Secret to Acting Career Longevity

 

Paul Russell PaulRussell.net

What is most vital to maintaining a life-long, acting career isn’t a skill taught or learned. It’s not talent. Nor a physical attribute inherent, altered or purchased. It doesn’t exist from collecting the industry connections nurtured and maintained. No acting book reveals a 10-step process to achieving it. No army of talent representation, public relations handlers, image and branding consultants, astrologers or life coaches bring to an actor’s career this one vital component that keeps an acting career sustainable.

I’ve witnessed in entertainment the careers of actors, agents, managers, directors, and production personnel flame out because they lost, or abandoned, what sustained them professionally. One recent surrender was on my Facebook news feed. The actor wrote:

This actor had many desirable elements of an acting career. Well-regarded representation.  A lengthy resume of professional credits that would be the envy of many aspiring actors I meet at universities. Why the public display of despair? Rejection, loss and B.S. in the acting trade is routine. Blaming the obvious isn’t why he was giving up. The cause came from within him but he didn’t know it. How am I certain? Because I have nearly lost the vital “it” myself.

At those moments I remind myself of my final statement to actors I meet at universities. An advisory more important to adhere to than all I shared during our prior time together. The one vital component to career longevity they must always maintain is:

Idealism.

I beg they hold tightly on to their idealism. Never let it go. If they feel it slipping, they’re to remind themselves of their youthful hopes. The love. The passion. The excitement. The drive that had them forsaking all else in their life. Or as simply put in the Stephen Sondheim lyric from FOLLIES: “When everything was possible and nothing made sense.” Once an actor shuns their idealism it’s time to step aside. Curtain.

Cynics scorn idealism as folly. One definition for idealism includes the following description: “The practice of forming or pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically.”

“Unrealistically?” Many practices in entertainment are unrealistic. Breaking into song. Super-hero movies. Walking into a sterile room, and pretending to be someone else before strangers in order to get a job. It’s all silly and unrealistic. The odds of an actor becoming a household name are unrealistic. But for a majority of actors; that’s not what sparked their desire to make acting a profession. Love is often the flame that ignited the passion. Love is an ideal. There is no more a realistic ambition or virtue than the idealism of love.

An actor’s idealism is constantly challenged. The actor must oppose the relentless resistance with unrealistic strength. As actress Bonnie Black spoke of an actor’s life in my book ACTING: Make It Your Business, “An actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros and the soul of a child.” Our inner child is our idealism. Idealism is the oxygen that fills our dreams and gives breath to hope.

If, at some point, the flame that is your idealism flickers and burns out; do not fear what comes next.

Have a candid discussion with yourself. What do you want of your life, professionally? If it’s still the business. Good. But don’t limit your scope. Consider how you can diversify into other areas of the business that restores your idealism. Leverage every professional contact. Ask for help. People love helping; especially in our community of entertainment. If you want a clean cut from the business—make it. I have witnessed others rise from despair. From casting directors, agents, directors, to actors of all levels of visibility. They are happy once more in new pursuits. They don’t perceive the change as failure. They embrace the change as a success to being fulfilled once again. Idealism rekindled.

At times an actor may feel like they’re screaming into the wind and not being heard. We are hearing you. Are you hearing yourself? That voice is the most important. Look inward. What idealism fuels your inner eternal flame?

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 dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, 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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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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’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 & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

How To Get An Audition and Lose It

Some actors can win, and then lose auditions online as easily as Donald Trump insults via a tweet.

 

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

Some actors can win, and then lose auditions online as easily as Donald Trump insults via a tweet.

While casting the AEA national tour of a popular musical, a non-union actor’s submission earned attention from among the slush pile of submissions from non-represented actors. The email rose above the first-class talent representation submissions by agencies and managers.

He began well in his initial email submission:

 

“Hello Paul! I’m reaching out to you about the production of
*****. I have done the show… as the male understudy for all roles…”

 

Great! I thought. Hiring one understudy for all five of the male roles was a challenge. Various musical instruments are required to be played among the characters. If the actor’s audition was spot-on there’s one major puzzle piece solved. Give him an audition ASAP! But…

The actor wasn’t available for a live audition. I requested he place himself on-camera. A deadline was given. The deadline passed. 9 days overdue. No e-audition received. I contacted the actor again with a reminder. I detailed that the producer and creative team were aware of his interest. There was serious interest on our part. The actor replied:

 

“Hey Paul! Thanks for following up. Can I ask you about the understudy position? Are there guaranteed performances?”

