At 1:06 pm today, someone at my Dallas agent’s office sent an email informing all actors on the roster about the availability of talent meetings with a well known casting director in the South. These aren’t auditions, but the CD created space for 30 total actors over the course of four days in October. How much time do you think you would have had to make a decision?
59 minutes later a followup email message arrived stating all the slots were full. In fact, they filled up in 10 minutes. All 30 slots! Keep in mind, my Dallas agent wasn’t the only one in the region contacting talent.
If you happened to get the message immediately and responded immediately, without thinking, you may have secured a spot. For the bulk of us who might not have seen the message for more than 10 minutes, the opportunity was already gone. That’s the fast-paced world in which actors exist.
In an ideal world, we would all have time to consider all of the variables in play. For actors in Texas and most of the Gulf Coast states, there would be travel out-of-state required and that expense, of course, comes out of your own pocket. All four options were on a Tuesday, either late morning or mid-afternoon, so whether you could drive in or had to fly there would be another thing to consider.
The truth is, your reaction time gets tested a lot in this business. Lingering to make a decision is rarely acceptable and certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in others. Sure, if you’re offered a role you will have time to consider the shoot schedule and other demands. But you’ll often find yourself in situations when someone wants an answer as soon as possible.
I am accustomed to that need for a quick response. When an agent sends me an audition request by email, I aim to reply within minutes with a Yay or Nay. If declining, I am prepared to explain why I can’t make that audition, such as a scheduling conflict with another audition or a booking.
The no-time-to-think situation also comes up for me when a live gig producer emails to ask about my availability for a particular day and time. There is urgency here because the producer is dealing with a client regarding the booking details and wants to make sure he or she has the talent available to tentatively begin the booking process. In this case, I consider myself “on hold” for those days and times, but I certainly don’t want to impede the producer’s ability to quickly finalize the booking by not responding immediately.
Whether you’re at the beginning of your acting career or you have a year or two under your belt, consider the speed in which you tend to reply to requests now. Is there room for improvement? If you find yourself taking hours or even days to reply, your level of professionalism is already suffering and could be impacting your ability to get auditions and create momentum.
I know you’ve heard the phrase, speed kills. It doesn’t kill a career as long as it’s quick speed in your communication with peers. Making that one of your new acting priorities could lead to lot more opportunities and create stronger relationships faster than ever.