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Actors Beware of These “Manager” Contracts!

When it comes to the profession of representing talent the profession of personal manager is unfortunately the most fraught with shady characters. Individuals operating scams that at worst defraud actors. At best create a lopsided arrangement. One that is less an advisor-n-artist partnership but where the “manager” is a self-serving predator. Managers are not regulated by actor unions and/or local and state government oversight as are agents. Yes, there are reputable, respected managers. Their industrious support of actors is overshadowed by opportunists tagging themselves unjustly as a “personal manager.”

The largest red flag demarcating a “manager” of questionable integrity from a reputable personal manager is the ethically challenged “manager’s” manager-actor contract.

Answers for Actors reviewed one such eyebrow raising manager-actor contract littered with dubious clauses. Binding terms that are not in the best interest of the actor.

For identification purposes this management’s operation will be given hereinafter the fictitious moniker Management Extraordinaire: M.E. as an abbreviation.

Answers for Actors calls, B.S. on such a broad, and open clause.”


Actors beware of the following.

Commission:

First some good news. Some industry respected managers collect 10 percent commission on actor salaries derived from projects of which the actor participates as talent. It’s the same percentage that agents collect as regulated by performing artists’ unions. A larger number of managers collect 15 percent. Not so good news? Being that there is no government or union regulation or oversight of managers a manager can collect whatever percentage they choose, that an actor is willing to sign away. Management Extraordinaire collects 20 percent. Above the norm. An actor going into an agreement with a manager should not part with more than 10 – 15 percent commission.

To Management Extraordinaire’s credit—unlike one greedy “manager”—they don’t collect commission from the actor’s survival job(s).

Bilking the Actor:

Slipped slyly into Management Extraordinaire’s terms for commission is this:

“Artist agrees to pay or reimburse Manager for all out-of-pocket expenses which Manager incurs from time to time on behalf of Artist.”

Answers for Actors calls, B.S. on such a broad, and open clause. The “manager” could claim anything as “out-of-pocket expenses.” Agents are not permitted to invoke such a swindle.

Later in the contract Management Extraordinaire hits the artist again for reimbursement of operating expenses—which in any above-board representation firm are covered by the representation’s income that is earned commission. But M.E. is greedy:

“Pursuant to Manager’s Model’s Loan Agreement, Artist shall reimburse Manager for all costs incurred on behalf of Artist. Such costs, among others, include, messenger fees, comp cards, portfolios, web site charges and other such charges pertaining to the management and representation of a model.”

A franchised talent agent in Philadelphia had a similar scheme of charging actors for web site fees, office expenses and alike. Answers for Actors exposed the agent’s actions to Actors’ Equity Association, and SAG-AFTRA. The agent was instructed to cease and desist or lose their agent franchise agreement. Unfortunately with managers, no such Sword of Damocles can be held over the enterprise of the manager. If the actor signs a contract with a “manager” that has these types of soaking-the-actor-for-more-monies clauses—the actor is not the victim but the fool.

Fees:

Management Extraordinaire—like a bank manufacturing fees at whim—finds more ways to profit off of the actor with the following:

“Artist is aware and agrees that Manager is entitled to receive a service charge for any and all of the Clients who utilize Artist’s Services.”

Basically M.E. is attempting to additionally proffer with a service charge billed to producers who hire the actor. B.S. flag again. M.E. successfully asking for and receiving a service charge from producers is highly unlikely. Possibly, Management Extraordinaire negotiates a salary for the actor taking 20 percent commission plus an additional, undisclosed, amount from the salary as well earmarked as the “service charge.” How could they do this without the actor knowing more money has been deducted? The deception begins in an earlier clause in M.E.’s manager-actor contract.

M.E.’s contract gives the company power of attorney to “collect and receive monies on Artist’s behalf, to endorse Artist’s name upon and deposit same in Manager’s account with any bank, and to retain there from all sums due Manager at any time.”

The actor never receives monies directly from a producer. M.E. could be telling the actor that the producer has agreed to pay the actor $600 per week. But actually M.E. negotiated that the producer pay a higher amount. M.E. doesn’t disclose the higher amount to the actor, and since monies go directly to M.E.’s bank account, M.E. skims off the excess as the “service charge.” Plus, the 20 percent commission. The actor is never the wiser.

