It Was Easier Being Green

Thank you so much for your column. I have been a religious reader for some time now and have found so much information and inspiration in it. You are truly an invaluable resource for we actors, coast to coast.

All this time reading you and I’ve yet to actually write you a question. (Mainly because you seem to answer all of mine before I know that I want to ask!) But I woke up this morning and I immediately thought to bring this to you. It’s a little phenomenon I like to call “It Was Easier Being Green.”

I have been a New York actor for just about three years now, having moved to The City after graduating from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts BFA program in 2003. As an off-the-bus newbie, I began doing everything the books tell you to do: I showcased, got myself a great agent, initiated mailings, got over my fear of the verb “to network,” and it all seemed to rapidly pay off. In three years’ time, I’ve booked two Off-Broadway plays, a major national tour, several regional gigs, got my Equity card, and have developed strong relationships with a number of The City’s top casting directors — many of whom know me well enough to bring me in straight to callbacks, forgoing the initial rounds of auditions.

My question is about how to keep the momentum going when you’re no longer a novice but not a tried and true veteran. What was once appropriately proactive now feels a bit prescribed. How does a young actor keep up a vital presence in the business when the initial adrenaline rush wears off and he’s already declared, “I’m here”?

Thank you so much! Can’t wait for next week’s column!

Y’know what, this is a great topic. I love it. And it is easier being green. It’s the whole “ignorance is bliss” thing. When you don’t know what you don’t know, you can just rock along and make these amazing career jumps that feel fantastic! And then you’re no longer a newbie. But you’re not yet a household name. In case you’re wondering, this is when the real players are separated from the wannabes. Assuming you intend to be among the survivors, it’s time to really buckle down.

The best piece of advice I can give on this topic is this: Mentor a newbie. This is the time to do student films not because you need tape but because you can teach a student filmmaker how the pros do it. Participate in a staged reading with an up-and-coming playwright not because you hope to win a role, but because your presence will add credibility to the project. Speak to graduating performance classes at local colleges and high schools to give them an idea of what the biz is like in the real world. I’m not asking you to come off as an expert, but instead to just help along someone who is where you were not too long ago. Your perspective will be treasured!

No, none of this looks like anything that’s going to help propel you to the next level of your career, but that’s what makes it so important. Mentoring is not only essential on a karmic level, it also provides an amazing amount of perspective on how far you’ve actually come. I know you think you know how far you’ve advanced in your career, but something about sharing your wisdom with others really drives home the truth that you are much closer to the next career tier than you think you are. And that will keep you sane, while you continue doing the good work you’re already doing.

Look at how far you’ve come: union membership, agent representation, bookings upon bookings, and significant relationships within the industry. Now comes the hard part: sticking with the path while it’s kind of flat. This is when most folks will get bored, having accomplished the “easy” stuff. Good. Let them all fall away. You keep doin’ what you’re doing so that everyone knows you’re still around and those bookings will get bigger and better. Staying the course is sometimes all it takes to hit the next level.

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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