I’m a recent graduate and I know I need to continue my training by taking some workshops and classes but there’s so many options I’m a bit overwhelmed and don’t know which to chose. I’m scared of choosing the wrong ones or of missing out on the good ones! Any tips?
What a great question. This career requires lifelong learning and development so planning to continue your training is a smart move. If you have an agent, I’d have a chat with them too and ask what you can be doing to assist them. They’ll have some ideas on what is going to be most useful for you. There are so many opportunities out there. I guess, as a new grad, you probably have limited funds to pursue them all but don’t let fear of ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘missing out’ stop you from getting stuck in.
I have a tattoo on my wrist: ‘I chose and my world was shaken, so what?’ If you’re familiar with Sondheim you’ll know it’s a quote from Sunday In The Park With George which is my favourite Sondheim musical. The rest of the quote is ‘The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not’ and that’s a mantra I carry with me all the time – choosing something is always positive. Making a choice is good. It might be the wrong choice, you might regret it, but if you always learn from your choices you will always be in a state of growth. So don’t worry about making the ‘wrong’ choices, see everything as an opportunity to learn. I’ve tried to keep that in mind all through my career but I still have major FOMO at times. You just can’t do everything – if you kept yourself available for everything you’d end up doing nothing. Non, je ne regrette rien, as Edith Piaf sang.
That said, you can help yourself to making better choices by developing soft skills. At drama school, and in work, we learn ‘hard skills’ – voice, diction, movement, listening etc. These, and many other hard skills, are the bedrock of our technique. Learning soft skills will be really useful to you. Soft skills are things like financial planning, anxiety management, timekeeping, etc. All the things we use in our careers every day but we tend not to give too much thought to. One of the greatest soft skills you can practice is research.
Is there a particular area you want to work in? Perhaps it’s musical theatre but your voice is better suited to rock/pop musicals than legit Golden Age musicals. Maybe it’s an idea to check out who is casting those musicals and go to their workshops or classes. You might find that some casting directors work more in legit musicals than they do in rock ones. If that’s the case then you might not find those workshops as immediately useful.
When I’m watching TV, or a movie, I always have the IMDb app open on my phone. I love spotting actors and I use IMDb to study their careers and see what else they’ve been up to. I also use it to notice which production companies are producing work that excites me or that I think is right for my clients; which directors are working in the areas certain clients want to work in, and also to find out what upcoming projects casting directors are working on.
When you’re watching something you enjoy and you think ‘I’d be great in this’, find out who the CD is and research their career. You’ll probably notice that they’ve cast quite a few of your favourite programmes. That’s someone you should follow on social media and keep an eye out for their workshops – that’s someone you want to get in front of. You might notice that certain casting directors do more gritty, urban work than period drama. If you want to be a swashbuckling hero on a horse then you’re better off targeting cd’s who are more active in that field.
Develop your research skills so you build a list of people you want to work with and want to be seen by – writing it down is also a really great manifesting tool, if you’re into that.
Don’t try to be everywhere and in all places at once. Enjoy exploring and learning about the industry and, most of all, enjoy learning about the people who are part of it. We all have our own passions and interests and finding your tribe is about finding people who share yours. You’re not missing out on anything, whatever you do you’re doing it at exactly the right time.
Above all remember your career is a journey of exploration, not destination. Always be learning and nothing will be wasted.
Stay connected. Stay creative.
Got a question? Email JBR at [email protected]