Manager as Loan Shark:

From M.E.’s manager-actor agreement:

“Artist hereby assigns to Manager the proceeds of all assignments performed by Artist, against which advance payment is made by Manager to Artist. Upon completion of this Agreement and pursuant to the terms of Manager’s Pay and Personal Loan Policy Agreement, advance payment is made if and only if vouchers are presented to Manager immediately after said assignments and are duly completed and signed by Client and Artist. If, in accordance with Manager’s voucher system, Manager does not receive a collection within three (3) months, Artist will upon request reimburse Manager for the sums advanced to Artist. Manager will take all reasonable steps to collect the amounts due with respect thereto. The risk of collection, in connection with Artist’s vouchers, and the legal costs thereto shall be borne entirely by Artist.”

Basically M.E. is loaning out to the actor the anticipated income from a booking. This should never be a consideration. With union projects, a bond is required of the producing organization. Some sum due to the actor is guaranteed. With M.E.’s inclusion of this clause it means that historically M.E. has booked their past or existing actors with likely non-union entities that stiffed talent on payment. And in those instances the actor paid to the manager the monies never received from the booking(s).

If I State in Writing I as Your Manager Can Not Manage or Negotiate Your Deals—But I Negotiate Anyway—I Can’t Be Violating the Law, Right?

M.E. is trying to be clever and coy stating in the contract they’re not really part of job procurement for the actor. But M.E. lacks grammatical dexterity to cover their ass that they are negotiating:

“Artist shall advise Manager of all offers of assignments submitted to Artist with respect to modeling and will refer any inquiries concerning Artist’s services to Manager. Artist acknowledges that Manager is not an “artist manager” under the labor code of New York or an employment agency in any jurisdiction, and Manager shall not be required or expected to obtain offers of employment for Artist.”

There are, reputable, transparent, well-regarded personal managers. The contractual abuses highlighted here should not deter actors from seeking a manager. If a contract—with these or similar terms—is presented the actor must heed caution before proceeding further.

There are several personal manager associations that managers can join which screen managers for legitimacy. Joining one of these associations is voluntary. Legitimate managers exist who are not members of manager associations. Self-regulating, the associations set professional operating standards for approved members. The U.S.’s prominent personal manager associations are the National Conference of Personal Managers, and The Talent Managers Association. Both have a Code of Ethics. The Talent Managers Association (TMA) has the more extensive Code of Ethics which includes limiting commission a manager may charge clients. TMA establishes limits on managers as to how long the manager represents an artist under a single-term contract. Plus TMA’s Code of Ethics expressly prohibits managers from charging clients fees for: coaching and acting classes, office expenses, and web site registration.

Both TMA and NCOPM have on their web sites their individual Code of Ethics, plus listings of current manager membership.

When signing with representation—agent or manager—bear in mind these guidelines:

  • Representation should only be collecting commission from the actor on projects from which commission collection is permitted.
  • Representation is not to be charging an actor fees for any operating expenses related to representing the actor.
  • No Advances. No Loans.

CASTING DIRECTORS, TALENT AGENTS, DIRECTORS & ACTORS

LOVE PAUL RUSSELL’S BEST-SELLING BOOK FOR ACTORS ACTING: MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS!

“Humorous and witty…

Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”

— BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA (Mary Poppins ReturnsHamiltonThis Is Us,NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!Wicked)

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

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Elaine Stritch’s Obscure Video Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Blunt Tales of Working with Legends

Legendary for unbridled candor charged with more four-letter words in one sentence than in an entire Sam Shepard play. There never was, and likely never will be, a brass balls diva who was also a humble artist.

Answers for Actors continues its Meet the Legends series with an obscure video of the unrivaled Elaine Stritch letting loose her opinions on the entertainment industry while sharing colorful stories of working with Noel Coward, Ethel Merman, Agnes deMille and Stephen Sondheim. Taped in 1999, when I was an ambitious casting director daring the improbable.

I was casting a staged reading of an eyes-towards-Broadway play. There was a role I believed perfect for the Tony, Emmy, and Grammy awards winner Elaine Stritch. My creative team, and producer were enthusiastic. Not so enthusiastic? The paltry actor stipend of a hundred bucks.

Stritch roared into roles with fiery animalism. Yet she was simultaneously nuanced with cool, cunning wit. A Broadway and West End leading lady icon for Albee, Inge, Sondheim, Berlin, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Coward, Simon, and Williams. 4 Tony Award nominations. 4 Drama Desk nominations, 3 wins. An inductee into the American Theater Hall of Fame. A Tony snare for her one-woman autobiographical hit Elaine Stritch at Liberty.  Her filmography is robust. 8 Emmy nomination, 3 wins. British telly and radio audiences also embraced Stritch. A remarkable carrier that of which its early years had the Elaine Stritch understudying the Ethel Merman.

