From an Actor to an Actor
Depending on how many pilot seasons you’ve lived through, that phrase can bring you excitement or anxiety. I remember when I first moved to LA in 2003, and started as an extra, I would hear about this thing called, “Pilot Season.” It’s where people would get their big break. Actors would fly in from all over the country for this thing called, “Pilot Season.” I was told even if you didn’t have a big agent, you definitely were going to get an audition for a pilot. Whaaaa?! This is easier than I thought! I was so excited. My first pilot season went by and I didn’t get one audition. Hmmm… how does this work? Next Pilot Season comes around and I got one audition. It was for a print ad, which isn’t really an audition. It’s more just showing up. I still don’t get it. As time went on and I made more connections, because like they say, it’s not what you know but who you know, I started to get more auditions. Now here I am, eleven years later in Hollywood, getting ready to give it another go. Now when I think of Pilot Season, it tends to bring more anxiety than anything. I can sometimes have four auditions in a day. Four different characters for four different shows. A day in the life of an actor during Pilot Season may look like this: Wake up early after studying your lines all night to get to your first audition, where you play a District Attorney for a new cop show at NBC. Then drive over to CBS Radford for the quirky next door neighbor in a multi-cam sitcom. After that, drive over the hill to Sony in Culver City at 4:30pm for the one where you’re a doctor with twelve pages of medical dialogue. Then finish it off by going back over the hill to Warner Brothers at the last minute because you just got a call for this pilot about a serial killer and they are only seeing people today by 6pm. When you get home and get ready for your next day of pilot season, you can’t help but think about what you would have done differently in your auditions today or what you could have done better if you just had a little bit more time to prepare. Or a lot bit more time to prepare. Then you wait to get a call from your agent for feedback. You gave it your all. You are sleep deprived, hungry and nervous, because the pilot you really want you feel you didn’t do your best in. You were kind of excited about the quirky neighbor one, but you noticed that there was a “name actor” on the sign in sheet, so of course they’re probably gonna give it to her. More often than not, you will get a call (most likely an email) from your agent that says something like, “They liked you but are not going to move forward on this one.” Or “You did good, but you’re not quite what they are looking for.” Or “They made an offer to the name actor.”
On to the next audition and next audition. Next thing you know, you get a call back! Yay! Then you get a call from your agent, saying “They want to test you!” Whaaaaaat?! This could be the one! It’s down to you and three other actors. You know you did great, especially at the end where you improvised that one line and got a big laugh in the room. They love you. They have to pick you. Then once again you get a call from your agent, “They went with someone else.” Pilot Season is the time of year where we work our butts off, make ourselves so vulnerable and get our hopes up. It’s also the time of year where we hear and receive the most rejection. We hear “no” way more than we do “yes”. Emotionally, this is the hardest part of the year for me. I want to take this time to encourage you actors. I want to say that I know how you feel. It’s tough, but you can and will get through this. Keep working hard and keep getting your hopes up, because one day you will hear a yes, and it will all be worth it! Remember the dream you had in your heart when you first decided you wanted to be an actor. Remember how naive, how excited and how unjaded you were. Hold on to that. This is all part of our story. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Just breathe and take it one day at a time. Or one audition at a time. And if you are in the place where you are frustrated, because it seems you can’t get any auditions, I want to encourage you to keep hustling. Keep going to acting class, workshops and networking opportunities. You never know. Today could be the day where you make the relationship with someone who sees in you what you see in yourself… oh and she just so happens to be casting a new movie. You never know what the future holds, unless you are a psychic or future teller person. In that case you should probably just set up a future telling business and do that. I hear there is good money in it. As for me, I have my first pilot audition of 2014 today. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll be one and done this year. Haha! You never know. This could be the one. My life could change tomorrow, but if it doesn’t I will keep dreaming and keep going.