"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Struggling Actress on The Savvy Actor

The most common, and perhaps loudest complain you’ll hear from an actor is how there’s no instruction book. Actors don’t get to start in the mail room and climb their way up. Most move to LA or NY with a dream, a few thousand dollars, and absolutely no idea what to do next. 

Jodie contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I would be interesting in critiquing “The Savvy Actor Career Manual,” the absolute first ever business plan for actors. Of course I would! I mean first off, Jodie and I are hair sisters, and second, I miss writing book reports. In fact, essays were the first thing I missed about college. And isn't that strange? I mean, I missed the routines, too, sure, but - Whoops! Digressing!

I am not being paid to write this, and I owe them nothing. These are my honest thoughts and feelings.

The Career Manual is 142 pages with 8 different chapters. I was sent the book in a 3 ring binder with tabs, and although you can buy the pdf version from the store, I highly recommend printing it all out and separating the chapters if you buy it online. They give you plenty of room to write your answers, along with tables and graphs. I like that if I find anything I want to keep with the manual, like photographer postcards or sides I want to keep for a class, I can just hole punch them and stick em in.
I’m going to tell you right off: I wish I had this when I first moved to LA. Heck, I wish I had this when I was still in school. If you need a gift for an actor, get them this. “Turn your craft into your business,” is their slogan, and it’s something actors are never taught. They fill the void.

Where does every small business owner start? With a dream. “Long Term Vision,” is the very first chapter. Know what you want, yes, but before that, they make you take a self-evaluation. They have year plans, milestones, and make you promise that you will follow your own mission statement, or declaration, and if you ever come across an exercise that might sound daunting, they give their own examples, which I absolutely love. This is a workbook and they give you plenty of charts and extra space to write everything you need to get your business going.

Next stop, Goals and Project Tasks, and then, get this: Branding, and then Marketing! They cover type, how to break yours down, and then they’ve got some friggin genius ways on how to market yourself. They show you how to create a brand specific resume, have online step-by-step guides and resources, and even show you how to craft an effective agent cover letter. Agent cover letters are the bane of every actor’s existence, as we have to promote ourselves and it’s always tricky to do so without coming off as a complete douche, but they've found a way! And then they give you EXAMPLES! I’m that type of writer: show me an example, and I can do it. And they do! Although they have a postcard, thank you card, and submission mailings plan that seem a bit too overkill for this struggling actress, I can tell you if you follow their mailings plan guide with what you’re personally comfortable with, you’ll still be pleased. And get this: they then go over likely interview questions, that yes, you will be asked, and prep you for meetings and interviews.

They have a chapter on support systems, finances and organizational systems as well as a full chapter on resources.

At the end of the manual, there’s a Congratulations page, and I’m going to share with you one of the things they ask you to remember:

As your dreams manifest, they will do so in unexpected ways. Be open to change and the surprise life offers.You are our inspiration. We wish you much success.
Your biggest fans,
Jodie and Kevin

And that, my friends, just filled me with utter joy. Two people want me and you to succeed, and they poured their knowledge and heart into an enormous guide to help your dreams come true.

The Savvy Actor Career Manual is basically your career manager for your first five years in town as a new/novice actor. If I had this when I first started, I’m telling you, I could’ve shaved off my first couple of years as I learned all this on my own. Don’t cheat yourself. Own this. You deserve it.


  1. Great review!
    This book should be required reading in all College Level theatre classes. I learned so many "theatre business" lessons in the first few years after school by falling on my face.
    I will say one of the BEST things I learned while earning my degree was from a great prof who told us a story about a friend of his who totally messed up her audition and still somehow managed to come up on top. I believe he concluded this story with something like - "It's not how you fall down, it's how you get up." I've always loved that saying.
    However - I too would have loved a little business help to keep me from falling as often as I did. At least we've ended up with some funny stories on the way to being a working actor. And - probably learned more by experiencing those falls.
    Another helpful book is "The Organized Actor" by Leslie Becker At least - it was helpful for an UNorganized Actor like me : )

  2. Hi Lira

    Thank you so much for that review. Wow. And Molly I wanted to speak to your point of "messing up." Here's Leah Michele's Audition for Glee. A not so perfect audition. Enjoy!


  3. Great review - I'm definitely gonna check this out, chica :)


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