Author Archives: Terry Berland

Seven Things That Make An Actor Successful (that you can’t learn in class)

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

Welcome to the start of 2018.  It’s that time of year.  You are refreshed and pumped up, renewed and ready to start the New Year on the right foot.

I’m always asked what makes someone successful in this business.  Stating the obvious would be you need to know the basic strong foundation of acting, know the technique of the venue you are working in and be aware of how the business works.  The good thing is there are lot’s of classes to take and articles to read to arm yourself to be the mighty worrier to learn what it takes to be competitive.

However, I am going to share with you the other things that makes an actor successful, that people just can’t seem to articulate.

Traits You Need To Have That You Can’t Learn In Class.

I’m excited to have identified these traits.  Check them out.  You can’t study them.  Realizing you have them and embracing them can put you in a position of strength, help you show up in a positive way and even help you through some rough patches that come up.

The successful actor has…..

Courage:  You have the ability to put yourself out there.  You go for it; every audition you go to is a risk.  You move through fear and you do not let fear stop you.  In fact fear feeds you energy.  You do not feel rejected if you do not book something.  You make choices, you take chances and commit to your choices.  Every audition takes courage.

Involvement:  You are involved all day, every day. You get up in the morning and check the breakdowns, you are aware all day of texts from your agents and managers, you get in your car, your Uber or Lyft and show up at your auditions.  You know how to act and how to approach each audition, you have a way to support yourself so you can do what you love to do.  You know the players.  You know how to balance personal time and work time. In fact you have a well-rounded life with many interests.

Enthusiasm:  Your enthusiasm, love and devotion for what you do is obvious.  Casting directors can feel it when you enter the audition room. Because you know you are the best you can be, and you know what empowers you, you are not cut off from your enthusiasm.  You love that you received an audition, you love being at the audition and you love your time in the room that you are given to audition.  You are grateful.

Graciousness:  You accept your audition times, you are happy to have auditioned.  You are not needy.  You are thankful for the opportunity.  You realize who all the players are and understand what their job is. You know you are part of a team effort with many cogs in the wheel, with everyone usually under stress to do their part right.  Because of your understanding and knowledge, you can be polite to the session runner, session director and casting director.

Positiveness:  You walk out of the audition knowing you gave it your all, feeling positive because you gave a good audition.  You are happy to have been invited to audition.

Curiosity:  Your curious nature keeps you open.  You are up for any crazy, unexpected audition situation. You are aware of people around you.  Your curiosity allows you to go deeper and deeper into your emotions and sensory work.  Your curiosity enables you to be creative.

Love for learning:  You love taking classes, learning more, delving  deeper into your craft and always getting better and better.

If you are pursuing acting by studying, building up your resume, are up-to-date with your professional photos, on breakdown services and auditioning, I’m sure you will find these traits in yourself.  In my Commercial Acting Workshop in addition to how to use the space and create a textured short scene in this space, we focus on what empowers you, which activates the traits that cannot be learned.  My best advice is to recognize and embrace them.  Owning them will be extremely empowering.

What Part Can Social Media Play In Your Career?

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

Social media is a way of life and should not, and cannot be avoided.  It’s worth looking at the pros and cons of social media in your career.

A big question seems to be, “does it matter how many followers I have?”  “Will I get more auditions or book more commercials if I have more followers?”  “Can the number of followers I have help me get more bookings?”

The answer is yes, build up your followings. The second part of the answer is …….and it might not matter.

Social Media is a must if the client is looking for large followings.  If the client is looking for large followings, we will state that on our breakdown.  Obviously, the larger the followings, the stronger candidate you are for this particular call.  There are not a lot of calls, as of yet, that particularly ask for talent’s social media following.  The ad agency and the director are striving to make a commercial creative, looking for the best actor that fits the personality of the character in their spot.

No mention of followings.
Even if we do not mention followings, talent are starting to make note of their number of followers.  As a casting director it does enter my mind, when the talent lists their large followings, that it would be a plus for a commercial spot or a film that I am casting.  After all, the talent will post that they are in the spot or the film and more people will watch it.  However, if my breakdown does not specify followings, I’ll always fall back on who is the better actor and ignore the number of followers.

Manager of Social Media and Influencers
There are managers popping up who specialize in people with large followings.  If you are one of these people, keep an eye out for these managers. These managers will know how you can reap the financial benefits of being an influencer.  A good manager of this type will be on the radar of any projects that need people with large followings.  A large following is somewhere in the few hundred thousand followers to a million, if we are talking about music.

