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What Actors and Models Need to Do When Work is Slow

March 21, 2017 4 Comments

Here is an article that I wrote for BackStage.

Some actors talk a great game about how busy they are. They say they’re constantly auditioning and booking. If that’s true, then it’s wonderful. But from my own experience—as well as my peers—we all have periods where auditions and jobs are scarce. It’s the nature of our industry.

For actors who who’ve had long runs on TV, Broadway, or multiple films it can be incredibly difficult when it ends since they’re been out of the auditioning loop for a long stretch. Even well-known actors hit dead periods, sometimes waiting years before booking again.

If you hit a stretch where there’s little happening, you’re not alone. And it’s so important that you know that the lack of work isn’t an indictment of you or your acting skills. So here’s how to get those auditions flowing again.

1. Contact your agent.
Set up an appointment to meet face-to-face. Don’t start your conversation by blaming your agent for the lack of auditions. Always remember that your agent really wants you to work—that’s how the agent makes a living. They’re not purposely trying to prevent you from working. Instead, ask your agent what you can do to get more auditions.

When I’ve approached agents this way, I often get great responses. Some agents told me they’ve been submitting me a lot but for whatever reason, I wasn’t getting selected by casting directors. Some agents have said they haven’t gotten many breakdowns that are right for me. Sometimes agents will ask to look at your headshots and tell you it’s time for new ones.

It’s crucial that you remove any anger or desperation in your voice and really listen to your agent’s suggestions and comments.

2. Stay in touch with your industry contacts.
This should be done all the time, but can also be incredibly helpful when work is slow. Let casting directors, photographers, producers, directors, and art/creative directors at ad agencies know about recent plays, jobs, and classes you’ve taken. This note isn’t about trying to impress anyone; it’s about reminding people that you’re around and available.

Always include your contact information and headshot at the top of the letter. It’s also really helpful to have your headshot in the signature section of your email as well to help remind them who you are. Don’t assume that because you worked with someone they remember your name.

In many ways, what you say isn’t that crucial. You could simply say how much you enjoyed the project you worked on with them. Assuming things went well, why wouldn’t they want to cast you again?

There use to be time periods when I could easily predict when work would be hopping and when auditions would slow to a trickle. The industry has changed and now it’s really hard to know when things will be busy or dead.

The important thing to always remember is that our business is unpredictable. Instead of feeling depressed when things are slow, embrace that time. Use it to help build your business. Continue to study. Consider new photos. Edit your resume. Work on your social media/website, reels, and marketing. And most importantly, don’t allow your lack of work to make you feel like a failure. Don’t allow your self-worth to be defined by your work.

This is a time period to regroup and make yourself a stronger talent so that when auditions start rolling in again, you’ll be ready to take your career to the next level.

About the Author:

Aaron Marcus has been a full-time actor and commercial model nearly 3 decades. His  book,  How to Become a Successful Commercial Model is now in its 5th edition. Aaron has given his seminar: The Best Way to Get Work as an Actor and Commercial Model over 500 times in four countries. He also offers online workshops. Aaron saves 4 days each month to give private on-line coaching sessions.

Comments (4)

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  1. Very well said and right on!! Thank you always!

  2. ModelMentors says:

    YES!! Great article. Also, focus on doing or updating anything that needs attention with your free time. Been meaning to build your own modeling or acting website? DO IT. Been meaning to update your resume, portfolio, or reel? DO IT. Been meaning to take some workshops or classes to improve your skills? DO IT.
    This forward momentum will propel you through the slow times!

    Great website by the way… from one industry professional to another! 🙂

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