“It’s Gracia! G-R-A-C-I-A. I’m not Mr. Garcia! Never have been. Gracia, Gracia, Gracia – get it right!”
This is just a short excerpt from one of Chad’s blog articles (on his site actortips.com), which has been permanently ingrained into my memory bank. Why? Well, because I understand and agree entirely of the importance in getting a person’s name correct – especially if you want to make it in the entertainment industry. Aside from that, it made me chuckle and pity those poor souls for not paying attention to detail.
Chad comes across as a an upfront – tell it like it is, knowledgeable and collected individual. Having this in mind, it’s no wonder he has been successful in pursuing his life ambitions.
‘Chad Gracia was a founding member of Inverse Theater, where he served as dramaturg, casting director, and producer from 1998-2004. He also worked as the Director of Development at the New Globe Theater and has co-written a verse play about the Sumerian king Gilgamesh‘.
Not limiting himself at that, Chad is also the founder of The Gracia Group, which provides communication and strategic consulting on energy, national security affairs and more.
Anyone who holds an interest for the entertainment industry, whether you are an actor, writer, producer, director or crew member, be sure to read his Career Confessions; carefully!
– Monica Kade
Describe yourself in 3 words: Independent, eclectic, curious.
What is your life motto?
“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Ben Franklin
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful?I started producing theater in 1997 and I became “successful” a few months later, when my first play actually opened and the audience enjoyed themselves.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream?
Malcolm Gladwell reports that 10,000 hours of dedicated effort are required to become an expert at anything. I think that figure applies to acting as well as to piano-playing or neurosurgery.
Describe how difficult the business really is?
If your goal is to make a fortune in the business that is one of the most difficult propositions I can think of. The chances are close to that of winning the lottery. If the goal is to make a living as an actor, that is possible, but you must be prepared to commit to at least 10 years of intense study and practice, be ready to tirelessly self-promote, and have a good head for business (being an actor is like running a small business). Finally, if your goal is to just soak up the enjoyment of bringing characters to life amidst the camaraderie of a cast and crew, then there is nothing easier in the world. Just leap into any local amateur troupe, and regardless of your age, size, or skill level, you will likely find a home.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson?
Expecting overnight success because of the perceived inherent value of something. When you realize that there are hundreds of thousands of competing plays that are just as worthy as yours, you must either redefine success or realize that persistence is what will eventually lead to wider recognition.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date?
“The answer depends on who makes the introduction.” If you want to get a meeting with Harvey Weinstein, you are much more likely to get him to say “yes” to that proposition if you are introduced by someone he knows, likes and respects, than if you are introduced by someone who has no sway over his heart or mind. An introduction from someone who is not trusted or liked, is worse than no introduction at all.
What is the piece of advice that you weren’t?
When budgeting for a small production (student film, small theater, etc.), one of the biggest expenses will be food and drink.
In your mind, is formal training essential?
Formal acting training is essential, but that could happen at a school, a conservatory, or on the job. The former two options are by far the most effective, and 99% of actors who make a living with their craft have not only studied it formally, but they continue to study for the remainder of their careers, in workshops, with books, and through intensive conversations on the craft with their peers.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career?
Most important, after training, is to develop a good database system for keeping track of EVERYONE that you meet. You should be able to print out (or email) at a moment’s notice, every male actor between the ages of 15-20 that you’ve ever met (because a producer friend has asked for help in casting), every agent who lives in your city (because you’re in a production and you want to offer them a complimentary ticket), and every producer in London (because you happen to be in town and want to ask them for coffee). This database is the engine of your career, and you must constantly tend it. That means networking constantly, asking for cards (and giving yours), and keeping the database up to date. If you are computer oriented, use FileMaker or Access. There is also a product called ActorTrak which I carry at ActorTips.com. You can also use Gmail to this effect, if you tag all your contacts, although snail mailings take a bit more work.
Contracts and the opinion of mankind.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time?