Winning and Losing.
Acting is the career I’ve chosen because it is what I am called to do. And it ain’t an easy career at all. Almost all actors have a side job to help pay the bills from waiting tables to bar tending to Uber, etc.
So why choose a career that hardly ever pays until you hit it big? Why submit yourself to the pain of constant rejection? To be honest, I still don’t know after all these years in the business and I’ve been doing this for around 30 years now.
It’s hardly worth the pain if you don’t ever book any gigs. So an actor’s booking rate has to be good enough to keep going and not go crazy. I once hear the stat while living in L.A. that the average actor books 1 in 50 auditions. I’m not sure what that was based on, but it seems pretty bleak. I went online to find out the average booking rate and found a few different answers. One said that if it’s SAG, the rate is about 2-5% (1 out of 50 to 1 out of 20). Another specifies that a good booking rate for leading actors is 1 out of 20 while a good booking rate for character actors is 1 out of 10. My favorite was a guy who said, “Commercials, I’m about 3 1/3 out of 100. For theatrical, I’m about 1 out of 7.” That is quite a spread and I can’t imagine someone being THAT good at one and THAT bad at another.
But this leads to me. In L.A. I calculated that I was getting callbacks every 6 auditions and booking a gig every 18 auditions. I felt like that was pretty good and that was my average for a long time. Of course I was getting around 16 auditions a month. And I didn’t realize what a difference that made until I got back to Texas. My rate of booking started out with a bang when I moved back as I booked the first two auditions I had. I thought it was clear sailing in this promised land. Then normal started happening. I saw that the auditions in Texas were much less frequent. But my booking rate was higher…yet I worked much much less in Texas than in L.A. And it annoyed the crud out of me. I’m taking classes (case in point) and looking for ways to up my game as an actor and occasionally teaching classes at the Fort Worth Actors Studio- and you can learn a lot as an actor while teaching for sure!
But this week really frustrated me. In 8 days, I had 6 auditions. It was awesome. Then of those 6 auditions, I had 2 callbacks. More awesome. Of those 2 callbacks, I was put on Right of First Refusal for both of them!!!!!! That’s right! I’m bad! Uh huh!…or so I thought. I was released from both projects a day apart. To make matters worse, I had a couple of really crummy big things happen during those two days. So to disprove stereotypes, I spent the next day eating ice cream and watching movies while sulking.
I hate losing. Especially in acting. Sure I know that callbacks mean I’m not horrible and being put on hold is great too. But as someone told me, “Second place is first loser!”. I hate losing. And I love acting. But if I lose I can’t act. Right? Only if that’s the attitude I take is that true. I act every day. Weird voices, new movements, complementing my mother-in-law’s new hair cut. There are plenty of opportunities to act. And every audition is a chance to hone that skill.
Sure this week sucked. But there will be other weeks that will bring a nice booking. And while some may see this as a game of winning and losing, I try to see it differently. Every day is a winning day to live this amazing life that I’ve been given. Every day is a chance to be a better human being, a better actor, a better husband. And I know there are days when I will not win. But I also know that as long as I don’t give up and keep bettering myself, I will never be a loser.
Except at basketball. I really suck at basketball.