What I learned from DEXTER.
Each of our personal treks as actors leads us through peaks and valleys, feasts and famines, and we endure because of our love for it. Like anything, sometimes loving it comes easy and other times we wonder if this love is leading us to ruin.
Does it love us back?
The craft is steadfast. It is always there and you can pick up a screen or stage play today and dive into what you love to do right now. The industry, casting, resumes, auditions, headshots, classes, self-promotion, representation and on and on. Sometimes, those aspects make the "lovefest " hard to maintain.
When I talk to actors and they tell me they've been submitting for auditions, taking classes, elevating their materials and "nothing" seems to be happening for them or when they ask "How do I get representation?" as if there is some simple or magical equation that is eluding them...it takes me back to when my boys were little and inevitably fell and scraped elbows or knees in the pursuit of doing what they loved.
I worked on the new season of Dexter this past summer.
Ready for a timeline?
2010 - Decided to dust off my dream of being an actor and took a class with a local CD
2011-2014 - Headshots(yes, they were terrible), more classes, books and more books, accounts on Actors Access & Backstage, self-submitting for hundreds of projects, extra-work, built a resume of independent films, non-union commercials & industrials, grew my network
2015 - booked Manchester By The Sea, joined SAG
2016-2020 - more independent films, wrote, directed, produced my own film, sent dozens of emails in my pursuit for representation, started ActorPlaybook
2021 - (Yes, SIX YEARS after joining SAG), signed with a team that made the long road to representation absolutely worth it, booked TOS Guest Star, booked my role on Dexter, booked a dayplayer role on Netflix film, received the most invites to audition ever in my career
This is a JOURNEY of time, work and perseverance. If you are looking for quick fixes and easy ways in, maybe you'll find them....but I doubt it.
So, what did I learn working on Dexter?
How about another timeline? Because I always find these interesting.
November 2020 - Auditioned for two roles in the new season of Dexter
December 2020 - Pinned for one role
February 2021 - Production was pushed, still pinned
March, April, May - Still pinned
June - Finally booked!
July - On-set/Filming
I was elated to book this role. My first recurring guest star on a Showtime series. All of the time I spent in class, the self-tape practice, the accountability groups, the emails, good grief ALL THE EMAILS, the thousands I'd spent on headshots over the years, the projects that never got finished, all the times I worked for footage and meals, the time I thought I would lose a toe I was so cold while working as an extra on Tower Heist, the years of not booking anything, the self-doubt, the tears, the times on-set I felt so connected to my role everything else fell away, the times I felt like the biggest imposter and was terrified I'd be ridiculed, the HOURS in my trailer going over lines and practicing walking in heels again...
What DEXTER taught me?
It was all worth it.
Also, that you can be incredibly prepared and still have your mind go blank when the director calls "Action!". I was mortified and looked to Michael C. Hall who stared intently back at me. "Please tell me this happens to you, too?", I asked him. He smiled and laughed, "Yes, all the time!".
I smiled in relief, took a deep breath, came back into my body fully and we knocked out our scenes. It was a fantastic group of actors and crew.
So, if you find yourself feeling like "things aren't happening for you", ask yourself:
Am I in class?
Am I self-submitting?
Am I growing my network?
Do I have a supportive community?
Am I practicing on my own?
Am I reading about the craft?
Am I elevating my assets?
Am I researching shows, CD"s and agencies?
I hope you were able to check off many if not all of the above. If you could, then trust that things are happening. You are building the strong foundation that is necessary to propel you towards your goals. This is an essential step and it takes time.
At ActorPlaybook, I put together a monthly program and support system for actors to help them elevate their craft and provide assistance through all of the ups and downs. Learn more
If you are looking for a community of actors who "get it", I hope to see you in class.