 

My response:

 

“Hello Dirk,

The understudies presently under contract are not guaranteed performances. The contract offers paid weeks, per diem, travel, and hotel accommodations. My discussing more than what the contract presents is premature without first having audition material from the actor.”

 

His response?

 

“Hey Paul! Sorry if I have not been forthcoming with the specific tapes. I didn’t want to send it until I was sure I would take the job (if offered). Since there are no promised performances at this time I cannot take an understudy position.”

My initial reaction was, why did you submit for the position?! But, I restrained. I made aware the producer and creative team of the actor passing on the audition, and his reason.

Several days later an additional date was added to the production which precluded a signed principal from performing that added performance. I reached out to the producer to ask if I should inquire of the actor who passed on auditioning because there was no guarantee of a performance but now there was. The producer’s reply? A single sentence:

 

“I’m totally turned off by the email response.”

 

Don’t submit for an audition and then try to negotiate the contract prior to your audition. You’ll lose as did this actor. He lost the producer. He lost the director. He lost the musical director. He lost this casting office. He lost potential work that would have kept him employed for 7 months. Next.

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 dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, 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.

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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

 

Acting Awards on the Actor’s Resume: Remove! / Add!

There are acting awards on an actor’s resume that merit the resume being trashed. There are of course acting awards of merit that matter on an actor’s resume. Which awards are of merit or trash bin bound?

awards_titled

Paul Russell www.PaulRussell.net
Paul Russell
http://www.PaulRussell.net

There are acting awards on an actor’s resume that merit the resume being trashed. There are of course acting awards of merit that matter on an actor’s resume. Which awards are of merit or are trash bin bound?

Recently, there was a heated debate on social media arguing BroadwayWorld awards to be or not to be included on an actor’s resume. Unless you’re a vain, insecure, attention-seeking-at-any-demerit actor: BroadwayWorld awards do not, (repeat) do not belong on an actor’s resume. They hold no merit. Why?

BroadwayWorld awards are beg-for-vote awards driven by actors on social media begging friends and family to vote for performances possibly never seen by the majority of voters. The awards are predominantly for regional theater of which most of the voters haven’t seen the productions. Many of the voters are not industry peers which are vetted for professional related experience. Casting and talent agents know this, as do directors. The inclusion of a beg-for-votes award holds no credibility other than we realize an actor creatively manipulates votes on social media to his or her benefit. And the priority purpose of online voting for actors? Money. The clicks on to BroadwayWorld or similar voting platforms generates review for the website.

If an actor must gain an award via an online poll or an online open voting system that actor devalues their worth as an artist. They’re pandering for votes from the poorly informed—not unlike how Donald Trump disingenuously Tweeted his way to “Hail to the Chief.”

U.S. Acting Awards that Belong (and command respect) on An Actor’s Resume:

Academy Award
Emmy
TONY
Golden Globe
Drama Desk
Drama League
Outer Critics Circle
Obie
Lucille Lortel
Grammy (Only for a spoken, solo recorded performance of a role.)

Regional U.S. Acting Awards that Belong (and command respect) on An Actor’s Resume:

Joseph Jefferson (Chicago)
Ovation (Los Angles)
Carbonell (Florida)
Helen Hayes (Wash, DC.)
Barrymore (Philadelphia)
Elliot Norton (Boston)
IRNE (New England / Boston)
Ivey Awards (Minneapolis – St. Paul)
Kevin Klein (St. Louis)

Awards of merit are ones in which professional peers as voters are screened and/or are accredited by a review panel. As example with the TONY awards: TONY voters are working Broadway professionals chosen through a stringent vetting process. Likewise with the acting awards that are noted here prior to be included on an actor’s resume. That professional peer review is why such award recognitions are respected over the “Vote for me anybody” BroadwayWorld-type awards.

Awards that include, or are predominantly recognizing, community theater companies (hello Ostrander and Perry awards) do not belong on a professional actor’s resume. High school acting awards are just as offending. I’ve been horrified at seeing high school “Best Actor” awards on the resumes of 30-something ‘professional’ actors. Next.

How to Place an Acting Award on an Actor’s Resume:

Using the Industry Standard Actor’s Resume (pg. 86 in ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes & Achieve Success as a Working Actor) place award(s) as follows on these examples:

Which on a resume is this:

awards_resume_reduced

(The italicizing of the award—and the director—is for the eye to differentiate that additional information, and attract the eye to that information.)

