This week I’m hanging out with Jessica Burrell and Jonathan Varillas, and we’re talking about successfully producing work as we get ready for Occupy the Stage with the Women’s Theatre Festival. It’s this weekend and if you have not already gotten tickets, I encourage you to come hang. The two of them are jointly starring in four shows for the event: Heart of Stone, Hope Throws Her Heart Away, Lawnpeople, and the Dementia’s Daughter. All four are works by US female playwrights on different aspects of the human experience.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this talented duo, Jessica and Jonathan met in college studying theatre and have been acting together while traveling the country and world for almost a decade. It’s a great love story, and you can follow them on Instagram @stumbleon_. They also have a travel blog about their RV adventures, which are accompanied by their cat. Have wheels will travel. Their theater body of work includes the Lost Colony, Playmakers, and many more. If you hang out with them, you can see why. I’ve been working with Jessica for Hope Gives Her Heart Away and can tell you she shows up early, memorizes her lines, and works hard. She’s also been great at marketing and has talked to several hundred people and handed out flyers for the event. Which brings me a decision I’m making to share a casting director list that came across my desk a few weeks ago. It’s by Amy Jo Berman for up-and-coming talent looking for paid bookings with a couple hundred casting directors on twitter-worthy following. A lot of them post regularly of opportunities. Her website, blog, and youtube channel are a great weekend binge to up your acting game. She’s got a great $7 guide as well.
Effective marketing has a big discussion point around the upcoming festival. I’ve found out that a lot of people find social media and getting out there pounding the pavement to be panic attack inducing. I really think that’s a perfectly normal response. Many great public speakers through the ages suffered from fear of public speaking. Self-doubt also bleeds over into most large adventures we take on in life. Sometimes your gut check can be a sign you need to change things or do something differently. What isn’t ok is when that fear prevents you from getting the things you want. This can affect women because we don’t just worry about getting attention, but too much of the wrong attention. My favorite podcast on this topic is by professional restaurant openers Tobie Nidetz and Chip Isaacson who have opened a number of successful venues. It is ok to question yourself when doing new things. But rarely does the world judge us in the same way we judge ourselves. Which is why marketing can be helpful for closing that gap. It’s also a relevant topic as online marketing has less and less organic traffic, so posting stuff on your wall doesn’t mean anyone outside your soap bubble will get to see it.
I’ve found marketing via print and online to businesses is a much better match for personal safety. Phone calls are another way to introduce yourself in order to find out who you need to meet with in a company. Most factories and agents have regular business hours, but are by appointment only. I honestly believe coffee shops exist solely for this reason–so people can safely introduce themselves to strangers and share a little about their business But however you decide to do it, marketing yourself…telling your story… is what tends to move the needle forward. I spent the first 10 years of my career waiting to be good enough at my technique for someone to pick me. It was only later I realized, no matter what teams you play on in life, you have to pick yourself first. Don’t wait on others to come up with a reason to hire you; market your skills and knowledge with confidence. Because that’s when the magic happens.