First of all, congratulations!
You’ve passed the first hurdle, and it’s one that thousands of performers before you haven’t reached. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be picked up straight out of drama or dance school, your first professional role is probably the culmination of weeks, months, years and possibly even decades of hard work.
What exactly is a professional role?
A professional role is the first official step on the ladder. It is defined as any job for which you get paid, rather than an amateur role (for example, somebody who has a full-time job in an office but takes part in local unpaid theatre performances on the weekend).
Getting your first professional job means that you have honed your skills and talent as a performer to the extent that somebody, somewhere, is prepared to put their money on the line and pay you a salary. In return for this, they’re going to expect a professional attitude and top quality work.
Do your research
This is true of any new job, whether it’s a desk job, a new freelance contract or your first role on a TV series.
Take time before you start to research everyone working with you in your new role. If you’ve been hired for your first dance tour, who are the other dancers? Who is the choreographer? What other shows have they worked on? If it’s a TV soap, have you watched as many episodes as possible? Do you know the history of the show? Can you name the director?
An hour or so spent on Google before you start goes a long way: you’ll be prepared, confident, and (hopefully!) re-hired.
Whether you’re turning up for a rehearsal day or plunging straight into filming, nothing leaves a worse impression than a performer who turns up late. It throws everybody’s else’s schedule, and can cause issues with rehearsal timing or valuable crew and shooting time on set.
Look up the address the night before, and plan your route carefully. Are there roadworks planned? Any public transport issues that might delay your journey? Aim to leave the house a good fifteen minutes earlier than you usually would, in case of any unexpected problems.
Prepare, prepare, prepare!
Whether you’ve got lines to learn, songs to sing, or choreography to remember, prepare as far in advance as you can. As soon as you’re hired, ask your agent, the casting director or producer to send you what you need as quickly as possible, so that you’ve got plenty of time to learn everything thoroughly and feel as confident as possible on your first day.
Get a good night’s sleep!
Don’t stay up all night worrying about re-learning your lines, steps or music. It’s natural to be anxious, but you’ll be exhausted the next day, and yawning on set or during rehearsal won’t impress anyone – and if you’ve prepared everything in advance then you shouldn’t need to.
Have an early night, eat a healthy meal, use an eye mask, ear plugs and anything else that might help you sleep.
Our last tip?
Don’t forget to set your alarm!
Good luck and we hope to see you climbing the ladder as a professional performer very soon.