"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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Use Actors Access Effectively Part 1

I love Actors Access. I've booked quite a few things off it. I've also used it to cast projects.

I'm helping a friend cast something now, and it boggles my mind how people aren't using AA to their advantage. But, if you don't know what it looks like, how can you use it effectively, right?

First things first: If you're a Struggling Actress (hi!) you NEED this. Go to showfax.com, buy the membership and you get to submit to AA for free for an entire year. You can add a ton of photos, but you always get two free - 2 for you, 2 for each of your agencies. Not bad, right? AND, unlike LA Casting, you can upload all your stuff from your computer, which I absolutely heart.

Second: if you have a reel uploaded to your profile, you get shuffled to the top of the casting director's pile! And guys, if you have ANY skills - like you play the guitar, you sing, you beat box, you can ride horses, PUT VIDEO OF IT UP THERE. If you don't have a reel yet, put up a reel of your skills! That way, you're STILL going to the the top of the list! (and half the time, casting is too busy to actually look at your reel- as far as they know, you're good enough to have booked enough good quality things to get video.)  

Third: Spend money on high quality photographers. Pantheon uses my girl Tanya for almost ALL their commercial talent. And she's FRIGGING CHEAP! Click on the link over there ----->
contact her, and get good photos. What makes a good photo? Pay attention to LIGHTING.

Why is all this important? Because on the film I'm helping cast, you are competing against 1,238 other actresses.

Daunting as all hell, right?

Fourth: Notes. On AA, you get the option of submitting Notes to the casting director. There are a ton of people writing notes like this:

"Dear Miranda, I would like to submit for the role of Justine. Thank you so much for your consideration. Sincerely, Samantha."

IF YOU ARE SUBMITTING YOUR HEADSHOT FOR A ROLE, WE KNOW YOU WANT TO BE CONSIDERED FOR IT. Why are you wasting your time doing that for EVERY role you submit for? I mean, yeesh. I really hope you're cutting and pasting that stuff and changing names around, but you really needn't bother. And it makes you look super green. So stop it.

What should you use the Notes section for? Specific skills you have that match what they're looking for. Say for instance a character you're right for has "Guitar skills a plus," in the description. Use Notes to say something like, "Expert guitar player; playing for 8 years, and my band just had a gig at the Roxy." I mean, make sure it's all TRUE, of course. If they're looking for singers, use the Notes section to put your specific note range. If you know the casting director, you can say hi. You can remind them what they cast you in before.

Your Resume

Take any "featured" roles OFF. If you're going to leave me a note saying you're highly trained and natural, and yet you have "featured," which is just a fancy way of saying "extra," you look silly.

If you are in LA, you MUST put Theater at the bottom of your resume categories. LA is not a theater town. You need to put Film or Television at the top. I have Television leading my resume, because I have way more credits on there than I do film. Also, as soon as I can, I am taking off all my recreated events shows. One day, I will be able to take off "I Didn't Know I Was Going to Give Birth to Sextuplets in a Hurricane the Day After an Earthquake, in a Speeding Bus Driven By Sandra Bullock." I can't wait. Cause obviously, that title takes up way too much space on my resume, but the real point is that there comes a time when your acting career graduates a level. When you have so many network credits that you can take off your student films. Understand what I'm getting at? So yeah, lead with what your market sells (Film/Tv for LA, Theater for NYC) and routinely take off your lesser credits. 

So! Do you want to know what AA submissions look like to casting?

Your headshot is about 2 inches by 2 inches, with 4 columns to a row, 25 friggin rows deep or:

headshot   headshot    headshot    headshot
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 We have to sift through 13 pages of that to find who we want to bring in to audition.

For my next post, I'm going to take actual headshot thumbnails and show you what's effective and what's not. If I happen to post your picture for the Whoo Hoo!s, then Awesome! If I put your photo up as an example of an Oh No! Don't worry. I won't use your name.

