Controlling Your Career – How One Actor Advances

I surrender. I’ve been out done. Beat. Trumped. Whipped. And I enjoyed every moment of my failing…

An Actor Seizes His Moment(s)


Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell

I surrender. I’ve been out done. Beat. Trumped. Whipped. And I enjoyed every moment of my failing to be (as supposedly destined-by-birth-and-stars) a perfectionist Virgo.

So how have I been whipped? (gutter-minded; don’t go there.)

A master class student of mine sent me an outline of his goals for the present year (below). His attention to detail and ambition impresses me. An actor must look beyond the present and ready themselves for the long term. Few actors do such.

There is a sad lot of thespians that are rudderless among the flow of their fraternity. They hope that they will be discovered and carried to success upon an errant current. Most of us live in a reality that doesn’t yield as easily to our desires as we would like. So to compensate; astute planning, attention to details and strict adherence to implementation of the pursuit of goals must, I repeat, must be never ending. For if delinquent you’re just an AEA lounge-lizard whining of fantasies of days past when a producer or director stopped you on the street and gave you an audition. (Hopefully one that required clothing.)

Put your goals to paper or whatever conveyance you use to reflect thought in font. Set for yourself both realistic expectations while also aiming for what others would consider ridiculous fantasy.

Set yourself weekly, monthly, yearly and multi-year goals. Now you just can’t plop down in front of your PC or MAC, make a list, save to file and wait for fruition of desires. You need, like my wise student, to also list how you will attempt to make goals become achievements.

Outline goals as you would construct a foundation for writing chapters within a novel. And that is what your life is; chapters yet to be fulfilled. You create the story. Sometimes the story follows the plot lines desired. Sometimes, the tale takes a trail of its own fancy and provides the author surprises. Either way the first steps begin with you. Like my student has shown below:

1. Spiritual/ Physical/ Mental (Ongoing)

a.      Morning prayer or meditation
b.      Work out 5 days a week
c.      Diet
d.      6 hours sleep

2. Training (February)

a.      Acting workshops/ classes
b.      On camera acting classes
c.      Voice classes
d.      Body movement classes

3. Marketing/ Business side (March)

a.      Figure out your type for head shot preparation
b.      New head shots
c.      Order post cards/ business cards
d.      Work on acting reel
e.      Acting web site creation
f.       Build resume
g.      Get an AFTRA / SAG job

4. Showcases (Ongoing)

5. Casting Directors (April )

a.      Research
b.      Mailings specific CDs
c. __ Invite to showcases/ performances

6. Local Exposure (Ongoing)

a.      Theatre plays
b.      Commercials
c.      Industrials
d.      Student films for reel footage

7. Obtain Agent for Both NY and LA (September)

a.      Research agents according to my type and place in business both in NYC and LA
b.      Mailings
c.      Follow-ups

8. Join a Union (If you must) ( October)

a.      Research SAG (pros and cons of joining)
b.      Research AFTRA (pros and cons of joining)
c.      Research AEA (pros and cons of joining)

9. BOOK A JOB IN A NATIONAL FILM/TV/And/ or Commercial (December)

Now, will he attain all desires? Who knows? We can only control self-acknowledgment of our ambitions. We can not completely control the same desired acknowledgment by others.

This actor has leapt hurdles ahead of his peers by setting a structure to strengthening and propelling his career in a direction towards his desires. Yes he won’t meet all of his expectations by set expiry dates. But he will fulfill some goals. Why? Because he has outlined his career. Ambitions met are marked off. If desires fall short of deadlines, no problem, the calendar can continue and objectives set again. Triumph or failure,  he’s taking control as much as the chaos in our business allots. And that my friend is being a successful actor.

Now if you have yet to do similar like my actor-student above get thee to your PC. Outline. MAC users continue kneeling and genuflecting before your Steve Jobs’ i-whatever.

And side note: Why not take a first step to taking control of your career in the NYC acting master class that I teach at dozens of universities across the U.S. In NY, a 4-week intensive covering actor marketing, audition technique improvement, finding your brand/voice, and how to take control of an audition, and gain more work. 3 industry executives join me in guiding your work. Details @

My best,

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Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit

Author: Paul Russell

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