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Actor Showcases Ruin Careers Before They Even Start

Actor showcase
By Artist's Strategy

From the second you started school, you heard about the seemingly all important senior actor showcase. In fact, to this day many people choose their school based on whether or not it has a showcase. Now schools are showcasing in LA, NY, Chicago and DC amongst many other cities and adult actors well out of school are paying good money to participate in similar opportunities. The import that’s put on them is ruining careers before they even have a chance to start.

The actor showcase perpetuates the same disempowering fantasy that we’ve been led to believe will be true for all of us; get an agent/manager, begin auditioning immediately, book a few shows, move on to Film/TV and you’re set.

“But the showcase is designed as an opportunity to get in front of potential reps, and securing representation is helpful, so how is it ruining careers?”

Fair question.

If we are led to believe that this is the one and only next stepping stone of our careers as actors without a sense of how to make the most of the opportunity and what to do alongside the showcase, we are being led to slaughter. Most actors finish their showcase experience, and while some may have snagged some initial interest, many are left walking into the open industry not knowing what to do next. The first ding to our morale, yea? The second is watching your colleagues begin to audition and your being left with 6 AM EPA arrivals only to not be seen. The third is the often slow descent into inactivity, wondering if you’ve made the right choice, if you should go back to grad school, move across the country or quit altogether.

We’re all aware of the endless time we spend on picking material, the running order of the showcase and what outfits we’re going to wear but what if we spent time on:

  • Doing research on confirmed representation and identifying who could be a best fit based on their roster, what they focus on and what our goals are?
  • In the year leading up to showcase, cultivating essential relationships with directors, playwrights and actors who have the agents you want, and invite them!
  • Building a strategic plan to follow up immediately following the showcase with additional materials (a reel, invites to upcoming projects and “good words” from those relationships we already identified)?
  • Having an organized list of all of our options so that we can be preparing for reach outs well beyond whomever may be coming to this showcase?

One thing I’m very much aware of is that this undercuts the herd mentality. We’re essentially told to stay in our lanes and to not be too “pushy”. Well – let’s remember – you would be paying them. They work with and FOR you. And this is your business and there will always be a difference between a hobby and a career. A career takes focus, determination and active follow through. A hobby takes low risk chances.

I mentioned the idea of “invites to upcoming projects” above. This ties into all the other ways we can be preparing to venture into the “real world” beyond the minimal opportunity that is the actor showcase.

While preparing for this random, small piece of your potential future, what if you were:

  • Building a financial plan for a secondary income stream that will allow for you to focus on the beginning of your career as much as you would like to?
  • Working through three varied self produced projects that you could use to dive right into the industry and, again, invite those reps to?
  • Developing a strong sense of brand and potential marketing strategies to employ no matter what comes out of your showcase?
  • Creating a “who’s who” alongside a cultivation plan for relationships you know are key to making next steps?
  • Identifying where you currently need to improve in order to stay competitive and have a plan for continuing to better your product?

And the list goes on…

What if we enhanced the actor showcase with so many of the avenues we’re underlining above? We may have an even stronger, happier workforce.

By the way, it’s not too late to kickstart or build upon your career even if your showcase didn’t reap the rewards you thought it may. The tools above will always be applicable and necessary.

Also by Artist’s Strategy:

Artists, Capitalism and the Fight to be Valued

Feedback for Artists: It’s Worth It

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