Accomplished actor offers students key takeaways for making it in the biz Twitter
By Stephen Wilson
After recent stints on the small screen (Blue Bloods and Chicago Med) and a summer of filming Netflix’s version of the Broadway revival he starred in (Boys in the Band), Brian Hutchison ’93 was back on campus to speak with a directing class and critique monologues in an acting class.
He shared five things with students—the stuff he wished he knew then—in hopes they can use it as they pursue careers in acting.
No. 1: Go to Grad School
I went to the University of San Diego for my MFA in acting because I didn’t want a plan B. The actors I saw in New York who impressed me all had advanced degrees. So I thought that is what it must take to get where they are. It’s important to extend your skills, and you will always have teaching as an option.
No. 2: Idle Time Is a Trap
Do anything that has nothing to do with acting. You can’t just sit around waiting for your phone to ring. It’s important to stay mentally and physically healthy. Being busy as an actor is ideal, but when not busy, fill your days with fulfilling activities. I run a photography business, taking headshots of actors and corporate leaders. I also record audiobooks regularly. For fun, I play guitar, travel, and spend time with family and friends. Find things to fill your time with that you care about. These talents can help you as an actor. Fluency in anything, like a language, music, speech, movement, fight choreography, and dialects, is valuable. These are ways to still be involved in the business when you are not performing.
No. 3: Be Your Own CEO
The industry is not easy; it’s competitive and not always an actor’s fault if work isn’t coming in. No one is clamoring for your arrival in this business, so it’s important to be ambitious and assertive in order to start making a name for yourself. You have no control over casting decisions, so all you can do is audition well and know how to audition for stage, television, voice work, and commercials since they are all different. Be open to all of it and understand the business of acting. You may be busy one week and sit around the next week.
No. 4: You’re Part of a Community
When opportunity knocks, you want to have the talent to back it up. But it is all about timing and connections. It also helps to be present in the community, but that takes time and patience. So be kind to everyone you meet. You never know when the assistant you meet will be a full-fledged agent later. So have that forethought and be nice.
No. 5: Create Content
Create your own work. With outlets like Vimeo and YouTube, creating content and getting it out there is easier than when I started. Casting agents ask what have you done and if you have tape. So be proactive and empowered. The ball is in your court to show yourself in the best light.