Are actors smarter these days? Or am I just consistently surrounding myself with smarter actors? Y’know what? I don’t even care what the WHY is, on this issue. The truth is, there has definitely been a shift in the level of business savvy, among actors, in recent years. I know this for SURE.

I say this because I’ve been reviewing some of the earliest columns I posted for The Actors Voice (yes, eight years ago this week… wow! Time flies) and that means I’m rereading the Your Turn questions that flooded my inbox when we launched. Comparing those questions to the ones that show up these days? Wow. It’s clear. Actors are getting smarter.

Or maybe actors are getting more aware of what it takes to make it. Or perhaps actors are getting more in touch with the business elements in this pursuit. Or possibly actors are getting more interested in drilling down on non-craft issues (while never ignoring the craft, of course). Or could it be that actors are respecting their industry enough to do research before reaching out to ask a question? They’re investigating before asking. The “Help! I want to be famous! How do I start?” emails slow down, while the number of, “Okay, cool. I get my brand. I know my bullseye. I’ve got my targets. I’m ready to tier-jump. What’s my next step?” emails increase. Actors are getting smarter, right?

As I write this week’s column, I’m in-flight to Chicago, to do another round of Self-Management for Actors Seminars, a talk with the Actors Access gang over at the SAG Foundation, and a conversation about spin (and being your own media trainer) with an actors’ networking group. The fact that I spent hours on Skype going through topics with my hosts tells me that my second time to Chicago is not gonna be a rerun of my first time. Seven months ago, I made my first trip to Chicago, and I talked about branding and self-taping and mastering a larger minor market.

This time? It’s all about higher-tier stuff. While I’ll always touch on branding and targeting and creating your own opportunities, the fact that we’re gonna hit on answering the questions the reporters didn’t ask, distributing your self-produced work, and demystifying the trades tells me there’s a whole lotta “yes, and…” going on, in the world of the actor. And in a short period of time.

I’ll be back in New York next month, and I’m so eager to see what tier jumps have happened with the actors there. Six months ago, I spoke to a group of over 300 actors at a SAG Foundation event on Broadway and was asked some ridiculously leading-edge questions during the Q&A. Based on what I’m experiencing with this column-archiving project and my return trip to Chicago, I’m giddy with anticipation for what my return visit to NY will entail. This just gets better and better! The *actors* I’m meeting are getting better and better.

Between these two trips, I’ll be back in Los Angeles, teaching another group of actors from Australia. I was recently told that many of my AIPA students, this session, will be actors I’ve taught before, either in LA or in Sydney. They want to push forward to “what’s next.” They GET their type. They GET their targets. They’re hungry for the next level.

Guys, I know I talk a lot about my teaching. I guess it’s where I’m most passionate. Yeah, I still cast (about 30% of my day-to-day work is casting). Yeah, I still write (weekly here, plus my books — YES, the fourth edition of Self-Management for Actors is in the works). But when I get to sit down with actors and hear about their specific blocks and end our time together with a lightbulb moment, I’m truly in my bliss.

That more and more actors are getting blissed out by the study of the business of this business? That’s awesome. That more and more actors are enjoying the pursuit? Badass. That more and more actors are invested in discovering ways to take what power they do have into their own hands? Ninja!

Does this mean actors are smarter today than they were, eesh, in 1999, when I first started writing weekly columns for actors, over at Backstage? Y’know what? I’m gonna say YES. Certainly, there are always whackadoodles. Certainly, there are always wannabes. But I think we may be experiencing one of the most beautiful, productive, head-on-straight runs of awesomeosity this industry has ever seen, where actors are concerned. Y’all, lean in and listen to me on this bit of advice: USE THIS TIME WELL. Connect with buyers a tier above (not ten tiers above. *A* tier above. Stay smart). If you’re one of those really ready, business-savvy actors I’m talking about, POUNCE. And if you’re a little “eh, whatevz. I want to be an actor because it’s fun and stuff” in your approach, step it up. The gettin’ is REALLY good right now!

How delicious!

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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