Pitching Yourself as an Actor
Throughout the pandemic I’ve been using the tools of Artist’s Strategy to stay connected with a major television casting director. This week, he asked me to come see him at his office. I was nervous. This was a casting director I’ve been in for a few times over the years, and he could be a bit of a hard ass…frankly he always intimidated me.
Yes, this was a low-pressure and casual thing, but it was still a pitch of sorts. Actors are entrepreneurs, and therefore are always pitching to a degree. We have to be. After all, opportunities primarily come from who we know, and we never know how someone can factor into our artistic careers.
Before going into his office I felt my nerves bubbling up. How do I talk about what I’ve been up to? How do I talk about myself in a unique and interesting way? How do I get him to be interested?
Then I reminded myself of two big things:
- I know who I am and what I bring to the table.
- It’s not about being seen.
Why are you even here?
We take our clients through an intense process when it comes to understanding their business. It starts in the very beginning when we identify the why: “Why the heck am I even doing this?”
What is the purpose of all this hard work, “hustle” and sacrifice?
For years, the purpose of my business was to simply allow me to do my art, a common answer from our clients. “I have to do this stuff because then I can play all day and do what I want to do.”
However, the major problem with that mindset is this: what value does that give anyone besides myself?
Thankfully, in this specific industry (acting), I’ve identified a very specific purpose for my business. I’ve identified and deepened precisely what value I provide to others:
- How I’d like to change the game.
- How I’m uniquely positioned to do so.
- How I want to make others feel.
My talent and craft are only a part of my business. When I view myself through a wider lens as opposed to insulating and isolating myself in the comfort blanket of “me and my art,” I can relate to anybody and meet them where they are.
This brings me to my next point.
Yeah, but what about me?
In any situation where I have to talk about myself, my craft and my business, the number one fear I experience is not being really seen.
Any good salesman knows their product like the back of their hand, meaning they understand its purpose and value. The true art, however, comes from tailoring their pitch to the potential customer in front of them. That doesn’t mean they lie or blow smoke up anyone’s ass, they are instead being considerate of the customer’s needs.
Pitching myself in the past, I’ve been deeply concerned with “being liked”, validated or feeling “empowered” in the moment, and as a result there was no real listening and adapting to what the person in front of me needed.
My pitch is doomed from the start. If I don’t listen, I don’t understand how I can best serve them.
What if, when pitching, I was less concerned with being seen and more concerned with seeing the person in front of me?
After a forty-five minute chat with this CD, I left feeling far more connected to him. All these years I was so afraid he wouldn’t see me or like me that I never actually got to know him; know what makes him tick, what he needs from relationships and his work. I feel like I know this man much better than I ever have before.
To recap: if we understand the true purpose of our business we can then understand how it serves everyone; from the television executive to the grip on set. Then we never have to “pitch” again…all we have to do is listen and respond.