"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

Friday, April 5, 2013

You're Hurting My Heart

This is the first time I've ever gotten an email looking for advice that hurt my heart.

Dear Lira,
I happened to come across your blog (very interesting read) and was convinced you'd give me the best advice. I dont want to be an actor but would love to be in commercials. Thought would ask you what a good place to get a headshot done would be? I'd really appreciate it.
I'm not quite sure I understand where you're coming from. You don't want to be an actor but you'd like to be in commercials? Why? Because it looks easy?

There are thousands of actors who train, train, train their butts off so that they can book a commercial or a television show and make a living. They get a theatre degree, they take commercial classes, they study everything on tv and note what their type could realistically sell.

They spend thousands of dollars on the right wardrobe for the right headshots so that they can then submit those photo reproductions into manilla envelopes and mail them each for over $1 in postage to around 50 agents, hoping that one of them just might call them in and represent them. They will drive hundreds of miles and sit in hours of rush hour traffic to make their audition, their call back. They will spend over an hour waiting their turn where only their photo is taken. They will be on set and wait 8 hours before they're needed for ten minutes.

You want to be in commercials. Why not, right? The money is good. And sometimes it IS all about your look. But if you have no commercial training, no acting training, what makes you think you could book something? What makes you better than the girl next to you who has been training for years? What makes you more bookable than her?

Because commercial audiitons are hard. They're ridiculous. And if you don't want to be an actor, you probably don't know the lingo. You don't know how to slate. You don't know how to be real in front of the camera.

But heck, maybe you do. Maybe you're a natural. Maybe you'll book the first seven commercials you go out for.

But I think you're not seeing the whole picture: It's very Expensive to be a commercial actor. And you probably Will Not book an audition within the first six months.

You don't even want to do your own research to look at headshot photographers yourself.

Why don't you want to be an actor? Is there something wrong with being an actor?

Why would you go to a Struggling Actress and tell her that you're not going to put in the work to be an actor, nor do you have any intention of ever doing so, but can she help you do something you obviously don't understand the scope of?

P, if you really want to act in commercials, and you probably really can, you need to research that information yourself. You also need to understand that you will spend over $1,500 just to get the photos and put them up on the submission services.

You need to understand that you have to make money in the meantime with part-time night work, so that you can be available ALL day for your commercial agent who might get you an audition once or twice a week. You can't decline an audition if you're working at your "real" day job. Your commercial agent will drop you in one hot quick second if you don't take your commercial job (which is actually being available to audition at a moment's notice) seriously, because there are hundreds of actors with credits and more experience right behind you wanting in. So what are you doing to make money to pay rent? Are you waiting tables? Making coffee? Dressing up as a Princess on the weekend at children's birthday parties? Walking dogs? Are any of those jobs beneath you?

Research. You haven't done any of it.

Come back to me next year, show me your thumb on your nose, your residual paychecks, and how you thought I was so rude to you and look, ha ha ha, you did it after all!

And I'll congratulate you on your hard work, because P, that's what being a commercial actor is: very, very hard work.

And I'll be happy for you, honest.

But you need to do the work first.



  1. Wow... That about sums it up Lira. Very well put.. Not rude at all, but VERY informative and honest. Doesn't want to act.. lol. Clearly, the HARD work makes it "seem" easy...


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