Unemployable?

  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    Hi all, feeling a bit down at the moment as I just feel that every door is closed to me at the moment. As you may know from the odd posting from me, I've been out of Mountview since 1996 now. I've got the odd job here and there, but always chasing agents to come and see me in stuff, without success. At a rough estimate in the last decade or so I've written about 1400 letters to that effect. To date, I've had two interviews from that lot. The most recent, early this month. I've just rang them up as I hadn't heard back. They said that they don't feel they could get me work.

    Which makes me think that, if they can't get me any work, what chance have I got on my own?

    I send off for jobs both in Castweb and CCP, about two a week. The last casting I got from an application was a year ago.

    I look at my C.V. and practically all of it is work with my own theatre company, or things that I got from knowing the people involved, or one-person shows that I've written myself.

    But that counts for nothing in a casting director's eyes if it isn't one of the larger theatres or a network TV credit.

    So the conclusion I come to is that you need one of the things off this list to get a paid casting:

    1. A high profile agent

    2. One good credit

    3. A good industry contact

    4. Be a recent graduate

    5. NOT be a caucasian brunette

    6. Have a regional accent

    Afraid I can't tick any boxes!

    And the agents know that. They're not stupid. they know how a casting director's mind works.

    So I've come to the conclusion that I'm just umemployable.

    But hey, given the quality of the stuff out there- is that all bad? I'm going to concentrate on my writing and my production company and just do my own stuff from now on.

    Forget about agents as they're not going to help me. Think of the postage I'll save!

    • 5th Jun 2007
    • 3012
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  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    I do understand what you are saying:

    But perhaps you have some more options open:

    1) Get someone in the profession such as Phil Shaw or someone to give your entire approach and the agents you are writing to the once over. In a way- restructure and refocus your career-

    let me explain this:

    I love musical theatre with a passion, but in my mind, I am seen as a classical actor with a good singing voice. This means that I am not your regular MT person. I can verifty this by saying that even my temperament is to brooding, intense and URGENT than the usual fare of light, fluffy MT people I have seen.

    Furthermore, i have also seen that I get GREAT feedback as a classical actor ( even if I do not get the job) andit seems that this is the door that is opening to me. I started wanting one thing and ended up as another.

    I am NOT saying I will never do musicals, but I do know that in general, I am taken more seriously in other ways. Therefore capatalising on one aspect of me has led to serious deficiencies in others.

    I first got to the UK and was cast as a lead in a fringe production of a classical play. I turned it down for something more shallow....

    I then got PYGMALION etc...and then the cruise ship incident this year-

    but that did the trick to get me out of musicals for a while and although there is a slight refocus of my direction ( and I would happily do a musical if offered it- and love it) I feel more fulfilled and as if I have something to bring to the work that is noted and taken seriously.

    This relates to you in that you are a skilled entrepeneur with an ability many would die for, and few really have- your own work being presented.

    USE THIS!!! Get your one woman shows on the fringe etc and invite agents and casting directors to see you. You have a special quality. And because yo are older( sorry, but thats a fact), unless you market yourself as a charcetr or a tough lead, you wont work. There are not enoughy roles for women.

    You need to go down this route, it seems. You have all the potential in the world it seems, and something unique that many dont have. Stop attempting to do it "their" way. Go out there and write, put on your plays, get a PR agent, and push it that way. If you start a production company for plays, star in them and create hype--- I can guarantee you that many agents in their shallowness will be at your door and you may be spoilt for choice, especially if the play is a hit.

    Thats my personal opinion, but its a morte exciting journey than the same old, same old.

    I see you as employable ( but not in the USUAL way) My housemate trained as an actor muso, he cant get a job and formed his own band with new orchestrations etc...he is getting there slowly...

    xx

    PS... an industry person once said to me that there are some really smart agents, and soem very stupid agents. In your case, there is potential waiting to be discovered-- and I am not being false about this...If I was an agent ( thank goodness I am not) I would have happily taken you on.

    • 24th May 2007
    • 1
  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    You are so right Blake about looking at things from another angle. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm in my thirties (taken me 5 years but I got there in the end!)and in a funny way I thought that getting older would be enough to make me saleable.

    Perhaps I can't see all the options open to me, and I need someone to give me a fresh perpective on my "product".

    But I've had a long hard think these last few hours.

    It's made me more more determined to get back in touch with why I came into this profession in the first place. It sounds corny but it was to "make a difference". To move people, make them think.

    And if the roles aren't out there, then I just darn well better get writing them. I've already started to adapt a one- woman show for radio, with my sights on the afternoon play on radio 4. I've heard other actors performing their own work on that slot and I want in. If I can get in the loop as far as writing is concerned then I have a little more clout when it comes to pitching ideas with my production company. And there are sooo many ideas bubbling away...