“’Artist’… I use that term loosely. It always scared me to death. That and ‘Star,’”

Elaine Stritch

Stritch in 1999, I discovered then, had no representation. AFTRA (long before marrying SAG) provided me with a Long Island phone number attributed to her attorney. I called. I knew I wouldn’t get past the receptionist. After several rings, a gravelly women’s voice answered with a scooping downward growl followed by an upward declaration of “Hell-loooo.” Introducing myself, I asked for Ms. Stritch’s attorney. The woman tartly answered, “She don’t have one. Whoooo are youuuu? Talk to me kiddo. I just got up. What do you want?” The gravelly, impatient voice belonged to the Elaine f-ing Stritch! Despite my being awestruck I was quick and brief with my reply informing Ms. Stritch about the play and my intent.  Stritch answered she “loved the idea” and I should send her a script to her home in Sag Harbor which is to where I was calling. I mentioned I’d been looking for her rep to send a script to her through normal protocol. She fired back a very candid, R-rating exceeding opinion of agents. That turned into a 20 minute Elaine Stritch-Paul Russell mutual adoration of every four letter word shooting the sh*t chat. Unfortunately, the casting of Ms. Stritch didn’t work out. Schedule conflict.

This obscure video tapped around the time of my call to Stritch includes clips from the 1970 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Company: Original Cast Album. Enjoy.

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Instant Stress & Anxiety Reduction Remedies

Save your Thanksgiving peace & sanity! There are several, easy remedies to quickly reduce stress, gain control, composure, and confidence. Great for prior to an audition!

Anxiety and stress are as common in our hurried contemporary living as is having a smart phone  nearly constant in our possession, or within arm’s reach. Some sufferers of anxiety can quickly overstimulate their thoughts, layering one worry or dread atop another, and then another, until there’s so much chatter within, thoughts become seemingly insurmountable challenges stacking heavily upon each other like large, chiseled tablets. Thoughts race. Which problem solved first? How? Too many life responsibilities need attention. Then if auditioning, audition fears topple in. Your breathing becomes short, shallow and heavy. Suddenly anxiety has become the worry monster that is panic. You’re overwhelmed. What to do? Too much dread washing over you. Losing control. Fearing the worst. Imagining personal and/or professional ruin. Stop! There are several, easy remedies to gain control, composure, and confidence.

Tip One: While sitting, place your hands on your lap, or let your limbs dangle loosely at your sides.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Slowly breathe through your nose taking in a deep breath. Hold for three (3) counts. Exhale slowly and evenly through your mouth. Repeat the process again.
  3. Continue the breathing exercise with your eyes closed. As you do, listen for, and silently identify five (5) sounds that you hear. Identify each, one at a time. Listen for things you may not normally notice.
  4. Continue inhaling through your nostrils. Hold for three (3) counts. Exhale slowly and evenly through your mouth.
  5. With your eyes still closed, and doing your breathing exercise let your finger tips explore closely around you without touching anyone who may be nearby. Touch, and identify five (5) separate tactile experiences. Give a little extra time to feel the texture and/or density of each object.
  6. Continue the breathing excise. Don’t force out the air, let it flow like a rolling fog.
  7. Breathe in, through your nostrils but now take notice of what you smell. Take five (5) inhales separately. Can you distinguish five scents, aromas, or smells? Give an adjective to each. Is there a woodsy aroma to the audition studio hallway? A floral perfume?  A musky scent of history? Fresh linen whiff of recently laundered clothes. Separate each, naming them.
  8. Breathe deeply now through your nose. Hold for a count of (3) three. Open your eyes slowly as you let your warm breath roll lazily out your mouth.
  9. Without moving your head much, scan your surroundings. Don’t make eye contact if there are others near you. Eye (5) five individual objects. Name each for what they are. Continue to breathe in through your nose. Hold (3) three counts. Exhale slowly through your mouth and over your lips.
  10. Close your eyes again. Continue the breathing exercise. And as you do, recall each of the five sounds you heard. Remember the five separate tactile sensations you felt. Think of the scents and aromas that surrounded you. Then imagine with your eyes closed, as you breathe in and out, the five objects you saw. Recall details.
  11. Take one last, long, slow deep inhale through your nostrils. And immediately release through your mouth. Open your eyes.
  12. You should be more centered now. You have focused on the moment, and the often overlooked ingredients of your environment that make up the whole of your surroundings.
  13. Continue the breathing exercise if needed.
  14. Let your hands rest on your lap.
  15. You’re in control of what you’re experiencing. Let your eyes and ears discover what others may be missing.

