When you’re ready to rise to the top of your acting career, the last thing you want to do is ruin it by being unprofessional. This is a field where being respected will carry you far. Talent isn’t enough. Being professional, knowing how to be respectful is what proves to others that you can be trusted, that you’ve got a good character and that you’ll be good to work with. But how do you prove this to them? Glad you asked. Here’s what you want to do to make sure you’re being your best self as you seek success as a professional actor:
Be Real. Don’t build yourself up to be someone you’re not, don’t lie about what you’ve done or not done and definitely don’t waste time with excuses. You are an actor. But that doesn’t mean you should act when you’re meeting people in the industry. It’s never acceptable to be dishonest or bend the truth to support your situation or the furthering of your career. The truth will always come out, so you might as be the one telling it.
Don’t use name dropping to get ahead. I know that might sound hard as this is an industry based on who you know, but the truth is, name dropping isn’t real. Now, if you do know someone and it makes sense to reference them in a conversation, go for it as long as you talk to your connections and get permission ahead of time to mention their name. Remember, if you name drop someone you hardly know, and word gets back to them, that will be a detriment to your developing reputation.
Learn the lines as they are and improvise later when you’ve got the director’s respect. Many actors feel the lines should be re-written, but that's not your role, and it's offensive to the actual writer. Simply memorize your lines. This might seem obvious, but there are too many actors who learn a few of their lines and then try to wing it (accidentally rewriting them) and fail miserably. Please spend the needed time preparing your lines. Don't just prepare what you’re going to say, but also how you’re going to say it.
Always be on time. Always. You might be surprised to find out how many actors just have no sense of time. Audition time slots are limited, pass quickly and are scheduled at odd times like 2:50 or 10:05. When they call you to be there, be there early. Being late will definitely leave an impression, but not the one you are hoping for. And if you are late, don’t make excuse. Apologize and own it. No one will care if there was traffic, they’ll just say that you should have left five hours early. Life happens and sometimes things go wrong and in a normal world, this may in some cases be taken into consideration. But DO NOT depend on that. No matter what excuse you think you have to get you out of a particular situation, there are dozens of other people happy to take your place. So do your absolute best, not to need an excuse.
Put your phone away and pay attention. The set is always busy and just because you’re not doing something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mentally present. If you’re on the clock, you need to be off your phone. Can you imagine being called on and you don’t know what’s going on?
A lot of this is common sense. Take your career seriously. Do the most respectful thing, use respectful words, be on time, pay attention, and mostly, be teachable. There’s no room for your ego in this field. Learn to take constructive criticism and you will grow and succeed.
Write these tips down and keep them close. They are foundational for the integrity of your career. In the meantime, better your abilities and learn more tips through the coaches and classes at the The New York Acting School for Film and Television. We can't wait to help you on your way!