    And if you ever become an agent Blake, you know who to call!

    x

    • 24th May 2007
    • 2
  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    IF I became an agent, I would certainly treat people with respect and courtesy, but I think you have to be quite hard and tough and to a degree insensitive to be an agent. I am not those- and sitting all day in an office would kill me.

    But its good to see you are back on the saddle. Its funny, isnt it?

    I have just been cast as Richard the II for a small production for World Refugee Day, and people AGAIN, take me serioulsy from this angle-- so I must be doing something right.

    Reemmeber that Pauline Collins had SHIRLEY VALENTINE written for her by Willy Russel, as was BLOOD BROTHERS for Barbara Dickson.

    They are definitive in those roles ro a large degree.

    In SA, its a given that people make their own work, but its harder in the UK.

    But ten years of perseverance and focus means that you have the chops for the long haul. Remember that the longer yu are in, the less competition.... so your writing will put you a step above those who leave the profession.

    Good luck

    XXX

    • 24th May 2007
    • 3
  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    That's great news- I think you've found your calling, Blake (Richard II, not being an agent!)Going with the flow and seeing where the castings take you. Sounds like a good idea.

    Have a great time with it!

    x

    • 24th May 2007
    • 4
  • User Deleted

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    My dear Sharon

    (if I'm aloud to call you that.)

    My heart goes out to you and I wish I could be of help. I know the struggle you've had and During your time at Mountview because like me you had your grant cut from under you when you got your place. It was good to see that you didn't give up then and you still haven't If Bloody good for you. If I can do any thing, in any small, let me know.

    Wishing you all the best as I would hope sometimes someone would do for me.

    Leigh Haywood.

    • 24th May 2007
    • 5
  • Jonas Daniel Alexander

    Actor

    my heart also goes out to you - feel exactly the same way - agentless, writing letters by the bucket load - and still - nothing - i think i need a whole new perspective and re-think too......... you are far from alone - i promise you that

    • 24th May 2007
    • 6
  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    Thanks guys, it's reassuring (in a perverse way, I know) that I'm not alone. And Leigh, great to hear from you! That scholarship audition was a long time ago now!

    I think that the whole affair with not getting a grant gave me the iron will that I needed, so everything happens for a reason. Deferring my place for a year was good on so many levels, as it turned out.

    Someone once tried to tell me, in his usual oblique way that I should focus on my writing. Maybe now if I give it the attention it deserves, acting opportunities might follow, and I can really try and make that difference.

    Wow, I've not been this fired up for ages!

    Big hugs all round... and I really should be getting to bed- it's past 1am!

    • 25th May 2007
    • 7
  • User Deleted

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    Sounds like going back to your motivations is exactly the right thing to do. Can you 'move people and make them think' without having an agent? Of course you can. Writing and producing your own stuff gives you a huge head-start - in fact, it's as if you have the use of a helicopter, but want to drive even though the roads are congested. (Apologies for the awful analogy).

    I'm just starting in the same direction (depite just turning 37). I've written and directed one play, and intend to do more of the same. I'm simply not prepared to hang around for other people to tell me when (or if) I can work.

    Best of luck. It'd be great to hear what you get up to.

    • 25th May 2007
    • 8
  • Jonas Daniel Alexander

    Actor

    yeah - i've reently started writing lots of stuff and one thing is getting produced - as well as i am meeting with other actors helping set up our own theatre company and performance group - why should we wait around to be employed - being pro-active is a good thing people :-)

    BIG hugs to all xx

    • 25th May 2007
    • 9
  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    I believe Blake has given you some great advice taken from his own experience.

    To add to that, if you are focussing on only one aspect of the 'job', the one you feel most comfortable in, then why not open yourself up to ALL the possible aspects of acting work? Corporate roleplay, murder mystery events, patient simulation etc are all available AND pay (usually) better rates than stage work!

    It's a hard business, yes. But not an impossible one. YOU ARE NOT UNEMPLOYABLE! It's just that those employers you have previously tried to get work through are either too damned busy to take another CV into account or too damn stupid to listen to someone who is genuinely passionate about performing!

    I hope that you are an Equity member. If you are there are many new and exciting opportunities opening up which will put you in line for good quality properly paid work. Just get along to your local Branch meeting and get into the networking that goes on there. You will meet the people who you need to meet there. Those that ARE working!

    The more you mingle with positive elements of our business the more positive you become!

    I'll be watching out for you in 'Eastenders'!

