The most important lesson I’ve learned as an artist, a performing artist is:
You must make your own opportunities. An agent negotiates your price, you negotiate your worth. A manager gives you his or her observation of your type, your venues and how you present yourself. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, you and you alone, must be proactive in your own career.
Through the years, I have performed in over fifty stage productions since my early childhood. I am surprised at the advice my well-meaning friends and fellow actors give to me or others. On Yahoo Answers, there are countless questions, from small towns, big cities and villages across the world, asking either 1) How to I become a famous actor/actress; 2) How do I get an agent to become a famous actor/actress in movies; or 3) How do I get acting experience in my small town? Many saying they don’t want to do theatre…only film…or the Twilight films…or work for Disney exclusively. Yes, most very young girls and boys and some; amazingly, high school seniors and early college teens and 20s.
The advice given to these questions is often way off-base – from just get an agent to pay for this agency [or that agency] and they’ll put you in films. NO! You don’t just “get an agent”. Agents are business people and need clients who can book work. Thus, you need experience, lots of experience. Secondly, in my experience, 75% of the time, I booked more work on my own when I didn’t have an agent.
There’s no excuse, no matter where you are, for not finding opportunities to gain experience. Every city, town or village has some sort of place, school or community center that has or is open to entertainment or speakers. I was in a small town in Florida and found a tiny theater in a town that was two blocks long. The Lake Wales Little Theatre does good plays with really good turn-out for audiences. As a teen, on tour, I did a play in a town called Winnemucca, Nevada, where they had a huge, state-of-the-art theater called The Nixon Theatre. The cast of our musical out-numbered the audience. In fact, the whole town came to see the show and we all had Dairy Queen afterwards – the town and the cast!
Of course, it must be incredible to make a good living doing what you love. There have been lean times and more non-lean times with my acting career. Have I found opportunity? Yes, everywhere I go or have been. I’ve made more money as a stage manager – theaters always pay the crew. Actors are the last to be paid. Why? We are a dime a dozen. We all want to be noticed or famous and will work for free or low pay for that opportunity of recognition. Admit it, we all do it!
Do I want to be famous? Not necessarily, yet, if it means I will be paid every time I step on a stage. Then, count me in, “Yes!” What do I really want? To make a living as an actor! I do not seek riches in the millions. I can survive, even in New York, with $50,000 a year. The highest I have seen, in a lifetime of doing what I love [as often as I can], has been $20,000. It was not for acting, though, that was for administrative work. Still, I will not and cannot stop pursuing the dream. I am a Broadway actress/singer without a Broadway show.