I received a letter of advice from an influential friend today. It went like this:-
I know you may find this hard to believe but I’m actually old enough to have been around when there were no mobile phones!
I remember very clearly when I decided to get my first mobile. They had been on the market for a few years and people were slowly getting hold of them. I had resisted getting one because I thought, ‘I don’t need one.’
Then one day my agent rang and said, ‘I have a great audition for you in Glasgow.’ I was based in London so it was a bit of a journey up North but worth it for the audition.
So I got on the train and went all the way to Glasgow, I did a great audition and then hopped on the train to come back to London. After seven hours on the train up and then seven hours on the way back, I was glad to get back to my flat in London that night.
When I got in, I saw there was a message on the answer machine. It was my agent again. ‘Brian, they loved you. They want to see you again tomorrow if you can.’ He had called about an hour after the audition while I was still in Glasgow.
To say I was slightly peeved is an understatement.
So, the next day I got a mobile.
There is a very important lesson in all this: as an actor, you MUST be contactable. You should check your phone and email at least three times a day – 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. You have to get back that day to anyone who contacts you – the quicker the better. If you don’t, opportunities can slip through your fingers or you may have to make an unnecessary fourteen-hour round trip!
The amount of aspiring actors and established actors that don’t do this is staggering. Remember, you are in business. As an actor, you are a small business and you must be on call at all times.
To your acting success!
While I have never travelled beyond London and the surrounding areas to attend an audition, I agree with many of Brian’s sentiments and his experience. While I am also old enough to recall a time when mobile ‘phones first appeared in the marketplace, it was a decade before I actually bought my first cellphone. Up to that point, I had no need for one, plus, they were notoriously over-priced. I wasn’t an actor back in the mid-1980s but was working freelance so probably could have made use of a mobile ‘phone. And because I couldn’t afford one, I missed out on many work opportunities. But as I said, they were notoriously over-priced. I would argue they still are but the fact they are more akin to the Star Trek Tricorder these days, makes the price worth paying (though still I think they could be cheaper).
Being contactable is something of a no-brainer. One only has to Google my name to see the vast links across the Web and Social Media and the many ways someone could contact me. That aside, I constantly check my email accounts and messages via my smartphone many more times than Brian does but 10:00am 1:00pm and 4:00pm are good intervals but as I work in an increasingly global environment, I am constantly on call as it were. I had someone State-side email me last weekend to see if I had read his script and listened to the music associated with his show. So for me, it is a 24/7 working environment and existence. My office is mobile and goes everywhere I go, whether it is via my mobile smartphone or a computer tablet. They are the components of my office and and like the White House machinery they go wherever this CEO goes.
Yet, it is (as Brian says,) staggering how many established and aspiring actors don’t realise any of the above. As actors, we are professionals and CEOs of our own destiny. I am CEO of two organisations as well as being an Actor so understand the need to be available and contactable at a moments notice. Some may find what I do a drag but unlike a job that starts at 9 and ends at 5, I actually love and enjoy the fact that my work doesn’t necessarily have a start nor a finishing time. I enjoy the fluidity of my working life and the fact my creativity and work patterns are not constrained to any Work/Lifestyle Model but one – Namely my own. The one I created for myself.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I no longer do those things that displease me. I am open for business and available no matter what time zone you are located in. I am contactable any time, any place, anywhere.