But I'll do this to help ALL of you to help you get more auditions and maybe help shed some light on why you're not getting called in as much as you should.


And here's Part 2 

If you like this blog post, please share it via Twitter or Facebook and help spread the word to your fellow struggling actors.  :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Zealand Earthquake

Fellow actress and blogger Anita, was not affected by the 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch NZ, but she has many friends who have family there and were affected. Because the quake happened during the day, a lot of people were trapped in the damage. I asked my favorite Kiwi what we can do to help, and here's what she wrote:

The quake was in Christchurch on the South Island. They had an even stronger one on September last year but it was during the night, so nobody died. It is much different this time. The quake struck in the middle of the business day and while it wasn’t as strong, it was much shallower and much more violent. Downtown Chch is completely destroyed, 39 people have been confirmed dead and there are up to 200 hundred still missing and/or confirmed trapped in collapsed buildings. It is truly horrific!

Luckily we’re living in Wellington, which is in the South of the North Island. We’re sitting right on the Pacific fault line and seeing an earthquake that size hitting Christchurch is extremely scary! We don’t have family in Canterbury (Christchurch region) but a lot of friends who do. New Zealand is such a small country, the impact of the quake is felt everywhere. Christchurch and the Canterbury region are going to take a long time to recover and they need all the help, love and understanding they can get.

If you want to donate, the Salvation Army allows online donations from anywhere in the world here https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp

ASB, ANZ and the National Bank are also taking donations.

ASB Bank: Account number: 12-3205-0146808-00. BIC/SWIFT code: ASBBNZ2A

ANZ Bank: Account number 01-1839-0188939-00. BIC/SWIFT code: ANZBAU3M
National Bank: Account number 06-0869-0548507-00. BIC/SWIFT code: ANZBNZ22

I’m sure you can also donate online to the New Zealand Red Cross but I can’t get any information on that at the moment as their website seems to be overloaded.

If you could please forward these details to your network that would be amazing!

If you want to keep up to date, there is a great national news website here: www.stuff.co.nz

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!

Warmest wishes,

If you yourself can't donate, please forward this along to everyone you know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Compliments from Strangers

Isn't it funny how if we receive a compliment from a best friend we've known for years, we don't really take it to heart? We feel that they have to say something nice, because we've seen each other cry and we hug each time we say hello and goodbye. Those compliments don't carry much weight.

But compliments from strangers mean the world. They don't compliment you because they want to make you feel better. They compliment you because they REALLY think something nice and want you to know. They don't owe you anything. They're not your doting dad who loves and watches everything you do, who will call up relatives and brag about your background work. They're just saying aloud something they really believe.

My friend JenIsLena brought a friend of hers to audit our acting class. He's worked. A lot. Nine episodes on 24, a pilot for Alan Ball... 

Well, JenIsLena just told me that he had mentioned to her that he thought I was great. That "there's no reason for her not to be working all the time." That I'm "So the cute, quirky girl."

You know how that makes me feel?


I read somewhere, from one of those touchy-feely alternative books in the self-help section, that when we receive compliments like that, it means we're being validated by the Universe - that we are following the path we were meant to take.  And every now and then, I get that. I get validated.

Maybe there really is something to it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Feel Cool

My friend Tanya told me about Instagram. It's this great FREE app for the iPhone (Droidsters, check yours for it too) where you can take a photo and choose from FIFTEEN different filters. Like the Hipstamatic, but better because you can see what each photo will look like with each filter before committing.

I've been kinda going nuts with it:

AND you can even take photos you already have and use their filters too. I took a hair show photo form last year where the overheard fluorescent light killed the photo, making it unusable, and added a simple filter that takes off the strong highlights and gives a sepia feel to it. Now I look like a vintage movie star! 

You can also have it connect to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc or you can keep your photos private. 