Placing the award elsewhere on the resume (i.e. Special Skills, or Awards categories) may prompt the viewer of your resume to overlook your achievement. With the award placed directly under the credit the achievement is prominent to the viewer.

Beware of placing an * next to a credit to note there is more information to the credit. When there is an asterisk (especially for an award) the resume viewer

Paul Russell's Best-Selling Book for Actors!
Paul Russell’s
Best-Selling Book
for Actors!

must then search to where that * corresponds to elsewhere on the resume—don’t do this. An actor’s resume is not a game of hide-and-seek.

Just as awards of respectability are handed out judiciously, actors are to be judicious in the level of awards they honor their work with on their resume. Better to viewed as honored by peers than honored by polls.

.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 dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, 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.

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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Why LA LA LAND Fails Actors

An actor isn’t successful unless famous. A number of actors so starved for a portrayal of the profession, even false, will champion any story about actors even if it’s Wonder Bread, idealistic mythological tripe.

la-la-land

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

An actor isn’t successful unless famous. A musician isn’t successful unless they have a bountiful bank account. The anachronistic movie musical LA LA LAND, filmed as a late 1940s / early 1950s movie musical set in modern day, demonstrates how Hollywood perpetuates a mythical La La Land that doesn’t exist but insists to civilians, “This is how the entertainment industry really is.” No, it’s not.

.
Young, generic actresses without an agent don’t get into first-rate auditions or are plucked from one-night showcase obscurity into fame as this film pretends is reality. But yet the film, like most 3rd rate Hollywood portrayals about Hollywood, relies on worn clichés as fact: Casting directors are distempered women. Directors are cold hearted. Young actresses are all white and from Small Town, U.S.A. Jazz musicians are predominantly black, but if white they’re moody. Actors would be truly happy if the love of their life gave up his dreams so I can achieve the success I desire.

.
You’d think the actors, who daily seek a respect for their profession from family and detractors, would demand Hollywood rise to elevate the portrayal of the journeyman actor. No. On my Facebook feed I read of actors fawning over the failed-to-impress homage to the glamorous Rogers and Astaire movie musicals. A number of actors are so starved for a portrayal of the profession, even false, they will champion any story about actors even if it’s Wonder Bread, idealistic mythological tripe as is LA LA LAND.

.
In the entertainment industry an actor doesn’t:

– Repeatedly get 1st class film auditions without having representation
– Have a 1st class casting director attend a one-night showcase that has no heat or audience

,

Even the portrayal of the Hollywood backlot is a fantasy too far cliché. A saloon set not worthy of a theme park. Actors kissing in a filmed scene, but then when the director calls “cut” the actors are bitterly fighting. And where are the actors or entertainment personnel of color? The swimming pool party scene is more West Chester than West Hollywood.

.
If this is an homage to the classical Rogers and Astaire movie musicals that are the hallmark of cinema glamour of the 1940s, LA LA LAND fails in its unglamorous casting. Further disappointment comes during a promising opening number winking as a hallmark to movie musicals but then fails to drive the story as stalled drivers dance on a freeway. An opening number in a musical is to inform the audience of the story and expectations. In LA LA LAND the number “Another Day of Sun,” picked up from the cutting room floor, seems more like an exercise of instructing the audience that LA LA LAND is going to be a musical but, “We know it’s awkward for you to witness but bear with our indulgence. We’ll get to the storytelling shortly.”

.
If a fantasy, which LA LA LAND pretends, then those within the entertainment industry–the journeymen actors who don’t require fame to consider themselves successful–should demand a dose of reality within the fictional portrayal of their profession. LA LA LAND perpetuates the myth that an actor isn’t an actor unless famous. They’re just a barista hoping to be discovered on a backlot, and any acting work they do that is not in the global spotlight is without merit. Move along. Next.

.

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 dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, 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, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Actors Trump Hate

Anger is passion. Passion is love. Love the passion that is the fight against hate.

“This was unexpected,

What do I do now?

Could we start again, please?”

Jesus Christ Superstar – Movie

 

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

 

November 9, 2016 wasn’t a morning of light for many but a gray day of mourning. That on the U.S. east coast the day was chilly with rain seemed cliché for the frightening prospects from the results of the U.S. presidential election. But a darkness shadowed many hopes and footsteps the morning after the election. I was among the grieving. Lost. Hope seemed cynical. How was I, in 24 hours following, to be a positive guide to young actors I was to visit at a university?

