A Dallas actress posted the following on Facebook this week:
It’s frustrating that I’m always sharing audition information with others but they don’t ever seem to share the ones they know about with me. Should I stop doing that?
I can relate to this issue. At times I have questioned the value of helping others instead of solely focusing on myself. Usually those are darker moments influenced by anxiety over lack of work and auditions or by distress over financial struggles. But I seem to always return to wanting to help others simply because it’s within my reach.
The motives for helping others vary from actor to actor. Some actors may use helping others as an escape from dealing with their own issues and circumstances. Some actors may see it as a pay-it-forward move or as a way to create good karma. Maybe helping others is your way of networking. Whatever the reason, take a moment to determine what’s driving you to want to help others.
If your help comes with a condition, even an invisible one only you can see, the likelihood that you will experience frustration associated with your help will increase. It’s setting people up to fail. You offer the help as you naturally do and when the other person doesn’t offer any help back, he or she failed to meet expectations of yours they didn’t know existed.
Let’s say you are upfront about your expectations of the other actors you help. You tell them about a gig and you mention to them that they should do the same. In an ideal world, they will. This is not an ideal world. They may forget. They may get distracted. If it’s not a habit they have cultivated on their own, helping you discover a suitable role is an anamoly in their world. It’s a deviation from the norm. On the flip side, if they have developed habits as a giving actor, they will find ways to be giving to their peers in all kinds of ways that go far beyond sending you a link to a role with casting specs you fit.
I have the pleasure of working with and associating with plenty of giving actors here in Texas. As I reflect on their finest qualities, a list quickly begins forming. What I will share with you now are the 10 signs that tell me someone is a giving actor.
10 Signs of the Giving Actor
1. Promoting the work of others
2. Giving constructive feedback
3. Praising peers openly online or in public
4. Writing letters of recommendation
5. Offering rides to auditions/shoots
6. Avoiding gossip and negativity
7. Inspiring whenever possible
8. Problem-solving with others
9. Making time to rehearse with others
10. Sharing suitable casting notices
Take another look at the last item on the list. Being a giving actor does not mean giving away your potential roles. You will face enough competition in this business, regardless of the type of work you seek or the market in which you do it. Protect your audition information, and share only the roles that you don’t want or don’t fit. Otherwise, you might end up removing the “actor” from your Giving Actor title.