Category Archives: On Camera

One Surprising Element That Can Calm Your Nerves

Written for the Networker by Terry Berland

I’m going to start out with ways to calm your nerves that you have all heard before. One element that can get rid of your jitters, and can calm your nerves is certainly knowing your technique. In addition, understanding the venue you are working in, including who the players are. In addition understanding the selection process and the booking process will also give you more of a comfort level, and certainly we can add getting familiar with the casting community…. And let’s not forget being good at improv. You learn all this in my Commercial Acting Workshop. But…….

The one element that can calm your nerves that I’ve never heard been talked about before is Understanding Similarities Between A Casting job and an Acting job.

I think you’ll be surprised at the similarities that casting folks and actors go through. If you really understand that casting directors are in many ways the same as you, the actor, I believe you can come into an audition room feeling less nervous and more on an equal footing.

Lets look at some similarities that may surprise you. The title of the situation is the same, although there are variations in the details. This list could very well be the day in an actor’s life, but no….. it is the day of a casting director’s life. Hopefully you will come away saying “what, you go through that too?????#####”

Not knowing at all what that day will bring: The day of a casting director starts with waking up and not knowing what the day will bring. We can have no job at all and the day can continue like that, or the e mail will come in with a heads up about a casting coming in. We may first be asked for an estimate for our client to figure out a budget to be able to award the job, or the job can be awarded right then and there with the client telling us how much they have for casting.

The Need to be flexible. Many things can change along the way, like the shoot and call back dates; casting days and characters can also change. We start the job and ride the wave of changes.

Fees Not As High As They Used To Be: Sometimes the casting director gets their full quoted rate (you can look at that in actor speak as scale), and sometimes the client tells us a lower rate they have for the casting budget. We either take the job or leave it….and someone else gets the job.

Sometimes having to travel for work: Many of us are housed out of one particular casting studio that is close to where we live and have a comfortable working relationship with. Sometimes a client tells us what part of town they want their call backs to take place that is convenience for them. We go! Yes, it is what is convenient for the client, and not us.

Are the situations sounding familiar? Here’s some more.

Nerves kick in: Every time we start a casting session we are nervous. Some things that make us nervous are that our early morning talent will not show up on time to get us started. Yes, there has been a few times that no one shows up for an entire half hour. That means we don’t have enough people for that character to present to our client. That can’t happen. This is not a dress rehearsal. We have no second chances. I quickly have to get more people in at the end of the day.

Nerves also kick in with us counting on talent to look like their photos and demo reels and doing a good acting job with the particular script. We are only as good as the talent we bring in.

Book a trip/book a job. Why is it whenever any of us book a trip or book out for any reason, a job comes in?

Trouble collecting copies of the spots: We would love to have a copy of the spot for our reels and archives. We are told the spot cannot be released until it is finished with its run.

Getting no answers. Many months after we are well aware the spot has stopped running, we contact the producer again for a copy of the spot, and the producer will not answer our e mails or calls. The client disappears until the next time they need us.

I am hoping you have read this list and are saying “that could my list as an actor”. I am a firm believer that feeling more familiar with a situation can help you feel more connected and comfortable, hence, a better audition. I hope understanding our similarities will bring a smile to your face and an “ah ha” moment that will bring a lighthearted feeling with you to your next audition.

The One Question You Shouldn’t Be Asking Is “What Do They Want?”

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

Don’t Look For A Cookie Cutter To Shape Your Audition.

The other day I was in the reception area of a project I was casting and one of the actors asked me “what are they looking for”? I cringed inside and answered, they are looking for an actor to bring them “something”.

The one thing you should not be trying to figure out when you are preparing copy both commercially and theatrically is what do they want.

The person who gets the call back is the person whose performance makes the character come alive. Don’t look for a “cookie cutter” to shape your audition.

Don’t worry; I did help out the inquiring actor. I asked him if he understood his character? Understanding your character and the following other steps listed below will help you figure out your choices to give a good audition.

Embrace that you are in a creative business.
Understand the writer has written the words and the creatives are looking for a personality to make the character and the situation come alive.

Understand The Character
It is very important to understand who your character is. Is your character sympathetic, a looser or a winner, congenial, above-it-all, optimistic, pessimistic, etc.