    • 25th May 2007
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  • Blake J Askew

    Actor

    And Alan is also right. I would also add that you need to do what all of us have to- try and silence those voices that echo in our ears, either repeating the words others spoke over us about how good or bad we are- both can torment-

    BAD- ie I will never make it.

    GOOD- I had such potential, what has happened?

    Despair is VERY hard to fight, but not impossible.

    I knopw a dancer who is ONLY taken seriously as a singer who dances- NOT a dancer- and she is GOOD.

    And I will begin the Equity meeetings as well. If you want, PM me and i will give the number of a great friend who can help you with ltterheads etc, custom designed for you, and your personality- I got mine back today, and it was uncanny how ME it is. people who cut you down need to be eradiated from your life, stick around industry people who bring hope and a sense of life. Anything else is going to cause gloom, doom and despair and the courage in this is a step in itself. I have been through it, and still am, so am well qualified to speak about it.

    • 25th May 2007
    • 11
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    One thing that might help is to raise your profile by promoting what you are doing.

    A few artists I've worked with have found that if Casting Directors recognise a name..even if they do not remember why..they will be seen.

    • 25th May 2007
    • 12
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Hi Sharon

    Just wanted to send my sympathy and to say keep persevering and there's nothing wrong with writing, producing and appearing in your own stuff - heck, I wish I was able to do that. Keep doing what you're doing and also take on board what others have said - try for different things and see where that leads.

    Wishing you all the best.

    • 25th May 2007
    • 13
  • User Deleted

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    I would like to dedicate this poem to those who are discouraged at times with this profession, love magsxx

    The Will To Win

    If you want a thing bad enough

    To go out and fight for it,

    Work day and night for it,

    Give up your time and your peace and

    your sleep for it

    If only desire of it

    Makes you quite mad enough

    Never to tire of it,

    Makes you hold all other things tawdry

    and cheap for it

    If life seems all empty and useless without it

    And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,

    If gladly you'll sweat for it,

    Fret for it, Plan for it,

    Lose all your terror of God or man for it,

    If you'll simply go after that thing that you want.

    With all your capacity,

    Strength and sagacity,

    Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,

    If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,

    Nor sickness nor pain

    Of body or brain

    Can turn you away from the thing that you want,

    If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,

    You'll get it!

    -- Berton Braley

    • 25th May 2007
    • 14
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    I know exactly how you're feeling at the moment, i too am the same! I had a mini breakdown the other day (it only lasted the day!) and started wondering why i'm in in this professions and if it was worth it etc...it is so hard to stay motivated at times,especially when you find out you didnt get a job you really really wanted. Just the way it goes i know but it does get you down at times. I just try to think now, what will be will be so chin up and you'll get there in the end : ) xx

    • 25th May 2007
    • 15
  • User Deleted

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    Hi Sharon,

    Please don't ever give up. I'm struggling at the moment and I have a good agent. Sometimes I feel hindered by my agent. He's not too keen on me sending out my own letters. I get really impatient and want to contact people myself. Sometimes I think the best person to sell your talents....IS YOU!

    I'm 48yrs old and am finding it hard to find parts. Whenever I see a casting call, they are always looking for women up to 45yrs old or 60+. We must never give up. We don't know what is around the corner and if we give up now, we might just miss the boat. Keep your chin up and if ever you get fed-up send me a private e-mail and we can slag the world off together.

    Take care

    Love Alex. xxxx

    • 25th May 2007
    • 16
  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    You guys are the best! Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to send out advice and hugs, and I'm sending big ones back!

    I'm just putting the finishing touches to my radio play (with a strong lead role for a 35 year old actress, coincidently! That will be going out to the relevant people very soon. My partner and I are putting the finishing touches to a T.V. Pilot which we're hoping for big things... what am I worried about? Agents will be forming an orderly queque just you wait!

    I'm going to look at paid jobs as a bonus, not a divine right.

    Sometimes you just have to find the bottom so you've got something to launch from.

    I've been so negative, but I've got so much to be positive about.

    If anything happens, then you'll all be the first to know! (though probably after my mum)

    xx

    • 25th May 2007
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Atta girl Sharon! And how brilliant everyone one is in this green room!

    Loads a luv

    XXX

    • 25th May 2007
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  • Paul Newbery

    Actor

    All great advice Sharon and it'll make you gutsier.I'm glad you're re-focused and working with the windows that are open for you at the moment.Keep focused on them until the others creak open.I think you and EVERYONE are incredible on here.I was very very sick in hospital last year and have made a 100% physical recovery and The Green Room,reading previous posts etc has given me back my drive and has been such an inspiration to me i can't put it into words.Thankyou all from the bottom of my heart.Don't you ever give up.

    • 26th May 2007
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