Top 10 Email Mistakes Actors Make

Email marketing by actors is fraught with career-hobbling traps. The following email blunders are the most often used career-stopping snares by which actors maim opportunities.

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actor email

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

Email marketing by actors is fraught with career-hobbling traps. Convenience and speed lull actors in to a false sense of accomplishment in their marketing outreach to entertainment professionals who hire or represent actors. The following email blunders are the most often used career-stopping snares by which actors maim opportunities.

1. Forwards

Actors forwarding their prior sent email(s) to industry by sending as ‘new’ old correspondence to other industry contacts advertises that the actor is lazy.

email

 

Recipients see in an email’s subject the abbreviation ‘FWD.’ When a FWD recipient sees the abbreviation a red flag is signaled that the sending actor is complacent, and sloppy with their marketing which further translates into an image that the actor is likely just as much an unprepared sloth regarding their acting skills.

Actors who wish that consideration of their career be taken seriously as a professional must approach each professional as an individual—not as a check-mark accomplished in the actor’s marketing whoredom.

 

2. Email Addresses that are Tinder or Grndr Bound

How serious of casting or representation consideration of an actor is an entertainment gatekeeper to pursue when an inquiring actor has an email address beginning with ‘SexyStarr@,’ ‘MyOscarAwaits@,’ or similar correspondence handles? About as seriously as an actor shouldn’t consider a director, agent, or casting director if any of those acting job enablers has an email address that is MakeYouFamous@hotmail.com.

An actor’s email address is a reflection of their professionalism. An actor’s work email address is to begin with a derivation of the actor’s name, followed by the email carrier that the actor utilizes.

 

3. Dear Mr./Mrs. as Greetings

I’ll never be a Mrs. or a Mr. (my testicles don’t respond to either greeting).

As unprofessional and crass is my prior commentary so too are generic openers. If an actor wishes to be treated as an individual, then the actor must give the same desired respect to all entertainment professionals encountered.

We are given names—identities. We are not pronouns but nouns. An actor sending an email blast to 10 or 10,000 individuals may either copy-n-paste the body of the email into each individual message, and then manually type in the recipient’s name. Or, the actor could save time and hours of tedium by learning what is a database and how a ‘field’ inserts an individual’s name or other content into a mass email blast.

Yours Sincerely,
Mr./Mrs./Ms./It

 

4. Begin with Positive not Negative

From a recent actor’s email:

 

“As a casting director you may literally go through thousand [SIC] of cover letters and resume [SIC] every day,”

 

First impression upon reading the actor’s opener is, “This isn’t going to go well for the actor.” And I’m correct. The remainder of the opening sentence in the email continues:

“…and most of the time you wind most of these letters in the trash can.”

 

The email is on a laptop screen, not on paper in my hand.

Plus, there seems to be a verb or two missing in the statement. Or maybe the writer envisions that like a clock’s cogs I wind trashed paper counterclockwise in my trashcan. Or possibly I pass wind on letters in my trashcan.

What an actor writes—and how—presents a perceived value by the reader on the actor’s acting skills. The actor mistakenly continues…

“I would like to tell you unlike most of the stars, I have taken this career seriously. I have converted this profession into my work ethic.”

Next.

 

5. Incorrect Capitalization

From an actor’s email to casting:

“Being a Film Actor who has been an Actor for many years I know your office to be the best Casting Office with many Casting Directors who work on Stage and Screen Projects. My Acting Training is extensive at many Performing Arts Schools…”

If you cannot detect the 15 capitalization errors in the prior sentences, get thee to an unpretentious ghostwriter to write your correspondence.

 

6. Attaching (multiple) Headshots, Resume(s), or Reel(s)

An actor’s resume is to be placed within the body of an email (See here).

Attachments slow the incoming email program of your target, which in turn doesn’t endear the actor to the entertainment professional.

Attachments also signal to email providers that an incoming email with a single or multiple attachments is potentially SPAM.

