Flower Garden

The Social Network

I‘m not talking about the movie. I’m talking about our own, personal social network: the circle of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances that we are in contact with in one way or another every day. 

Being a successful actor is one of those crafts that is highly dependent on other people. Sure, you could perform your own self-written/directed/produced one-person play all by yourself in your bedroom to a collection of antique china dolls, but that kinda defeats the purpose of the whole thing. After all, movies, plays and TV shows are created for other human beings to enjoy and it takes a whole bunch of people to make it happen. And how do you find those people to work with? Networking.

What is networking?

Well, for one, it shouldn’t be a dirty word. But, if it does make you bristle, I totally understand. Personally, I am a very private person. I occasionally struggle with agoraphobia and I can be very nervous in large crowds of people – even when that crowd has people I know in it. But, I have come to understand that being mindful of my own personal social network is vital for my growth as a human being and in turn my rate of success as an actor. 

Now, I’m not talking about being a sycophant or acquiring some sort of weird entourage. I’m talking about actively participating in the industry around you. Take classes, go to seminars, go out and support your friends in their shows, go to parties, hold dinners or gatherings at your own home. Make an effort to get to know the people around you. Become interested in their lives and their work. Practice remembering peoples names and what they talk about. If you meet/know someone who you’d like to work with ask them to come and play with you. That might mean writing a short video sketch or scene for both of you and setting it up. Or producing a show together. Even something as simple as letting them know you like their work and offering your help on anything they are working on. I think showing support for your fellow actors and their careers is a fantastic way to stay humble and develop a strong network of like-minded individuals.

Let me be clear, I don’t mean “pretending” to be interested in the people around you, be as selective and as genuine as you can be. I’m not encouraging you to be fake and to show false-support just to build a circle of friends, most of us can see through that behavior anyway. I’m simply suggesting that you tend to your social and professional circle much in the same way you would a small garden (and for this analogy we will pretend we all have green thumbs!): Fawn over the plants that have potential and that deserve your attention and do what you can to keep the weeds out.

In a sense I am also saying: give what you lack. If you are in shows that don’t have a good audience turn-out consider how much you go out and see shows by your friends. Chances are you don’t. It is a great feeling to be supported and it inspires the desire to do the same in return. So, if you want a strong support system, go out and be a cheerleader for your fellow performers – it will come back ten-fold. By being interested and involved in the community around you people will take notice and pretty soon you’ll find yourself immersed in your very own social network.

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About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

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