3 Take-Aways From ‘Inventing Anna’ That Will Change Your Acting Career

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Coutesy of Netflix’s homepage


If you’re a new actress/actor in LA or you’ve been doing this for a while but have no idea what to do with your career, Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Inventing Anna’ is an excellent masterclass in how you should be navigating/managing your acting career.


We all feel that exhaustion/hopelessness at times, but what if instead of a pity party we tried something new. Something that requires work and fearlessness?


Let’s take a look at three lessons from the show you can start using right away to move the needle in a better direction.


*Note any reference to Anna Delvey/Sorokin is referencing her portrayal in ‘Inventing Anna.’ Additionally quotes are from Screenrant and Sarah Scoop.


1. Do the Research


“You Have To Work Hard To Get What You Want. I’ve Always Known That.”


Anna Delvey, played by the talented Julia Gardner, did her god damn research. That’s a fact. From poring over magazines as a child and learning who is who, she envisioned and tracked the life she wanted in order to become a “someone”.


It’s no different in your acting career. If you don’t have a spreadsheet tracking all of your auditions/meetings with reps/producers/directors you need to start now. And it’s free. You just need a free Google account.


That tracker should have multiple sheets. One of those sheets needs to be a digital vision board. That vision board should contain a list of everyone in this town you’d like to work with and the ways in which you are making it happen.


If there’s one thing that’s a guarantee in this industry, it’s that no one is going to hand you a thing. You’re going to have to work smart.


2. Networking


“Who Am I? This Club, This Foundation, Will Be Who I Am, What I Am. I Have To Build This So Artists And People Like Me Finally Have A Home, Somewhere Safe — A Place Where They Belong, A Place Where I Belong.”


Networking sounds like a dirty word to most people, but if you’re going to make it in this industry, you better get damn good at it. And you need to build your own ‘home team’ which consists of an artist community where you can rely on each other to make your own projects come to life.


Shonda Rhimes and ‘Shondaland’ is a perfect example of creating that community.

If you look on IMDBPro (get the app and pay for the site. It’s an investment in yourself!) you can see who the cast/crew/filmmakers are for every show.


This list is not completely comprehensive but you get to see how a network can literally change your career. ‘Inventing Anna’ has a slew of cast and crew who have worked with her before. She can trust her network.

Take a look at the list below, and you’ll see what I mean.


Cast

  • Katie Lowes (Rachel), Jeff Perry, and Kate Burton all worked on ‘Scandal’ which is another Shonda show. Burton also is Ellis Grey from Grey’s Anatomy.

  • Anna Deavere worked on Shonda’s ‘For the People’.

  • Marika Dominczyk is another Grey’s Anatomy alum.

Directors

  • Nzingha Stewart: ‘Station 19', ‘For the People’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scandal’, and ‘How To Get Away With Murder’.

  • Tom Verica: ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Station 19’, ‘For the People’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Private Practice’.

  • Daisy Von Scherler Mayer: ‘For the People’.

Writers

  • Nicholas Nardini: ‘Scandal’.

  • Abby Ajayi: ‘How To Get Away With Murder’.

  • Jess Brownell: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Private Practice’, ‘Off the Map’.

  • Matt Byrne: ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

  • Juan Carlos Fernandez: ‘Scandal’.

Producers

  • Abby Ajayi: ‘‘For the People’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’’ and she was a writer for this show.

  • Betsy Beers: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Private Practice’, ‘For the People’, ‘Off the Map’, ‘Station 19’.

  • Matt Byrne: ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’

  • Holden Chang: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Station 19’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Still Star-Crossed’, ‘The Catch’, ‘Off the Man’.

  • Jess Brownell: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Private Practice’, ‘Off the Map’.

  • Scott Collins: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Station 19’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘For the People’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Still Star-Crossed’, ‘The Catch’, ‘Off the Map’.

  • Alison Eakle: ‘Bridgerton’.

  • Sara Fischer: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Station 19’, ‘Off the Map’.

  • Tom Verica: ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Station 19’, ‘For the People’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Private Practice’.

Composers

  • Kris Bowers: ‘Bridgerton’, ‘For the People’.