This exercise places your focus on the incidentals that create your living in the moment. No thoughts of future. No worries of the past. Absorb your environment. And always breathe through your nostrils, Hold for a count of three. And let the exhale release on its own through your mouth.

Tip Two:

For added relief from anxiety or stress, consider carrying with you a lavender satchel. Or a small bottle of lavender oil. Or a small body and room mister of lavender. Some pharmacies carry these oils and sprays in or near the vitamin supplement aisle. Inhale the lavender which is an aromatic stress reliever. If using a spray, spray lightly on a cloth, handkerchief, or tissue. And inhale form the fabric you just scented. Be mindful not to spray around you when others are nearby.

Tip Three

There is a natural supplement for stress relief sold over the counter at pharmacies. It’s 5-HTP. This can often be found in the vitamin / supplement section. Consult a physcian first for possible contraindications with your current medications and/or medical condition. Try a dosage at home first to gage how your body reacts. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Tip Four

Drinking large amounts of bottled water with alkaline and electrolytes can assist in greatly reducing anxiety. SmartWater has a line of water that contains both alkaline and electrolytes together. Avoid sports drinks that contain sugar. If you’re having moments of anxiety a stimulant like sugar or fructose will acerbate the anxiety. No caffeine, either.

The preceding tips are for the occasional mild rushes of anxiety. If you are prone to chronic anxiety, and/or panic attacks consult your primary care doctor or mental health specialist who can prescribe appropriate medications if deemed clinically warranted. Worry is a waste of energy. Anxiety is often self-induced. You control what you want to feel. Don’t let looping thoughts, and unknowns control you. Own what you can control. Release what is not in your control. And take five minutes do to the meditative exercise when you feel you must pull yourself into the moment and out of the ‘what ifs.’ And when at home and needing relief from anxiety or panic; burn lavender oil (in an oil burner) or lavender incense. For a more restful night’s sleep, lightly spray lavender room and body mist on your pillow(s), and bed linens shortly before crawling into your bed. Breathe. Clear negative thoughts. And indulge in some rich chocolate to boost dopamine when needed.

Suggested Relaxing and Soothing Music: (If you wish to download this, you can via YouTube Music)

CASTING DIRECTORS, TALENT AGENTS, DIRECTORS & ACTORS

LOVE PAUL RUSSELL’S BEST-SELLING BOOK FOR ACTORS ACTING: MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS!

“Humorous and witty…

Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”

— BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA (Mary Poppins ReturnsHamiltonThis Is Us,NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!Wicked)

“All the right questions asked and answered… and with a generous portion of good humor.”

— SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA (Law & OrderDeception, 666 Park Ave., Unforgettable)

“I love this book!

Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know

EVERY actor should read this book!”

— DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agency Partner Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley Agency

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!’”

— KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”

— KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner Bret Adams, Ltd.

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Businesscame out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!

— Dr. NINA LeNOIR, Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr. Chapman University

AMIYB_Amazon

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

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Sir Derek Jacobi on Stage vs. Screen – Meet The Legends series

In the first of an ongoing series Meet The Legends at Answers for Actors is featured Sir Derek Jacobi. He appears in a Q&A 2017 interview at Oxford Union. An international star, Jacobi offers actors insight on the differences and challenges an actor faces working the mediums of both stage and screen.

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

“Laurence Olivier? Richard Burton? Elizabeth Taylor? Yvonne DeCarlo? These aren’t real people! You’re making them up!” Often I heard this aggravated accusation, and alike, from collegiate acting training program seniors soon to graduate as professional actors. The frustrated wails would come when playing Celebrity. (I had names of famous actors in a hat. A team leader would pull a name from the bowl and have to describe the actor by career, or otherwise, without mentioning the actor’s name to teammates who had to guess who was the actor being described.)  University after university the same accusations of my creating fictional actors was hurled at me. I quickly discovered that many soon to be professional actors were ignoring who came before them at an alarming epidemic rate.

To better understand who we are, and what we desire, we must know who and what came before us.

