Do You Need Connections to Become An Actor?
Connection is crucial in the lives of human beings.
“Thanks Captain Obvious,” you might be saying. “Any other pearls of wisdom you care to bestow?”
Okay, okay. Yes, this is obvious, but if you’re an actor I know you’ve heard (or perhaps partaken in) the bemoaning of the truest observation about the entertainment industry: it’s about who you know. Oftentimes when this is said it carries the injustice and despair of a NATO human-rights violation.
But, like…why though?
To me, this makes complete sense. The arts and entertainment industry is risky for all involved, whether you are at the top of the heap or the bottom of the barrel. Money is lost in the millions, people live paycheck to paycheck, passion projects can either soar or be slammed. Doesn’t it make sense you’re more likely to gravitate to those you like and know you can rely on?
You hear nepotism being decried constantly in our business, which is “the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs”. Yes, it carries a negative connotation most of the time, but if you think you’re above this or get to reject it then you need to get in another business, my friend!
Yes, I’m sure you are an excellent actor who cares so much and works so hard. But, as we like to say: talent and passion are cheap commodities. Almost everyone has them. They will not be enough to build a sustainable life doing what you love. A miniscule percentage of actors don’t have to “play the game,” don’t assume you’re one of them.
Besides, the impulse to help the ones we respect or know is built into the human psyche. I’m no paleoanthropologist, but I know that trust and reciprocity have been crucial in humankind’s millenia long story.
It’s worth it if you work it.
So, do you need connections to become an actor? Of course you do.
But more often than not, when it comes to creating a networking plan as part of our creative businesses, actors shy away. They’re afraid of coming across as though they’re using the other person. While this is a totally valid concern, this is about connecting to people, not using them.
We shouldn’t think of networking as trying to get something from someone. Instead, cultivate lasting and meaningful relationships. Through strategy and care you can turn your unknown contacts into allies. Don’t focus on the things they can get you in the immediate but focus on getting to know the person, developing trust and adding value to their lives.
Let me be very, very clear…rarely will someone spot your lesser-known talent, take a chance and push you to stardom. Not because the industry’s “unfair” but because it’s what we do as humans. We ask for recommendations for dentists, we get those babysitting gigs through a friend of a friend and dine out at vetted restaurants.
It’s the way of the world, not just our business. Still think it’s unfair? That’s your right! You think your talent isn’t getting its due, or fair shake, that everyone is at fault and blind but you? At the end of the day it’s a game that tens of thousands are playing, and we hope that strategy pays off for you.