Attachments are also suspect. A large percentage of people using email will not open attachments from an unknown sender.

Include, along with your formatted resume in the email body, a thumbnail of one headshot. Also include a link to your website.

 

7. Using Vocabulary that Doesn’t Match Your Speaking Voice

8. Using lots of Vocabulary to Say Nothing of Substance

9. Not Having a Proof Reader

10. Telling the Reader You’re Serious About being an Actor

In the following excerpt of an actor’s email all blunders, 7-10, happen simultaneously:

“I would appreciate if you see my resume wherein I have mentioned my experience and knowledge. If your watched my reel you can see how seriously I have taken this profession.”

For a guide on how to write effective actor marketing emails, and cover letters get the best-selling acting book that the casting director for HAMILTON calls, “the actor’s roadmap!” Read ACTING: Make It Your Business.

And… take control of your career in the acting master class that I teach at dozens of universities across the U.S. A 4-week intensive covering actor marketing, audition technique improvement, finding your brand/voice, and how to take control of an audition, and gain more work. 3 industry executives join me in guiding your work. Details @ http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

My best,
Paul

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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

#StopTwitterCasting | Auditions, Actors & Social Media

Actors desperate for work and attention are complicit in becoming social media whores at the whims of their pimps: casting directors, directors, and producers.

Presentation1

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

.
.There’s a malicious trend of false popularity trumping talent killing the art of acting. And actors desperate for auditions, work and attention are complicit in becoming social media whores at the whims of their pimps: casting directors, directors, and producers. Want an audition? Casting now requires on a growing number of projects that an actor, not a celeb, but a journeyman actor have a large social media following. At a prominent New England regional theater the casting of a dance track during call-backs had two viable candidates. The producers went with the female dancer who had the larger social media following.

For the Millennial actor this whoring social media followers to get an audition or to be cast in a project may seem routine. Let’s turn the clock back 20 years…

Before present day social media, and ‘followers’, and ‘friends’ you’ve never met but to whom you reveal the most intimate aspects of your private life publicly; before the narcissistic swamps which are not receding any time soon, the casting of journeyman actors was based on talent. Not an actor’s Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook following. Celebs? Sure, there was always a ‘box-office’ or ‘Q’ consideration. But now in the age of “look-at-me” diarrhea indulgence producers, directors, and writers are asking of no-name journeyman actors to have a set minimum of social media followers before the actor submit themselves for an audition. Have a paltry 50 to 200 social media followers the response is, “Don’t bother submitting. You’re not worthy.” Have over 100K, 500K or more followers then, “Yes! Let’s see that actor! Never mind the talent. If we hire 10 actors with each of them having a social media following of 200K per actor, that’s 2 million eyes on our project!”

A major flaw with that sweat-shop thinking. Followers does not equal commerce. If it did then my 60K followers across various platforms should have all bought my acting book, letting me enjoy the luxury of not having to constantly plug the pulp puppy. The percentage of sales for my acting book—hailed by industry, actors, and universities as a must-read—compared to my following is not equal.

Actors are encouraged to “buy” followers. Problem: all followers are not necessarily what is sought as a demographic. Through no choice of mine I have followers I never sought or want: hardware stores, plumbing companies, convenience stores, and many other non-arts related followers.

And while the employers of talent believe hiring actors with large followings will get the project more eye-time online that will only occur if their actors pay the social media platforms to bring eyes on the actor’s Tweets and updates.

This trend of followers over talent isn’t artful. We’re compromising the integrity of creating by buying into the false reality of reality entertainment. I dread the day I see on an actor’s resume placed in the Special Skills section, or worse as a credit, the number of social network followers the actor has.

Sir Laurence Olivier had talent: not a Twitter following.

#StopTwitterCasting

My best,
Paul

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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, 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 visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

“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!

When to Join an Actor Union? (AEA, SAG-AFTRA, AGVA)

The debate of ‘going union’ or not, and ‘when’ or ‘if” is a juggernaut of career soul-searching. When is going from a non-union actor to a union actor best?

