As the story from the LA Times goes, starlet Lana Turner caught the eye of a casting agent at a soda fountain. He believed the 16-year-old had “it,” and asked if she would like to be in pictures.
A similar but more modern discovery was made when a talent scout spotted a 14-year-old Jennifer Lawrence strolling through New York’s Union Park and encouraged her to consider modeling or acting, as the New York Daily News reported.
If we knew how and when, we’d tell you exactly where to go and who will be there so you can someday be someone else’s crazy and inspiring show biz story. And then maybe next week’s Powerball numbers while we’re at it. Unfortunately, things rarely work out this nicely, and most of us with big dreams still must pound the pavement in search of a magical connection with a director, a producer or someone involved in casting to hopefully get hired for something meaningful.
Even the term ‘meaningful’ can be subjective, depending on how soon the rent is due. At certain times, you’d be delighted to try for anything from a big-time blockbuster to something more indie-oriented. After all, someone’s going to get these roles, so why shouldn’t it be you? Show biz is so transitory, that everyone (even yesterday’s Oscar winners) must spend today looking for the next role and planning ahead for tomorrow. So with such a large herd of talented people scrambling for work, how can anyone get noticed?
We’d like to say “be ready for whatever comes your way” but this insightful adage works much better inside a fortune cookie than for serious career advice. However, there are several strategies you can try that will help you stand out and let people see how brilliant your inner light shines.
Be patient – Your early gigs may be truly wonderful starting points, and the great roles rarely come early on. Even today’s top performers were once where you are. Consider that the more parts you have, the more the industry can see your work, get to know you as a performer and a person, and keep you in mind when they hear about future projects. One of Harrison Ford’s earliest roles was a hotel porter, and he often considered leaving the business to be a carpenter, as The Biography Channel highlights. Remember the advice of legendary acting coach Constantin Stanislavski: there are no small parts, only small actors.
Ask for help – Since getting roles is as much of an art as a skill, there have been thousands who have been through the process, and most will be happy to share their adventures. In some cases, it might cost you a workshop fee or a beer or two. Your experience will vary but everyone loves a good story.
Hand out cards – Aspiring actors and actresses used to carry around stacks of their head shots, but these often grew bulky and pricey. Since business card printing can be easy, and your cards can contain your contact information and maybe even a mini head shot, business cards are the best physical way to spread your name. They’re also simple for people to hang onto and look at later.
Be ready to perform – Just because Lana Turner and Jennifer Lawrence got noticed, they still had to pay their dues and demonstrate that the confidence placed in their outer charm was valid. Develop your unique talents, not just your dreams.