PROS: Opportunities Can Occur From Social Media
The more you post on whatever social media site is popular, the more connections you are making, which means more chances of some opportunity coming up somewhere, somehow.
I have had an experience of casting a video game where the producer asked me to bring a talent into audition because the talent (who works a lot) follows him on twitter tweeting about a lot of projects she is doing.  Because of his familiarity with her work, and her appearance on twitter, she was on the top of his mind.

As a casting director, when I see an actor actively tweeting about classes and theatre they are seeing, it does make a positive impression.

Being on social media is an active thing to do, rather than having no movement at all. Click Here to Read MY BLOG ON LAW OF ATTRACTION. Being in groups on Facebook and Linkedin is a great way to share and source information.

There are two cons regarding social media. Be aware of your content.  Acting is your business. Do not post anything that will embarrass you or put you in a bad light somewhere down the line and strongly consider if you want to stay away or get involved in politics.  Also, keep your main focus on being a good actor; don’t let social media consume you and be more important than, and take your focus away from, being a good actor. I have social media influencers taking my Commercial Acting classes (Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting Workshop) because their reps realize they have to know how to act to be in a commercial.

Click here for more info on Terry’s workshops.
Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.
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Eleven Ways Not To Sabotage Yourself

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

The acting business is based on so many variables that you don’t have control over.  The good news is there are many things you do have control over. I hesitate to share this list of errors because every item seems so obvious to me, but it’s happened too many times that I would be remiss not to share. Getting these things right can make a difference in being considered a trusted professional and, sometimes even getting or losing an audition.

  1. Attach a resume to your breakdown.  Some people do not have a resume attached to their photo submissions.  If there is no resume a casting director knows nothing about you.  Casting directors are choosing people who they know something about to fulfill a role, even if it’s just a look.  You cannot be considered without a resume.  Someone who has a resume will be chosen over someone who does not.
  2. Have more than one photo on your submission profile.  As a casting director, I like to look at four or five photos.  Several photos show a subtle range of what you look like and who you are.
  3. Spell names of people you studied with correctly.  The acting community is a small community. Most of us casting directors know who all the acting coaches are.  When I see a misspelling of an acting teacher I think it’s odd that the actor has studied with this person and are not aware enough to know how the person spells their name…or do they just not care.
  4. Get the name of the workshop right.  Everyone names or calls their workshop something that reflects their branding.  I’ve had people call my workshop whatever name they make up and even list the studio that I teach at as the name of the workshop  For instance my workshop is

“Commercial Acting Workshop.  It has the word “acting” in it for a reason; that being I use acting basics and treat it as a short scene   If you would list the name as “commercial workshop” it leaves out the word “acting’ which brands my workshop.

  1. Put contact information on your resume.  Yes, I’ve seen resumes without any contact information on them.  It’s obvious that no one can reach you with contact information.
  2. Look like your photo.  Your photo should be current.  Don’t choose a photo that makes you look prettier or more handsome than you are.  You should embrace what you look like.
  3. Confirm or cancel your appointments online quickly.  We (casting director’s) have to come through with a certain amount of choices for our clients.  Our clients get very, very upset with us if we don’t.  Calling talent to chase down a confirmation takes up a lot of time and is exasperating.  If you are not coming, let us know quickly, which will enable us to give someone else an appointment.  This will make your fellow actor very happy and save us a lot of agita.
  4. Put notes on your submissions if it is requested.  A note will make you stand out.  We have 4000 or more choices being presented to us in addition to agents and managers pitching clients.  You want to stand out.
  5. Submit for the correct role.  Breakdowns give us the capacity to switch you to a different role. After looking at 2000 photos taking the extra step of switching you might come at a moment when we can’t handle one extra moment to meet our deadlines.
  6. Read the breakdown carefully.  I’ve worked on SAG-AFTRA waived projects where there is money listed paid directly from production to talent but talent just see SAG-AFTRA waived contract and never notice the payment.  Because I really want the person to come in, I take the time to explain and re-read what the breakdown says.  You don’t want to be left out due to time running out.
  7. Don’t send correspondence without photo recognition.  If you are sending something through the mail include a picture postcard or business card with your photo on it.  If you are sending something via e mail, include a link to your website, or photo.  Maybe our memory needs a little jolt as to what you look like.  It can never hurt to show your face.  Links should be part of your e-mail signature.

