An actor reached out to me regarding an acting coach who touts prolifically online to his being “a Back Stage award-winning acting coach.” When researching the acting teacher’s credentials and professional history I discovered multiple empty resume pages on casting’s and representation’s go-to casting resource Breakdown Services. Odd that the actor/acting coach created several profiles but left each space for a resume blank. These entries are only seen by the entrant and by entertainment’s gatekeepers who have been granted private access by Breakdown Services. One of his three profiles did contain substance within his Special Skills section. Although I question the validity. The white actor/acting teacher has Russian, Puerto Rican, Irish, and New England accents while promoting he’s of African descent and speaks fluent Korean. Perhaps he should receive a Back Stage award for Most Likely to Page at the U.N.
Back Stage, like other publicly polled award benefactors, has no vetting process for their ‘honors.’ No academy of learned entertainment peers who owl over the scope of entertainment professionals. No red carpet ceremony leading to a hall of seated professionals. No precious mineral or Swarovski statutes handed to masters of craft. Recipients of the Back Stage nod for ‘best’ of whatever: audition studios, acting or vocal coach must rely on their soliciting votes themselves as do politicians running for elected office. If trumpeting for votes to receive an ‘award’ was the basis for legitimate honor then how soon until Donald Trump rallies his followers to vote him a Nobel Prize? Fortunately the Nordic organization which has honored Einstein, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Madame Currie, and Malala Yousafzai has no laureate honoring bluster, and best blonde from a bottle.
Want to know what acting coach, voice teacher, or audition studio is best for you? Ask working professionals and peers whose values and opinions you trust and respect. With awards by solicitation you’re relying on votes cast anonymously by the nominees; uninformed neophytes; the prejudiced; and those who check-box a ‘yes’ because the nominee’s name appears vaguely familiar. And what of the numbers who participated in the open poll? The tally could be a few as a single vote to as many as several hundred. Is that a fair and broad range of insight to serve your craft well?
To be objectively informed research beyond the award-by-poll nominee’s and recipient’s marketing and website. The praise on a virtual home base is too often stolen from a thesaurus. And don’t click to outside websites such as IMDB. IMDB’s content is not reliable. The information within is likely supplied by the subject and/or the subject’s publicist. Trust the values network you’ve built to inform and guide your journey.
A polled award is a marketing tool leveraged to expand exposure by both the awarder and the solicitor for votes awardee. A true honor is earned, and then rewarded by the value of the craft generated by the recipient. For these people or institutions there often is no ‘best of’ public recognition. Often the best are quietly at their prime: focused on the doing rather than ‘look how others believe I’m doing.’
Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors
Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!
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
(NBC’s Peter Pan – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked, Sex & The City)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
— SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & Order, Unforgettable)
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Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
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Harden-Curtis & Associates
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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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
— Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
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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, Elon and Wright State University. He 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 www.PaulRussell.net.