Watching the Oscars always stimulates me in some way – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
There are so many aspects of acting and the business I think about after watching them. One thing that struck me this year was promotion. How much of the outcome is affected by promotion vs. the actual art?
Art is subjective. It’s often hard to compare certain performances or films. All the films in this year’s Oscars were great, but different, hard to compare really. So how do people vote? How much do publicity, marketing, and money affect the vote? What promotional efforts went into even getting nominated? How many films and actors were not even considered because not enough people saw them?
There are two things a professional actor must keep in balance: craft and promotion.
An actor stays in the best acting shape by keeping their chops sharp. Most actors have a place to study and keep themselves working, so they are taking care of that side of the equation. But promotional skills are also a major factor to a successful career, and without promoting themselves properly, no one will know how good they are, or even who they are. I constantly see great actors not getting the notice they deserve, and I see mediocre actors getting a lot of heat and attention. Why? They have good publicity. The best actors must balance both craft and promotion. Both muscles must be at work. The first muscle, craft, is fun, it’s easy, and it’s what got us into this business to begin with. It’s creative, expressive, and we love it. As for the promotion side… not always as beloved.
How is your promotional muscle?
I had a talk with an actor this week. She was in a play performing four times a week, had six auditions, three callbacks, and had to prepare two acting exercises for class. That’s more than 15 times she worked on her craft this week, not to mention all the hours she clocked in rehearsing and preparation. This was a busy, working actress, very fulfilled in her craft on this particular week.
But how was her publicity muscle working? I asked her how many industry calls she made. How many emails did she send promoting herself, and, more importantly, how many of those calls and emails were follow-ups to previous calls? They won’t remember you the first time, and they might not remember you the second or third time… but following up again and again is how actors get results.
You need to train both muscles, and yes, they are muscles. You already know about actor muscles, chops, skills, etc. We talk about that a lot. So how are your promoting skills? Are you training those muscles? What are you doing? How regular and how efficient is it? Do you enjoy it? How are you engaged in that area of your professional development? With the world of social media at our fingertips, self-promotion is even more accessible than it has ever been before. Use it to your advantage, and stay in the best promotional shape you can.
Post originally published on March 18th on the NoHo Arts District Blog: