As an interviewer at the Richard Lawson Studios, I sit down and engage with potential students to find out what they’re looking for and to see if the studio is a fit for them.
Potential students ask me a myriad of questions about the studio and about the industry…and I am more than happy to answer their questions. One of the recurring questions that come up is “How long have you been in the industry for?” “How long does it take to make it?” “How long should I do this for?”
And I always answer: You gotta think of this career as a marathon race, not a sprint. Your career is about sustained effort. If this is your Plan A, then this is for life. You put the time and work in every day to sustain and maintain your career. Every career requires sustained effort and a career in the entertainment industry is no different. This is not a “I’ll give it six months” or “I’ll give it a year before I move back home” kind of deal.
First of all, why would you short change yourself like that? Six months? One year? Why wouldn’t you be in it to win it? Demand more from yourself. I never hear doctors or lawyers or other fields say that they’re going to give it six months. I never hear them say, “I’m going to practice medicine for a year or so.” They are in it for life. This is what they want to do. And they put in the time and effort to do so.
Sustained effort. The marathon race. There are no shortcuts. Yes, yes, yes, I know, I know, I know: Sometimes there are exceptions to the rule. But those are exceptions. Keep your nose on the grind. Devote the time to your craft. Take classes and get better. Create your own work outside of class with your community. Stay in the game. Stay sharp. Stay current. Do something specific for your career every single day. See the bigger picture and go after it in a systematic way.
Potential students will ask me: “Why and how are you still in it?”
I’m approaching 14 years in LA and I’m still in the game because of sustained effort. I have a wonderful DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence) aka business plan that keeps me focused and on the path. I have my raison d’être (reason for existence) that keeps me focused and on the path. I have a wonderful community of teachers, friends and mentors that keep me focused and on the path.
But most importantly, this is my Plan A. I have nothing else to fall back on. I LOVE what I do. I LOVE being an artist. And because I love my career, I go after it every day. And I define my growth and success by the things I am able to cross off my DOIN’. I can not, I will not and I do not define my success by comparing myself to how much work my friends and colleagues are booking. By comparing myself to what wins they are having. I can only define success by going after and achieving the things that I have laid out in my DOIN’.
Sustained effort means that when the acting is going slow, I have my writing projects to keep me on my path. When my writing projects are going slow, I have my acting projects to keep me on my path. I am always maintaining sustained effort.
Sustained effort means you put in the hours into your career. You can’t put in a few hours a week into your career and call it a day. Ask a lawyer how much time they put into their career. Ask a doctor how much time they put into their career. Fuck it, ask the Friday PDP 3.0 class how many hours they put into their careers? You are a business and you have to treat it as such. Otherwise, your business will fail and shut down.
You gotta stay in it for the long haul. And in this day and age, that’s a difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around. We live in an age of instant results: Social media, advances in technology, reality television, selfies, instant celebrities and instant fame…this NOW NOW NOW culture makes some people think that they can have a career overnight. And yes, it can and does happen.
I’d rather put in the consistent work and know how to sustain it then fizzle out quickly because I wasn’t really and truly prepared for the journey. I’m about to have a meeting with another manager that can be a game changer for my career. I’m gearing up for an incredible artist retreat that I was personally invited to with other kick-ass artists. People in the industry are reading my works as a writer. Etc.
These recent wins would not have been possible had I stopped and quit. Had I not put in the time. I see what my bigger picture is and I’m working towards it.
Stay in it because sustained effort is something that others will eventually see, recognize and acknowledge. Baby, you’re winning!