I recently worked with a phenomenal comedic actor who had been faced with a problem. A couple of years ago, Rob Schneider was the star of the CBS sitcom ‘Rob’. For any other network, 10-13 million viewers per episode would be huge, but CBS has high expectations of their sitcoms, and they pulled the show after one season due to ‘low ratings’.
After having a TV show cancelled, almost every other lead actor in the history of television has simply walked away and waited for the next job. It would be easy for Rob to have justified doing just this, or becoming a victim, or even, as many do, falling into a ‘woe is me’ depression.
As an actor, it’s easy to fall into the victim mentality with your career. “they’re only hiring names”, “my agent isn’t getting me out” “we shouldn’t have to pay to meet casting directors”. Many actors talk as though the industry is against them and often refer to how ‘unfair’ it all is.
And those actors are completely correct. The film and TV industry IS unfair! Yes, producers will often hire a bankable name if it will make them more money than hiring you. Yes, your agent could probably be doing more for you. And yes, it does suck that most actors have to spend thousands of dollars a year to meet casting directors.
So, now we’ve cleared that up, you have two choices:
1. Sit around with your actor friends and complain about it, validating your plight with evidence and examples of why you aren’t being given a fair go.
2. Accept it, and fight your way forward anyway.
Your complaints are 100% valid. The question is: how are you going to make sure you succeed in spite of all these challenges?
When faced with the challenge of having his show cancelled, Rob Schneider gathered his strength, gathered his friends, gathered the finance, and put everything he had into creating and producing his own newer, funnier, better ‘Rob’-centric sitcom than the CBS show.
Not producing the show with a big TV network meant more freedom with dirty, silly jokes and inappropriate references that could make the show even more hilarious. Creating it himself meant cutting huge costs because he was the most expensive line item in the budget. It meant he could ask his actor friends to help out with their time, and his industry friends to connect him to myriad other resources.
Rob Schneiders’ new show ‘Real Rob’ premiered on Netflix worldwide December 1st, and it is hilarious (I personally mimed some things no person should ever mime). He took what could have been a career blow, and turned it into a massive accomplishment and himself into a TV show creator.
It sounds scary, taking things into your own hands… You’re not a filmmaker (yet), how could you possibly make a web series, or write a TV show, or create a film? Well, I have some news for you…
You are a storyteller. We all are. Our job is to make people laugh… to perform for them… to enhance the human experience by allowing the viewer to live vicariously through our tales, our characters, our life lessons we feel compelled to share.
You are an entrepreneur. You are already running (producing) your own business. You know dialogue and character, which can come in handy when writing a screenplay. Think of how many cast and crew you already know who can guide you, help out, and introduce you to any number of the right people along the way.
You already have the resources and basic skills to write a killer script and to gather a team to create something imperfectly beautiful. It doesn’t have to be perfect… A funny or die skit, a short film, a series of vine videos, or even a new web series!
You have it in you to take your career into your own hands and create your own work. So, do something right now… the second you finish reading this post. Pick up a pen, take out your laptop, send that email or make a phone call and get started creating your own project – this minute. Don’t think fifty steps ahead to how you’ll end up making it… those answers will come in time. Just start now.
Tina Fey did it, Ed Burns did it, Rob Schneider did it, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did it… they were all just like you. Sure they weren’t ready… scared to get started… scared to write that first word or show their script to anyone.
The only difference is they did it anyway…
And I promise, my creative, amazing, actor friend…
I promise you can too.
By Kym Jackson