I recently read an article that made the social media rounds during SXSW. You probably read it, too. It featured quotes from casting directors about their process; specifically about how talent only accounts for 7% of significant casting decisions.
The other 93% is made up of connections, overseas popularity, social media influence, and good old fashioned nepotism. Of course actors vigorously re-posted, re-tweeted, and shared.
“Good to know what really counts!”
“Glad I’m investing so much in these ACTING CLASSES!”
I felt all of this and more for a split second. It reminded me of when the Blurred Lines music video came out. Emily Ratajkowski strutted around naked for three minutes and then David Fincher put her in Gone Girl. That was all we actors saw. That was all we really needed to see to start beating ourselves up. I’m embarrassed to admit that I literally cried when I read that. I think I posted something silly on Facebook to the tune of, “I swear, Mom, I’m really trying!”
It was one of my many lower moments.
The SXSW article went viral because it highlighted everything we creatives love to blame for our own lack of success. Our parents aren’t in the industry. They aren’t bank rolling us. They didn’t get us involved as children and now we are stuck with a resume lacking in anything that people care about.
Then I realized the following: this is nothing new. No one has ever cared, no one cares now, and no one will ever care. (Also, what on earth was I thinking, mentally putting myself on a level playing field with Emily Ratajkowski?)
There will always be beautiful girls in Robin Thicke Videos who aren’t afraid to get naked and have bigger Twitter/Instagram numbers and more connections than you have. You don’t know them, you don’t know their story, and you are so far removed from them that there’s no point in dwelling on it.
Why on Earth would you continue to beat yourself up over things beyond your control? You know what isn’t beyond your control? Work. Putting in work.
I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry your parents aren’t in the industry. Sorry you don’t have a wealthy family bankrolling your actor life by paying for your apartment, phone, and insurance so that you can take that unpaid internship or lower paying entry level position. Sorry your parents didn’t get you involved in acting as a child. Sorry that you lack the status, wealth, and privilege that affords you opportunities beyond a 7% bracket.
What are you going to do? Move home?
No. You are going to wait tables. You are going to promote stuff. You’re going to temp. You’re going to tend bar. You are going to do whatever to can to make your own damn money.
Then you are going work out a budget for classes and workshops. Then you are going to make the time to work on your own material. You’re going to work. Then you’re going to go to wherever the hell it is that people who actually make things happen in this industry drink and beg the bartender to pour water and a lime wedge into a cocktail glass so that people don’t know how poor you really are. You are going to act like everything is fine – and you are going to make some friends.
All the while, you will continue to see others get ahead. Most will have the money and the connections, but some will get lucky and skip ahead and you won’t be able to wrap your head around why it didn’t happen to you. But again, what are you going to do? Leave?
Nothing is free and nothing is fair. How much do you really hate how things are done? Enough to move home? If you truly hated it that much, you would have gone elsewhere by now. You’re sticking it out. Toughen up a bit more, discipline yourself a bit more, meet everyone that you possibly can, keep your negative opinions to yourself, and work harder than everyone else. I don’t know what else to say.
Talent may account for only 7% of a casting decision. That doesn’t mean that you should give up trying to come up with ways to make up for that 93%.
This industry is WEIRD. It’s absolutely rewarding when you get to do what you want to do, but good lord; it’s weirder than that news story about that child that claims he can recall his past lives.
Actually, now that I think about it, that child is probably more poised to fare better in the entertainment industry than I am.
Hell, I bet he has more Twitter followers.
He figured it out.
Good for him.