A man approaches a woman in a coffee shop. She looks slightly shocked, then relaxes and smiles at him. He sits down and they proceed to talk. Without warning, the woman quickly grabs her purse and runs out of the building. What happened?
As humans, we would naturally make an inference. Maybe we would assume he said something hurtful. Maybe we would assume she got an urgent call. Maybe we would wonder if the food is bad and rethink scarfing down the plate in front of us. The point here is that our experience is all about our perception! Your career as a talent is no different. How you perceive what is happening around you is likely different than how the casting director, agent, or manager might perceive the same event.
Where a talent might think: I'm really serious about this business. The industry professional might think, Her actions suggest this is a hobby and she only does it when she feels like it. When was the last time she did something proactive to advance her career?
Where the talent might think: I've been working long enough in this business that I should be treated much better than other actors and given special priviledges. Look at how much I've done!, the industry professional perceives, Best not to trust this loose cannon with my client. An attitude like that could really hurt my reputation. We'll pass.
Where the talent thinks: I like my headshot. My mom like my headshot and so do my friends. The industry professional has made it clear that this headshot is out of date . . . not flattering to what you have to offer as a talent . . . is ok for extra work.
The talent could be thinking: There's nothing wrong with my attitude. If they want great acting, they'll hire me. It doesn't matter what I do off camera, as long as I'm a good actor in front of the camera. What the industry is really thinking, however, is: Who wants to pay for a cesspool of negativity and an over-inflated ego? We want people around us who are going to make production problems less stressful and who don't need to be babysat.
When the talent says: Sorry, I'm late! or Sorry, I didn't check my email; return your phone call; etc., the industry hears is, I don't want the job bad enough to bother being responsible. We'll be polite, but the job will go to a responsible and responsive talent instead.
I have enough training and know what I'm doing, the talent thinks. What the industry perceives is this talent shows a lack of business savvy. If a star making 20 million on a picture sees the need for training, an out of work actor should get the hint.
If we as industry professionals had a dime for every time we heard, Another actor said I should . . . Unless that actor is an established celebrity, no one other than your agent and/or manager should be advising your career needs. Taking advice from another actor is like asking for help financial planning from someone standing in the umemployment line.
Every negative here that stands in the way of a career can be changed. Some of the needed changes are simple and quick, such as getting a proper resumé. Others require behavior modification and more time, such as changing a negative personality. Don't be your own worst enemy.
Work everyday on the "perceptions" category so they don't ultimately and fatally sabotage you. Heed what "The Industry" thinks and feels about you. They make the decisions and they do the hiring. You're the one that they really want to hire, right? Show them why!
First, start by telling us. If you can't identify why someone wants to work with you, you won't know how to sell yourself in the casting or audition setting. How are you perceived?