I thought we would bring in 2017 in appropriate fashion. In no particular order, here are 17 tips for actors to help you navigate an acting career in film and television!

  1. Be early to everything. Make being early your new habit. Be early to classes, jobs, dates and absolutely everything. People who are late are late habitually. If I see you arrive late for anything, I assume you will be late for everything.
  2. Stay positive or stay home. Negativity never created anything but more negativity.
  3. Train every week of 2017 to become a better actor. Mix it up. Be in multiple classes whenever possible. Do not just sit in the same scene study class for the next twelve months.
  4. Try it. Never taken a commercial class? Try it. Never done a workshop? Try it. Student film, print work, Movement class, stand-up? Try it. Make 2017 your year for trying new things.
  5. Try it again. Don’t write off things like student films because you had a bad experience once a long time ago. Booking a student film is a lot better than booking nothing. Did a bunch of seminars but didn’t get called in? Try it again a few years later. Hopefully, you are a better actor now than you were five years ago. Show people that.
  6. Work for free. Only under the right circumstances, of course. Student films, shorts and indie web series are all acceptable freebies. The idea that no one should ever work for free is ridiculous. Most successful people have worked for free at some point. There’s a huge difference between working for free and being exploited. Is anyone else being paid? And is the project being made for money or exposure?
  7. Only do minimal extra work. You are not getting closer to that first series regular job by being on sets as an extra. Do it a few times and then move on. You can only learn so much by doing it a hundred times. Look up the term “diminishing returns.”
  8. Shoot great headshots. Every actor should have great headshots. Any less and you are not being competitive. Meet with fifty photographers if you have to, but wait to shoot until you feel confident that you have found a great one.
  9. Read a minimum of one book related to acting each month. Read more if you like, but commit to at least one per month. It’s harder than it sounds.
  10. Submit every single day of 2017. Make a commitment right now not to miss a single day. There is at least one project on this site that you can submit for every day.
  11. Add to your special skills. Learn a few things this year that you can add to your resume. Work on accents, learn to surf, ski or ride a horse. Pick a martial art. Learn to tango. Learn yoga.
  12. Network at least once a week all year long. Plan it out right now for the next couple of months. If you commit to being seen by industry members, industry members will see you. Don’t wait to casually bump into us.
  13. Do for others. Expect nothing back. Just do. Refer people to your agent or manager. Help your actor friends on social media when they post about their projects. Share their news. Drive somebody to his or her audition. Expect nothing back and watch what happens.
  14. Post your acting news on social media on a regular basis. It isn’t enough to post things once. I have 900 FB friends. Post it once and I will probably never see it.
  15. Find things to post about on social media. Not just bookings. Go to screenings, panels and networking events and take some pictures. Post about your love of acting, not just those times when you work.
  16. Give 100% to anything you commit to all year. Hold yourself accountable. Keep a journal if need be. Make sure you follow through on plans and commitments.
  17. R-E-L-A-X. Stress is a career-killer in this town. Another great reason to take that yoga class. Whatever works for you, find ways to regularly decompress. You don’t have to leave town to do it. Just relax.

If you can follow these 17 guidelines, 2017 is going to be a great year for you!

Sikes_PicMark Sikes began his casting career in 1992 for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Corman. In the past 25 years, he has cast over 100 films as well as television series, commercials and web series. He has cast projects for Tobe Hooper and Luke Greenfield and many others. In the past few years Mark has also produced four feature films.

Based in Los Angeles, Mark has cast films for many markets including the United Kingdom, Peru, the Philippines and Russia. Domestically, he has cast films that shot all over the country in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and multiple projects in Colorado.

He currently teaches three weekly on-camera, audition technique classes in West Los Angeles and can be reached at [email protected]