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Headshot Extravaganza Part 3: How to Make the Most of Your Shoot!

Congratulations!  You’ve figured out what kind of headshots you want, you’ve you’re your research, you’ve found your killer photographer, and now…all you have to do is actually shoot the darned things.  The irony of the situation is, of course, we get our pictures taken all day long.  We have digital cameras, camera phones, video cameras, security cameras, web cams…the list goes on.  We’re constantly seeing photos of ourselves on Facebook and twitter, and submitting our portraits on casting websites.  It should be a piece of cake to take some headshots, right?  Wrong!  For some annoying reason, taking headshots can be super stressful and/or nerve-wracking, which is why you should find a photographer who is relaxing and fun; isn’t that how you want your pics to look?  So, let’s talk about what you can do to maximize your Zen-like calm during your photo shoot, both before and during the big day.
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Headshot Extravaganza: How to Find the Best Photographer (part II)

I am so excited to explore Part Two of the Headshot Extravaganza!  To set the record straight, I am NOT a headshot-loving actor.  I get antsy when I’m taking new headshots.  I feel insecure.  I smile weird.  My eye twitches.  All in all, I am very unappealling.  Luckily, I found a fantastic photographer who I love to work with.  She makes me laugh when I’m pouting over my ugly hair.  She spurs me on with encouragement when I get tired.  And she helps me find a picture I confidently can use as my calling card in this crazy business.  So!  Let’s find out how to find an equally amazing photographer for you!

How to Find the Best Photographer For You:

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Headshot Extravaganza: Why You Need Fantastic Headshots!

Well, folks, it’s been quite a day.  A long, exhausting, anxious, finicky, neurotic day.  To be more specific…Headshot Day.  The day I’ve been putting off for three whole years.  (When I got my last headshots taken.)  I finally got my new headshots taken, and now that Headshot Day has passed, and all I have to do now is narrow down my option and print up my new pictures, I’m in the mood to share some tidbits I’ve learned along the way.  First off, I’m hoping I’m not the only one in the world who is consumed by an overwhelming desire to run far away to a nice job in insurance sales when I think about getting new headshots taken.  The fact is, getting good pics is a job on its own!  If you’re new to the business, you might wonder why everyone makes such a big deal about headshots. Read More

Just Tank One

Just Tank One.

Congratulations- you’ve come all this way and you finally have a few auditions. It’s a scary process to have worked so hard to get past one obstacle only to find yourself staring into the jaws of an entirely different beast. This one is bigger, meaner, and more direct. When we set ourselves up with fruitful situations and they finally flower into true opportunity, we have put in the legwork on the business side. Almost forgot about the creative side, eh? How terrifying it is to be judged in a matter of seconds and perhaps roasted over the proverbial fire after much sacrifice.

Sometimes, it is a matter of focus: when all of the conditions aren’t perfect, how can we still dig down and find that concentration to do what we know to be right as it pertains to our craft? To me, if we don’t test ourselves under these circumstances, there will always be some form of doubt which can negatively creep over our subconscious and have quite an adverse effect on our performance. Simple solution: tank one. Read More

Team YOU: Build Up Your Support System

“Do you have an agent?”

Possibly the most popular question ever posed to an actor, second only to “What have we seen you in?”  (Or, my mother’s favorite, “When do I get to see a copy of that student spec commercial for diapers you shot in December in Oxnard so I can send it to all your cousins?!”  Oh, Mom…) The representation question is certainly one we devote lots of time and energy to, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.  Because, in reality, the agent is only one (albeit very important) part of your team.  That’s right!  You are building a team to help you build, support, and sell your product: YOU.

Think I’ve been watching too much college basketball for my own good?  Yeah, well, just think about it for a second.  When you read any of those interviews in gossip websites or celebrity tabloids, or listen to who award-winning actors thank at the Oscars or the Golden Globes, they always mention a whole slew of random people you’ve never heard of: publicists, managers, assistants, coaches, teachers, casting directors, and, yes, agents.  It’s like one of those commercials for children’s advocacy groups: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.”  And it totally takes a village to raise an actor’s career!  Your teammates can offer you everything from advice to auditions to just plain moral support.  So let’s talk about the important players you can start gathering for your team.  You’ll be surprised how many people you can count among your teammates… Read More

To Pay Or Not To Pay! That Is The Question!

