Acting : 10 Things I've done to help myself as an actor that you can do too! by Caitlin Burt

Caitlin Burt

10 Things I've done to help myself as an actor that you can do too!

There comes a time to reflect on how far you've come, and instead of recount jobs or accolades, I decided to reflect on the simple actions I took that have made a difference to me, that pretty much anyone can do. (none of the links below are affiliate. I just like to share my favorite resources) 1. Intensive training. I always took classes, but doing an immersive program changed things for me. I gained a better sense of my abilities across many practices, from clowning and improv to Shakespeare and scene work. I came out of it focused, confident, eager to use my skills, hungry for work and had a refreshed outlook on life. People of all ages and backgrounds studied there at the American conservatory theater in San Francisco. Many had student loans they used to do it or already lived in bay; many people like me probably worked an hourly part time job till they had a few grand banked, and then lived like a hippie couch surfer half the semester (thanks Bay friends!) 2. Constant reading of material. I read the best acting and theater books I can find, and mix in fiction, health, and my favorite, personal development. Check out my current reading material. 3. A related note: when you find a genius friend to borrow books from, return them. And try to meet his friends, cuz they're even more genius! 4. figure out your business strategy- complete with vision statement, Ideal client description, what makes you different, and goal outlines. I make and revise goal sheets all the time. Usually the beginning of a month or week I feel like asking myself what I really want to accomplish in the time frame, and come up with goals I didn't know I had, or I realize what goals that I had were unattainable in the time frame I thought would work. I also notice patterns in the types of goals I make, whether an inner goal - something I want to do, an outer goal- something I want to have, an outcome goal- something I can't really control, or a learning goal- something I have total control over. I made many more learning goals after making this distinction and accomplished much more. This process of goal re-setting makes me better at discerning goals I can reach, which builds crucial momentum. If you don't know what you want, ask yourself how you want to feel, and what things make you feel that way. Danielle Laporte is the guru on that subject. Resource: 99u is my favorite site for business, productivity and creative thinking tips. 5. Show your work! With a blog, YouTube channel or your own show or workshop, write articles. I used to journal about my experiences and insights, and hoard tons of articles and things I found useful until I wised up and started giving these things away in a published form by putting them online. Show your work by Austin Kleon is a short enjoyable book on the subject but if you have a more thorough resource tell me! 6. Team up! Do improv with your actor friends, talk about the biz and your ideas for marketing, or do like I do and read Shakespeare. It can be tough to read billy shakes on your own but there is always someone who knows him better than you, so team up with them and read together. I read with an actor friend from Cali by Skype. 7. Systems, systems. Learn how to create and utilize them. It's not something you can master straight away, but after working with systems for a time you'll get a better track record of keeping with them and then they will pretty much work for you. I have systems for getting things done, research, finance, networking. Some of my simple systems I explained on YouTube here. I have many more routines that I'll work into systems once their patterns become clear to me. I don't have a resource for making good systems but I wish I did. Feel free to comment if you have one. 8. Have a healthy practice. You need something to fall back on no matter how the career is going. For me it's being healthy (hard workouts!) being centered (meditation) being smart (idea generation) being appreciative (sit in silence) and having good relationships with everyone in my life, which is a constant give and take and cooperation. It's my hippie side coming out but it's how I stay happy, and it's a practice every day. None of it came easily or quickly but as you cultivate the mindset it grows on itself and becomes easier. You become very attuned to your environments and aware of your inner health and states of being. A blog with fantastic tips on having a good mindset is Marc and Angel. The guy who pioneered the Daily Practice to do in the face of everything else is James Altucher, who's books I've read a ton of and his blog is not to be missed. He might be the best writer on the Internet. 9. Have a mentor. This one makes me sad, because I dont have a mentor currently but if you're in the same boat there's plenty you can do in the meantime till you find one, or one finds you. For one, I value and seek the advice of older wiser people, duh. No brainer. They're happy to help you and like watching you grow and progress and take their knowledge seriously. So if any of these people come into your life do like I do and ask questions unabashedly like a little kid. I feel more comfortable being naively curious around older folks who expect that anyway. The second thing I do is pay close attention to people who's work I like, who I admire. I watch what they do and how they do it and imagine what went into their products or process. You can learn a lot this way. Robert Greene has a giant chapter on apprenticeship in his book Mastery, which is an awesome awesome book. For actors, learn from professionals who are further along than you. I took David Patrick Greene's Hack Hollywood course because I knew no professional actors who were on the path I wanted to take, which is film acting. He gives awesome advice, much of it being counterintuitive and great to know while still learning because it'll save you a lot of time and effort from doing things that aren't effective. I wrote down his greatest quotes in the many many hours of listening I did, and I still review them! His subscription is a lot cheaper than classes and you can listen while working out or painting houses like I did. It was the next best thing to having a mentor. 10. Get BOLD. my personality is part bold, and it didn't start working for me until I started using it. So if you're things isn't boldness, figure out what it is and make it work for you. Me, I cut my hair off, and it keeps getting shorter. I've never gotten so many compliments on it and I get booked and called in much more frequently than I did before I looked kinda unique. If there is an agent I want to be signed with I walk in and talk to them rather than wait for returned phone calls, because that doesn't work. I even got an interview with the Feds because I dressed up and dropped in at the right time. I was told I'm a good candidate but didn't take the test- I figured I'd make a better actor than agent. Maybe one day I'll play one ;) for now I act in police training simulations and can say I've actually trained in them. So go on, be your own superhero, accomplish all you want, and be incredible. ---from the blog of Caitlin Burt at

