As an actor you don’t get to choose when you work, so you need to find the art in the detail of every job that comes your way.
You may not think a TV commercial is ‘art’, but what’s your endgame? If it’s to make a living as an actor rather than as a barista or in an office then commercials are a fantastic way to fund your career. Go to the audition, take the job and find the art in how you work the camera, how you perfect your continuity, create tension or drama where there is none or very little; hit your mark or take that direction. It may be for 30 seconds in a Sainsbury’s ad but the money you earn could mean you won’t have to work again for months, enabling you to take other jobs or take risks in other areas that will further your career. One commercial job could allow you to take that tour playing the part of a lifetime for a smaller fee, write that play, take that class, finally get the professionally edited showreel you’ve been meaning to get, or pay for your spotlight for the next… however long!
If as an actor, you embrace that you don’t get to choose, you can find your art within the limitations. It’s much better to be an out of work actor with a commercial about to air and money in the bank, than an out of work actor waiting for the right job who hasn’t been in front of a camera for the last year. You never know what the right job might be. Ridley Scott directed commercials in between features (he directed the Hovis advert just before Bladerunner and Alien). Commercials win awards too! At the very least, commercial castings give you stories to tell at your next audition, and to show the casting director that you’ve got the drive and commitment they need to make their project work. Commercials enable you to travel, work with professionals from all over the world, experience things you may never do in real life – whether extreme or mundane.
Try a year of saying yes and see where you end up. You’ll have much more interesting stories to tell when the casting director asks, “So tell me…what’ve you been up to?”
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