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The Entertainment Industry Survival Kit

Posted on January 19, 2012 at 10:25 AM

The Entertainment Industry Survival Kit

 by Christine Kent , The Career Couch

Hi Everyone,

It occurred to me today that many times when I am engaging someone in a career counseling session, the subject of surviving in this industry inevitably comes up. Let’s think about that for a second...the word “Surviving” is used to a lot in the entertainment industry to talk about keeping yourself afloat and keeping momentum in your career. Why that word? To use the word “surviving” or derivatives like “survival” sounds so negative. It makes it sound like we aren’t enjoying or loving this business, but merely hanging on by the skin of our teeth! Why do we use such a derogatory approach when talking about an industry that we all know and love?

Well, to be honest, we (meaning all of us in this business) have sort of done it to ourselves. This is an industry that is artistic and creative by nature. Many egos come together to create even the smallest of projects and usually lots of money and accolades are at stake. At the very least, this is a recipe for disaster. But wait! I’m talking about an industry that many of us devote our careers to, and even more aspire to work in every day! How can a business that is prone to dysfunction be so beloved? For those of us who do love it, it’s not a hard question to answer. Many of us, myself included, could never imagine doing anything else. Working in the entertainment industry is something that gets into your bones, and becomes a part of who you are. It is, after all, what we do. In essence it very much becomes who we are.

Alrightie, so how do we survive in this industry? How do we keep ourselves afloat professionally and also keep our souls and our sanity intact? If you are planning a career in entertainment, or if you have been in the industry for a while, here is a list of things you will need to pack into your Entertainment Industry Survival Kit:

Talent - One thing that is needed in this industry is talent. I’m not necessarily talking about creative talent here, but talent of some sort. Some industry professionals have creative talent, while others have administrative or organizational talent. Some people are just gregarious and do very well in this industry based on personality. Whatever your talent is, know it, cultivate it, and bring it to the table. Talent of some sort is key to survival in an industry that celebrates talent in many different areas. So, let your talent shine!

Charm - Yep, I know what this sounds like, but it’s true. The entertainment industry thrives on networking and nepotism. So, be the person people like to work with. Whether on the job or looking for a job, be someone people want to know. It doesn’t really take much effort. Smile, be nice, and engage people on a personal level. This is a very small and incestuous industry. You will see all of the same people over and over again. Your chance of survival increases, the more you are liked and respected in this industry. So, charm their socks off and you will survive each day.

Be There - It’s just that simple. Always be present in your career. Know what’s going on with your project and on other projects in production. Keep up with your network of current and former colleagues. Reach out to see how they are doing and be there for them if they need help. This is how you form lasting relationships and it can keep you afloat and surviving in this business for a very long time.

Courage - I know this sounds strange, but this industry is not for the faint of heart. If you can’t handle criticism or rejection, then take your career elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and take risks. If you do take risks, be prepared that not everyone will respond favorably. Taking risks is necessary in this industry. It separates the men from the boys, and can help take your career to new heights. Muster up the courage to put yourself out there, and you will survive!

Humility - There is very much a hierarchy in the entertainment industry, and in order to climb your way up the ladder it’s essential to know when to keep your head down, do as you’re told, and work your butt off! We all have to do it sometimes, no matter what our current place in the mix. This is very much an industry where respect isn’t given until it’s earned. You have to pay your dues to survive in the entertainment industry.

Self-Worth - This one can be a bit difficult sometimes, but don’t be afraid to have confidence and know your worth. Now, I’m not talking about self-importance, because no one needs that and being overly self-important won’t help your cause. I’m referring to being grounded and confident in who you are and in your own abilities. Entertainment is sort of like a military organization in that it will sometimes break you down and build you back up to its liking. It’s important to know who you are and where you want to go. Having a healthy self worth is essential to survival in this industry!

Persistence - Don’t give up. No matter what, stick to your guns. This is a difficult industry to break in to and a difficult place to maintain a career. Knowing this at the on-set can help you to be prepare for the fight ahead. So you might get a few rejections or maybe you don’t get that perfect job that you wanted. That’s OK. Be persistent and you will survive to fight another day...and win!

Humor - Above all, be sure to have and keep a sense of humor. This is not brain surgery, its entertainment. Always be sure to keep things in perspective and laugh. Sometimes things can get a bit testy when egos are running rampant and there’s a big chunk of financing at stake. It’s very easy to forget what this is really all about and take it all too seriously. It helps sometimes to step back and have a good chuckle. Keeping your sense of humor in this industry can help you to keep your sanity and aid in your survival in this industry!

Survival in the entertainment industry is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. To make it a bit easier to maneuver, remember to pack your Entertainment Industry Survival Kit with the tools you need to have and maintain a successful career in this crazy industry we all love.


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