In the first of an ongoing series Meet The Legends at Answers for Actors is featured Sir Derek Jacobi. He appears in a Q&A 2017 interview at Oxford Union. An international star, Jacobi offers actors insight on the differences and challenges an actor faces working the mediums of both stage and screen.

Knighted in 1994. Nominated for nearly every major performance award internationally. Jacobi is the winner of Emmys, the Tony Award, Laurence Olivier Award, British Academy Television awards, Screen Actors Guild Award, and a many more prestigious honors. Starting as a stage actor Jacobi was hand picked by Laurence Olivier to join England’s National Theater. He later starred often on both West End and Broadway stages. With over 150 screen credits both in the U.S. and U.K.  he’s most modernly recognizable to broader audiences for his roles in Vicious, Tomb Raider, Murder on The Orient Express,  and I, Claudius. 

“Television makes you famous. Movies make you rich. But, the theater is what it’s all about.” Sir Derek Jacobi

Sir Derek Jacobi | Oxford Union

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has taught master classes at acting programs at over two dozen universities including Hofstra, Elon, Yale, Temple, LSU, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor.

For more information on Paul’s projects, visit www.PaulRussell.net

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18 Tips from Your Audition Reader


Actors tend not to believe the feedback of casting. Actors think we’re jaded in our candor. What those disbelieving actors don’t realize is that our feedback comes from a position of caring, and of experience from witnessing from behind the audition table. So then will those same dismissive actors reject one of their own?

Actor Chris Richrads was recently a reader for several casting offices. He posted his observations on Facebook. When I asked if he would share those insights with Answers for Actors, he was very gracious in doing so.


Chris Richards

Each time, I get in as a reader everyone — everyone — behind the table is warm and kind and welcoming. Pleasant.

I sit at my music stand and review my sides. I scan the list of the day, looking for friends, looking for agents. Just looking to see. See something. I don’t know.

It’s usually 7-8 pages of actors. 5 minutes each appointment. 6 straight hours of appointments. Almost 100 actors in a day, all day, every day. Holy hell. Wow. Exciting. Terrifying. And these are the ones who got to this point. I hope I brought enough water for all this talking I’m about to do.

I see who has reps. Nearly everyone. Everyone. Gulp. And this actor? Oh yeah, they have *that* agent. I’ve reached out to that agent. No response. Oh and *that* actor? Yeah, they have *this* agent. I’ve met with this agent. This agent seemed pleasant enough. But bored. “We like your talent, but have your type.” Gulp, gulp, gulp. Sigh. Damn it. The 2 dreaded-celebrated defining T’s of our craft who can never seem to work together. Fraternal evil twins. Ugh.

Simultaneously I gently eavesdrop on the powers behind the table. “Oh *this actor* is coming in and they went to ***THAT school*** and **got their MFA** and *worked with* **that person** on **this project**.” The Actor Lizard Brain kicks in on your end. You’re honored to be a reader. Delighted. Truly. Adore it. You’re proud to be here in this capacity. You fully understand it’s a position of trust. But that tiny voice in you whispers, “Damn, damn, damn. Sigh. No wonder I’m The Reader. No wonder I’m not being asked to audition for this. No wonder. Welp. Maybe I can learn a thing or two? Or maybe I should just hand in my card and go find another career. Maybe I should say fuck this and go home and write the best damn script anyone’s ever seen. That’ll show ’em. And then they’ll wish they asked me in. Sigh.”

And then the day starts and casting begins to usher in the actors. And learn I do. Well. Re-learn. It’s nothing new, but the reminders are good. It always comes down to this:

