Since graduating, my acting jobs have been steadily increasing in size and profile, although my first role only had one line so that journey has been a long one, and I’m still not where I would like to be.
I have been keeping in touch with several casting directors and have had some very good castings from one in particular, where I have been down to the final two for featured roles. She has just made contact about a really big role that she really believes I can secure.
Unfortunately, the casting falls right in the middle of my mum’s wedding when I am due to be on the other side of the world giving her away, something I would hate to miss since she not only raised me on her own, but supported me all through training. My agent has tried to shift the date but there is no way.
Am I throwing my break away by letting this one go?
Since actors come in all shapes and sizes and with a wide variety of different mindsets, I am certain that if you did a survey of your peers as to what to do in this situation, you would get every possible response along the spectrum from ‘cancel everything and grab the opportunity with both hands’ to ‘family always comes first’.
My advice would be that ultimately there isn’t a right or wrong decision to be made, there is only the decision that best aligns with your own individual priorities and personality.
In terms of the professional consequences, the important thing would be to communicate whatever choice you make to all the stakeholders involved as quickly and clearly as you can, while still taking the time to weigh up the pros and cons properly.
Schedule conflicts are annoying but inevitable in our industry, and it would be a very unreasonable person to hold this one against you as long as you either do your best to work around it, or let them know as soon as possible that there isn’t a ‘workaround’ so that they can start looking for other actors.
In an industry where time is money, leaving people hanging is definitely not a good look (and for the avoidance of doubt, this applies just as much when the boot is on the other foot and it is the actor who is waiting to hear back from casting or production). From what you tell me, it looks like the ‘workaround’ option has already been explored, but do also discuss it with your mum. It sounds like she has also made a lot of sacrifices to get you through training and she might want to make this one, too.
That said, and without wanting to be negative, it would be wrong of me not to remind you that no matter how positive you, your agent or the casting director are feeling about your prospects of securing this role, any casting is only ever an opportunity rather than a guarantee.
No matter how well you perform in the room, other factors can sometimes influence a final choice. If you do decide to cancel the wedding trip and go for the audition, make sure you and your mum are in a place where you both accept the possible consequence of still not getting the part and not see it as a waste of effort.
Equally, if you decide to stick with the family plans, don’t let anyone make you feel like you are ‘not a committed actor’ or that your mum is being selfish.
This is a difficult choice. But rest assured that, attractive as the concept may be to dramatic writers, in real life it is very rare that one single choice either makes or breaks an actor’s career.
Contact careers adviser John Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org or @dearjohnbyrne
John Byrne is also a writer, cartoonist, performer and broadcaster. Read his advice columns every Wednesday at thestage.co.uk/author/john-byrne