It is a ton of fun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

I used to work in a Florist's Shop three years ago when I was still in college [hack! cough!]. For the entire month of February, long stem roses TRIPLE in price. And if you don't get your flowers ordered by the first week for a delivery, you are pretty much outta luck. (Although, I had been trained to say, instead of sorry, we're no longer accepting delivery orders for Valentine's day, to say, "Would you like us to deliver a bouquet of roses the day before with the note, 'I just couldn't wait another day to say I love you'?" Procrastination WIN!)

And because of this, nothing says thoughtless to me like red roses on Valentine's day.  Or, as Glow pointed out, a bear with heart.  And heart shaped jewelry is perfect if I'm under ten years old, which was 14 [hack! cough!] long years ago.

Plus, having worked as a waitress for so long and constantly working holidays, Valentine's Day for servers is right up there with Black Friday for retail. EVERYONE wants to go out and have dinner. An entire night of two tops. Two tops who don't want to chat or joke, but just want to get and eat their food and drinks as quickly as possible to prove that they really do like each other.

Having all these distasteful feelings of the holiday, I pretty much guaranteed the Love of My Life a very laid back first V day together. I can't even remember what we did. We were 3 1/2 months in. Maybe we saw a movie the day after. We were still in that goofy, moony Honeymoon stage. Maybe we didn't do anything but cuddle and tell bad jokes. That would have been perfect for me.

The following year, we were about to move in together and I took some colored red and pink paper and made him a gigantic heart with our stick figure faces and "Every day is Valentine's Day with you!"
Because, for the first time in my life, the honeymoon stage didn't seem to end. It was still going strong over a year later.

This year, I made him a homemade Valentine again. I went into my old Match.com account and grabbed the "Who I am and who I'm looking for" blurb that's a profile requirement, hacked into his Match.com account after guessing his password correctly on the first try, and swiped his old profile blurb as well and then printed them together with our old photos.

Every day IS Valentine's Day with you, babe. I love you.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I do!

I have two FREE things for you, cause it's Valentine's Day Weekend!

1) You've been reading about Billy O'Leary's free class for a while now. Finally have some room in your schedule to go? Pick from either of these two dates:

Tuesday, Feb 15, 10am-12noon OR
Wednesday, March 2, 7-9pm

and let them know I referred you. The class will change your life.

2) Need to upgrade your hair color?

Artease Hair Color is looking for demo models! They need a few models for their Monday AM demo class. That's right, FREE hair color! They might do a cut now and then, depending, but if you're inbetween hair colorings, need to save money, are about to take new headshots, whatever, they will keep you in their files. And the best part - you don't need to "look" like a model or be as tall as one! As long as you have hair, they're interested in you.

All you need to do is cut and paste or Link or attach a few shots of what your hair looks like now to

Put "Model Submission Refferal from Lira," and if you're interested and available for the Monday AM class, email her asap letting her know, otherwise, let her know you'd like to be kept in their files.

It's a GREAT family company (seriously - invented by a husband and wife duo, and helped run by their daughter and her bestie) and their colors are CRAZY beautiful!

Have a lovely V-Day Weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Angry

Can you tell?

I'm stagnant, I'm bitter, I've got no motion in my ocean, and a lot of the blame needs to be put on myself. I could be doing more.

I should be doing more.

And so I read the Actors Access breakdowns and yet continue to grow angry. And angrier.

I should be making more money acting. Oh fuck, I should be making ANY money at all, but still Nothing this year. Nothing. Nada.

And then I read this blog post from Actor With a Chip, and I feel better. I feel better. Because it's not just me. It's everybody. It's the whole business model and what's happened, what's happening.

The Struggling Actresses in LA are not alone. We're surrounded by all the other 20-33 year old  actresses who are also still struggling, and Actor With a Chip  believes, "the current crop of 20-33 year old actors are in for a very long winter. And I think most of them will drop out in short order."

It's a long winter. That's okay. I'm here. I'm not stopping. I will still be here when no one else is.

In the meantime, I will keep on studying in class, keep on writing, keep on creating content. And I will still be here.

