You probably heard people say things like “I really want to break into modeling.” or “OMG! I just got my first gig! I broke in!“
What are they talking about?
Well, in the professional realm, “breaking in” has a certain meaning… which is not what most are familiar with.
I first encountered this question while giving a seminar about the entertainment industry. A student raised her hand and asked “What does breaking into modeling/acting really mean?” “Does it mean that you are employed full time as a professional model and actor with a company?”
I thought about this for a second and realized that this excellent question, although simple, requires an answer that is rather complex. Now thinking about it further, this question actually gives a glimpse into how the entertainment industry works and reveals how challenging it can be.
So what does “Breaking Into” modeling really mean?
In a more practical sense, when someone says that they have broken into the modeling industry, they mean that they have developed an industry competitive portfolio (photos, reels, etc.) that allows them to be accepted by several modeling/talent agencies in any given market. Furthermore, it also means that they have acquired the skills needed to perform well on set, and are thus, invited to certain high profile auditions to be considered for projects.
…which is not the answer that most people would expect… and understandably so.
For example, through my years of modeling, I have acquired a competitive portfolio that allows me to model in domestic and international markets. It is like having a passport/work permit to work in any area you want.
Having this modeling portfolio just means that I have the privilege to work there. I still would need to earn the jobs that were offered there.
There is a myth that if someone has broken into the industry, they are rich and famous, set for life, and have a stable career filled with jobs waiting for them every time they open the door.
I wish! 🙁
In a conventional industry such as medicine,
When someone says that they have “broke into” the medical field, they usually mean that they have taken the necessary courses, passed the required tests, and obtained a degree that allows them to acquire a stable job, and practice medicine.
But remember, the entertainment industry is an unconventional career filled with ups and downs much like a roller coaster.
Models or Actors are not employed by a company but self-employed. They attend countless castings to book a job and the process repeats all over again once the job is completed.
The terms stable and consistent are not part of the industry’s vocabulary.
Even when you climb all the way to the top, to stay up there, and stay in the spotlight, is near to impossible.
His new take on the franchise and its famous secret agent role was darker and more serious. The film made enough money at the box office and his 3 film contract was secured.
And so in his next film, License to kill (1989), Dalton continued his dark and gritty interpretation of Bond. Even though the film critics applauded Dalton for his authentic development of the character and his willingness to perform most of his own stunts, the audience was defensive towards this new and violent interpretation. They were just not ready for it.
Dalton was just too ahead of his time. Due to public opinion, the production company (EON productions), dropped him and he would not return for his third film.
Enter Pierce Brosnan, the dashing and charming actor that took on the role of James Bond in 1995 with a flavor of humor and allure.
EON and the Bond fans were pleased. Brosnan made 4 films, each a blockbuster. He was in the spotlight and deserved every second of it.
However, 2001 ushered in a new age of foreign policies initiated by the terrorist attacks on the world trade center. EON productions felt that they needed a Bond that is more fierce and brutal, like an assassin. The charming and humorous style of Brosnan was not intense enough for the changing times.
Hence, the introduction of Daniel Craig.
You can imagine how Brosnan felt when he received an unexpected call from EON telling him he is no longer Bond.
Yes. Daniel was a different Bond. His furious interpretation of the character made him most suitable for what the audience now wanted to see. Craig did most of his own stunts and even his film posters were less flasher than Brosnan’s.
Furious interpretation, dark, gritty, and doing his own stunts…does that remind you of someone?
Here’s another example.
Think of an actor or actress that you admire. Are they consistently coming out with movies that are a hit at the box office? When they are not acting, are they consistently, year after year, making appearances in commercials, magazines, and so on? Stars understand that the moment they stop appearing in mainstream media is the moment that their fame diminishes. In an industry that harshly judges you based on your latest project, you can imagine how hard it is to stay in the spotlight.
When you no longer see your favorite stars making appearances in films, would you at that point say that they have “Broken Out” of the industry?
Sounds a bit weird doesn’t it?
The rich/famous, and stable employment definition of “Breaking into the Industry” is a myth- even for stars.
That is the reason why the definition of a competitive and marketable portfolio is a better and more practical indication if someone has broken into the industry.
When you find yourself on set with a spotlight shinning on you…
…Remember to Cherish that moment!