 

I looked to actors for a flicker of light to guide me through my darkness.

 

On Facebook I posted:

 

“Help. I’m a little lost here. I’m leaving this morning for a weekend of teaching young actors at Elon. At the end of my stay at each school I visit I stress to the ambitious actors the importance of retaining their idealism. For if they lose that on their journey– its game over. With my own idealism diminished greatly, what do you suggest I tell the young actors?”

 

Over 2 dozen actors lit flares:

 

Broadway actress, and teacher Rachel Ulanet posted…

“Encourage them to get involved. Kids feel empowered when they feel that they are part of a greater whole, especially one that works to make things better for all. We have told our girls this repeatedly over the past 24 hrs, and while they are still very teary and anxious, it does seem to calm them down. Also- that they are part of the ebb and flow of history. We all are! We have lived through bad presidencies before (though admittedly yes – this one is particularly scary), AND we will get through this one.”

 

Actor, (and former student of mine) Joseph Christensen offered…

“Art arises out of times of great struggles. Remind them that these events can be a catalyst for making change and telling stories that need to be heard. Finding expression is essential now so they don’t build a blockage on their creative energy.”

 

And then there came advice which had me uncontrollably sobbing as I shared it with the Elon students.

 

Actress, and TONY recognized acting teacher Beth Baur wrote…

“Remember that they are artists. There is their power! Write, Create, Paint, Dance. Create! Let your art guide you, speak, be the voice of your spirit. Even if it explores diminished idealism!! Or the pain. Or the anger. Or the confusion. MAKE ART.”

elon2016
(Above: Elon B.F.A. Acting Majors Class of 2016, Paul Russell (center), Fred Rubeck – Department Chair (seated) and Marty the pup)

Many actors shared wonderful, hope inspiring words of support and encouragement. We must look to the best within ourselves, and each other, to trump the hate that barrels towards us. Anger is passion. Passion is love. Love the passion that is the fight against hate.

My best,
Paul

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 dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, 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, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

The Background Actor with The Extra Smell

Background actors, also known as extras, are often the most underappreciated and despised positions of employ within screen acting. Mostly because too large a percentage of background actors have that extra smell.

Extra Background Actors

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell – author ACTING: Make It Your Business, director & casting director

Background actors, also known as extras, are often the most underappreciated and despised positions of employ within screen acting. Mostly because too large a percentage of background actors have that extra smell.

Extras are the actors required to fill-out the background of a screen story. Without extras, the world of film and television would appear as empty as a movie theater playing a marathon of Adam Sandler flicks.

Some actors leverage being an extra–the grunt work of acting–as a chore for financial survival. Temporarily they’ll network on set with entertainment colleagues with the knowledge that the belittlement withstood of being herded like cattle around a set is a temporary gig and not a career. These actors though will encounter on set delusional actors who fervently believe that being an extra will eventually propel them to having their own star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame; possibly aside Donald Trump’s unearned star. These are the actors who are known in the industry as “having that extra smell.”

The extra smell actor is the actor who believes their self-declared stunning beauty or unusual look once glimpsed on the screen for less than a nanosecond will have a director or producer rise pointing to the screen and shout, “Get me that actor! That’s the star of my next budget-busting-blockbuster!”

More Characteristics of Actors with the Extra Smell

1. Actors with a shopping list of credits on their resume that are named as the following actual credit from an actor’s resume: “Professional business man on the park bench reading The Wall Street Journal as Jennifer Anniston jogged by.”

2. Actors who when opening their wardrobe closet refer to clothing by project names: “For my date tonight, I think I’ll wear The Lovely Bones.”

3. Actors with an app on their smartphone a search engine for public bathrooms that can be used as a changing room while on location.

4. An actor with more autographs of the principals “worked with” than principal credits on their resume.

5. An actor with a composite card that displays them in various costumes from their roles as an extra, and then they utilize that comp card as a headshot to casting for principal work consideration. Extra smell.

6. Actors who send a picture and resume to a casting office that casts only principals and the actor requests consideration for extra work. Doubly extra smelling.

7. A background actor listing the extra credits on their resume as “featured.” “Bingo!” called for the extra smell in the corner of your screen.

8. The extra actor who complains to the caterer at craft services that over the past several years the caterer’s tri-colored pasta salad has been deteriorating in quality. Table for one extra smell.