UnionJoin

When is going from a non-union actor to a union actor best? Each actor has their own journey to one of those favored union cards be it from Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, or AGVA or all three: the triple crown of union status.

Once there was an impatient, young actor hired as a non-union performer by one of my L.O.R.T. clients. The actor strongly believed that if he didn’t get his Actors’ Equity card by age twenty-one his career would be over. When hired he’d hit his self-imposed card deadline but we hired him as a non-union performer (the producer’s budget dictated the necessity of a non-union actor to work alongside AEA actors). During his contract at the AEA theater he was miffed when he wasn’t bumped up from ensemble into an understudy vacancy. He threatened to quit. I intervened. We offered him his AEA card to remain.

While the solution provided immediate gratification for all sides, especially for the actor, it didn’t help him much past the near-term. Being young, developmental (i.e. new to the business), and a physical type that isn’t easily marketable for an actor he didn’t work much (nearly not at all) after receiving his AEA card. He was competing against stronger-skilled, union performers. Had he remained non-union for his early to mid-twenties he more than likely would have worked more often. As a non-union talent he was more valuable and desirable to union houses that hire non-union. Plus, he could work the lucrative market of non-union tours. I know of a good number of actors who played a non-union tour of a Broadway musical, and then were “upgraded” to making their Broadway debut in the NY counterpart of the show. Union card snagged.

For each creative participant in entertainment the ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘what’ for becoming ‘union’ varies. For some, joining a union is a status symbol. Recognition as being ‘a professional.’ Union membership does not equal professionalism. Anyone working in entertainment has witnessed a portion of union actors, directors, designers, and stage craftspeople who behave worse than the worst tyrannical community theater artist. I was once heartened when sitting on a panel that included a Vice-President from Actors’ Equity Association who had said without reservation, “Being a member of Equity does not mean you’re a professional. That’s a myth.”

Whatever union represents your field of expertise know that the initials that follow your name designating inclusion into the club will not make you better at what you do. Only you can do that; not a union card. A union is for protection not perfection.

Pros & Cons of Becoming Union:

Pros:

–          Basic salary minimums set by each union

–          Health & Pension benefits (if employed a certain amount of weeks per year)

–          Arbitration should there be a dispute between the union member and his employer

–          Elevates professional status (but that doesn’t mean the talent rises as well. There are union actors who are outclassed by non-union talent)

Cons:

–          Less opportunities for work (unions forbid and fine members for accepting work without a union contract attached)

–          More competition (and often of higher caliber)

–          As a union member you cost the producer more to hire as they pay bigger bucks for your larger union salary, and also the producer must pay into your pension & health payments funds. (Producers are looking for ways to stay economically viable in a modern market where audience share is harder to obtain as competition arises from an overload of various entertainment platforms.)

Going union for an actor can not be answered by a blog, agent, casting director or by an actor’s peers. The answer must come from each actor’s circumstances (work history, marketability against other union actors, desire for the abundance of opportunities of non-union gigs vs. sparseness of landing union gigs). Before an actor makes the choice of joining an actors’ union, when the opportunity is offered, the actor needs to query themselves:

Do I (the actor) want to work near continuously (non-union)?  Or do I want to work occasionally with the possibility of better pay, benefits, and possibly better working conditions (union)? As a performer; does my age, skill set and experience equal that of my union peers?

The debate of ‘going union’ or not, and ‘when’ or ‘if” is a juggernaut of career soul-searching. The when, if, and why can only be answered by each actor’s circumstances, desires, and most importantly; needs.

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.

Fair Wages? Are Actor Unions Fairly Serving All Actors?

There’s been an alarming shift towards lower actor wages within the unions. And the membership of AEA and SAG have been complacent in letting their union reps negotiate less compensation in return for a producer’s promise of expanded employment opportunities. The sweet success winners are the producers. Actors oft remain holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop stick.

Author’s Note [Posted originally 5/2/2010, the subject of actors’ unions and fair wage compensation is once again being debated.]

