Don’t Call Us. We’ll Call You. (Really) | Answers for Actors

Why do some actors feel that because they are “artistes” they deserve recognition for everything thing they do from bowel movements to sending out job inquiries? A reader sent me the following:

Why do some actors feel that because they are “artistes” they deserve recognition for everything thing they do from bowel movements to sending out job inquiries?

A reader sent me the following:

“Hi Paul,

a month ago i sent my cv & pics & clip scenes to a castingagent [sic] for a movie project in London & asked if there’s still a possibility to do audition- the shooting will start somewhere in fall-i didn’t yet received an answer-yesterday i ‘ve mailed him again to let me know if audition is still possible-no reply- If a castingagent doesn’t reply does this mean that the actor/actress doesn’t match totally & thinks it isn’t worth to let him/her do an audition? Is it better to call him personnaly [sic] & ask him the reason? I am afraid i will come over as a jerk (you know)-Or should i let it this way? A Castingagent is supposed to help advancing an actor & i notice i get stuck (& in my case it’s dubble [sic] hard work to achieve my goal)-feel free to comment- Have a nice day Peter”

My reply:

“Hello Peter,

Thank you for the note.

Having once been an actor myself I understand your frustration. But that must be tempered with reality.

Casting directors are no different than human resources. Just as employers in the civilian world receive hundreds of applications and resumes from job seekers so do casting directors from actors. Not every inquiry can be answered.

When employers receive resumes they respond only to those they feel meet their expectations for the job opening(s). It’s no different in casting. As much as everyone would like to be recognized a response to each individual would be poor time management and counterproductive.

The best answer is an analogy I offer you by asking; do you respond to all ads and marketing you receive either via land or e-mail that doesn’t interest you? Of course not.

Move forward and look to other opportunities.

My Best,

That was my polite, I-just-woke-up-and-have-yet-to-munch my morning muffin-happy reply. Here’s the candor.

To those actors out there that think that every inquiry for work or audition by them merits a thumbs-up or down response; get a reality check. It’s not going to happen. If you keep waiting for replies from all you contact you’ll eventually drive yourself mad and be one of those scary people on a subway platform who reek of a sour milk stench and mumble incoherently that Disney — in collaboration with the government — is tracking brain waves.

Recently I encountered another cry for ‘answer me damn it’ within the following Facebook status of an actress:

Seting up interviews with agents next week in New York. Have 2 appointments already…does anyone have an agent they like or that they have heard is good? I don’t want to work with an agent who doesn’t have time to take a phone call, I want someone who can give me advice and who will steer my career in the right direction. NO SNOBS!!!!

“NO SNOBS!!!” ? Honey you’re the snob of reality for not understanding how life works.

I wonder how many times this actress receives telemarketing calls from strangers and gets cozy will the uninvited intruder selling their wares? Actors cold calling agents is no different than a telemarketer calling you. Just as your life and/or work is being interrupted so too are agents who are trying to serve their clients being pulled at by interloping, uninvited actors calling on the phone.

In my diversified work as a casting director, director, teacher and writer I send out multitudes of inquiries for employ. Is it realistic for me to expect a response from each individual? Do I really want hundreds upon hundreds of ‘thanks but no thanks’ responses from producers, university theater department chairs and/or publishers? Would you? How fucking depressing. Why ask for the rejection to be voiced? Why are some actors masochists and demand to hear a reply – even if it’s a ‘no’ — from whomever they contact for a job? Is it because they enjoy wallowing in woe? Or is it because their labors are creative and the muse-afflicted believe themselves elevated above all others on our humble spinning rock in space?

The tired but worn phrase “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” is not a suggestion. It’s reality. An instructive that is telling you (and Sondheim appreciators) to move on…

To the actors who expect a nod and bow to every resume they submit for potential employ:

– Stop focusing on a single submission. Look to other opportunities.

– Stop bitching, blaming and bemoaning that you’re not hearing back from people who hire. Look at what you have on paper to offer; could it be improved? If all is well with the resume, cover letter and headshot then pursue others with a first approach.

– Stop thinking that because some God or deity has sparked your soul to be an actor this makes you ‘special’ above all others on this planet. You’re not. You’re an individual among many, all of whom are also asking to be heard. Everyone can not answer everyone. (If you come up with a telepathic invention to make this happen universally; I’m outta here.)

Keep marketing yourself. Go after new opportunities. Take classes to improve your abilities. And please, stop waiting for responses. You’re wasting valuable time getting mired in melancholy while others are moving past you as they focus on what’s next.

Move on.

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My Best,

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly 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 spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit

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