  • Comprehension is king. 
    Comprehension. Is. King.  You need to understand the language. The style. The period. The piece. You may bend and push and deliver the text how you want and in any way that’s honest to you–but understand what you’re saying, why, and the dramatic function within the script. It’s even ok if you’re not pitch perfect on your memorization. Hell, it’s ok if you’re not fully memorized and just a stellar, kick-ass reader. As long as you COMPREHEND.
  • Do not try too hard or get too personal.
    Don’t bring up your therapy. Don’t ingratiate yourself to those behind the table. Don’t pitch yourself and give additional info as to why you’d be good for the role after you do your work. Don’t call the playwright a modern day Shaw. We can smell it. We can feel it. It feels like sales. It feels false. Fake. It feels like TMI. It feels uncomfortable. If you already have a relationship with the people behind the table that’s another thing, but don’t do the above. Don’t commit to a Leveraging Act.
  • Union or non?
    Does. Not. Matter. It’s anybody’s ballgame at every single moment.
  • If you feel caught between a Creative choice and an Authentic choice, ALWAYS MAKE THE AUTHENTIC CHOICE.
    If you seek authenticity, you will find your creativity. If you seek creativity, you may never find authenticity. Your authenticity will never fail you. Your creativity might. Realize Your Authenticity IS your creativity.
  • Yes, a friend and/or spouse/partner of the director is already cast.
    Or they’ve written the piece. Sorry. But seriously don’t worry about it. Half the time I personally know them already. And I vouch for them. You’ll love them. Really, really. Allow this. Accept this. And you know what? The two of you were never even going to be in the same stratosphere of consideration for the same role to begin with so it’s one million percent out of your hands as it is. Embrace it. One day if you are lucky this will also work in your favor. So just be patient.
  • You will never, ever scroll through your iPad or iPhone sides as quickly or as smoothly as you can just flip a page.
  • Be.
    Don’t perform. BE. I cannot stress this enough.
  • Don’t do the prop thing. Really.
  • Out of 100 actors, only one will truly give you chills with the breathtaking caliber of their work.
    One. Maybe two. Maybe. But this is no cause for despair. It doesn’t rule out the rest of you. Because in my experiences I have yet to see this person get a callback. But it’s only —ONLY—because they do not fit what is sought. And this is no cause for despair for You Who Gives Us Chills, either. Because in this you have no control. Zero. None. Not a lick. And when you leave the room, the earth opens up and the ground has shifted, the needle has moved, and everyone behind the table whispers your name excitedly. They are committing this moment to memory because they know this will be a story they will gladly tell one day — that YOU auditioned for Them. They will remember your name. And then they say in the room that they can’t wait to see you on tv one day. So I hope you keep doing your work and doing it well. Your authenticity and honesty and vulnerability and energy shook us all. But you were too young or too old or too tall or too short or too blue-collar-looking or too-white-collar-looking for this piece and this moment in time. And that’s it. They know your name. They’ll keep you in mind for other things and call you in again. They think you’ll be on tv. And I do too. Lord knows I desperately hope you’ll remember the kind/good reader from XYZ auditions when we cross paths again one day — maybe on set together? (of course that’s absurd). But for now, please know, you have literally burned yourself into our minds, I swear to you. And it’s not fair that you’ll never hear it from this audition. But please. Please. Take that with you.
  • Typically getting an adjustment in the room is a good thing. But not getting one is not the end all and be all. Promise.
  • Oh yeah. And *that agent* and *that actor* and *that school*? It means jack.
    He/she/they/it got you in the room, sure. And that’s quite the battle, so snaps to ya. But better to not expect someone and be blown away than expect greatness and be let down.
  • Pretty Ain’t All. (Thank God).
  • It’s quite clear what certain agents are cultivating on their rosters.
    I know this because I’m clocking which agents are tied to which folks. It’s telling. I clearly need to find a way to get in front of the agents who are interested in people who look like people, and not only the hot, 20s-30s, 6-pack muscled guys. Or maybe I should hit the gym harder, try and catch up? …Nah you know what I’m sure I can Google the people agent person contact info.
  • All the tenors look like tenors.
  • Fellas. I get that your name might’ve been taken at the union. But does that really mean you need all 8 of your names on your resume?
    Also what was in the water that makes you all Jonathan Patrick Patrick Michael Shane-Lance Edward? The THIRD??
  • It’s ok to be nervous. It’s ok to not know something.
    But really, ask questions. Clarify.
  • You can be the most brilliant singer and an ok actor and still deserve a spot in the room. The inverse is also true.
  • Are you American? Don’t say “cheers” instead of “thanks.”
  • Don’t dismiss yourself, but also don’t linger.
    Auditions, after the work, should be a comfortable communication among colleagues.

Even some prominent New York casting directors and directors have side hustles in this fair city. This blows my mind but further evidence we really are all in this same shitty boat together. -The only thing to do is be you, and focus on and deliver the work. This entire thing is a game and a feat of engineering. Think of the whirring mechanisms of a clock. Of its guts. Wheel, cog, spokes, circle. That’s this. All the pieces are moving. All the time. All the pieces fit and don’t fit. Everyone does well and well enough, and one will give us chills. But to them, they are simply doing their own thing too. Every single person who walks in that door in every single 5 minute chunk will make you think of the role differently and the project differently, every single time.

So have faith and keep chugging. Do your best. I promise you it’s enough. I promise you’re doing alright. Don’t get lost in the stupid trappings of the game.

And if you, dear reader, ever get the opportunity to be a reader — DO IT. Seriously. It’s such blessing and you’ll learn a ton and you won’t regret it.

 

‘Til then, keep breaking legs. See ya In ‘the room.’

Chris Richards is an actor with a deep love and respect for the entertainment community, and perhaps naïvely believes that this whole process is a better endeavor when we all work together and figure out ways to encourage and support one another.  If you feel so inclined, you may follow his actor Facebook page here and/or the Instagram handle @thisischrisrichards to stay in touch.

 

CASTING DIRECTORS, TALENT AGENTS, DIRECTORS & ACTORS

LOVE PAUL RUSSELL’S BEST-SELLING BOOK FOR ACTORS
ACTING: MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS!

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”

— BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(Mary Poppins ReturnsHamiltonThis Is Us,NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!Wicked)

“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”

— SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderDeception, 666 Park Ave., Unforgettable)

“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”

— DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agency Partner
Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley Agency

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!’”

— KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”

— KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Businesscame out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!

— Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

AMIYB_Amazon

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

 

Featured

How Actors Successfully enter an Audition (EXCLUSIVE Video)

“Actors put us on pedestals as if we should be bowed to. No! Screw that!” says casting director, director, and author Paul Russell. Russell demonstrates how actors better their audition success within the first 5 to 10 seconds of enterting the audition. In this video he’s joined by Broadway and Off-Broadway producer Randall Wreghitt (multiple TONY & Drama Desk winner) and acclaimed director, writer and lyricist Bill Russell who wrote Side ShowPageant and The Texas Chainsaw Musical.

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has taught master classes at acting programs at over two dozen universities including Hofstra, Elon, Yale, Temple, LSU, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor.

For more information on Paul’s projects, visit www.PaulRussell.net. And scroll down below to see what A-lister casting directors like Bernie Telsey, esteemed talent reps, university programs, and actors are raving about Russell’s best-selling book for actors!te

Share this:

CASTING DIRECTORS, TALENT AGENTS, DIRECTORS & ACTORS

LOVE PAUL RUSSELL’S BEST-SELLING BOOK FOR ACTORS
ACTING: MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS!

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”

— BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(Mary Poppins ReturnsHamiltonThis Is Us,NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!Wicked)

“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”

— SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderDeception, 666 Park Ave., Unforgettable)

“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”

— DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agency Partner
Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley Agency

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!’”

— KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”

— KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Businesscame out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!

— Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

AMIYB_Amazon

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Featured

Actors: Presenting thier Best Professional Image (EXCLUSIVE Video)

Casting director, director, and author Paul Russell in 2011 joined Broadway and Off-Broadway producer Randall Wreghitt (multiple TONY & Drama Desk winner) and acclaimed director, writer and lyricist Bill Russell who wrote Side ShowPageant and The Texas Chainsaw Musical. The powerhouse panel shared with actors industry insider’s tips for actors that are rarely spoken publicly beyond the closed doors of casting sessions. Combed from over 75 years of high profile experience in show business the trio was welcomed by an intimate sold-out gathering of artists. In this exclusive 90 second clip Paul Russell candidly devulges actor audacities that are leathal miscalculations that were killing several actor’s professional hopes.

Self-awareness as an actor is just as vital as is the actor’s skills, and business savy.

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has taught master classes at acting programs at over two dozen universities including Hofstra, Elon, Yale, Temple, LSU, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor.

For more information on Paul’s projects, visit www.PaulRussell.net. And scroll down below to see what A-lister casting directors like Bernie Telsey, esteemed talent reps, university programs, and actors are raving about Russell’s best-selling book for actors!

Share this:

CASTING DIRECTORS, TALENT AGENTS, DIRECTORS & ACTORS

LOVE PAUL RUSSELL’S BEST-SELLING BOOK FOR ACTORS
ACTING: MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS!

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”

— BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(Mary Poppins Returns, Hamilton, This Is Us,NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!Wicked)

“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”

— SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & Order, Deception, 666 Park Ave., Unforgettable)

“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”

— DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agency Partner
Harden Curtis Kirsten Riley Agency

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!’”

— KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”

— KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Businesscame out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!

— Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

AMIYB_Amazon

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!