3 min read

Becoming More Castable

It's frustrating, but getting cast isn't something we can completely control. The entertainment industries aren't meritocracies. Success in these arenas comes down to considerable chance. 

Sure, we can control being at our best — actor-wise and acting-wise — but that's about it. The rest is down to a vast constellation of independent variables our brain simplifies by lumping together under the banner of "luck". Again, the entertainment industries aren't meritocracies.

If you're thinking, "Hey! The Dojo is supposed to be about actor empowerment! What's empowering about this?", we got 'chu. Fortunately, there are ways we can increase the surface area for Lady Luck to strike us. 

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Some concepts

Impatient Dojo homies (hi, friends 👋🏼) may wish to skip straight to the practical takeaways, but for those who'd like a little peak under the conceptual hood, here are the three theories our suggestions are based on:

  • Luck Surface Area. This term was coined by Jason Roberts, who described it thusly: "Your Luck Surface Area is directly proportional to the degree to which you do something you're passionate about combined with the total number of people to whom this is effectively communicated".[1] Essentially, luck = doing x telling.
  • Know, Like, Trust framework. We've written about this here, but for the TL;DR version, the Know, Like, Trust (KLT) framework describes the evolution people experience with new products, services, or companies — or, in our case, us as actors. That is, typically, we have to know about something before we decide to like it and like it before we decide to trust it.
  • Lant's Rule of Seven. As it says on the tin, this theory was developed by a guy named Lant — Dr Jeffrey Lant, to be precise — who posited people need to be exposed to a product, service, or company (again, in our case, us) seven times every 18-months to finally engage with it.[2] It's an insight from the world of sales and marketing really us knowing.

And, as a final sidebar, although it's easy to think "casting directors" when we say "castable", we encourage Dojo actors to think "producers" and "directors", too. If you haven't already experienced this first-hand, producers and directors can really fight for an actor they know, like, and trust. So let's be that actor, yeah?

Some tactics

Okay, okay, okay. The tactical practical. What can we do, as actors, to increase our Luck Surface Area, move along the Know, Like, Trust framework, and hit decision makers with the Rule of Seven?

  • Emails.
  • Social media interactions.
  • Attending workshops.
  • Attending screenings / performances.
  • Attending industry networking events.

These are the most common tactics, and all are certainly valid. But the crème de la crème of exposure to us as actors is seeing us in something. Producers, directors, and casting directors watch a lot. And seeing us in action (as opposed to just another follower on Instagram) not only showcases our talent but demonstrates other industry folk want to work with us, too. That's some appealing crème de la crème.

Now, yes, this is the perennial catch-22, we know. But here's the secret: in between "official" gigs, make your own shiz. This could be as simple as some self-tape-esque scenes we've written and shot with an amigo or as complex as a full-blown fringe theatre show. Or a combination of several (ideally seven 👆🏼) outputs across this spectrum.

Billions "pure luck" GIF

Pure luck? Not quite. "Strategic consistency" is more accurate. But you're a Dojo actor, so you do what 99% of others don't. 

Remember, we signed up to play the actor game, so we may as well make it enjoyable for ourselves. If cold emails sound as appealing as a cheese grater to the forehead, write, shoot, and send self-tape-esque scenes. If the workshop circuit makes you die a little inside, invest that time (and money) into developing a show you can take to this year's fringe. 

Ultimately, we'll never have complete control over where we end up, but we can influence the odds of success and the fun we have along the way. The process is ours, and that's empowering. 

Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.

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[1] https://www.codusoperandi.com/posts/increasing-your-luck-surface-area

[2] https://www.drjeffreylant.com/uploads/9/0/2/9/90297287/cash_copy_fully_edited_with_old_table_of_content_replaced_best.pdf