Know How To Find Hints Given To You In The Copy
Commercial copy has many hints in it. Some of these hints are: what is their sell, where are you, what is your attitude, what are your relationships, what are your back stories, what was your life like before this particular moment and what is your life going to be like after this moment?

Take Risks
Know the difference between being bigger, rather than smaller, yet know how to work appropriately in the space.

Feeling loose and connected to your gut is a risk in itself. Not holding yourself back, feeling joy and letting go of your inner critical voice are all risks.

Connect
Feeling and acting connected is the key. You will be able to feel connected if you truly know who you are and what your relationships are, all the while giving your situation backstories.

Act with confidence
If you realty feel connected, you will act with confidence. Feeling and acting hesitant keeps you in an uncreative, limited zone.

Approach Commercial Copy as a short scene

For those of you who also act in film and television, have you noticed that everything I am suggesting are the same elements it takes to execute a good theatrical scene? Yes, commercials are a short scene. Anyone who studies with me knows in my Commercial Acting Workshop I teach you how to approach a commercial as a short scene.

Walk Out Of the Audition Space Feeling Good
Appreciate that you created a character and took chances. Feeling good will give you energy to have a great day, stay positive and attract opportunities.

It is a thrill for me to guide and teach you to be the best that you can be. You are unique. For your next audition preparation, don’t open that drawer and look for a cookie cutter. Have fun creating and know you will be great.

Five Reasons Why You May Not Book After A Great Audition

Written by Terry Berland for the Networker

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, which you can learn in Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting Workshop and other working’s around town.  In addition, be knowledgeable about how the system works, feel fortunate you got to audition, got a 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.

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.

Law Of Attraction For Actors

by Terry Berland

I declare this month Law Of Attraction month for you!

As an actor you want to attract the opportunities and the jobs.  It’s a feat to become part of the “system”, stay in it and snag the “gold ring”, the bookings. To do this, the most important thing is to attract activity to you, and the rest will come.  Fair warning, most results will be indirect and unexpected.

#1.  Create and gain momentum.  Stay in Motion. Newton’s law that a body in motion stays in motion, applies to your acting life. While you are in motion you can gently steer and change in a particular direction you choose when you feel it is the right time.

#2.  Long-Sighted goals.  Be realistic. Take one step at a time toward your long-sighted goals. Take your time to build up to the end results you have in site for yourself.  This might affect jobs you take, agents that represent you and acting classes you spend time and money on. I am certainly not advocating leaving an agent that believes in you and is working to build up your career.  If an agent is doing a good job for you, stay with that agent.  But for example, if your long-term goal is to be represented by CAA, build up to that long-term goal in a realistic way.  Another example is you declare “I want to be really great at advanced long-form improv.“  Well, you would have to take beginner and intermediate to build up to being able to handle advanced long-form.

#3.  Keep acting every way you can.  Create your own projects, act in acting class every week, do theatre, commercials, voice-over, video games, audio books, industrials, print work and even do an extra on a TV show to get on set to see how that venue works; and do every other form of acting that you can find that interests you.

#4 Work begets work.  Certainly don’t sell yourself short, but stay busy with any kind of acting work you can get.  Without selling out, take work for a fee that is not your long-term goal.

#5 Keep building your resume.   Start with the very important basic foundational strong acting technique training and then develop your resume according to the type of acting work you want to do.   If you know you are funny start taking classes that reflects being able to act with humor.  Also take improv that challenges the muscle in your brain that blocks and filters your creative thought process.  I once was interviewing an actor and after I read over her resume I asked where she thought her acting strength lies.  She said comedy.  I pointed out that there was not one play or acting class listed that reflected humor.  I told her the obvious, “you have a strong foundational resume, now start shaping it towards what your strength is and what you really want to do.”

# 6 Surround yourself with supportive people.  This is extremely important.  Walk away from negativity.  Leave it behind you and say “bye- bye”.

# 7 Surround yourself with positive people.  Positivity creates an energy around you that will attract positive situations.

# 8 Live by integrity.  Have integrity in everything you do.  Treat yourself with respect and treat others with respect.  That includes other actors, casting directors, agents and assistants.

#9 Believe in yourself :  You have to believe in yourself at every turn you make.  It starts when you walk in the room and continues when you walk out of the room and continues on your way home through that night to the next day.

