Get Your Ducks In A Row, ASAP!
Actors in my class have minor freak outs when suddenly they’re asked to come in for a meeting. Suddenly, you’re faced with a gazillion questions you’ve never thought to ask BEFORE this event: What do I wear? What do I talk about? What am I right for? What is my type? Who do I know in the entertainment world in case I’m asked? What is my essence? How do I talk about what I’ve done without sounding cocky? What are they going to ask me? OMG I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING WORTHY ON MY RESUME! These are just some of the questions we address in class, before the opportunity arises so that once it comes a knock’n on your door, you’re…ready. There’s that old saying, “when preparation meets opportunity you’ve got success,” or something like that anyway. What does that mean for you? Get those ducks in a row ASAP. In class, we do an exercise that helps identify your essence and then we figure out who you remind us of in the entertainment world. One actor, who by the way looks exactly like he could be Cuba Gooding Jr.’s younger brother, hated the fact that everyone told him he reminded them of him! Wait a second, guys, this is a GOOD thing. I know, I know, you want to be YOU, not Cuba or anyone else. Ya gotta understand something, casting, agents, managers, directors, writers, producers etc need to know what you’re selling so they can buy it. In layman terms, if people can relate you to someone in the industry that gives them a better understanding of how to buy/sell you, then let em! The point is, you want to work and having a grasp on your marketing can make all the difference in the world.
Here's an example. Let's say you look like Cuba, but your essence is Spike Lee. Now, that's very different energy between these two types of people. Good! Now we get what you look like and a feel for what we’re gonna send you out on then it's up to director, producers etc to buy what you're selling.
If you don’t know your type, well that’s where ya gotta start because it has EVERYTHING to do with your business. And I'm talk’n about the business of YOU, the actor. So you’re now the Cuba Gooding Jr. type. Great, we now know who you remind us of…a guy who is kind, funny, vulnerable… the guy next-door-type. But, your essence (the feeling we get when you walk in the room) is like Spike Lee; mysterious, out spoken, a rebel. Now what do you do with that? 1. Research photographers you love, not like, but LOVE.
I cannot express how important this is because you’ve got one day to shoot with this person and get what you need in order to sell yourself to casting who may or may not know you. It’s your calling card. So, you want someone you jive with on the other side of that camera. You want to be able to say, “Hey listen, I know I look like Cuba and act like Spike, so I want photos that sell that." And for Buddha’s sake, bring clothes to the shoot that represent what you’re selling. Too many times I see actors spend all this money but not take the time to plan out what they’re going to wear, how to style their hair or how to find ways to be comfortable and confident on the day of the shoot. 2. Build Casting Director Relationships. Getting in the room a lot of times is based on if the casting director knows your work and likes it. If you have an agent/manager you want someone who has those relationships with casting so they can get you in the room. If you don’t have representation, don’t fret! You want to consistently build those relationships on your own. Why? Because when casting gets a headshot in their inbox, or goes through actors access looking for actors who fit what they need, they tend to choose actors they know OR someone with a good “type.” It’s kinda like life. You’re more apt to ask someone you know for advice than someone you don’t because you trust them to give you what you need. 3. Know What You’re Right For. Now that you know your type and what you’re selling, have a professional headshot that represents you, and are building casting director workshops, what do you do next? Start watching shows that shoot where you want to work. NYC? Great, what are the shows shooting there? Who is casting those shows? Which ones are you right for? If you’re selling Cuba Gooding meets Spike Lee, then how about Blindspot, Empire and House of Cards? 4. Get In A Great TV/Film On-Camera Acting Class. Now you know you’re right for Empire, House of Cards and Blindspot. Awesome! Are you ready to work on the set of these shows? Can you walk in to a casting directors office and be “off book” with good strong choices, know the tone and the and genre for what you’re reading for? Can you handle taking direction and talking to the director during callbacks and on set? Can you professionally handle yourself if shit hits the fan and you forget lines, drop lines, or have a reader totally jump your lines? Being in a TV/Film On-Camera class prepares you for those opportunities with casting. You want to look for a class that teaches current material, has actors who are auditioning for TV/Film and either have rep or are seeking rep. These are people headed in the direction that you too, want to head in. Plus working on camera makes you look professional vs. green. 5. Book That Casting Director Workshop! Once you’re in a great on-going TV/Film class, start to put feelers out for those shows you know you’re right for. Let’s go back to Empire, House of Cards and Blindspot. Who are the CDs and where are they teaching a workshop? Once you’ve signed up for them, take the time to prepare the sides they give, note their direction in the room and anything else of importance to you. Then, take them 2 more times within that same year. From a CD’s perspective, the first time is a pre- read, second time we get to know your work is solid, and the third time we're like, “Yeah, I can hopefully book this actor!"