  • Pierre Charles: ‘Bridgerton’.

Editors

  • Gregory T. Evans: ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Bridgerton’, ‘Station 19’, ‘For the People’, ‘Still Star-Crossed’, ‘Private Practice’, ‘Off the Map’.

  • Christal Khatib: ‘Scandal’, ‘Private Practice’.

  • Matthew Pevic: ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Private Practice’.

  • Michael Hathaway: ‘How To Get Away With Murder’.

Casting Directors

  • Jamie Castro: ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Station 19’, ‘For the People’, ‘Still Star-Crossed’, ‘The Catch’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘Off the Map’, ‘Private Practice’.

  • Linda Lowy: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Station 19’, ‘‘How To Get Away With Murder’, ‘For the People’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Still Star-Crossed’, ‘The Catch’, ‘Private Practice’, ‘Off the Map’.

“I work for my success. I earn my accomplishments-Pay Attention — Maybe you’ll learn how to be smart like me…” -Anna Delvey via Netflix


3. Life Lessons


“If It’s Important Enough, We Do The Things We Want To Do.”


In Shonda Rhimes’ Ted Talk; ‘My Year of Saying Yes to Everything,’ after she discussed the hours of television she’s created, the number of jobs her shows have created, and the global impact it has had, she finished a sentence by saying “You know who else is doing that? Nobody. So, like I said, I’m a titan.”


And she is. This was important enough to her, so she did it.


Seems like there might be a couple of life lessons in there starting with…


Tenacity


This strength and desire to do those things is something we also see in ‘Inventing Anna’. And whether that’s coincidence or just how it worked out, Anna Delvey/Sorokin never quit. She chased her dreams even when no one would look at her twice. But she got smart about how she did it. She learned that to be someone, you need someone with status to give you clout, which leads to life lesson number two.


Mentorship


Shonda Rhimes interned for Debra Martin Chase at Mundy Lane (Denzel Washington’s company) and credits her in part for her early success.


Whether or not you are new in this industry, you are going to need someone to believe in you. Someone to fight for you. Someone who will believe in your magic and what you have to offer as much as you do. Don’t ever stop looking for that person. Some people may argue that this involves luck, and it may, but as an actress/actor we have to create our own luck.

It only takes one person, one opportunity, one audition for your career to change. If one person takes you under their wing your life can change over night. If Rhimes’ life isn’t inspiration/proof enough, look again at Anna and Nora’s relationship when Chase is out of the picture. Anna’s life changed overnight.


Inequality, Inequity, and Luck


This industry is not fair. And while it it tough, it can be even tougher on women and people of color.

As Delvey says in the show, “Men fail upwards all the time.” And, ““All men underestimate women. Even the one who’s supposed to love us.”


How many people like Simon Leviev do you know? He landed an agent in Hollywood. The Tinder Swindler has an agent while many trained actors do not.


Anna Delvey has been deported.


Unfair? One could say yes.


However — —


This is a good place to note that despite the amount of work you’re going to have to do to find your footing, you can create your own luck. And you can take the resentment out of doing that. Before I tell you how, look at this quote from Kacy Duke,

“When you’re angry, you’re just a character in someone else’s story. But when you let your anger go, you reclaim your own story. Become your own protagonist again.”


Take a look at your skills. And by that I mean anything you’re good at. It can be painting, poetry, karate, knitting, writing — — whatever it is and get excellent at it. If you don’t have a skill, pick something. It will set you apart and you become the protagonist in your own story. Rhimes had a talent for storytelling growing up and volunteered and worked in places that would give her background that would later help on shows like Grey’s Anatomy.


If you can use those skills to help write and create your own content you are taking control of your career and you are a working actor. You may not be on a network show or in a film but if you can create your own work you will have so much more control of the parts you play, having work, and being able to have something to talk about when you do meet with casting directors or agents. It will also take the desperation vibe away from you when you do have these meetings.


In the words of Neff Davis, “I am done living through the eyes of others. I am a director.”


So get out there and take control of your life, direct it in the direction you want to go and you can have that acting career you’ve always wanted or empire like Shondaland. The choice is up to you.

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