Charlie Bouguenon shares his thoughts on showbusiness:

We can go on about this for hours. This is merely the tip of the iceberg. So I’ll try to keep it brief.

Showbusiness. That’s what we’re in. But many of us lose sight of the business part of it. We’ve been so busy shaping and training ourselves as vessels or conduits for our art and craft that we forget to think of ourselves as businesses. We’re often more prone to this when we’re younger or starting out because this wasn’t thoroughly covered while we were studying if even covered at all. Get on top of it, it will save you years of trial and error. It’s as important to keep your ‘business’ sharp as it is keeping your voice supple and ready, your body fit and limber. This often requires us to think out of the box. It also brings up many questions. But the beauty is that it is yours. So build it, grow it, and nurture it.

When posed the question: why are you an actor? Or dancer, singer, musical-theatre performer, presenter etc. The number one answer I hear is one of passion and/or love. If we can apply this same fervor to ourselves as businesses then we’ll start building careers.  Also, we all want an edge over our competition. After all, this business is very competitive. Well this is it!

Here are a few tips (in no particular order):

  • Always read and understand your contracts. Go through them with your agent. Get a copy of the standard PMA contract and go over it. Also find out what other contracts there are (film, tv, musical, commercial, voice-over etc). Acquire them, and get to know them. You’ll better understand what you’ll be in for when negotiating and what will work best for you and your business.
  • Get a website! In the US and Europe, not having a website is akin to not existing. Well not really, but you get where I’m going. It’s dedicated to you and your business. It can be used as a central hub for all your info, measurements, showreels, voice-over clips, photos, cv, biography. It’s yours from which to advertise and put yourself out into the world. Prospective clients can browse while you’re not even aware. It works for you 24/7. Have it linked to your social media platforms. Have it linked to your profile page on your agents website. Get cracking, it’s an amazing tool and it’s a tax deductible business expense.
  • Understand your tax. How we get taxed. Why and how much we get taxed. What exactly you can claim back. What exactly is a business expense. Perhaps open a Pty (Ltd). See how to best manage your financial income. We often don’t get much, so we have to be damned smart with what we get.
  • Always be on time. Tardiness makes your business look bad.
  • Be prepared. If you have an audition, a casting, a rehearsal, a show, a shoot, whatever. Be prepared, be professional.
  • Always keep your CV and biography up to date.
  • Always keep your headshots and photos up to date. Show your versatility with different looks.
  • Create a showreel. Another amazing tool in your toolbox. It works for you even when you can’t. We can’t always be there.
  • Keep your voice-clips up to date.
  • Educate yourself on how to effectively use social media in correlation with your business. Another marvelous tool. But don’t just dive in and go nuts. Find out how to be effective. It’s a great way to network. Great to find out about events, courses, auditions. Also realize that you are your brand. So keep it clean. Drunk pics of you running around naked in Greenside don’t make you very marketable.
  • Foster a healthy, professional working relationship with your agent. S/he is your link with the industry at large.
  • Define your goals. Short term and long term. What direction you eventually want to head in. Define them and how you will attempt to achieve them.
  • Watch shows, films etc. go to the theatre. Seriously. It’s an awesome opportunity to network. But more than that, we get to watch what we love. That has many benefits.  Knowing what is trending performance wise. Knowing what sort of things producers are producing. Who’s getting hired and have a thought as to why. Then ask yourself how you can improve your business to get yourself into situations that gets you hired. Or makes us look like the perfect candidate. SAGA members get discounted tickets at certain theatres. Use it. Get out there and watch stuff!
  • It is part of our business responsibility to keep in shape. The better we look, the better we feel and the more likely we are to get booked. Lest we forget this is an aesthetic business. This also pertains to our craft. Don’t think that because you’ve finished studying or you’ve started working that we don’t have to constantly hone our skills. We have to be ready for anything at any time. It’s how it goes. You could be shooting a tv series in June and start a musical in July. So being prepared is key. Ensure your repertoire is amply supplied. We have chosen a career that is a lifestyle. It doesn’t get easier, we get better.
  • Learn new skills that will augment your business. Learn how to edit. Do a firearms course (very useful in film). Do a course in business management. Learn to play an instrument. Learn how to operate a camera, both for video and stills. Take a dance class. Learn a new language (think of how useful it could be to be Caucasian and speak Zulu, for example).

These are just 15 little things. The scope is vast. As expansive as you’d dare to go. So get off your ass. The truth is that even when we’re not “working”, we’re always working. Be the difference you want to see in the industry. Dare to be a cut above the rest. Start now.  Take yourself seriously. It’s your business. Your career.