What Should I Do?

I'm not where I want to be with my career. What can I DO?!?!

I feel like this question comes up a lot, in large part because it's so hard to know what you can actually DO to move forward in your acting career. When I first moved to Los Angeles that was the most pressing question I had...what do I actually DO, on a daily basis, move forward towards my goals?

To the first part of the question above, there is a certain element of patience. Building a career in any field takes time, and it's quite likely that you'll never be where you want. Enjoy the journey and have faith that hard work, skill, and more hard work over time will pay off.

While that's all true, on some level it's a frustrating response. You ask what can I do? and people say "just be patient." Thanks, I'm sure that will get me a guest star next week. So here's the deal, there is a f&c*ton of things you can do. So much, in fact, you†could easily spend 314 hours per day actively pursuing your career. There is ALWAYS more to do.

With that in mind, I have crafted a list off the top of my head of things you can actually do in Los Angeles to help your career along.

  • Join The Actors' Network (TAN)
  • Go to every topical and speaker at TAN
  • Read the trades every day (The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, etc.)
  • Send out postcards to targeted casting directors, writers, producers, etc.,
  • Create your own work
  • Write scripts
  • Practice and memorize monologues
  • Make sure you understand SAG, and look into becoming eligible if you're not
  • Study how the format of a script differs from a sitcom to a 1-hour drama
  • Get together with your actor friends to discuss what they're doing for their respective careers
  • Start a mastermind group
  • Get on twitter and follow industry people
  • Network on twitter and come to the LA Actors Tweetups
  • Read books on the craft and business of acting (Self Management for Actors being a great start)
  • Read some of the hundreds of tremendous blogs on acting that are out there
  • Listen to Secrets of Screen Acting podcast
  • Listen to Inside Acting Podcast
  • Get together with other actors and practice your on-camera technique
  • Write your own blog about your career
  • Take classes/work with friends to get VERY specific about your type
  • Research shows and movies that you are right for, find out everyone who works on those shows, then target marketing materials to them (or better yet find a way to take some of them out for lunch and just pick their brain)
  • Get a mentor
  • Mentor others
  • Check out my list of actor resources and see if I missed anything on this list
  • Perform with the Young Storytellers Foundation
  • Go to Women in Film events
  • Subscribe to Alex's Info
  • Watch plays
  • Act in plays
  • Read plays
  • Write about plays
  • Memorize plays
  • Play plays (wait, what...?)
  • Research potential representation, producers, managers, writers, and the like on IMDb
  • Make sure your IMDb profile is completely up to date
  • Watch 2 episodes of every TV show that is on the air (there are a LOT) and pay specific attention to what you might be right for
  • Write and get press releases published
  • Go to any of the bajillion networking events all over town
  • Maybe it's time to look into a higher level manger or agent (or getting one in the first place)
  • Create your own work
  • Go to†SAG Foundation events (free to SAG and AFTRA members)
  • View video of previous SAG Foundation events
  • Reach out appropriately and professionally to others in the industry you want to work with
  • Maybe it's time to hire a publicist
  • Attend and perform at The Actor's Lounge
  • Create your own work
  • Work on building and keeping in touch with your fan base through twitter, facebook, myspace, email newsletters, etc.,
  • Go spend some time on CastingAbout and learn who is casting what
  • Make sure that you have a STELLAR 1 - 2 minute demo reel that is easily accessible
  • Be sure that you're marketing yourself at the level you want to be (if you have guest star credits, you probably don't need to list music videos and print work...well, you really shouldn't ever list that)
  • Read all of the blog archives of Bonnie Gillespie's The Actor's Voice
  • Help out friends on set
  • Drop a couple bucks and check some AMAZING videos on Actor Biz Guru
  • Do independent films, student films, anything that will get you more professional contacts
  • Date the head of studio (kidding! kind of...)
  • Did I mention creating your own work?

This was just a quick list I rattled off the top of my head of what ANYONE could do, and I'm sure I missed about eleventy billion things. Would love to hear what others are doing that I didn't mention above.


Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of the tri-city acting blog Playbills vs Paying Bills. Find out more information and view his materials on†his website or read the rest of†his blog posts.