“The only real way for us to lower costs is to pay artists less, but paying artists is part of the point of the Public,”

Oskar Eustis
Artistic Director – The Public
New York Times Interview – 4/15/2010

Paul Russell

There’s been an alarming shift towards lower actor wages within the unions. And the membership of AEA and SAG-AFTRA have been complacent in letting their union reps negotiate less compensation in return for a producer’s promise of expanded employment opportunities. The sweet success winners are the producers. Actors oft remain holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop stick. It’s complacent thespians who are to blame for receivership of the less-than-attractive reward.

SAG began the trend of creating contracts with salary stipends that wouldn’t bust a producer’s budget; SAG Experimental, SAG Modified Low Budget and SAG Ultra-Low Budget. (You begin to wonder when comes the SAG Happy Meal Low Budget?) These contracts were intended for use by the indie film producer. But major studios could not resist the temptation of exploiting these contracts for their own best profitable interests. Paranormal Activity anyone? A mega-hit produced for about $10,000 and grossing for Paramount’s DreamWorks division $22 million (that’s box office alone… DVD and television air-sales not included). The actors’ miniscule salary in the shaking-cam screamer was a small, small percentage of that $10,000.

You do the math of fair and balanced.

Then not long ago AEA leadership in negotiations with producers began devising their own similar sounding paltry payouts; AEA Experimental and the new S.E.T.A. acronym. The latter contract of which is now being implemented by the theatrical titans; the Weisslers. What’s this new contract? It’s the Short Engagement Touring Agreement. Terms of which went into effect January 5, 2009. How does this new contract affect actors? Let’s take a gander… at an actual situation.

An actor (we’ll tag her as ‘Janice’) was touring as an ensemble member with the long-enduring tour of Chicago produced by National Artists Management Company (i.e. Fran & Barry Weissler). Under past tour contracts with Chicago Janice received a salary of $1,500 per week. The tour went well. Janice made a nice bit of cha-ching for her savings account as did the producers. Then the tour closed as scheduled. Not long after it was remounted to go out across the mountains and prairies once more but under the new S.E.T.A. contract. Janice was offered to return. Same duties. Salary, $850 per week.

Now, some may say this is not entirely fair. While others may view this as a way for actors and producers to keep producing art in an economy that, as past recessions have shown, is not favorable to the arts.

And it’s not just ‘the economy’ influencing earnings.

As thespians know, especially the musically talented, AEA employment on the road has been usurped by non-union tours. For a time AEA appeared baffled for finding a way to stop the loss of employ for its members to the lower overhead, cost-attractive, non-union tours that producers like the Wiesslers licensed out to non-union touring companies. AEA was less-than-brilliant in defense by asking its members to include in their Playbill bios; “Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association”. If that was the best AEA leadership could do to battle, then those actors running the actor’s union don’t understand their audience. The people in the seats could care less about union affiliation. All they care about is what’s on stage before them and how much did it cost to sit and view. If the production and actors look like their interpretation of what a Broadway show on tour should be, and costs far, far, far less than a Broadway hundred-dollar plus ticket; they’re happy. And I’ve seen several of those non-union tours. If I weren’t the picky Virgo I am and was just your average Sagittarius from Scranton I wouldn’t know the difference — on stage — between union and non-union. The uneducated-in-the-arts would just know that they saw a great show that didn’t cost him this month’s car payment. And that he’d have money left over afterwards for wings and beer at Hooters.

So now AEA has found a way to combat the non-union tour at its heart; the bottom line. Who gets caught in the cross-fire? Actors. Both union and non-union. AEA members are now being paid less for the same work labored previously under higher wages. Non union actors may begin seeing less non-union tour opportunities. And this is a trend that began years ago with SAG. What can union actors unhappy do about the less-than-living wage wages? Get involved with your union. Voice your opinion. Get on the boards that negotiate contracts. Rally. Scream. Demand.