# 10 Do everything with passion.  Show up at auditions interested, read all the directions given to you, analyze your scripts and sides, listen to direction given to you and make solid, committed choices.  Walk out of the room with joy that you just finished a satisfying audition.

#11  Be grateful.  Take time out to acknowledge all that you have.

Most of the time doing all these things magnetize indirect results and will bring unexpected situations your way.  I would love to hear about any of these things that you have done that have reaped you benefits.  Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

The Competitive Edge: To Understand Luck is to Eliminate Stress

Written by Terry Berland for the Networker

You’ve done all the things you can to have command and control over your career. You are a solid actor, you have a well-developed resume, you are comfortable auditioning and you know how to be in a room. (see blog What Hamilton and Commercials Have In Common). Even after doing all you can do to take control, there is one element you have no control over that can work for or against you. That is the element of luck.
After you do everything to create your own luck, let’s look at where this mystical area comes into play. Bringing these areas to light can eliminate the stress of fighting against something you really have no control over.


LUCK COMES INTO PLAY ON THREE LEVELS:
Level 1.
The casting director’s choice of who to audition.
Level 2.
Whom the creative team decides to present as final choices to the client.
Level 3.
Whom the client selects.
To add to the complexity, let me remind you that you are being picked either as an individual or as part of an ensemble.


SIX AREAS WHERE LUCK CAN COME INTO PLAY:
1. General Physical Look
Some examples of physical looks can be referred to as slightly off-beat, pretty, conservative or intellectual.
From the start of the process, after your agent submits you based on a breakdown, the casting director has to begin making choices.  Based on their personal opinion, a casting director chooses the actors most suitable for the part to audition. The first “sweep” typically consists of a broad array of choices. Then they have to start shaping the audition so it is well-rounded with a variety of talent. That means eliminating some actors. You could randomly be in or out. However, someone who was originally eliminated can be reconsidered.
2. Hair Color
Commercially, unless the character calls for a particular hair color, all hair colors are considered in the first round.
An example of luck coming into play is when the casting director looks at the audition they are shaping up and if the audition is leaning towards everyone having dark hair, then they have to vary the look and pull out some talent with dark hair and replace them with light or red hair. The second round of luck comes in at the callback stage. Those actors who were called back go through another subjective selection process by the creative team deciding which talent they will present to the client for the final look of the spot. The third chance for luck comes with client approval. Many times the client does not chose the first choice and they go with the second or third choice because they subjectively feel this person or combination of people will make a better spot.
The same layers of luck come into play with the remaining examples.
3. Ethnicity
The first character breakdown could call for all ethnicities to be considered. Mathematically there are only a certain amount of time slots in a day and casting has to choose this person over that person to appoint to the time slots allotted.
4. Personality traits
In addition to your look, each and every person has an essence that we might call a personality trait. This element also has to fit the character or the ensemble being put together. Some personality traits can be characterized as funny, serious, or intellectual.
5. Being in the right place at the right time 
Recently I was casting a short film. I had just put the breakdown out and was looking over my submission choices. An actor was passing by my office on his way to another casting director’s office, I looked up as we said our “good mornings” and there he was, the very person I was searching for. He looked perfect, had the right essence and acting ability. If he hadn’t passed my office at that moment, I know in this case, I would not have thought of him for this role. I presented him to my client and he booked the film.
6. Shoot dates
The last element of luck would be shoot dates. As the expression goes “as luck may have it” or “when it rains it pours”, you might be booked for something else on the shoot dates. Then there is the other scenario, “book a plane ticket/book a job”. All actors and casting directors seem to say the same thing. Plan a vacation or purchase a plane ticket and that’s when the job comes in.
Knowing we can’t beat luck, the only thing we can do is recognize it and smile at it rather than stress over it.

Actors Must Know Themselves

SIX ELEMENTS TO TRANSITION
YOUR COMMERCIAL ACTING CAREER
INTO A TELEVISION CAREER

Written by Terry Berland for the Networker

KNOW WHO YOU ARE, ENCOMPASS THE CHARACTER YOU WANT TO PLAY, AND TARGET THE SHOWS THAT HAVE YOUR TYPE OF CHARACTER

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.

