Saying no as an actor

Saying no as an actor is equally important as saying yes. Let me explain… 

 An actor’s career doesn’t follow a set trajectory and can take many twists and turns. The job doesn’t follow the ‘promotion’ route, i.e. you have been in the job ‘x’ years, therefore you have reached x stage and get ‘x’ salary and a company car. Being an actor works within an alternative set of parameters and often there are  many more creative factors to accepting or declining a job. 

The great news is you are the common denominator. You can create the career that you want and you can make it happen. 

As actors, we want to act, we want to feel creative and often. We don’t want to be stuck in ‘inbetween jobs’ when there are hundred other things we would rather be doing. 

So how do you battle the ‘non profit/expenses/creative/dream role’ opportunities with the high paying / perhaps more infrequent / agent pleasing / less creative jobs. 

I would like to share with you my five strategies to help you on your way. 

1. Get clear on your vision

As actors, it can be tempting to say ‘I want to do everything’ however this doesn’t often get your desired results. Everything becomes a little vague and you put yourself in the mindset of ‘I’ll see what happens’. Be purposeful and be clear on your focus. You may want to have a varied career but what do you need to do first? What is the work that lights you up? Where do you see yourself- TV? Film? Theatre? Get specific. 

In the first chapter of my book, I take you through the creative strategy to help you get clear on what you want. 

2) Once you have clarity...

 Once your vision is in place, you will be able to make more informed decisions. There will be some requests that won’t be a fit for you or won’t be congruent with your lifestyle and financial situation. It’s ok to say no whilst being respectful to all parties. Not every opportunity or request is going to be right for you, so please be thoughtfully selective, this way you will be available to say ‘yes’ to the matches. 

3) Research | Pros and cons list | Your why

Before making any kind of decision, it is vital to do your homework. Take the time to research the company, what have they done before and what is their reputation. 

What is the venue/platform and who will be able to see the production/project? 

What is the role? What is the commitment? Who are the creatives? 

 Taking the time to grab a piece of paper and a pen and complete a pros and cons exercise can be brilliantly revealing. It will help you to cement your thoughts so you can check that it works with your vision, rather than just being talked into it by an enthusiastic member of the team. 

4) Talk to your agent, seek advice

 It is crucial you work with your agent, not against them. Many agents may be open to you taking on a profit share job- it could be something they could bring casting directors to or it could boost your profile. 

Don’t be tempted to negotiate the terms by yourself, especially if a friend has asked you- always refer them to your agent. It will keep matters cleaner. Keep in mind the long term vision, work as a partnership, listen to their advice and then make a decision that you are both happy with. 

Be clear on the terms upfront- i.e. you are still available to attend castings / you will receive a copy of the film for your showreel with ‘x’ time etc. 

5) Maximise your opportunities

Whether the opportunity is paid or unpaid, remember to always be business minded. Market early so people see your work. Build relationships and be great and memorable always. Use social media and support the project you are involved with, you never know where it may lead.