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Breaking Out of Co-Star Jail: 3 Tips to Level Jump from Co-Star to Guest Star In Your Acting Career

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Uh-oh… You’re stuck in “Co-Star Jail!”…

You know, that feeling when you see another two-line audition come your way and you think…

  • “I’m better than this!”
  • “I didn’t train for so many years to do two lines!”
  • “Ugh…I just can’t look another small role in the face and feel good about it!”

Can you relate?

It happens to every actor at some point….

At all levels of the business…

Not just Co-Star.

Even the well-known actors you recognize on TV have felt stuck before.

I’ve spent many meetings with actors who were working – I’m talking actors who had credits a mile long – and they still felt trapped, like a hamster constantly spinning its wheel, or a song playing on a loop.

You are not alone.

Whether you’re looking to make a move from co-star to guest star, or from guest star to series regular, or simply trying to break in and take any role you can get your hands on, there is always a level jump to be had.

For now, let’s focus on the area where you tend to get the most stuck:

MAKING THE LEAP FROM CO-STAR TO GUEST STAR

The good news is, even though you may feel like you’re locked in co-star jail right now, you hold the key to your own escape.

Of course, there’s going to be some groundwork involved when you implement these three critical tips, or what I like to call …

THE 4 Ps OF LEVEL JUMPING

Step 1. Powerful, Confident Mindset

First, take a minute to congratulate yourself on your achievements so far. Think about where you’re at in your acting career, and what you went through to get here.

If you’ve accumulated a bunch of co-star credits, THAT’S AWESOME!  So many actors never reach the point you’re at right now.

Yes, you’re feeling stuck, I get it.

That's why now is the time to change your focus.

You can’t make any kind of serious progress in your acting career if you’re constantly looking backward.

Stop scrutinizing what you don’t have, and what’s not working, and start paying attention to what you have accomplished, and what’s still to come.

It’s hard to move forward when you’re always looking back.Click To Tweet

There will always be those transitional points in your career where the risk is scary, and you’re doubting your abilities to continue on the path you’ve chosen.

These are the points when having the right mindset is crucial.

I’m gonna circle back to this in a sec. You’ll understand why after we get through the last two Ps…

In the meantime, let’s jump to the second P of Level-Jumping…

Step 2. Preparation

In order to make the leap from co-star to guest star, certain pieces have to be in place.

I’m going to tell you something you won’t want to hear right now, so brace yourself:

Even if you think you’re ready for a level jump, you might not be there yet.

Please don’t take this personally.

While you may feel—deep in your soul—that you’re ready, you still need to have the right groundwork in place. Without it, your career is going to lag behind.

Still with me?

Okay, let’s talk co-star credits.

Making the level jump to guest star involves a substantial amount of co-star credits in current, high quality shows or films.

If you’re finding yourself aching for a level jump but all you really have are a bunch of small parts in Indie films, or short films, or a web series that nobody watched, or a bunch of older credits, you still have some work to do.

I’m not taking away from what you’ve accomplished so far. I’m just telling you to keep climbing; you haven’t quite reached the co-star summit yet.

In order to propel yourself from co-star to guest star, you need the right groundwork in place.Click To Tweet

Once you have the credits, you need to have a reel showcasing that footage.

Finally, there’s one last piece of the preparation puzzle…

You need someone representing you.

While you can level jump without an agent, it’s much harder to go that route.

We’re talking about making a big step in your career here – going for bigger and better parts, competing against more experienced people.

Having someone on your team, representing you and working hard for you, is critical at this stage.  It’s also VERY necessary for the next two Ps of this equation and our third step…

Step 3. Passing & Positioning

Yup, these two Ps happen simultaneously. You have the credits, the footage, and the representation. Now, you need to take some strategic action.

If you want to get in on guest star roles, you might need to start passing on co-star roles.

Basically, you need to create a “passing plan” with your agent or manager.

You need to make sure your whole team is on board.

Have the conversation with them – look at what you’re going to pass on and define why.

Establish what the variables are, so you can pass on the roles that are no longer moving your career forward, but take the ones that are.

When you’re thinking about passing on co-star roles, timing is everything.Click To Tweet

Keep in mind, timing is everything here.

WARNING: If you start passing on roles too soon, before you have a substantial amount of co-star credits on high quality shows and films, then the Casting Director who receives the pass may be surprised (and not in a good way).

This is where positioning comes in.

Your agent or manager will be ready to “position” you when they make that call to tell the Casting Director why you’re passing.

This takes some finesse on the part of your rep, but they know how to do this.

And it’s their job to shift the way the Casting Director thinks about you, so they start to see you as a guest star, even before you’ve officially made that move.

This is where it all comes full circle.

Once you start passing on roles, you’re may be freaking out a little.

And this is when you need to lean on the Powerful, Confident Mindset you’ve developed in step number one.

It’s so important, because without the groundwork, you’ll start to second-guess yourself and it could all fall to pieces

Before you know it, you’ll be reverting to the negative thoughts, undermining the work you’ve done and the awesome level-jumping plan we just created for you.

Tempting as it may be, don’t skip the mindset step!

Remember, this is a transitional stage.

It’s going to feel weird and different.

You’re going to find some extra time on your hands (because you’re passing on roles that are no longer moving your career forward); use it wisely to:

  • Network and solidify connections in the industry
  • Start building a following on social media
  • Spend it working even more on your craft
  • Work even more on your mindset!

REMEMBER: Embrace the weird feeling and understand it’s part of the journey…

That weird feeling is part of your jail break out of Co-star jail and onto Guest Star-land!

Your turn!  What surprised you the most about this level-jump plan? What are you working on right now to prepare for your next big leap? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

 You DESERVE the Red Carpet!
~Amy

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Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com

“I show actors how to be better, book more jobs and live The Red Carpet life!”

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  • David

    Hi Amy. Would the same advise apply to kids (my son and daughter, ages 10 and 11, are trying to level up). Their current experience includes commercials, indie films and (mostly) short films and stage productions. Thanks in advance, and Happy Holidays!

    • Yes and no. You should work closely with their agent.manager to determine a plan. Let them lead. They will know when it’s time to make that level jump.

  • Veronica Rocque

    This is great ! First I need an agent and I mean NOW 🙏🏾
    Thanks Amy ! Mindset is A 2 Z 👍🏾

  • JC Febbrari

    Thanks Amy
    I really love your advices.
    Do you have the chapter to jump from guest stars to series regular?
    And what’s enough guest stars to think to ebe at that next level yet? ( I am a method actor trained for 12 years at the actors studio with a European accent though) with a great agent and a great manager.
    What is my next step ( i have been working at Bon korff studio for American dialect for few months now)
    What’s next for me
    Jean-Christophe Febbrari.
    Thanks for your passion !
    Thanks for your insides tips !

    • The strategy is similar but you must really work closely with your agent and/or manager on this. I’d love to tell you there’s an exact number of credits you have to have, but there are too many variables to do that…ya know JC?

      • JC Febbrari

        I think I know and then suddenly I don’t know anything anymore 😊
        Anyway Thank you for your answer Amy!

  • Eric Seiver

    amy, you’re the best! this information is priceless but i’m needing to make the jump from small short film webisode roles to co-star roles and i’m doing it without representation despite my frequent attempts to get representation. do you have any advice for me?

  • Ronald Patrick Thompson

    I love this advice but it’s tough getting my agent onboard with the passing aspect. His mindset is to simply get me in the room as much as possible.