Last week I did a blog on “Spider Webs” – those thin but strong threads that lead us from one contact to another, from one gig to another. Tonight I was sitting here at my desk where I have numerous photos, kid artworks, and quotes taped around my computer, and I noticed a magazine quote I recently cut out (Emmy magazine, I think). It’s from an interview with John Lithgow, and it goes something (but only something) like this.
“My motto is, One Thing Leads To Another. You have to keep yourself open to new experiences and get ready for them when they come.”
The reason I bring this topic up again is because I forgot to mention a crucial part of the “spider web” concept: You’ve got to “get ready” for when opportunities present themselves. It’s not enough to just stumble into a chance meeting with Spielberg or to know someone whose second cousin is Oprah Winfrey… you’ve got to have something to say, something to share, something of value. You’re not going to get hired just because you’ve got a nice haircut or cuz you “really, really want to be in the entertainment industry.” You’ve got to have something valuable to share. An idea. A pitch. Some confidence. Some panache.
It’s often said that “overnight success” comes with years of training, struggle and heartache. So have you learned your craft (be it acting, writing, or art)? Do you have a sample of your best work? Have you got several developed (and practiced) movie pitches in your back pocket? Do you look happy, confident, and positive? (Nobody wants to hire a stone downer.) Have you overcome that unconscious nose-picking thing?
Opportunities will pop up (although they may not look like opportunities at the time). The more projects you’ve worked on, the more life experiences you’ve had, the more books you’ve read, the more classes you’ve taken – they’ll all help you slide into that opportunity. (Sometimes the tiniest thing will help you make a connection. “You’re from Ohio, too?” <or> “Didn’t you love last night’s episode of Glee?” <or> “Wow, I just finished the recent Tom Clancy novel, too!” <or> “Sure I know theatre. I’ve been doing local productions since I was a teen.”) You don’t know what will be the key to that opportunity, but it helps to have a lot of “strings to your bow.”
AND… you’ve got to be ready. So get crackin’!