Category: The Working Actor

Ten Little Rules for a Rockstar Theater Audition

Every actor should find the opportunity sometime to sit on the other side of the casting table, and that’s just what I did this past week.  Whether it’s for the web series you wrote and produced, the film you’re helping to cast, the showcase you’re directing, or simply being the reader for a new play that’s being cast in your community theater, seeing the flip side of casting is an amazing learning experience.  It’s the time when you as an actor get to step back, and take a long look at the audition process when you are not the one in the hot seat!  And after being on the other side this week, I was reminded of some super simple things every actor should remember (and some things no one should ever, ever do).

So here’s the set up.  I’m working again with a fantastic theater company this spring on their new show, which is a three month long collection of plays that rotate out as the audiences vote on their favorites.  I’m so thrilled to be directing for them, and happy to be working again in one of my top 5 favorite places in the world…the theater!  It’s a great space to work in, and we were lucky enough to have lots of actors come in. Let me tell you, I got a great lesson in auditioning from the people who were reading for us…
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Don’t Get an Agent!

Has anyone ever told you that before?  Well, let me be the first!  Actors worry all the time, but in particular about two especially itchy topics: the 10 lbs. the camera adds and how to get a kickass, killer, awesome agent.  Well, relax folks.  I’m saying it to you today: Don’t Get An Agent!

Okay, okay, I don’t mean don’t EVER get an agent, that would be silly.  Actors need agents.  We cannot, contrary to popular belief, do everything ourselves.  (I’m not the only control freak out there, right?)  Agents are the ones who get our talented butts into the auditions we can’t get into ourselves, they pitch us, they sell us, they work, work, work for us long and hard.  And they do it all for no pay, just like we do.  Well, they do it for no pay until we get paid…then they take 10%.  But the bottom line is that neither the actor nor the agent gets paid till work is booked!  We have a common goal in this biz… Read More

Workshops Work if You Work It

When I find myself in a rut in my acting career (and don’t we all have an intimate knowledge of some killer ruts in this business?) I turn to a trusted confidence booster: the casting workshop.  I know the topic has been discussed on the Right Cast before, but I thought I’d add my two cents, as I’ve been back in the workshop groove this month.  It’s a tough topic, because nobody agrees on anything, but I’ve got to argue the positive today.  Casting workshops work…
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A Star is Born in the Background – How to get Extra Work

Who wouldn’t want to win an Oscar?  Or star in a box-office smash?  Or argue with having their name in lights on the marquis? Not many of us!  You know what you never see on that marquis though?  The entire list of background extras that starred in that movie right alongside that box-office bombshell or leading man.

Ah, the life of the background extra.  If youv’e worked as an extra before, or even seen any of Ricky Gervais’ hilarious look at the life of background actors on his show, Extras, you might know that the job of an extra is largely uncredited, with long days in varying degrees of comfort on crazy sets that are often mindlessly dull.  So what’s the point?  The point is, the film & television industry would be nothing without those essential, overwhelmingly important set of cast members: the extras.

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Working the World Wide Web

I’ve already mentioned a few times on the Right Cast about the web series I collaborated with a few other actors to create, write, and produce, as well as star in. It’s been a ton of work, a ton of fun, and I’ve learned a ridiculous amount about self-producing. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! However, recently a talented and busy actress friend of mine cornered me about what the benefits actually are of acting and/or producing a DIY web series that doesn’t pay, takes up a lot of time, and potentially isn’t seen by anybody. Hm. Well…good point! So interesting was the discussion, I thought I’d share the topic with all of you: what is the point of being an active participant within the world wide web universe?

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Pep Talk for the Anonymous Actor Blues

Here’s what happens.  (And it happens all the time.)  An actor, one who is dedicated and diligent just like you, spends his day submitting his picture to every single job he can possibly find on five casting networks, twenty-three listservs, Craigslist, and his Aunt Hildy’s PTA networking board.  He submits.  And submits.  And every once in a while he gets an audition.  He prepares, and prepares.   He waits.  He submits some more.  And with all this emailing of his headshot all over town, for weeks and months and years, he starts to feel a bit disconnected from his own smiling face.  Even when he gets called in!

“They don’t care,” he might think.  “There are thousands of actors out there, probably applying to the exact same roles I do.  I look the same as everybody else.  I am the same as everybody else!  I’m pretty much invisible.” Read More

Manage Me!

Acting, whether you realize it or not, is a team sport.  Your team, as I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, contains a bevy of players, from your agent to your headshot photographer to your lawyer; furthermore, they all truly just want you to succeed. And no one wants you to succeed more so than your manager.

When I was working in New York, I totally pooh-poohed the idea of a manager. What was the point?  Why can’t I manage my own life? Wasn’t the real goal to get an agent?  What does a manager even do, anyway?  (I had a vague notion a manager was like the guy who’d stand outside the boxing ring and yell at the boxer while he’s the one who’s getting punched in the nose and there’s blood oozing out of his nose.)  I had a few friends who had managers, sure, but it seemed like a lot of them didn’t get much out of the arrangement other than a snazzy graphic on their resume. When I moved to LA, however, everyone seemed to have a manager, and everyone I talked to really encouraged finding one for myself.  So I did my research!

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Smart Actors Don’t Get Scammed

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like everyone is just out to get you?  Unfortunately, some days it’s the truth.  It’s no secret there are those who try to take advantage of the people around them with scams, schemes, pitches, and ploys.  What’s worse, a large portion of those scammers try to take advantage of one demographic near and dear to folks like you and me.  You got it…Actors.

At this point, you might have already had contact with some of those who would take advantage of you and your hard-earned moolah.  Have you ever been to an agent meeting that starts with them praising your talent and ends with them telling you to spend your life savings at their friends’ acting classes and headshot sessions?  Ever seen audition notices on Craigslist that ask for a full-body photo “with or without” clothes?  Ever heard about a great showcase opportunity that will be amazing for your career if you can just raise the $1000 to pay for it? Read More

Hunting for the Right Rent Job

Every single book about becoming a working actor gives the same piece of advice in the very first chapter: get a job.  Nope, not an acting job, a rent job.  Employment that pays your bills, buys you lunch, gases up your car and doles it out for the doctor.  Income to keep you alive while you keep your career moving upwards.  Ah, yes, paying the rent!

When I moved to a new city, I pushed my savings as far as they could possibly go so I could optimistically avoid getting non-acting work.  I had come from a string of rent jobs in New York, all of them drama-rich and soul-crushing.  I wanted to bypass the same fate in my new home.  Maybe I could fast book some commercials and not worry about a rent job!  (It happens for some, it’s true.)  Soon, I found myself broke and worrying about paying my bills upon bills as I frantically tried to find some new employment.  ANY employment.  And it struck me: all those books were right.  Everybody needs money coming in, if not for the necessities it pays for, then the surge of confidence you acquire knowing you’ve got a bank account to back you up. Read More

The Prepared Actor’s Artistic Retreat

Summer’s over, school is just now beginning again, and so September always reminds me it’s time for my Artistic Retreat. For the past four years, I’ve sent myself on an Artistic Retreat after every Labor Day to refocus my energies for the coming year.  Lucky for you, I’m going to teach you exactly how to have one of your own!

No, my retreat is not in the woods of New England, or at a swanky resort on a hot beach.  (I wish.)  In fact, no one is actually at my retreat but me.  I’m the leader, the audience, and the guest speaker.  You can have your Artistic Retreat anywhere, at any time of the day, but I’d recommend doing it either in your expertly organized Actor Office, or a nice, quiet place like a coffee shop or your local library.  All you need is you, and my Artistic Retreat Questionnaire. Read More