Power of Improv

The Power Of Improv

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

For many years I went to improv shows to be entertained, laugh, and discover the work of clever, quick-thinking actors. I have always said, improv is important—it loosens you up, gets you ready to think fast on your feet, and strips away the self-censorship that blocks creativity.

There is More to Improv Than Being Funny
Improv is important to the art of acting itself. Improv enables you to open up the door to your creative power and is a conduit to better dramatic acting.

Improv Opens the Door to Your Creative Powers
I don’t know how someone can be a good actor without having taken improv classes. I believe improv is not only a great complement to an actor’s training, but essential to bringing an actor deeper into their source of creativity by unlocking blockages.

To explain further, I went directly to the source of a master improv actor/teacher, Donovan Scott. Scotty’s improv teaching is very special in that it is designed to relate directly to the individual actor’s acting process. This helps with four elements you need for a good commercial performance.

Nuanced Performances
Scotty: “Over the years, improvisation has gone from a curiosity as an art form, to an essential tool for the actor. It has gradually formed the basis for our emerging acting standard on the screen. From the broad physical acting style of the silent film era, we have evolved to the super close-up and the nuanced techniques of realistic acting.”

The simplest auditions need nuances. The commercial on camera audition space you are working in is film-like in that it is a close shot, which calls for subtle expressions and the ability to create a life around what is called for. For example, if you are told you are a person reaching for a glass of water, for a good performance you have to create who you are, why you want this water and how you feel after you take the satisfying drink. You must be able to create in a very tight shot in short amount of time.

Stay Ahead of Your Audience
Scotty: “Like in all art forms, we must stay ahead of our audience in order to keep them interested and involved. Improv takes away technique and demands a more spontaneous resolve.”

Knowing how to stay ahead of your audience will give you the confidence to make and stick to strong choices. Once you can do this, you will not walk into an audition room wondering what the powers-that-be want. Not being in your head will allow you to create from your gut and your sacred creative space. Which brings me to another point.

How Can Improv Complement Your Acting?
Scotty: “In the ‘acting class world’, techniques of choice, delve into gut wrenching realistic performances, by digging into the depths of the actor to reveal the truth. Improv, on the lighter side, has much of the same result. It’s about freedom, spontaneity, and the use of surrounding elements to enhance the power of the actor’s performance.”

In any audition or performance you can’t hold on tightly to “the process”. You need to find your freedom, individuality and spontaneity in your performance. The key element that improv adds to your acting skills lies in your ability to experience freedom and spontaneity which you will find through experienced guided improv exercises.

Ability to Change Fast
Scotty: “As actors we often make decisions and blindly stick to them no matter what is going on around us. In Improv we build an awareness of what is happening to us at that moment, and allow that to effect our expressions, emotions, and choices to move forward. With the power of Improv skills, the answers are quicker to respond to, easier to understand, and more connected organically. Acting choices are more instinctive to the individual actor; a response, rather than a calculation, instantaneous rather than thought provoked. Improv asks us to know ourselves, trust our instincts, and commit to our choices. It has become the most powerful tool of today’s actor. It celebrates our truth.”

You have to walk into the audition room with confidence in your specific choices, yet able to change in any direction given to you. After you have gone through strenuous improv exercises in a class, a change in direction given to you at an audition or on set will be a piece of cake. When you get good at improv you will have an attractive, fearless “bring it on” attitude.


Donovan Scott
After studying at the American Conservatory theatre in San Francisco, Donovan became the artistic director of Comedia Del Arte’ Troup. He toured the east coast directing, writing, and performing. He has performed at the Old Globe in San Diego, has worked in films with Steven Spielberg on 1941, costarred in Popeye with Robert Altman, Starred in Savannah Smiles, Zorro the Gay Blade, Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Police Academy 1. He has also starred or guest starred in over 50 Television shows. He was nominated for a Silver Bear award in Germany for one of his TV series. He also teaches Improvisation to enhance audition comedy and dramatic performances for Terry Berland’s workshops, and was voted one of the top three Improvisation teachers in the Los Angeles area for three years in a row. See IMDB profile for complete information.

THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON YOU HAVE GOING FOR YOU

By Terry Berland for The Networker

When I am a guest at an informational event for actors, the questions are inevitably geared towards all kinds of do’s-and-don’t’s regarding how talent can ultimately get auditions, excel in their career, and be likable to casting directors—some of which include the questions listed below.

