Friday, May 16, 2008

Class of 2008: Ready, Set, Launch!

It’s that time again: Graduation! Parents rejoice in the celebration, amplified by the realization that they’re done paying for their children's educations, while students also rejoice in the celebration, tempered only be the slow onset of the realization that soon enough debt incurred during college will soon be theirs to manage.

With degree in hand, millions of graduating college seniors will seek to begin their career journeys in their chosen fields, counting on their education, their training and their potential to carry them far. While that is often the case in most fields, it’s hardly the case in the business of acting.

There is no level playing field in this business; the best, most qualified person rarely gets the opportunity simply because they are the best, most qualified person for the job (or in this case, the role).

What’s a graduating performing arts or acting student to do?

1. Think strategically.

2. Create a plan for your immediate future that consists of how you intend to generate income while you pursue your career.

3. Be gift smart! Ask anyone who might gift you for your graduation to gift you with something that will really benefit you. Instead of a watch, a business suit or a gift certificate to your favorite store, ask for financial assistance in launching your career.

The Business of Acting Conceptual Gift Registry strategy is yours to use for free.

Ask for money towards a professional photo session; ask for money to help you pay for post-college, professional-level classes and workshops; ask for some assistance in helping you get your professional actor’s tool kit in order by helping to pay for your online subscriptions to the critical resources you will need from day one:, LACasting, Back Stage and/or Back Stage West.

It’s always nice to be gifted, but in this economy when giving can be tight or impossible for some people, accept whatever assistance you can in any form that you can get it to help you in your early career journey.

You can’t get to step one, until you have gotten through step two. With confidence, fortitude and the belief that your talent and skills, will always be a work-in-progress, but will also take you far, you can do this!

Creating a business plan to help organize your life as you launch your career will empower you in these early days of your transition from student of the performing arts to working, professional actor. There is a step-by-step guide to help you do this in a chapter devoted to this topic in The Business of Acting book. You can also access my Back Stage West article on the topic to help you get started.

My congratulations to the class of 2008! I know what a struggle getting to this point has been from time to time. I also understand the fear generated from the uncertainty that awaits you. This is the time to seek inspiration and support from friends and family who want nothing less for you than you seek for yourself.

I know that as my students from this year’s classes at the Emerson College Los Angeles Center begin their transitions, they do so with respect for the process and the knowledge that each person is own their own, individual career journey. No one will ever be able to take from you what is yours to have. They also know that opportunity knocks when you’re ready for it. Train for that opportunity in strong, healthy and emotionally fit ways. These are important concepts to embrace for all of you.

I wish you all much success as your take your first steps and hope that you will also share with us your progress and lessons learned along the way.

If you have a comment or question, please post it here or e-mail me directly at