If you feel that these changes in contracts are necessary to ensure that there is some form of employ then do similar as those opposed to the wage and contract concessions. Be heard.

Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!What does the non-union actor do? You demand from non-union producers the same earnings, treatment and contract perks (Per Diem, hours, etc) as given to your union card-carrying brethren. Will you get such? HA! (Good luck.) But the more non-union performers continue to ask for equality — the more the producer hears the same requests — then the more likely that the producer (if humane) may change their mind to remain contractually competitive in attracting quality, professional talent.

To all; your silence equals complicity. Be heard.

Next!

My Best,
Paul

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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 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.

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

How Not to Contact a Casting Director or Talent Agent

The agent will feverishly respond to a faceless voice and announce to fellow agents, “Stop work! I don’t know who this actor is but damn they should be our client pronto. That’s the brilliance we need on our list!”

11:13 PM.

Thirty minutes prior I arrived home. Pulled myself under my comfy down-duvet, keeping warm as my cat Dorie sleeps peacefully at my feet. Then from my nightstand comes the piercing rings of my phone. Dorie helicopters and bolts.

I look at the in-coming phone number; area code 718. The outer boroughs don’t have my home digits.  And my inner circle knows I won’t answer a call after 9.

Irritated, I pick up the receiver and quickly cradle it back to silence.

The phone rings.

Thrusting off the duvet I turn to the annoyance, see the same 718 intruder. I grab the receiver. “What?!”

“Hello,” a male voice responds. I couldn’t tell if the Eastern European flavor was phony or true. “Is this Paul Russell?”

“Yes,” I hiss.

“Great. I’m an actor and I’m responding to-”

“I don’t care,” I interrupt. “You’re calling my home, keeping me from sleep. Don’t call this number again.” I hang up.

I’m dumbfounded by the actor’s stupidity calling with business after business hours. How he got my home land-line, I don’t know. Maybe he assumes it’s my office line.  But where’s the logic in calling so late? What is he expecting? An assistant manning lines 24/7 to answer vampire-ish actors? Was he going to leave a message, thinking once I heard his inquiry I’d cease life and work crying out, “Holy hotcakes! An actor!! They’re so hard to find. I don’t know what he looks like, what he’s done but I need his brilliance before another director grabs him!”

My partner (the former talent agency owner) every Monday would share weekend messages left on his agency’s voice-mail from actors he didn’t know. Actors seeking representation. What the Daffy Duck are these nits thinking?! The agent will feverishly respond to a faceless voice and announce to fellow agents, “Stop work! I don’t know who this actor is but damn they should be our client pronto. They left an after-hours message for representation. That’s the brilliance we need on our list!” (Sure. And the Kardashian Kollection is haute couture.)

Back to 718 Restus-interuptus.

The next morning (a Saturday) I’m deep in cleaning chore drudgery. My private line rings. I look at the number displayed. Mr. 718. Grabbing the receiver I offer a chilled, “What?”

“Hello is this Paul Russell?”

“Yes.”

“I’m an actor-“

“I don’t care. I told you last night this was my home number. Don’t you think it’s a bit rude calling near midnight, push yourself, and then when I tell you you’re calling my home and ask that you not call again, you don’t listen? And here we are back where we were last night. Me sleep deprived and not climatic you’re the cause.”

He apologizes. I ask where he got my number. He gives the name of a less-than-reputable trade.

And it’s not just journeymen actors being obtuse intruders. As I wrote in ACTING: Make It Your Business, a celeb called my home on a Christmas Eve to push himself for a project. As I stood nude, dripping wet from my disturbed shower, the former TV heart throb offered to fax his award nominations to me then and there.

If ever…you’re foolishly tempted to leave an after-hours, first approach, voice-mail regarding submitting yourself for general casting or seeking representation heed this long standing advisory: “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”

Stalwartly disagree? Let’s put this in the real world perspective. When seeking a civilian job would you ring an HR director or employer after-hours to leave a voice-mail, “Hi, I’m unemployed. Seeking a job. Call me maybe.” If you have or would, share with the rest of the class the drugs keeping you floating in a perpetual air of ignorant bliss for ineffective, passive-aggressive, job seeking skills.

