I’m sitting backstage at the Eclectic Company Theater waiting for the show I’m currently doing to finish for the evening. I haven’t had to wait this long since I played Lane in that production of The Importance of Being Earnest back in 2006. Don’t get me wrong, waiting is not a bad thing. Because I’m not on stage again until the curtain call, I have time to get things done… such as writing this or sending out emails related to a rehearsal I’m directing tomorrow.
Despite what the finished product looks like, in TV & film actors spend a lot of time waiting — waiting for cameras to be moved, marks to be spiked, lights to be placed, and so on. (It’s not as bad in theatre, depending on the size of your role) Again, this is a good thing, because as actors, we’re the public face of a project and usually one of the last links in a long chain of talented people bringing a vision to life. Now that can change if you’re also producing or directing stuff as well (and, these days, we all should be), but that is why waiting should not just be sitting around until someone tells you what to do. It’s a great time to be productive, whether it’s running lines for a scene, answering snail or e-mail, returning phone calls (as long as it doesn’t disrupt what’s going on around you), you name it. As actors we’re also salespeople and small business owners and thus, by nature of the industry, always looking for the next job… regardless of what level of success we’re already at.
So the next time you’re working background on a TV show or playing Spear Carrier #2 in a production of Julius Caesar do yourself and your career a favor and figure out what still needs to get done and do it if you can. And there’s always something…