I will still be here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Selling Points

I'm glad you believe it to be a solid screenplay, but will anybody else?

 Again, film makers, it's a BUSINESS. You want actors to work for you? Don't tell them you're not going to have enough crew to run a production smoothly, and that those who want your art to be a commercial success so you can pay back your investors, and (gasp!) make money (as all BUSINESSES are wont to do) are evil, vain, and self-serving. It's the Producer's JOB to make sure the project will make money!

Good luck with your project. 

(8 Roles)
Non-Union Feature Film
Low-budget non-union feature horror film

NOTE: This project, a labor of love; though being done low budget is envisioned by a film-maker who is keen on making this a cult classic- secured by a foundation structured with what we believe to be a solid screenplay and a true to the film-maker's vision execution thereof. The film-maker is not beholding to any other interests- such as producers to infringe on creativity- other than the story itself.

Film-maker intends to put together the very best available skeleton crew made up of a unique group of the very best visionaries who have art and fair expression in their heart rather than only the monetary and vanity in their quests.

Want to Book a Pilot?

Then you should already be a name. With several series under your belt.  Or a movie star.

Here's an article passed on from my friend Carolina. The Hollywood Reporter is saying that the networks are courting several high profile stars for their pilots, including Christina Applegate, Tim Allen, Ellen Barkin, Zooey DesChanel, and Rachel Bilson to name a few.

There used to be an understanding back in the day, that once you "graduated" from being a television actor to doing films, you were never, ever going back down. It was suddenly beneath you. And it allowed a whole new crop of actors to audition for series regulars on pilots. To allow actors who put their time in to finally be able to quit their day job. For that lower-middle class actor to finally become upper-middle class.

Does that happen anymore? I'm not sure.

But I have to believe.

I have to believe.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Don't Understand

This is a real breakdown. 

Maybe I'm slow, maybe I'm stupid, but this is a rather cryptic project and it sounds like whoever is producing it doesn't know what it is either. 

And they won't send you the script!

I mean, here- here's a job where the interviewer won't tell you what it is, what you'll be doing, or how you'll be doing it, or even what you'll be paid. 

If you want actors to take your project seriously, you need to let them know what they're going in for.  Don't expect them to make magic happen when you refuse to give them a top hat and a rabbit. 

Good luck with your project. Seriously.

Non-Union Feature Film

HD Feature, microbudget, macroheart

Shoot/Start Date: Feb 9

Pay Rate: There is pay
Location: Los Angeles

Work with people with credits, and years of experience. Seeking the best in
 underused talent. Do you want to be a film actor? If you don't have enough
money to retire, consider this project. Project is both comedic and dramatic.
It's smart, creative, challenging and for the brave only. Simultaneously
 heartfelt, raunchy, uplifting, thought provoking. If you are a make it
 happen type of person please confirm you are available to shoot asap.
If your goal is to be a film actor, welcome.

Female, Caucasian, 25. Write notes that you want to shoot this week, a
few days a week. NonUnion or FiCore willing only. She's a make it
 happen sort. Driven young architect with passion and vision. Open to
magic. Generally happy. Force of nature. Helps to be in decent shape,
healthy person as this takes energy. Must be ok with going with the
flow of scripted and structured improv hybrid. Not like an improv class or loud,
stage performance. Sweet, smart, patient, helpful, focused emerging pro
actress with integrity and drive.
Will not send you the script. Action time: Here we go...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Struggling Actress

Musician Paulina has a question about representation:

I was recently offered representation from an agent, but I have no idea if
the contract is appropriate. Do most agencies take 20%? And the agency is
a "talent management company licensed by the state of California." What
does that mean? Should I take the contract to an entertainment lawyer, and
if so, do you have any suggestions about who I should see?
Hey Paulina, thanks for reading! And here we go:

It's not clear to me whether or not the person wanting to rep you is an agent or a talent manager. You need to ask them because there is a big difference between a talent agency and a talent management company. An agent is legally able to submit you for jobs and negotiate your contract. Most are SAG franchised, which is basically a stamp of approval from the screen actors union, and many use the SAG standard contract when they sign you. A talent manager, however, is not legally able to submit you for jobs (although most do) and cannot legally negotiate your contract. They are there to help guide your career, your appearance, make introductions for you to agencies, etc.

