When you’re working on your craft, you’re stretching. Your goal is to push to the outer edges of your abilities, move through your comfort zone and into a place where it’s a little terrifying to go, break through blocks, and stretch. When you’re working on the targeting and marketing side of things, you’re focusing. Your goal is to get very clear on who you are, what you’re selling, who the buyers of that product are, and how best to get on their radar.

I’ve talked before about the dichotomy required to be successful in this industry (and more specifically, in this particular city, where the numbers force actors to really identify and market to their top buyers), but never is it more clear that actors must find balance in being of two minds as when we look into the stretch vs. focus concept.

You must be both so filled with range that you have beautiful things to share with your audience and so clearly focused that your audience is identified and invited in, right away. In a town of specialists, everyone is looking for the actor who does what it is that he does, effortlessly. And if that’s you (yay, you!), it requires that you focus your marketing efforts to pop on the radar of the buyers, or else that awesome, effortless-looking work you do so well goes unnoticed, unbought, unshowcased to the world.

So it’s a means to an end, really. As much as we’d all like to be artistes, only engaged in the passion of our art and our love of storytelling, we did choose a place where art is called “industry” and competition is rivaled only by professional sports at its highest level. It’s not enough to be talented. There’s talent, specifically focused, and packaged in a palatable-enough way that the buyers cannot wait to try it. That’s what’s called “the edge,” and it’s what everyone seems to want, without effort. But it takes effort. Researched effort.

Ways to get this wrong include having a really slick, palatable package and then not having the talent to back it up OR having all the talent in the world and never caring enough about making sure it’s understood to get in front of the people who could make a difference in whether you’re doing community theatre and spec pilots or studio features and series television.

The good news is, if the whole marketing element turns you off, there are people you can hire to walk you through it, should you both hate marketing and choose to live and work where it’s required, to succeed. Just like you can hire a personal trainer to “work you out,” you can pay professionals to coach you through the less creative parts of the industry you’ve chosen, while you reap the benefits of getting in front of the buyers sooner, to show off that craft you’ve so keenly refined.

Of course, some actors “make it” without ever focusing on the business side of things. And by “some” I mean “a couple,” ever. Just like some (and I mean a couple, ever) have perfect bodies without ever working out, it CAN happen. But because there are a few things about this biz you can control, it’s a great idea to get okay with controlling those few things, so you can more quickly get the opportunity to play at the level you’ve always dreamed, and start showing the world how awesome you are.

Stretch your craft. Focus your marketing. Find a way to balance both and you’ll leap ahead of anyone who is only ever focused on one of these worlds.


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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001234.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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