Friday, June 21, 2013
How to make it in this town
Everyone wants to know how to make it in the entertainment business. After talking to many, many successful people, I've narrowed it down to 4 steps.
Not only do I feel these are the essence of success, they're also the key to happiness.
This is a 10-year town. You may hit the jackpot on year 1 like my friend J., then get dropped by your fancy agent and spend the next 4 years trying to make ends meet. Or you may work hard for 9 years, secretly fearing that nothing good is ever going to happen to you, and in year 10, it all falls into place. But if you leave when the going gets tough in year 3 or 4 or 5, you'll never reap the benefits of all your hard work and struggle. STAY HERE if you really want it.
Which brings us to...
2. Figure out how to make the money you need to do what you want.
I don't just mean figure out how to pay your rent and your car insurance. You need to have fun, too. You need financial freedom. Anyone can sacrifice for a few months or a year. But over time, if you aren't enjoying your day-to-day life, you are not going to be able to keep going. Do you love live music? Eating out? Going to Disneyland? Seeing movies at the Arclight? You gotta have cash. Don't be a martyr. Figure out a way to make that money that doesn't depend on your ability to book.
3. Spend time with the people you love.
I see so many people land in LA and try to meet "important people." They don't necessarily connect deeply, but these newbies are convinced that famous or powerful people will be the key to their success. This is backward thinking. (Not to mention social climbing.) Connect with people who are on your wavelength, who make you feel good, who raise you up and inspire you creatively. These people are your team, and one day, most likely, you will all rise to the top around the same time. Don't try to ride on the coattails of the already-successful/rich/famous/powerful people you have put on a pedestal. (They have their own gang, anyway.)
4. Find a way to be fulfilled creatively in the meantime.
Don't wait around for that magical day when you will be a series regular. You need to be creative on a regular basis. I have heard Jessica Chastain say that when she was broke and not booking, she went to the library every day and just read plays. Creativity rarely comes in only one flavor. Most creative people I know can do lots of different things. You didn't book this week? This month? This year? OK, it happens to everyone. Write a poem. Go to the Palisades and sketch your view of the ocean. Bake something. Take a dance class. Just when you least expect it, that job will come along.
What do you think of this recipe for success? Has any of this worked for you? Does it resonate with your experience? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!
All my best,