Hopefully, you read over this list and say “I do all those things right” there is nothing for me to learn here.  But if there is even one that you can relate to and change, it could make the difference of you having the competitive edge or not.

To train with Terry Berland directly in her Commercial Acting Workshop, see workshop schedule at

Actors Must Know Themselves


Written by Terry Berland for the Networker


All the hard work you put into being a good commercial actor can help you transition into a career in television. Here are six elements from your commercial career that can help you make the transition to television acting.

1. A Commercial Spot Running
If you have a good commercial spot running, you have a body of work that may be recognized. Theatrical casting directors watch commercials and frequently search for someone they have seen in a commercial who they feel will be good for a TV role they are casting. I can tell you first hand as a casting director, I have had many television casting director friends ask me who is in such-and-such commercial.

2. Define Who You Are/Target The Shows
In my Commercial Acting Workshop I focus on you getting to know who you are.
Defining who you are is the most important element, not only to be successful in commercials, but also to transition into a television career. The most successful commercial actors have defined who they are, both in performance and look, as opposed to being neutral. Being able to tap into who you are empowers you, lends to an authentic performance and carries over to who confidently shows up in the room (refer to my April Networker Article “The Room Where It Happens”). You can use the same work you’ve put into knowing who you are commercially towards working in television.

Knowing yourself well as an actor, researching TV shows, and setting goals will enable you to target the shows that best suit you. Once you know who you are, you can be successful with the following remaining elements needed to make the transition.

3. Resume
A really good actor needs a solid acting background. You can work in commercials while developing a resume with training that supports the types of characters in TV shows you are targeting. The operative word is “develop.” A resume takes time to build. Take classes in the genres you are targeting. For instance, if you prefer drama, your resume should have classes strong in drama. If you are going after comedy roles, you should have a body of comedy classes—and improv is good for all acting (refer to my April Networker blog “The Power Of Improv”). Training is very important, as it reflects the foundation of who you are as an actor. What kind of classes you’ve taken and whom you have studied with is important. For instance, a current industry drama, comedy, or improv instructor carries more weight than a college course.

4. Photo
As mentioned above, as a successful commercial actor you have already defined your look and who you are personality-wise. Watch TV shows and analyze what shows have the type of characters you can and want to play. Meet with a good photographer and describe your strong personality traits and what shows you see yourself on. Make sure the photographer is listening to you. In turn, listen to what the photographer has to say and decide if you can work well together. Your ultimate goal is to end up with a photograph that reveals the personality that you want to play.

5. Wardrobe
In commercials, you are already very aware of the importance of wardrobe, now study the characters in the TV shows you are interested in, and wear clothing and hair of similar styles in your photos.

6. An Agent
The good news now is there are a lot of boutique commercial agents who also represent their talent for television. If you have one of these commercial agents, your representation is taken care of for your transition.

In addition to agent representation, be familiar with TV shows, know character types, and target meeting the casting directors of those shows, and get your photo, resume, and work seen by them.


A really good audition makes the casting director, the producer, and the director really happy. You gave a good audition, you got put on avail . . . and then you didn’t get booked. Why?
I can assure you it is nothing that you did wrong. So if it’s nothing you did wrong, what could it be?
The callback is the time the spot takes shape. Many variables come into play.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Might Not Get Booked
1. The Spot Has A Certain Look
All variations and combinations of looks are considered. During the callback selection process, as the spot takes shape, your look might not quite fit in. I have seen a group of six people chosen and upon final consideration, the creative team noticed everyone was brunette. One person was randomly taken out of the group and replaced with a person with lighter hair. I remember feeling an “ouch” for the person taken out of the group.
You might look too upscale, not upscale enough, too pretty, not pretty enough, etc. You can’t change how the creatives decide how their spot should look.
2. The Spot Has A Certain Feel
As the spot comes alive at the callback, the creative team sees more clearly what is going to work for the feel they want. The essence of your personality might not work. You might feel too humorous, not humorous enough, too serious, not serous enough, or too intellectual. I’ve even seen an actor with a wonderful performance lose the job during final consideration because one person on the creative team felt he did not feel “trustworthy” enough. The “feel” of who you are is your essence, and you can’t change your essence. You have no control over the feel of a spot.
3. Character Relationships In a Spot
When a group is being put together, you might not gel well with the other person they definitely want. You may gel well, but someone else gels better or differently.
Chemistry comes into play during mixing and matching of people being considered. Sometimes you will actually be asked to stay to be mixed and matched. If you are not asked to stay, the creative team actually mixes and matches by shuffling around the size cards. They discuss the different feel of people together. You can’t change chemistry between people.
4. Change In Direction
There is always the chance that the direction of the spot, or your particular character is changed. You have no control over the ad agency or director making these changes.
5. Luck Of The Draw
Everyone is unique. Put two really good actor’s performances toe to toe in front of the creatives for them to choose, and they can only choose one.
All you can do is give your best performance, be knowledgeable about how the system works and feel fortunate you got to audition, got the call back and most importantly know that even though you didn’t get booked, you pleased everyone. Really know you will be remembered for the next opportunity.