9. Actors who faithfully believe that if the director happens to silently notice them then that director will instantly, without hearing the actor speak, catapult that actor to principal status.

10. Actors who gaze dreamily at a nearby honeywagon on set and fantasize it’s an oasis of stardom. There’s a room for the actor with an extra smell.

11. If while dressed uniformly among peer extras, there’s the extra actor who notices that their robe has a silver buckle upon its sash while the extra standing aside them has a sash with a gold buckle. And this slight in lower metallic grade on a costume ignites the jealous actor’s anger. Wardrobe knows who has that extra smell.

12. An extra arriving on set with a backpack bulging with screenplays they wrote as vehicles for themselves to star in and their sole intent for the day is to distribute them to anyone who makes eye contact. Everyone sees that extra smell coming.

13. An extra working on a James Cameron film, and the closest proximity they made to Mr. Cameron is the third AD. But later when speaking to fellow extras the actor claims, “James thinks I would be fantastic for the president alien who stops the oil tanker from plowing into the Statue of Liberty.”

14. Actors who mistake casting directors Mali Finn and Jonathan Strauss for a Vegas act.

15. Actors watching a movie who ignore the principals in order to evaluate the extras in the background.

16. Actors lobbying SAG-AFTRA, The Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences, and The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that each implement the award category: Best Extra in a Comedy, Drama or Musical.

17. Actors whom after being cast announce on social media, “I got casted.” There’s an actor whose vocabulary has an extra smell.

Put into proper perspective by the participant background work as an actor does have benefits: A paycheck. A networking opportunity. When work for an actor as an extra is approached by an actor with fantasies that the silent background cross or sitting at a table will lead to eventual fame; that actor has an extra smell that prompts principal professionals to run. Talent representation and casting directors advise actors who want to seriously pursue principal screen work to minimize or delete all their extra credits from the resume when an acting resume is sent to principal casting directors and Legit talent agents.

Now, before some actors misinterpret that prior statement and post on an online message board misinformation stating, “Paul Russell said….” let me re-state more plainly. Take the paychecks. Remove or minimize the extra credits on your resume if you want to be considered for principal work on screen. Have a separate resume listing acting history as an extra for when submitting for work to casting directors who cast background actors.

What if extra credits are all an actor has listed under the Film/TV header of their Legit resume and that actor wishes to grow beyond being an extra? Minimize. Actors with that extra smell will often include on their Legit resume every silent walk-on. Which in turn leads the purveyor (casting directors and talent agents) of the actor’s work history to ponder, “Can’t act. Directors don’t trust him or her with an Under Five or better.”

(continue reading)

HAMILTON’s casting director
praises Paul Russell’s book on acting
as “a must read for all actors… the actor’s roadmap!”

AMIYB_Amazon

There’s nothing disgraceful about being an extra (other than the sometimes disgraceful treatment of extras on set). An actor as an extra produces a paycheck. The under-appreciated work provides an actor with fresh contacts. The temporary employ won’t be an end-solution for becoming a star. Which by-the-by, fame should never be the reason for being an actor, and if that is an actor’s sole intent for being in the arts–that actor has that extra smell.

My best,
Paul
www.PaulRussell.net

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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
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)

 

“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)

 

“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates

 

“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

 

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

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 spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. 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.

“Scam” Paid Auditions vs. Legitimate Acting Classes

There is truth versus perception. SAG-AFTRA, the largest union representing screen actors, may have unintentionally caused confusion in truth versus perception for what is a legitimate class for actors, as opposed to what is a questionable workshop. Bewildered actors, both union and non-union, potentially suffer from the lack of career expansion misunderstanding what is a legitimate educational acting resource versus what is in SAG-AFTRA’s assessment, “a scam.”

ScamVsLegit

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

 

There is truth versus perception. SAG-AFTRA, the largest union representing screen actors, may have unintentionally caused confusion in truth versus perception for what is a legitimate class for actors, as opposed to what is a questionable workshop. Bewildered actors, both union and non-union, potentially suffer from the lack of career expansion misunderstanding what is a legitimate educational acting resource versus what is in SAG-AFTRA’s assessment, “a scam.”

