It’s a funny feeling to put the steering wheel of your entire career into someone else’s hands while you sit watching and waiting in the passenger seat for the right turns to be made and beg for the pedal to be stamped hard into the footwell, accelerating you forward towards the hopes and dreams which await you on some sunny LA horizon. Even stranger still to realise that the driver has their hands on several other steering wheels at the same time and that frankly they don’t particularly care which vehicle arrives first.
There are so many times in this bonkers career that you find yourself at the behest of others. A chain of sequential events that have to click into place in order for that golden phone call to come your way; “You got the job!” First, somebody has to have an idea, then someone has to write the script, then raise the money, then they need to find the cast so (assuming you’re even fortunate enough to be suitable for a role) you’ve got to happen to be represented by one of the few top agents that the casting director decides to contact with the job, then they’re gonna look at all the recommendations and decide whether (out of a long list of similar, perhaps more suitable actors) they’d like to see you audition, then you need to turn up, show your stuff and pray that all the people higher up in that long chain, including the writer, producer, casting director and director, mutually decide that you’re the one for the job. I mean, not great odds are they?
So how can you change the game? Sure, sitting by the phone and waiting for that complex run of events to fall into harmony like some divine astronomical alignment is an option, it may even have worked like a dream for the 0.0003% of actors on the face of the earth who find themselves with thriving careers, but surely there’s a way of increasing your chances. Taking more control of that steering wheel.
I mean, what if YOU were the person with the idea? What if YOU were the writer? What if YOU were the fundraiser? What if YOU were the one pulling the stars into alignment? Suddenly, you’re not sat watching the wheel hoping for someone to put their foot down, you’re not even in the car, you are the big, glowing, green light that says to everyone else – let’s GO!
If you look at a variety of the major British talents to rise to promenance over the last 10 years, so many of them have given up waiting for the phone to ring with that perfect part and gone out to make their own fate; Gervais, Tate, Jones, Walliams, Hart, Coogan, Fry, Lucas, Davis, Pemberton, Gatiss…they’ve all created their own work, from scratch, and led from the front.
Sure, as with any creative venture, there are a unique set of obstacles that come along. This way too is a seemingly insurmountable, never-ending highway with many dead-ends and wrong turns in waiting. But one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly a hell of a lot more fun grabbing hold of the wheel for yourself rather than sitting idly in the passenger seat twiddling your thumbs.