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GUEST POST 2 BY EMMA J: How to Decide Which Roles to Accept

June 17, 2013

Please welcome Emma J back to the blog! Emma is an actor and model who previously guest posted with us about whether or not to do nudity, and she’s back posting with us again after reading The Growing Artist’s great post about how to decide when to turn down a role.

Dear Growing Artist…

After reading your blog post, which was very well written, I found myself with so much to say and share that l had to put it in writing.

First of all you are not alone in having some kind of frustrating experience creatively. I am sure most actors have, I know I have. However out of your three bullet points it struck me that you seemed to overlook the bigger picture. So I ask you, as I have asked myself. What is your vision for your career? Why are you an actor?

Before deciding to be an actress I had to first make sure I knew myself inside out and what I wanted out of my acting career. What excites me. What challenges me. I think before considering any job it is vital that you know your type, how you are seen by the industry and most importantly how you want to be seen? Not one bullet point was based on the actual work. Even new experiences you based on a skill set, green screen for example and not the story, the quality of writing, the character? I think that is where the continued frustration lies. Yes good pay is very important, I mean we have to pay our bills, but good pay has to be combined with fulfilling roles.

I actually think as well as training in your craft, it is equally important to get to know yourself. This allows you to develop self esteem and trust your gut.

I turn down many roles as I know in my heart they will not challenge me creatively or which seems to be the norm recently, nudity is thrown in just for the sake of it. And even though I want to dive into new roles, I know by compromising myself for the sake of a paycheck will have a negative impact on me as an artist. When presented with an offer outside of my agent, which is normally the case for low budget films, I ask the casting director a handful of questions. Where can I see the directors previous work and I research it immediately. What is the directors vision. Can I read the whole script. Dates/location. Once you find out who else is on board and research their work also it can help in the decision making. I find that if you mention it has to go through your agent, their reaction tells you a lot. I have a great relationship with my agent so they will talk to a director if necessary. This brings me onto another important factor, to surround yourself with a strong, positive team that believe in you.

I found myself on a set a few years ago for a short film that was being entered into a Vimeo contest. Now I love what Vimeo do and I must confess my decision was based on Vimeo’s reputation, more then that of the director. My mistake. I did not research the director enough or ask enough questions. As a result I found myself on set being directed by a “news” producer that had no clue how to communicate with or direct actors. I learnt so much from that experience and what ‘not to do’ going forward.

I want to do work I will be proud of, wether the film is only seen by a handful of people, a festival hit or theatrical smash, it has to be a script I believe in. A character that moves me, someone’s story I just have to tell. I strongly believe a decision should be based on that passion before the money. Otherwise it’s for the wrong reasons and ultimately could cost you more in the long run.

Have a clear strategy of where you want your career to go, always stay open as life presents new opportunities, continue to let go of what doesn’t work to make room for what does. Be selective, ask questions, know what you want and go for it. Always listen to your gut, it is your compass and will not fail in communicating with you.

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Emma! Please share your thoughts on the matter in the comments, readers! And be sure to follow Emma on twitter.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2013 8:51 pm

    Hello Emma! First of all, I want to thank you for your very insightful response post. I really enjoyed reading your post and advice. I’d like to start off by saying I definitely consider things such as the story, the quality of writing, and the character I would be portraying before accepting a role. I realize I did not express that in my post. Pay is usually the last thing I consider, however I do have to be careful that (if the project is no pay as in the situation I expressed in my post) I am not putting myself out by accepting the project- such as paying for large amounts of transportation or wardrobe that will not be reimbursed. When I accepted the project mentioned in my post, I did think it sounded like a very interested role to play and in a genre I had not had previous experience in. So, that was part of my consideration.

    I found it very helpful to read about the “handful of questions” you ask the casting personnel before accepting a job. I will definitely be keeping those questions in mind before accepting my next project. I think that was my downfall when considering the project mentioned in my post- I didn’t ask enough questions or do the research. I didn’t mind that it was a no-pay project, because the role sounded very interesting and the genre was something I wanted to experience. However, in the end- the director/writer was not someone I could have worked with, and I may have discovered that earlier if I had done more research or asked more questions. I jumped at the opportunity.

    I have definitely learned from the experience, as you did with the Vimeo short. I definitely know how that feels. I hope the experience will help me learn to be more cautious when accepting projects outside of my agent.

    Thank you again for your response! I really appreciate your advice on the subject and will keep your thoughts in mind.

  2. June 21, 2013 1:01 pm

    Hello Growing Artist, I am so happy you enjoyed reading it. Here’s to continued growth…Love Emma.

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