Strategies to Sustain Your NY Acting Career

May 18, 2014


“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”

For those of you that have been bit by the acting bug, and live in the New York metropolitan area, it’s important for a NY actor to strategize how to sustain your career aspirations in the long run.

One of the first things to consider is to make sure you continue honing your acting chops with the wide variety of classes that NY has to offer. Taking classes instantly gives you opportunities to act, and makes you feel a part of the acting community. The classroom foremost should be a place that you feel safe enough to take risks and make mistakes in your quest to learn the material. After all, the highest priority of taking any class is to learn the new skill whether it be improv or commercial/TV/film acting or monologues. In addition, classes are fertile ground for growing your networking circles. Forming strong connections with your fellow actors increases your chances of finding work in both the short and long term. But while it’s true that in the big city who you know matters, what also matters is that you are competent.

It’s also important to know the competition. Attend as many shows as you can whether it be your class friends’ performances or Broadway hits. Read reviews, and seek out the latest productions of writers and directors you gravitate toward. Get inspired, and learn the ins and outs of the business. Have an understanding of what you’re up against. You may see where you could polish a particular skill. And seeing the talent pool in action may clarify what unique qualities you have to share that are missing on the circuit. Seeing shows can empower your career in many ways.

You must audition as much as possible. And audition even when it’s not the work you most aspire to do. You never know what work will beget other work or where you will make an invaluable connection. As Robert De Niro once advised, “I always tell actors when they go in for an audition: Don’t be afraid to do what your instincts tell you. You may not get the part, but people will take notice.”

Student films present excellent opportunities to work throughout the year on a variety of projects with a wide array of people. And you never know which student film is going to be selected into film festivals. Spring is an especially prolific time when NY film schools offer opportunities for actors. You can gain exposure, you don’t have to worry about joining SAG, and you can add the experience to your resume. Now, you likely won’t be paid much for your efforts, if anything, but make sure to receive a DVD of the project when post production is completed.

Insure your financial stability to sustain your capacity to go after your dream. Save up money, and learn to be thrifty and penny-wise. Do everything from procuring affordable housing to keeping an honest budget. Also, have another source of income. Even a “working actor” may need supplemental income to support him or herself. Actors can also have periods of time when they are not booking. They  often join a temp agency or find night jobs to keep their days open for auditions. If a committed actor finds day-time work, it should be a job that has flexibility, where it’s clear from the start that your primary goal is to pursue acting, allowing you to go on auditions as needed. It’s also helpful to consider temp jobs that are related to the entertainment industry as you might discover additional avenues to land those desirable acting gigs.

Hey, New York can be a tough town; that’s why you have to be tougher. As an actor, you need to do everything in your power to maximize your potential for success. The good thing is, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!