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Actor-Stylist-Publicist-Manager-Graphic Designer-Researcher

November 11, 2014

It occurred to me while chatting with a friend of a friend at a birthday party this weekend, that as actors, we don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit. He was telling me that he’d transitioned away from acting and into a technology events planning job, and about how his skills that he learned as an actor were serving him greatly in this new position.

There’s the obvious aspect of “we’re charismatic people who are in touch with ourselves as human beings and are good at creating things and teamwork and intimidating situations” part of our actor skill set, of course. But have you ever stopped to think about all of the other tangentially related jobs we have to do as actors, as well? Not only are we actors, but we also learn to be stylists, publicists, managers, researchers, graphic designers, and more.

We learn how to style an outfit from seemingly endless options to best showcase our body type, our actor “type,” and the character we’re auditioning for, all at once. Oh, and we want to strike just the right balance between looking like we’re too polished to be great and accessible artists, and looking like we can’t afford to dress in a professional manner. All in one outfit. That will change on any given day, depending on what the project we’re auditioning for requires. Oh, and don’t forget corresponding hair and makeup choices. We also learn how to navigate New York City, with all of her glorious public transit and unpredictable weather, and still arrive at auditions looking perfectly put together.

We learn to promote our own work, and develop a set of fans of our own, however extensive. We learn who to reach out to when we have a project that’s worth seeing. We spend time striking just the right balance between fun, personal posts and self-promotion of our work on social media. We attend theatre-related events and other people’s shows weekly to expand our network. We maintain a mailing list for postcards or an email newsletter. We photograph our daily lives to prove to others that we’re working hard every day, even when we’re not in a show.

Some of us may have managers and some of us don’t, but all of us will spend more time self-managing than any representative will ever spend on us. We endlessly compare headshot photographers, mail or email out said headshots, leverage current success to try to achieve the next level of success, keep current on who’s been hired where and which shows are being produced on Broadway next year or being picked up after pilot season, foster industry relationships, and strategize and re-strategize for our long-term career longevity. We learn how to advocate for ourselves.

We learn that there’s a whole world of ways to promote ourselves beyond postcards printed at Reproductions, and learn how to go about creating those things for ourselves. We create pretty graphics for our websites. We make social media announcement photos when there’s big news to share, or other interesting showbiz-related content when there’s not.

We learn how to research effectively before, during, and after an acting job. Sometimes even before the thought of a job is on the horizon. We attend book clubs for actors to stay abreast of the current body of contemporary playwrighting. We create google alerts so we never miss important industry news. When we get an audition, we painstakingly research the play, the theater, the staff, the casting director, the playwright, previous productions…you name it. Sometimes we even trek up to Lincoln Center to watch videos of the Broadway productions. When we get a job, we painstakingly research all of that even more in-depth. And then to add, any historical information about our character or the setting. And that’s before we even get to the first day of work.

Whether we stay working in this industry long-term, or whether we choose to follow another path like my friend’s friend did, there is every reason to be proud. As actors, we work incredibly hard. And we learn how to be more than “just” actors, we are Actor-Stylist-Publicist-Manager-Graphic Designer-Researchers…and more.

What other jobs have you learned how to master during your acting career, and how have they benefitted you?


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 26, 2014 9:46 am

    Agreed. Actors are masters of “soft skills” which are applicable in just about every profession. That’s why I think arts majors aren’t all that “useless”…

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