As an actor, you are up against thousands of other people who want to do exactly what you want to do. We've all heard various "success stories" and have been regaled with tales of big breaks etc etc. I have debunked the myth of the big break and I will continue to do so. You don't get a "big break" - you get a thousand little breaks over your whole career. I forgot who said that first, but it certainly was not me.
So what's going to separate you from other actors? The only things that I can control that I also believe can separate me from the rest of the pack are:
1) Effort - no one will out work me. Ever. This doesn't only mean working on technique, monologues or what-have-you. It also means checking in with your agents if you have them. Before I started working with agents, I saw them as a magic bullet of sorts. Sign with them and you are off to the races. Well what really happens is you sign with them or freelance with them and they don't send you out so much. Who knows why.....maybe there isn't enough work? Maybe they have 5 other actors exactly like you? Maybe they straight up don't think about you enough.
2) Punctuality - practicing the art of showing up. Always. I am proud to say that I have NEVER been late for a single event in my entire life. In fact, I am almost always 15+ plus early. It's show BUSINESS, and the business world runs on time. I forgot who said that first, but it wasn't me (yet again). UPS maybe?
3) Unflappable faith. If you are easily discouraged, or have thin skin, get out of this business right now. No one will "out-guts" me for lack of a better term. Besides, I'm 27.7 years old and it is now officially too late to start some other career.
4) Pleasant Demeanor. I heard that you have a .500 batting average when it comes to people liking you when they first meet you. I like to think that my BA is a bit higher than that. If producers/directors don't like you - they don't want to see you at 4am on set 5 days a week. Of course, there is a thin line between likability* and being plain old annoying and artificial. I hope that I am never those things....annoying and artificial that is.
So basically, this business is a funny funny thing. You can only control what you do when you walk in the audition room, the rest is up to other people. You have to be the best possible actor/professional you can be, and everything will fall together.
*I will be the Bud Light of NYC actors: Phillip's difference is likability.
[UPDATE: I shit you not, 15 minutes after I posted this I got an audition for later today, a yogurt commercial......see what happens when you check in regularly?]