For the actor or actress who isn’t in SAG, doesn’t have representation, and is without the industry contacts to get you in to an agent or casting director’s office… paid showcases can be an excellent way to meet and perform for prominent agents and casting directors. Some actors are adamantly against paying to audition. But for many actors, showcases are just about the only way to get that coveted foot in the door.

I want to impart some valuable tips from an agent showcase last night with DEDE BINDER-GOLDSMITH, President of Defining Artists, a prestigious boutique agency in Los Angeles. Read More

Taking Care of Actor Business

Welcome to April!  Can you believe we’re back again at tax time?  As I slogged through my own piles of forms and receipts yesterday, I tried not to get frustrated at the complications of being a working actor during tax season: working several jobs, working in several states, working sporadically, working “under the table.”  All highly confusing when you try to fit your eccentric artistic life into countless small numbered boxes.  But it’s all part of the actor’s business.  Because you are, after all, running your own business (and if you don’t agree, the IRS does soooo…the bad news is you might have to pay taxes on your own actor business, but…it’s worth it!) and you’ve got to organize your life to accomodate that.
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Networking like a Star!

When people talk about Hollywood, they often widen their eyes and say, “Well, it’s all about who you know.  You know?”  And  that is, actually, completely true.  The very first day I started my theatrical training, the school’s director, a well-respected and successful actress in her own right, sat all of us first year students down and said, “This is your first big break.  The people who will give you your second big break are not us, your teachers, but your new peers who you are sitting next to right now.”  We all gave each other sidelong glances, sizing each other up.  Could that pimply kid next to me really make me a star?  Chances are…yes.

If the entertainment business is all about being in the right place at the right time, who you are with at the time is going to really affect your life.  Maybe that pimply kid on Day One decided he wasn’t going to be an actor at all, but a casting director.  Wow!  Instant in.  Maybe that other kid next to you became a producer, or a director, or got a starring role on Broadway last year and knows a thousand other well-situated people.  Sound crazy?  Well, that’s because it is.  But crazy or not, the truth of the matter boils down to a little rule involving the one-and-only Kevin Bacon: everybody knows somebody.  (If you’re not getting the Kevin reference, it refers to the 6 Degrees of Separation game.)  Which is the heart of networking. Read More

Don’t Wait On Los Angeles

Irony. We’ve saved our pennies working our degrading jobs, packed our lives into our cars and set out on a great adventure to Los Angeles to pursue that dream of working in entertainment. We unload all of our belongings into a friend’s cheap apartment and crash on a couch until we get our feet set and move into a dive of our own. We get a quick lay of the land before applying for as many of those same degrading jobs as we can. We are creatures of habit.

Obviously, few to none of us start out towards the top of the heap. Rent is due and you have to eat- you gotta do what you gotta do. But how quickly we forget why we came out here. How quickly this town can eat you up if you let it. It’s a slow grind of frustration; a poison. Luckily, the antidote is simple: do what you came out here to do. Read More

How To Jumpstart Your Career As A Working Actor

So you’ve done it!  You’ve decided you want to be a professional actor.  Congratulations!  Welcome to one of the most exciting, challenging, creative, and crazy industries in existence!  Now, do you want the good news or the bad news first?  Right, here’s the bad news: it’s not easy to be an actor.  You’ve got to juggle auditions, rent jobs, performance schedules, bills, networking events, classes, headshot sessions, headshot reproductions, headshot mailings bla bla bla etc.  The list goes on.  The good news?  Being an actor can be intensely rewarding and immensely fulfilling.  It’s one of the only jobs steeped in rich traditions, requiring far-off travel, a healthy body and mind, a fresh imagination, some street smarts to boot, AND the opportunity to dress up like a 18th century courtesan in the morning and an ER doctor in the afternoon. 

So…where to begin?  Well, first thing to know is the greatest thing about the entertainment business: you can be an actor pretty much anywhere!  If you’re not already busy in your community theater, get into it!  Find out about your closest regional theater (and don’t say you don’t have one, they’re eeeeeverywhere), research their local hiring policies on their website, or see if you can wrangle yourself an audition for their next show.  Or (as I always recommend) produce your own!  Get your friends together and put on the kind of theater YOU want to see.  Theater not your bag?  Or, are you even more than a Triple Threat, and you want to do film and/or television too?  Are you even more determined to push your career as a professional actor forward?  Keep reading… Read More