Be Brave On Stage

Embracing Surprises Will Make You A Better Actor.
Have You Earned Your Badge of Courage?

Written by Terry Berland for the Networker

You can certainly apply the old adage, “The only constant is change,” to your everyday acting career. Change can cause surprise, upset, and agitation, or it can stimulate you and give you good “war stories.”

If you are more comfortable with predictability, then acting is probably not for you. You can’t take a class, course, or workshop in how to deal with surprise. Recently, I was giving direction to a bunch of actors who were waiting to go into my casting call back session. Since the direction had changed from when the job first started, I gave my apologies. The seasoned actors I was speaking to had a good laugh and they said, “we love surprises.” It brought up an interesting conversation about actors loving the element of surprise.

These seasoned actors, well into their sixties, found the element of surprise a positive and not a negative. With glee, they were telling me many stories of surprises. They wore these stories as badges of courage. If you like surprises it will certainly make your acting life easier.


One actor, Vaughn Green, said “Roll with the surprise. It’s grown-ups playing kid’s games.” Take a look and notice if acting is a heavy experience and not fun, and if it fills you with angst or if the unpredictability is exciting.


Dennis Leski said surprises keep the adrenalin rolling. He worked for many years before as an attorney, which also stimulated the adrenalin. Learn to use the adrenalin. Look forward to the serge of adrenaline.


Rather than thinking of something going wrong, think of it as not going as planned. It’s life-improv. Take what comes at you and keep the ball rolling until you get the situation back on track.
Vaughn was in his first play years ago where he was holding a stack of pages and all the pages went flying all over the stage.

Peter Trencher was in a play where every night the director changed the script and the blocking, and he found himself blocking to the script of the previous night. Actors tell me about how entire scenes in a play have revolved around a prop, and when they went for the prop, it was missing.


On any given day, our casting office may get change in times, days, characters, and direction. We take the changes in stride and so should you.


Take a look at many changes that have happened to you and access if you hate these changes or have you embraced them as part of the acting business? I invite you to let me know of surprises that gave you your badge of courage.

Ad-Libbing in Commercial Auditions

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

I’m not sure if actors really know of the “treading on thin ice” conditions casting used to have to work under to stay within the union’s improvising rules, in order to avoid fines every time we needed comedic actors to show a degree of creativity.


The Union contracts had always forbid casting to ask actors to improvise in auditions. Improvisation was considered a creative contribution to the spot, which it was thought should come with additional compensation. Unfortunately, this limited the actor from giving a full comedic performance and casting from finding truly unique individuals. To comply with this rule, casting directors and actors were forced to eliminate a certain degree of creativity by avoiding asking actors to improvise around scripted commercials. Casting would have to use certain language (wink, wink) that became a well known invitation to improvise, without actually using the word “improv.” On occasion, casting directors were reported to the union, which resulted in clients and casting being fined for entering the forbidden area of creativity set by the union.

New SAG-AFTRA Contract

New contract allows ad-libbing to occur at commercial auditions and sessions


With styles changing through the years to be more real, looser, and less tightly stylized, the creativity needed in comedy spots and performances became harder and harder to finesse around the archaic contractual improvisation rules. The union has acknowledged that fact and the new contract does allow ad-libbing at commercial auditions and sessions. Payment is, however, still required for a creative session call – for devising dialogue or action not suggested by a script, storyboard, or by specific direction.


We are thrilled to be able to be more creative with you in regard to comedic performance and give you the chance to comically show your stuff. After all, the creative team already has the dialogue that is amusing, now they need to find a comedic personality. Comedic personalities live in distinctive expressions and ways of saying things that is unique to each individual. That means adding some of the talent’s own words, changing rhythms, making side comments and/or riffing.

We are looking forward to more creatively working with talent. Free at last.