At a nifty event I recently attended, Dean Cain was sharing his acting career experiences in Hollywood.
You remember him: 1990s TV Superman from that show with Teri Hatcher.
For not knowing too much about him, he was impressive.
But let’s start with the obvious.
Too many actors become punchlines along the lines of… “what happened to his career?”
Well, after a quick check of his IMDB page, the man has been working consistently several times a year for the last 20 years.
While he might not be an A-lister movie star akin to George Clooney, he’s got a resume and roster that most actors would be proud of.
And as this is an acting business blog, let’s not forget that his bank account reflects this too.
Dean’s created his own production company, and produces many passion projects.
But Dean’s history in Hollywood has not been a direct line in any one direction.
In fact, Dean is a single dad.
He’s actually raising his kid alone, and has been for 12 years.
(His son is currently 16.)
As soon as a court turned him into a single dad, he had some serious choices to make about his acting career.
He couldn’t be out of California for long periods of time due to the court agreements.
He passed on countless TV shows and films that shot further afield for long periods.
Does he regret any of it?
He is completely devoted to his kid.
He does however, acknowledge just how much it’s shaped his career.
Sacrifices can be easier to make when you know why.
Dean also had some fantastic insights for every actor.
Here are his universal takeaways:
Back in 1993 when Superman was getting cast, Dean credits his relationships with casting directors and producers for getting him into that conversation in the first place.
He kept emphasizing that you need to “put yourself in the right place at the right time and keep pushing.”
So what does this mean? Let’s unpack it to become more actionable for you.
Relationships are going to get you to the right places for those right times.
I’ve said it a thousand times before and I’ll say it again: without strong relationships, your career will feel like you’re swimming in molasses.
An actor I was recently working with was struggling with his lack of relationships with Casting Directors.
When I asked him whom he knew and who knew him, he told me about some auditions he went on.
He even got callbacks for roles, and even called back into that office for other roles.
However, he made one Cardinal Mistake:
He wasn’t paying attention to the people!
He couldn’t even remember the names of those casting directors.
Think about it: those casting directors were the gatekeepers, and he ignored them.
This isn’t a little Industry slip.
This is an outright fail.
Luckily, he got the message, and committed to focusing on relationships moving forward.
Dean’s example is precisely that, and that brings me to his next point:
It only takes ONE MOMENT to change the trajectory of your entire career!
That audition for that Superman show opened up countless opportunities for him.
What he was able to do with them were up to him, but they materialized.
Show up for everything knowing that this could be a game changer.
Now, this is NOT about pressure.
(Though the gods of all sorts of industries all say that pressure is a privilege…)
It’s about loving the opportunity and loving the chase.
Love the craft enough to let the opportunity present itself.
Finally, Dean hammered home a message close to my business heart:
He didn’t book one single job while he was “in class.”
Acting classes are not the only answer to getting work.
Yes, they are great to keep your acting chops and skills sharp.
BUT… without the business-building and marketing skills to truly build your career, they’re just a crutch.
Acting classes can be the biggest excuses for not getting work.
No actor worth his weight deserves that.
You need to brand and market yourself effectively.
You need to build a business up that is worth promoting.
This is how you create casting director and agent relationships!
Dean made it about his Brand.
Dean decided to “just be myself.”
Specifically, he built a brand on who he truly was.
And then, he says, the work started coming consistently and hasn’t stopped since.
As a single dad, Dean Cain is a testament to how you get to drive your own career.
You need a team, you need to make decisions.
But at the end of the day, you’re building a business that needs you to run it!
If you’re not building and running it, your acting career might just be a very, very expensive hobby.