After 11 years of being a professional acrobat, here are 6 bits of advice that I wish someone told me before I started down my entertainment path!
1. Develop a network of friends in the industry. It is totally possible to earn everything you have just on your talent, but things become easier when people already know and trust you. You are going to see this time and time again. The person who is familiar and guarantees a smooth and professional backstage experience will get the job over the uberly talented unknown person.
2. Don’t burn bridges. You never know when a person or company is going to catch a break or get an awesome show to cast. Don’t be left out in the dark because you mouthed off one time or double-booked yourself and didn’t handle it properly. Always tread carefully!
3. Know it's OK to say “no.” “No” is not a cuss word in our industry. It is always OK to turn down a show. What is not OK is to lie about the reason why you turn the show down. Companies/Agents don’t like being lied to. If you are booked, tell them. If it’s not enough money, tell them. If you are hurt, tell them. HOWEVER, always do it professionally and politely!
4. Don’t show up hurt. I guess this should really be “don’t show up hurt without telling someone first.” When you are hired, you are hired with all expected abilities. Don’t think that you can fake it or pop the surprise on them at the last minute. It will be the one time they need you to do the move you never thought you would have to do. Or, the one time they need you to jump down six feet onto concrete…and your ankle is sprained. Even if they didn’t notice you were hurt, do you really want them to remember your performance at less than 100%?
5. Sit down, shut up, and soak it in. The best way to learn is to listen to the vets and soak in their knowledge. They have years of experience to offer. Use this new “hands-on” info to better yourself. Along the same line, you may be awesomely talented, but you don’t know anything about the industry. Be humble!
6. Give back. Once you have learned a little and applied your own experience, help the new guys out. Point them in the right direction, show them where to look for work, and tell them what they should avoid saying out loud! Someone surely did this for you once…so, you should pay it forward!