Former actress Charlotte Thornton is the author of Talent Isn't Enough, a book which, by introducing ten key strategies, helps aspiring actors to turn their talent into careers. “There are a lot of books about how to get started in acting,” Thornton comments, “but the trickier part is making a success of it once you’ve trained.”
I recently spoke to Thornton about what inspired her to write Talent Isn't Enough. Thornton observed the lack of books available which actors could refer to for help in turning their talent into careers. “Partly,” she comments, “I wanted to write a book that filled that gap. But also I wanted to pass on what I’d learnt so that others could succeed or at least succeed a little faster. The status quo is far from fair, and so I have ambitious plans to level the playing field where I can.”
Talent Isn't Enough is an ideal read for actors who are just starting out, but also for established actors who want to shake up their career strategies. “Obviously I’d love all actors to read this book,” says Thornton “and other performers too – if only to take some of our power back, and feel more in control of our careers. Understanding the business and how to apply some proven success strategies will give any reader the edge.”
One focus of Thornton's book is how actors can use social media to their significant advantage. I asked Thornton about the challenges and opportunities actors might have faced fifty years ago, before social media. “Equity was a closed shop then,” she observes, “and actors had to be in the union. This protected the industry from the situation we have today where fame can count more than talent. Also, repertory theatre existed as a learning ground for new actors whereas, today, actors only have the fringe and unpaid work as a means to getting seen.”
Whilst social media can be a great tool for actors, Thornton comments that more support is needed from those who are already working in the industry. “The industry isn’t doing enough. Finding a solution is harder. It is a business after all. But, I’d love to see casting directors attending the fringe and giving time to those actors who send them appropriate and imaginative marketing. If every casting director, agent and director made it their goal to see at least one wild card a month, someone outside of their normal ‘filters’, then that would give many excellent actors the chance to be discovered.”
Of course, it's not only other industry professionals who can offer support to aspiring actors. Friends and family can also be a great support network, and Thornton observes that “the best way to support an aspiring actor is to understand that lack of success, or lack of paid work, does not mean they aren’t talented enough. I often felt, if I was doing an unpaid role, that people thought I wasn’t a ‘proper’ actor or a good enough actor. Yet, there are other careers too that are highly competitive, where people intern in unpaid roles. It doesn’t make them less professional, just very committed.”
Talent Isn't Enough encourages actors to change their attitude, and Thornton sums up what actors need to be doing more of by saying that they should “Take bold action!” She goes onto say that: “I’d like to see actors feel braver about stepping out of the box. We’re all so afraid to break the rules, yet the rules rarely serve us. We have to take some bold action and be prepared, at times, to fail, get it wrong, and then try again.”
Lastly, Thornton warns that “Actors need to stop giving their power away to agents and casting directors. They have a part to play, but they are not the be all and end all of our success. In my book I show actors how they can take more responsibility for their carers and make things happen.”
Talent Isn't Enough is now available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback.
Check out my 250-word review of Talent Isn't Enough here.