This is why you need to know:

Agents are only allowed to take a 10% commission. UNLESS it is for a non-union job. Then they can take up to 20%. Non-union jobs are usually less money, and some agents qualify their 20% by saying it helps make up for that. (There are MANY agents, however, who will not submit you for non-union, or if they do, do NOT take 20%.)  For instance, it is industry standard with print jobs, which are non-union, for your rep to make 20%. It depends on your contract with your agent.

Managers are legally able to take up to 20% for their services. But most don't. Most cap it at 15%. The top tier ones (you know managing, say, JLo or an Olsen Twin) will only take 10%. Or 9. Or 8. If you're making a ton of money, they'll take less to keep you.

And I checked out your website: are you an Actress/Singer/Songwriter, or just a Singer/Songwriter? Is your representation for your music or for acting? If it's only for music, it could be a whole new ballgame, filled with answers I don't know.

Does anyone in the music industry have any tips for Paulina? Paulina, let us know if this is for an acting career, or for your music. And find out if the person wanting to rep you is an agent or a manager.


Paulina emailed me back:

Hi Lira!

Thank you so much! This helped tremendously. I'm so new to acting and
representation issues; I had no idea where to begin and your response was
a huge help. Your questions are questions I have as well, but I couldn't
figure out how to word them, so thank you so much for your blog post. It
really helped me clarify the things that I need to understand.

I talked to the agent on the phone today (it's just for acting, by the
way) and got some more information, and I'm scheduled to meet with her
next week. I'm going to set up a short meeting with an entertainment
lawyer next week to go over the contract first, to make sure I understand
it. I'm pretty familiar with music contracts, but not acting contracts, so
hopefully this will all work out! :)

Thank you again! So grateful for your help!


So hooray! Paulina is going to meet with a lawyer to completely understand her contract and meet with the interested rep in order to fully understand what she wants. After doing all her research, she'll be able to make a fully informed decision that's best for her. Yay!

Friday, February 4, 2011

At the Airport

Hey Everyone, I'm at the airport this month for pilot season. I figure I'll find more pilots here than anywhere else.

My manager suggested last week that I call my agent to chit chat. My initial reaction was a stomach full of lead as I imagined the conversation:

"Lira Kellerman for Agency Founder please."
"One moment"
"Hey Lira, what can I do for you?"
"Heeeeeey!!!! Uhm. I just called to waste your time.... OhMyGodGottaGoBye!"

I mean, I have nothing new to report, nothing exciting is going on career wise, and I knew that I would be taking up his precious work time and who wants to be responsible for keeping their agent at their office at this time of year?

So what did I do?

Chicken me called the office on the weekend. When I knew he'd be out. I left my voicemail that I was just saying hi, had nothing really to say, but hoped he was doing well.

When I hung up, I facepalmed myself. I forgot to leave my phone number.



Agent called me on Monday to check in with me and make sure I was okay. On voicemail. I didn't feel the need to call him back, cause I'm fine and boring.

He called me again last night.

He wanted to make sure I was okay. He told me that he got my voicemail over the weekend and realized that his client roster contact sheet at home is out of date because I wasn't on there. And when he contacted his guy in the commercial department for my phone number, he didn't have it, cause I'm not repped by their commercial department.

"I got worried. So I'm glad you're okay, I'm glad you're doing well, but I just wanted you to know that you ruined my entire weekend."

Oh my god, I freakin love him. He's so funny and sweet and reminds me of my dad.

He said that the Pilot Season hasn't been normal this year (and he then corrected himself, saying pilot season hasn't been "normal" in years) due to the casting director fight with the studios. And that he expected things to pick up considerably in the next two weeks.

