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TBA Online: News & Features: Top News

The Business of Show Biz: Have I Plateaued?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rotimi Agabiaka
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by Velina Brown

Q: Last year I made a New Year resolution that I would dedicate myself to my career, taking every gig that came up, putting aside everything to getting myself out there, and in 2018 was in three plays, three industrials, seven readings, and several television and commercial extra gigs. I got new headshots, redesigned my website, took workshops and classes, and FINALLY got an agent. I missed time with family and friends, worked long hours alone, put everything into my career. The thing is—the amount of work I got was about the same as I got in 2017. Is there something I’m missing, or have I topped out? Did I give up all that family time for nothing?

Plateaued?

Actor and career consultant Velina Brown.

 

A: I often compare building one’s career to farming. We have to spend a fair amount of time planting seeds before we get to reap the harvest. Over time things may steadily bloom here and there. Sometimes there’s an explosion of colorful buds opening all at once. That’s when someone is described as having overnight success when they’d actually been consistently planting seeds and carefully tending the garden for over ten years.

Therefore, I wouldn’t say you did all that work for nothing. If it was time for new pictures, then you needed to get them. If your website needed updating, that was an important investment. How can sharpening your craft in classes be bad? Extra work is useful for getting on set and observing how film and television projects are run. Also, casting directors can get to know you better if you prove to be a reliable extra actor working on several of their projects. Finally, getting an agent is a big deal. Congratulations! Now you have representation who can submit you for speaking roles. Cool.

All the actions you took and investments you made in your career in 2018 were useful and worthwhile. However, if you don’t feel good about how much time you missed with family and friends I think that’s important to note. You may need to shift your 2019 priorities. 

The struggle and juggle involved with navigating and creating a satisfying artist’s life is no joke. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t find it challenging. 

I recommend having a conversation with yourself about your goals for your life in general as well as your goals that specifically pertain to your acting career. Discuss with yourself your definition of success. For me a successful life is about more than my resume. Don’t get me wrong—I want to work, do lots of cool projects, and make good money. But I don’t want to spend so much time running around—making the life that looks good to others—that when I get home, everyone is gone because I was never there for them. 

What are the things in your life for which you must be present or you know you’ll regret it? What are the projects you feel you must accept or you know you’ll regret it? The answers to these questions will help you determine what projects to take and which to pass on and will keep you from “taking every gig that comes up”. 

Based on what you’ve shared in your question I wouldn’t assume you’ve “plateaued”. It sounds like you planted a lot of seeds last year and you’re poised to see some new buds blossoming, especially now that you have an agent on your team.

One thing you might be missing is a strong marketing strategy. Marketing is the way you help people get to know you and what you’re up to. For example, you got new headshots and updated your website but has anyone seen them? It sounds like you worked a fair amount with a variety of folks through gigs and classes. Are you keeping in touch with them? Do you have a newsletter? Since film and theatre are collaborative art forms, connecting with fellow artists and cultivating relationships are at least as important as almost anything else you’re doing. If people don’t know you, what you bring to the table, or the things you’re working on, they won’t know to contact you when they’re working on something for which you’d be great.

In short:

  • Congratulate yourself for all you accomplished in 2018
  • Reflect on what you’d like to do differently in 2019 to include more family and friend time. 
  • Prioritize accordingly. 
  • Improve your marketing game.

Then, assess in a year if you have hit a ceiling in your current market. Perhaps it is time to move to a bigger market. But remember, no matter where you live and work you still have to juggle career and personal life. The bigger the market, the better a juggler you need to be. 

 

Velina Brown is an actor and career consultant. Send her your questions at velina@businessofshowbiz.com

 

Want to experience Velina's coaching in person? Register for the February 23 ATLAS workshop: Personal Goal Setting with Velina Brown!