"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, November 10, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

After learning what it's like to be one, and after becoming one myself, my question is... I've got a reel, some student film credits, a headshot, and hustle. What is the next step? Self-submit to casting directors? Try and get a commercial agent? Legit agent? In what way should I direct my hustle?
- Anonymous
  Hey Anonymous!
Happy November! The month where nothing happens! Just kidding. That's December with all the holidays. So what does that mean? If you're without representation, these are the next few months where you'll be honing your craft with classes and making sure your materials are all great and ready to go.

Hooray for the student films and the reel! This is AWESOME! This makes you look great.

Here's some things I have learned in my own experience:

The BEST times to submit to agents is.....August. It's slower then, and they're apt to opening envelopes, looking at people to fill niches and bringing people in. Both my commercial and theatrical agents both brought me in, in August, exactly a year apart. It's not August now, so that kinda sucks. What to do? Well, pilots are gearing up and looking for theatrical might not be your best bet anymore since they're so busy wheeling and dealing audition times, pitches, and contracts. I would, however, keep submitting to commercial agencies every two months (target your faves) because heck, why not.

As for casting directors - unless you have a VERY SPECIAL SKILL and target those looking/needing actors with that skill, you are wasting your time. Again, this is my opinion, but CDs are not opening envelopes from people they don't know when they are so very busy with the new pilots that have started. Your materials are probably going to the recycling bin. Now, let's say, however, that you look Eurasian, can surf, and speak Hawaiian. Then you could submit to Hawaii 5-0 with those things written on the envelope (or postcard, which is way cheaper!!) so that they'll open it.  I also heard that there's a new show revolving around a deaf character, so if you are a hearing actor fluent in American Sign Language, find out who's casting it and submit to them with "Hearing actor fluent in ASL" on the envelope.

[and very quickly - why I like postcards: You can have your headshot on it and have enough space to write your contact info/special skill on it and the postage is 28 cents as opposed to $1.05 for the headshot envelopes. ALSO - if you're going to do postcards highlighting your in demand special skill, make sure you have a website they can go to which has all your info, like a video of you surfing, speaking Hawaiian, or hand signing! Free websites, like blogger and tumblr are great until you can get your own dotcom.]

Classes. Are you in a class? Not just to learn, mind you, but to network with other actors and the teacher. My acting coach is fantastic, and you can check him out, and sign up to audit here. 
Taking classes during the winter season is great, as students typically take a break here so the class sizes are smaller and you get more individual attention. Plus! Because you're not represented, when you are being brought in on all the jobs you're self submitting for on Actors Access, you'll be at the top tier and booking jobs. A LOT of indies and webseries go out in January and February, so be on the lookout and submit.

Build Your Portfolio. Take more headshots, take more editorial shots (the kind of photos you see in Entertainment Weekly and Vogue) and do them all for trade! Go to Model Mayhem, sign up, and take pictures. Build your materials. Practice getting in front of the still camera, as this is a valuable asset many actors overlook. How many young actors cringe at the idea of getting new headshots and hate almost all of them because of how nervous they are when posing. Learn how to make it effortless. And have more photos for your website. It's all free. And fun.

See what classes there are at the community college level. Do you look Hispanic but don't speak Spanish? Learn! Want to learn graphic design so you can make your own dang postcards? Take it! Build your skill set!

The next couple of months are slow for the unrepped actor, but with the proper focus, attention and hustle, you can make them really count on making yourself a better and more marketable actor that agencies will want to represent.

Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. You are just a fount of excellent information. I have to chime in here on the subject of mailing to CD's. I agree! It's pretty much a waste unless you've fostered some kind of relationship with a particular one via classes or workshops. I know a few CD's here in NY and have cultivated a nice working relationship, but other than that, I don't blindly mail out.


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