things aren't fair. You begin to look for 'reasons' for your lack of progress. They
will be well argued reasons, no doubt - but an excuse by any other name is still
an excuse. Jealousy is a bad path - it's a step on the wrong ladder - you're on the
wrong street - you're a stranger in a strange land - GET A MAP.
The same goes for other "negative" emotional reactions. Self blame. Frustration.
Fear. Anxiety. Worry. This is business. "There's no crying in baseball." Besides,
wallowing in your emotional reaction slows down your forward progress toward success.
Give good value for the dollar.
When you habitually give 100% of your energy to the work - you will get more work.
It's a mortal lock.
Bob Fraser is an actor, writer, producer, director and author of You Must Act! "The Bible of Acting Success."
© Copyright 2004 Bob Fraser. All Rights Reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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