Amanda Toney

This is absolutely wonderful and so valuable! Thank you so much for posting

Richard "RB" Botto

Love number 4 on both lists. Perfect. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin.

Ransford Doherty

Sound advice! You aren't waiting for opportunities to happen to you and for you, you are creating opportunities for yourself! Continued boldness and success!

George Kulkov

GREAT, You are Caitlin!

Sarah Nichole Dameron

Thank you Caitlin. I was really needing to be inspired. I live in Springfield, Mo and ,because it isn't the biggest place for actors to find work, I have a tendency to become lost in thinking that I am dreaming the wrong dream, but after reading your article, I'm convinced that I do have what it takes to be a great actor, and I shouldn't give it up just because of where I am located. Thank you again =)

Jay Woodruff

I feel the same way, I've been trying so hard to get on that stepping ladder, I've started to feel like maybe this isn't what I was born to do and that maybe I should give up hope on my dream, but after reading this I've realized that so many people feel the same way and the only way to get my dream is to never give up and keep creating opportunity's for my self.

Sue Wanjiru

that is amazing advice, I will definitely put it in to consideration.

Mike Milton

Interesting and actionable advice, thanks.

Sean McPherson

Such a great article. Thanks for putting that out there!

Jeanne Young

This was inspiring, thank you. After 10 years of successfully being my own agent, establishing my brand, and gaining experience, I feel I am now ready for a partnership and want to start seeking representation. Would you suggest I walk right in their doors rather then sending them a letter? Or would that just be too bold?

Giselle Wolf

Super post. Thank you.

Caitlin Burt

Thanks for all the great feedback, guys! Jeanne, in this business, there's no such thing as too bold. Or at least if you're worried about it, you're probably not being bold enough. Don't be afraid to get out there and show initiative. The receptionist definitely frowned at me but the agent was happy to see me. Now the receptionist loves me and tried to get me work herself. Show up wherever you can, but learn how to say no to bad opportunities or you'll burn yourself out with bummer experiences.

Jeanne Young

That's really awesome that you did that Caitlin! That's like the opposite of what I've learned you "should" do, but hey, if it can work...I have no issues with being long as it does;t bite me later;) What did you say when you walked in the door...I'd love to hear specifics...if you get a chance. Thanks again for sharing! I feel inspired now!

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