Popular Questions and Do’s and Don’t’s
What makes up a good, professional headshot?
What does a casting director look for on a resume?
What makes up a good reel?
Don’t be late for your audition.
Let casting know if you are not showing up.
Don’t wear cologne or perfume.
Read the instructions.
Be Prepared.
What to expect at a call back?
Is my type called in a lot?
Can I get work with my accent?
What’s the worst thing I can do?
What’s the best thing I can do?

What Is The Strongest Weapon You Have To Succeed?
Yes, all the answers to the above questions add to your knowledge, and knowledge is power. After all, I wrote the book Breaking Into Commercials for that very reason. But the most important element and most powerful tool for getting ahead and impressing a casting director, director, or producer is the bottom line of BE A GOOD ACTOR. Like cream rising to the top, good acting quietly yells out “I’m here,” and opens up possibilities of attracting bookings, auditions, casting directors, producers, and directors to the actor. Your most powerful weapon is being a good actor. What makes a good actor?
A good actor . . .

  • Loves to work out every week in his/her acting class and go deeper and deeper, because it feels rewarding.
  • Makes their way into local shows, readings, hangs out with other good actors, and appreciates and supports their colleagues’ good work.
  • Feels good about their auditions and moves easier through the inevitable frustrations of their career.
  • Stands out. Even if a commercial casting director is not in the actual audition and is watching the auditions on a monitor in-between other casting tasks, they look up and take notice of the good actor’s audition.

. . . and . . .

  • A good commercial actor will be recognized by theatrical casting directors.
  • The good actor’s audition will be pointed out at the end of the day and shown to the casting director by the session director.

Will the good actor always get the parts they want or be the richest person on the block? The answer is “no.” But if you are going to be in the acting profession, being a good actor is what you want to strive for and will give you the most personal satisfaction, with the chance to attract opportunities and succeed to your highest potential. Unfortunately there are no guarantees in the acting profession, but if you are going to act, put most of your efforts into being the best that you can be—be the good actor.

7 Steps to Make A Difference In Your Career

Written for the Networker, January 1, 2017

There are certain things I don’t write about because I think the information is too elementary, but throughout the year some recurring mistakes jolted me into thinking I should relay this information to you, so I decided to start out the year more cut-and-dry, relaying seven steps that can make a positive difference in your acting career.

1. Include a photo and resume in your e-mail communications.

When you are connecting with someone, whether it be a thank you, a question, or any kind of communication, include a photo, resume, or a link to your website. The most seamless way to do this is to have a website and include the link to your website after your name.

A casting director is only human and does not always remember exactly who you are. It can take up three times to remember.

2. Make your handwriting legible in your written communications.

I appreciate the time, thought, and business organizational skills it takes to write a thank you card. Many times I receive these cards and I cannot understand the talent’s signature. I don’t know who the heck I got the thank you from. Not a good situation.

3. Include a photo business card in your handwritten notes.

It’s best to also include a little business card with your photo and contact info on it. Again, it is a visual identification of who you are. We can’t have too many subtle reminders.

4. Send postcards to touch base.

Don’t think a picture post card sent by snail mail is an obsolete way of communicating. It actually stands out more now, with everyone doing their communications online. It’s a true indication that you are taking your career seriously as a business—very impressive. Send them out about four times a year. The repetition is a great tool to help us remember.

5. When you are submitting yourself, confirm quickly online.

Many, many hours after we post appointments online, we have to call about 50% of the talent to ask if they are confirmed. Please note, we need confirms because if you cannot make the casting call, we have to replace you. Being easy to work with adds to your reputation and success as an actor.

6. Answer your voicemail messages.

When I cast a film, which I am doing as I write this, I find I have to communicate details via e-mail instead of through the breakdown service. My office, therefore, has to call you to ask for your e-mail address. We find there are some people we have to call three times before they finally answer us—very frustrating.  It’s only during the callback process that we bother chasing you. That phone call is unexpected. Expect the unexpected, and respond.

7. Include your e-mail address on your resume.

It’s better to have several ways of being reached. It’s quicker for us to send you an e-mail than to call. And for those who don’t check their voicemails, it will eliminate the possibility of getting a job.

Here’s to a great start to 2017.

tag actorlife, actors, auditions, casting director