How to Prioritize as a New Actor

This week, Lauren wants to know how to best prioritize as a new actor.

How do you prioritize what to do as a new actor? —Lauren S., Washington

Anyone new to acting is undoubtedly excited to launch their career. But to avoid frustration and spending a lot without tangible results, you need to prioritize how to spend your time and money. Here are four steps to make the best use of your resources for the long haul.

1. Clarify your goals

I meet a lot of talented actors just starting out, and one thing many of them have in common is they want to do it all – doesn’t matter if it’s theatre, film, TV, commercials, or voice-overs. The problem with not being specific about your goals is your time and energy become fragmented and scattered, which can quickly lead to disappointment and burn out.

My advice is to pick one or two areas that you really want to focus on for the next 1 – 2 years. This will automatically narrow down which classes to take, which casting directors to target, what type of photos to get, and what to audition for.

Once you get some traction in your chosen area, you can always add another down the line!

2. Take stock of your finances

If you already have a budget – awesome – you’re ahead of the game! If not, look back over the past several months and make a note of your income, as well as how you spend your money. Then create a realistic budget that covers your living expenses. Luckily, there are some great apps available to help you – try Mint or You Need A Budget.

Whatever’s left over will be earmarked for acting.

3. Set up an acting fund

I suggest setting up a separate account for your acting career. Make a deposit every month for your acting expenses. This will keep the money separate, so you don’t spend it on other things, and keep you honest about how many classes you can actually afford to take. If you need to save before you start a class, you could work on monologues on your own. Or better yet, organize a rehearsal group with some friends and meet every week to work on your craft for free.

4. Take charge of your calendar

Set aside some time every day to work on your acting career. You can accomplish a lot in a month if you set aside even 15 – 30 minutes a day to tackle your marketing. And don’t forget to schedule time every week for your craft, too. 🙂 

When I was a new actor, I ran around like a headless chicken auditioning for everything without any clear goals or budget in place. Let’s just say that didn’t work out very well. Once I embraced the idea of a budget, narrowed my focus, and chipped away at acting tasks in small blocks of time, I was no longer exhausted and broke. Best of all, I  finally started booking more jobs!

Think of your acting career as a marathon instead of a sprint – and pace yourself. You’ve got this!

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