Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Building Community Through Social Media

I’ve noticed something recently when talking to actors about their needs. My theater held auditions in December and we asked everyone why they were interested in joining a year-round theater ensemble. Almost every actor said the same thing: they wanted a community. Acting, as you know, can be a pretty lonely endeavor. Unless you’re lucky enough to be acting in a project, there are very few places you can consistently mix and mingle with actors. Furthermore, the “business” size of our business is almost always done alone. So actors are left feeling isolated and hungry for meaningful interaction.

So I find it funny that one of the most dreaded aspects of the business for actors seems to be social media. I’ll tell ya, when I interview prospective students and I ask them how their social media is going, I get a reaction somewhere between an eye roll, a regretful sigh, and a pained grimace. So if we as actors are all yearning for community, why is social media so scary?

In order to make social media work for you, there are two things to focus on: you have to be active, and you have to cultivate your tribe.

Being Active: 

It’s a vicious cycle - so many actors barely post and then when they do only a few people comment, which proves to them that social media doesn’t work and so they barely post. See the cycle? But in order to get the benefit of social media you need to be active. This doesn’t mean that you need to post what you had for breakfast every day, but find a way to meaningfully engage with people. This can include posting a new status, liking someone else’s post, or sharing/RTing someone’s post to give it a virtual shout-out.

You’ll also want to follow the 80/20 rule: spend 80% of the time providing some sort of interest or value, and only 20% of the time promoting yourself. This will keep you from being one of “those” people (we all know who those people are.)

Cultivating Your Tribe:

You’ve probably heard social media referred to as a hive mind or echo chamber, and that’s for good reason. Social media can often be be more enjoyable if the people you’re interacting with are folks you feel good about being around. After all, you’re reading their posts all day long - it makes sense that you focus on following those who you respect and care for. So don’t be afraid of unfollowing people who make you feel icky, or refusing to engage with someone who is being an internet troll.

And if you’re on Twitter or Instagram, you have the added benefit of following people you don’t know, which means your world has a chance to become more diverse and full and you can grow your tribe exponentially. That can even include casting directors, producers, writers, and other industry pros (like me!)

In Conclusion:
What this all boils down to is that social media can provide the most amazing, heartfelt, loving community you could imagine. When I went through a recent illness and couldn’t socialize, social media allowed me a connection with the outside world. It also let me share a part of myself that helped others understand what I was going through. When I was able to come back into the real world, the love from social media made the in-person connections all the more vivid. It was as if social media had amplified our relationship to something even more special. That’s what having a tribe is all about.

I invite you to give it a try - be more active and cultivate that tribe so that social media is a place you feel comfortable being. I promise that you’ll see results.


Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out www.TheActorsEnterprise.org and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The "You" That Nobody Knows

I was watching one of my favorite TV shows the other day - Shark Tank. (Seriously, all actors should watch this for what to do and NOT to do in the audition room!) The person was trying to raise funds for a product that helps ADD suffers (and others with attention problems) to focus. As he gave his pitch, you could see the inventor try very hard to make the product seem as broad as possible so that even people without ADD could benefit. It made sense - there were already fidget spinners on the market, so he obviously needed to broaden the appeal, right?

Low and behold, there was a bidding war for the product - the investors were lobbying the inventor to LET them invest. And what was it that made them interested? Was is the universality of the product or the product’s high sales? NO. As it turned out, one of the investors himself has ADD, and another has a child with special needs. So for them, the investment was personal. And the inventor was lucky, because somehow the investors could see through his “universality” pitch to understand what this product means for those with attention problems.

Most actors behave like that inventor - take what makes our product unique and special and hide that so that we appear to be more competitive with other actors. We want to fit in and not stand out, even though intellectually we understand that in order to be noticed we need to be different. But our hearts fight against our brains and compel us to play small.

The truth is, we’ll never know what will help our work resonate with our own investors - the casting directors, agents, and producers we’re trying to woo. What if your unique take on a role inspires something personal in the audition room, but you dial it back and they never get to see it? Can you imagine all of the missed opportunities?

I encourage you to bring your best funky, weird, a little too neurotic, intense self to your work, and balance with professionalism, ease, and confidence. The balance is key to help people understand the person and actor that you are. To end this, I’ll leave you with two of my favorite quotes on the subject:

"Be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” - Judy Garland

“Bring so much of your authentic self to the table that you can say, ‘If they want someone like me, I nailed it.’” - Erin Cronican


Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out www.TheActorsEnterprise.org and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

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