SAG-AFTRA recently warned its membership, via online media, that actors within its guild not participate in workshops attended by casting directors, agents, and/or managers in which actors pay to participate:

“It shall be deemed conduct unbecoming a member for any member of the union, directly or indirectly, to give or offer to give any money, gift, gratuity or other thing of value to an employer, or prospective employer, to any officer, agent, representative or employee of such employer or prospective employer, or to any employment or casting agency representing an employer, or prospective employer, or to any of their officers, agents, representatives or employees as an inducement to secure employment.”

Deeper in SAG-AFTRA’s declaration is a passing disclaimer potentially overlooked or misinterpreted by actors:

“This includes workshop-style situations where a casting director watches your scene or monologue, offers no meaningful critique or feedback, and is presented as someone looking for actors for ‘current and upcoming projects.’ This becomes a paid audition, which is against SAG-AFTRA rules.”

The phrase, “offers no meaningful critique or feedback” is the foundation to understanding what SAG-AFTRA considers a ‘class’ versus a ‘paid audition.’ Thoughtful advisement for bettering the actor’s craft, plus actionable constructive criticism is apparently in SAG-AFTRA’s view the keystone to a casting director, talent agent or manager participating in a educational resource for actors. But actors quickly scanning SAG-AFTRA’s membership directive, or non-union actors encountering similar discussion through the nefarious actor grapevine, potentially lump all educational actor workshops and classes together with the shove-actors-through-the-door, paid audition scenarios.

The Confusion

When actors mistakenly interpret from a union, or a colleague, that the vernacular of ‘workshops,’ ‘seminars,’ or ‘classes’ are pay-to-play scams then those actors assume that all actor-focused classes of which industry attend are illegitimate. A self-destructive disservice to the actor wishing to expand their career skills, and resumé.

A growing percentage of acting studio educational classes have their roots in the collegiate world. Annually, universities with esteemed acting programs bring to their campuses entertainment executives who share valuable experience with student actors via master classes. These casting directors, directors, and talent representatives leading collegiate master classes then offer the same insights expressed at universities in private acting studios of New York City, Los Angeles, and/or Chicago.

Differences Between Paid Classes With Industry vs. Paid Auditions

Classes / Workshops:

A class for actors is one that is either held over an extended period of time (several weeks or several months) or in an evening. Beneficial acting-career skills are taught to the actor, and during that learning process constructive feedback is given to the actor by the instructor and/or invited entertainment executive(s). Entertainment executives may include: casting directors, talent agents and managers, directors, or actors with well-established careers.

Paid Auditions:

Actors pay a fee to be seen by an entertainment executive or panel via a monologue, or a hurriedly put-together scene. No feedback to the actors is offered. The session for each actor lasts several minutes. The session for the executive(s) is a duration of several hours as the actors are presented like cattle at an auction. These studios often herald in their advertising, or via email blasts, that the studio is responsible for every career advancement made by each actor who shuffled through their system no matter how long ago the actor was herded through the studio’s chute. Often the studio has no association with, or influence on, the actor’s toil in procuring the booking(s). Some of these studios now advertise “exclusive rights” to a casting director or talent agent as attending only that studio’s sessions. “Tisn’t morals, ’tis money that saves…”

Are Paid Auditions Valuable?

A good number of actors have formed professional relationships with agents and/or casting directors from these scenarios. More actors though have found the one-night stand paid auditions to be a frustration. The feeling disenfranchised actors are the most vocal in opposition to what is perceived as a paid audition.

Why Paid Auditions Are Popular

The digital revolution has changed how casting and representation meet talent. Too many actors have mistakenly given-up on the snail mail method of marketing themselves. While the majority of entertainment industry players delete, unopened, unsolicited email from actors. The paid audition, for better or worse, has replaced how first introductions are made.

Actors drive the market for the one-night stands. Actors also drive the market for the legitimate classes, and workshops. Of each, the actor will pay their monies for the value of who is participating. Classes without prominent industry participation don’t sell well; often forcing respected teachers to cancel classes.

Classes for Actors vs. Paid Auditions

Benefits of the paid audition is a questionable gamble that places opportunity in the hands of the attending entertainment executive(s). Classes attended or led by entertainment executives can offer growth from which the actor creates opportunities.

What is truth of legitimate versus the perception of a scam? The answer is within what the seller honestly offers, and the results an actor realistically anticipates.

My best,
Paul

Paul Russell’s 5-Star, Best Selling Book on Acting including Hollywood & Broadway Actors & Agents!

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned 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 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.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors
Love Paul Russell’s 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
(Hamilton, The Intern, NBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked)
All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“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 Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“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 Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

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:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Bu