So I've been asked what is the best advice that I've gotten in pursuit of my dreams. However, I think that often we overlook the OTHER piece...the BAD advice that you should ignore.
Why not explore some of the DONT's in this business. Just a few of my personal ideas of what can easily derail you!
Wait for it... This is a common one, especially amongst non-creatives, or those that are already well on their own way. Folks, please do NOT wait on your dreams like you're waiting for a bus! For those of you that may be spiritual or religious, you may be familiar with the term, "wait on the Lord." Well waiting on your dreams should be in line with the same concept as waiting on the Lord. The term wait, is not like you are sitting on the corner waiting for the B52. It is wait, like a WAITER. A waiter serves, works and takes care of what needs to be tended to. Well, the same with your career. Many people will say you have to wait your turn, you have to wait for your time. And yes, patience is key. BUT you must wait as a waiter, and be in and of service to yourself. Take classes, workshops, create, work with peers, do free work (within reason), take great headshots, experiment with your look (within reason lol). All of these are things you do as you WAIT. You serve and service yourself for what is to come so that you are busy in the meantime. But it's not just random busy work, as you are also being productive and building your network and a resume. This way, when your time comes along, guess who will be ready to rock...YOU!
Stand out... Yes, it's important in this oversaturated space to stand out...but WHY do you stand out? You do not want to stand out because you have on something too low cut, too tight, too baggy, or too busy. You don't want to stand out because you wreak of your favorite smell-good. You don't want to stand out because you are dropping way too many names or personal accolades (A VERY BIG DON'T). You don't want to stand out because you are overly talkative in the waiting room as others are trying to prep and get into their necessary headspace. So make sure that your ability to stand out is covert and effortless on your part. Stand out because you are so well put together others can't help but notice. Stand out because your work was just THAT good. Stand out because another person needed a pen or some sides and you shared (never at your own detriment mind you). But never stand out because you were the president of Team Too Much...it will follow you! Trust me.
Always give a firm handshake... Ok, this may surprise or confuse some. BUT if you are auditioning for a Casting Director or the like, most do NOT like to be touched. In the days of SARS, Ebola and whatever other filth that little mosquitos seem to spread, Purel and sanitizer is more used than lotion. So most folks are very aware that germs are real and in a business where you don't get paid for sick days usually, getting germs is not okay or fun or beneficial. So keep the smiles on fleek, make firm eye contact, but unless they initiate a shake, keep your hands to yourself.
Be on time... NOPE. For anyone who has been in this business in any capacity they are aware that to be on time is to be late. If you are in any major city, planning to be "on time" can go left really fast. Whether you drive and hit an ugly accident or a patch of non-mobile traffic, or if you are a commuter by way of public transportation and there is an issue...giving just enough time in your commute to be on time may result in you being late. Or being JUST in time, with no opportunity to prepare yourself mentally for whatever is going to happen or to survey the room, the environment, get any new lines or dialogue - whatever! So to be early is to be on time and to be on time is to be LATE!
Know that you got this... No, you don't. Often times that attitude can lead to laziness, arrogance and with the slightest change of the plan, a loss of focus. What you should know is that this is what you do, therefore you are prepared and you are ready to go and kill it. If it's a meeting, you've done your homework and know who should be in the room, you have your info, you are dressed appropriately and you are ready to close that deal. If it's an audition you know your lines, have your "moment before" in mind, and you are ready to slay that mono or listen to your scene partner and murder those sides. If it's a new gig, you were hired so clearly you are where you are supposed to be. So now you can walk in confident humility and give it 110%. But the "I got this" situation can often lead to false arrogance that is a poor cloak for insecurity and fear.
Some other general dont's specifically for my auditioners... Don't wear a ton of makeup. Most people want to you the real you. A no-makeup makeup look is best. Don't walk in looking like something other than your headshot. Most times you are asked to come in due to both your resume and your headshot. So when you walk in looking like a totally different person, it can throw the casting director off. Don't wear any loud clanging accessories. It's a distraction, especially if you are one who gestures a lot. Don't go in looking like you just rolled out of bed. Comb that hair, iron it - even if it's just a t-shirt. Put a little effort into your appearance so that you folks know you care. Don't over talk your casting person or moderator. Cutting someone off is a huge bad habit that I personally have and it has bitten me in the butt more times than I care to admit. Learn from me...HUSH! The biggest don't of all though!!!! Don't forget to have fun! If this is your passion, go in there and enjoy yourself. Leave all that you have on the table, on the floor, in the room...and know that if you don't book it that's okay. That no is just one step closer to your yes and that gig that you you will book.
Go forth and conquer the world friends. But do it with finesse, spirit, integrity and a smile!