Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Creating an Action Plan

Everyone does it differently. Some people do it fast. Others take their time and never get satisfaction.

I’m talking about becoming a working actor, of course. From the moment you say to yourself, “I want to be an actor,” there are a million ways to go after that goal. There is no one path to the top – everyone’s view of the top is different anyway. For some, it’s achieving fame and recognition. For others, it’s working with the big names. For me, it was doing what I love and getting paid for it.

How did I go from square one to my current humble state of success? I like to say I did it the MIT way, which means I was smart about it. My entire journey has been guided by one word – focus. I believe becoming a working actor is a marathon, not a sprint. Success comes from planning your route, pacing yourself, and dealing with obstacles, all while headed toward your end goal.

So here’s how I did it. And if I can do it, so can you.

Teresa’s MIT-influenced Method for Creating an Action Plan
  1. Make a list of all the things you want from this career. Don’t hold back – put everything you can think of on it. From the general – “I want to act in commercials” or “I want to do radio voiceovers” – to the specific – “I want to work on a Joss Whedon project” or “I want to be invited to an award show gifting suite and get free swag!” Let it all out – this is your dream list – go for the moon!

  2. Choose two of the more general items from this list that you want to work toward first. (You can work on the gifting suite goal after you’ve gotten your first paid job.)

  3. Create a list of short-term goals for each item. Steps that will help you reach that long-term goal. Break it down as much as you can. If you want to act in feature films, your short-term goal list might include taking an on-camera acting class, reading a book about film acting, trying to work in student films to gain experience, doing background on feature films to learn what happens on set, etc.

  4. Look at your two lists and choose one to tackle first. Yep, just one. I know it may be hard to decide, but trust me, it will pay off.

  5. Refine your remaining short-term goals list and give each item a deadline. By the end, your list will look like this – Read a book about film acting every two months. Work on 5 student films by the end of the year. Do at least 1 background acting job a month.

  6. Voila! You have your action plan! Type it up or write it on a nice piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror so you can see it every day. Check your progress against this list regularly. Have you signed up for that on-camera acting class yet? Have you been submitting yourself every day to get those student film auditions? By focusing single-pointedly on this list, you can rack up small successes that keep driving you forward, plus keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed.
Like I said, this is only one way to do it, but I think it works. Try it and let me know how it works for you. Better yet, post your action plan below! The more people you share it with, the more people can support you and hold you accountable.
I met a girl once who told me her action plan for becoming an actor was going to the Skybar every night until she met a producer who wanted to put her in a movie. How do you think that turned out for her?


  1. You inspire me Teresa, you really do. Can't wait to meet you in person someday!


  2. You're amazing. I can't thank you enough for all of the mentoring. I would imagine that this advice is incredibly helpful to ANYONE in pursuit of life-long happiness. I'm working on my action plan!! Show and tell on Fridaaaay! ;-)


  3. I get it.. I have to narrow down my action plan... lol.. i have so much on it... To pick one thing... Hmmmmmm