But then I got to thinking.... after the pre-read, what can a Struggling Actress expect? If a Struggling Actress gets a callback (eeeee!!!) what happens? And then What happens? and THEN what happens?

Backstage did a few articles about the process. Read them here.

In the meantime, these American Airlines pilots look adorable in their caps...!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

January = New Haircut

Every January, since I started auditioning for the International Salon Spa and Salon Expo as a hair model, I get cast. Very few models have hair texture like mine, and the master stylists and creative directors go nuts whenever I show up to a casting. They will swarm my head, politely ask to touch my hair, and then run their fingers through, scrunch, and fluff my hair. Sometimes, they'll say, "I'm so sorry, we're only doing straight hair styles, but my goodness - Sylvia! Come here! You've got to feel this!" And then Sylvia will call over Sven who will call over Seth and the sweet curly nectar feeds the souls of the hummingbird stylists, flitting and chirping over my head.

But at the ISSE show, I always get cast because there's a lot of hair companies and all of them are trying to grab curly hair models because cutting curly hair is hard and they know they can sell their hair cutting dvds and other promotional materials and products to ISSE show goers, who will buy the products so they can learn a few new tricks. If you're a stylist and you don't specialize in cutting curly hair, you're losing potential clients. Get a curly girl in once and she hates your haircut, you don't have repeat business. So hair product companies will hire me at the ISSE show to use me as a presentation or demonstration model to show the latest cutting and coloring curly hair trends.

Yay me!

Last year, I went from this,

to this

and styled to this

which made me want to do this

cause of this

The same stylist wanted to use me again this year, but I was hesitant as I didn't want such a dramatic change again and was finally happy with the length of my hair. I really just wanted it to be shaped more than cut, but meh, I pretty much will let the stylists do what they want because it's just hair and I'm not too emotionally attached to it since I used to hate it. (You know, before it started making me money. ) But I knew I'd rather go with another stylist's take on my hair. I risked it.

I'm glad I did.

I went into a BeadHead casting (they cast me in my first ISSE show) and every time I've modeled for their parent company, TiGi or, TonyandGuy, I have had AMAZING haircuts: completely current and trendy. I LOVE what they do. I consider them to be on the cutting edge (pun intended) and love booking them.

They booked me.

But just for color and style - no cut!


And then I realized I DO want a haircut! Especially from TiGi! I asked at the casting if someone wouldn't mind cutting my hair if I found a free stylist who had a few moments, and they said, oh, sure! No problem!


So on Monday, the last day of the ISSE show in Long Beach, I went from this
notice I use a constipated face for my before pics

to this

What's funny, (besides my acute jaundice) is that you can't really see the shape of the cut here. I was actually not very happy about it. There are a TON of short pieces (like, two inches long) on the top of my head, which means I know they're going to frizz and I'm going to look stupid.

The stylist used a ton of their product on my hair, but to be honest, I do not like wearing a lot of product and just about never use it. I can only shampoo my hair about twice or thrice a week, and using product means it gets all over my pillowcase and flakes off and makes my hair look worse on the days I don't wash it out. It's too much hassle. And my hair actually looks better after I've slept on it. Plus, adding in the product means that my hair is being touched a lot after it's wet, thus separating the curls into smaller, thinner curls, so it frizzes out and I don't feel like me.

And I've done enough hair shows to know that the haircut after they style it isn't the end all of my day; I have to wash everything out and style it on my own to see how my new haircut really stands out.

So I got home and washed all the product out and blowdried my hair with my diffuser.

The haircut I wasn't happy with?

It's one of the best I've ever had in my life.

The upper shorter pieces round out my hair on top, giving it a bulbous, full, rounded effect, which I LOVE and WANT for my hair, and the bottom was kept a few inches longer which gives it a rocker, edgy feel.

So here is me, after my hair is styled (and with no makeup)

And it looks WAY better in person, and EVEN BETTER after I've slept on it.