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What Experiences Unrelated to Acting Can Teach You About Acting

aka The Longest Blog Title I've Ever Written

Hello friends!

I haven't written a blog in a while (not that I haven't been inspired or have not been writing).

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about "transferable skills." It's a term I learned back in school when I was writing my resume for day jobs. Transferable skills are skills that you've learned in one experience that can be applied to another very different experience. It's a way that I've successfully argued my way into getting jobs that, at first glance, I may not have been completely right for.

I've recently had several experiences that have taught me a lot about acting, or the entertainment industry in general, that I felt like sharing.

One of my (many, many, many) day jobs is demonstrating healthy snacks in grocery stores. I wear a t-shirt with the brand name, cut up the product into sample sizes to give out, and arrange the product for purchase in a presentable way on a tiny table I have set up in the middle of the grocery store. As people walk by, I ask if they'd like to try a sample. After having done this in several different grocery stores, I began to find similarities between this job and auditioning. At the end of the day, I am at the audition to book the job or "book the room" (for all you non-actor types, booking the room means getting the people in the room to like you so much that they call you back for another project if you're not right for the current one). At the end of the grocery store day, I am demonstrating the product for the consumer to end up buying it. Here are some other parallels I've noticed:

  • Some customers won't even look at me when I call out to them or talk to them, but I still have to keep doing my job.// Some casting directors/directors won't even look at me when I am auditioning in front of them, but I still have to keep doing my job.
  • Some customers don't like the product.//Some casting directors don't like my audition.
  • Some customers will tell me how to make my product better, even though I can't change it.//Some casting directors will tell me how to make myself better, even though I can't change me.
  • Some customers LOVE the product and purchase several units of it.//Some casting directors LOVE my audition and keep calling me back for projects.
You see my drift? In both sides of it, I've also found that every time I get rejected by a customer or casting director, my smile gets bigger, which makes me laugh and gets other customers or "customers" to notice me and what I'm selling.

Another experience I had just a few days ago helped me better understand my approach to acting. I had written a bilingual comedic pilot and submitted it to a competitive episodic TV writing residency, where I would get the chance to be mentored by people who were in writers rooms to make my pilot even better. There were two rounds of applications; I got past the first round but ultimately was not chosen after the second. Despite being rejected, I was shocked when I was notified that only 3% of applicants made it past round one! They had had hundreds of applications so I was one of tens that made it past round two and I had never written for television before. What this made me realize about my acting was that I had a grasp on how effective comedic television was written; so, I understood how to act it out because I had delved into the process of how it was structured in the first place! This has definitely boosted my confidence in my approach to comedic television auditions.

Don't be afraid in accepting or exploring opportunities that might not have anything to do with your main creative field. They might surprise you!