• James Stranahan

Are You Really Ready For Your First “Yes”?

If I told you that in Hollywood, there are two types of actors, you might think I’m referring to those who get rejected for parts and those who get them. After all, for any role that’s being cast, people will inevitably fall into one of those categories. What I’m actually referring to, however, is those actors who are prepared for that first “yes” and those who are not.

The reason that’s important is because despite what you might think, individuals who end up leaving Tinseltown and going on to some other career are not just those who never caught their big break. Yes, when an industry only sees 2% of its professionals ever truly have a career, most people who leave will be those who unfortunately never got a role. Too many actors, too few parts.

That being true, I have come to believe that actors who don’t make it in Hollywood are also those who were never prepared for the day the phone would ring and that first “yes” would come.

The movie industry, you see, is at heart a business. We do all get to play with incredible gadgets and pretend we are characters whose names we can sometimes barely pronounce. A lot of us are goofy kids at heart. Even so, our jobs are real careers to us, and we have put a lot of thought into where we want those careers to take us and how we’re going to steer them so that we get there.

So, that means that in our early days, even as the rejections came in, we had to keep one eye on the future. Those rejections were just part of the journey, and we had to remember that sooner or later, someone was going to give us a chance. When that finally happened, we were able to firmly get our foot in the door and never give up that advantage because we knew where we wanted to go. It was more than just our first big role - it was a step towards the Academy Awards or a BAFTA. That “yes” was the first of what we believe will be many, and we’re going to use it to get more of them.

Contrast that with the actors who are taken by surprise when success finally happens. They get their big break, they’re excited, and they’re ready to go with it and show up on the set - but where do they go from here? They can’t answer that question. They haven’t put any serious time into understanding how this first “yes” fits into the bigger picture of a real career. Time and time again, it means that they can’t get their feet underneath them and find real traction. Despite the blessing of the opening door, they just can’t walk through it and keep going. These are the people who eventually leave Hollywood even though they were talented enough that they might have been able to make a go of it.

Don’t let this be you.

Remember to be ready for the day success comes knocking on your door. Ask yourself this: where do you really want to go in Hollywood? What is it that you want to do once that “yes” comes to you? What is the big picture? How do you plan to use your early days to propel yourself to the finish line?

Answer those questions before your first audition, and you’ll have a much stronger foundation for your career. Remember: “yes” is coming your way. Just make sure you’re ready for it.

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