My Best,
Paul

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“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
(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 & 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!

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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 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.

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

Do Actors Need a Business Card? | Answers for Actors

This week: Getting Acting Job Opportunities via an Actor’s Business Card…

One Christmas I and my partner (the talent agency owner) were on a plane heading to my parent’s Florida home. Because of booking the flight at last minute I was sitting next to a jock-type who was watching football on the Jet Blue in-flight TV while my partner was sitting one row behind watching, as is his custom, The Girls Next Door (Oh good God… he’ll never be CNN material).

When we got off the flight my other half and I began speaking about a work issue at his agency as we walked through the quiet, yet swank, Sarasota terminal. While at the rental car desk, behind us came a voice.

“Excuse me; I heard you were an agent?” There’s no escape even in Death’s sunny waiting room.

We turned ‘round and it was the football-watching, jock-type who I had been sitting next to for the past two hours. He was a New York based actor visiting his snowbird Sarasota parents as well.

He ignored me, not knowing what I do for cha-ching, and focused on my other half. He was polite, introduced his smiling folks… to my partner. Again, I was ignored. Which is O.K. I’m basically shy (yes, believe it) and love my anonymity. But I’m also a bit of a devil and love to play with human behavior. So after he presented to my partner his business card with his picture and turned to leave I couldn’t help but be mischievous and casually mentioned, “You know you were sitting for the last thousand miles next to a director and casting director.” Ping! I suddenly gained his attention, a parental introduction and of course deemed worthy of his business card.

Opportunist? Yes. Wrong? Yes and no.

This actor knew that here was an opportunity to introduce himself to gate keepers (agents and casting directors are nothing more than glorified employment agencies and human resources). He was right to begin a conversation. Where did he go wrong?

He would have been smarter had he had his picture and resume with him. A business card with a picture may work for funeral directors and car salesman (you always want a trust-worthy face handling your car and dead) but it has little relevance to agents, directors, casting directors, producers, and writers, anyone who provides work opportunities. It doesn’t help us getting to know the actor as an actor.

I’m surprised how many actors do not carry with them, at all times, some form of their picture and resume. That’s your business card! You never know who the hell you’ll run into and where. Just this past week I was walking in my suburbia neighborhood on my way to Whole Foods for my morning muffin and yogurt when someone called out “Paul Russell!” It was an actor who had read my book. He went to offer me his contact info but came up empty. Now you may argue, “Well Paul, I can get the person’s contact info and e-mail or I can hard copy them my resume.” Good luck in getting a personal e-mail. Double the good luck chances that the e-mail will be opened or that you’ll be recalled.

Now caution note here about running into someone who can help advance your work goals: Talent reps., directors, writers, producers, choreographers, stage managers are the same as you when on the street or at a Starbucks. We’re people. People, possibly like you, who enjoy privacy and anonymity. If you get into a conversation with an industry person who you think can help you in the future in obtaining work, be extremely tactful, polite and respectful of space. And treat us not as objects of use to you but as someone to get to know as a person. Don’t forget that we’re all people, not opportunities. That is so often forgotten. And when we’re treated as a doormat, it’s a big turn-off. I know talent reps who have been accosted by actors as the agents were shopping for underwear, getting their Sunday morning coffee, or sweating in a sauna.

If the person you run into asks for your picture and resume, of course give it to them. Don’t ambush. That happened to Alan Alda once in a hospital by a nurse who believed herself to be an actress. It pissed off Mr. Alda so much that he used the occurrence for fodder in a later movie. On my book tour I encountered, in each city, actors who could be runner-ups to Mr. Alda’s nurse-actress. I’d give the free, one-hour seminar on the business and then sign books that attendees generously purchased. People would wait in line for their turn to speak with me and have their copies of my book signed. And without fail, in each city, there were several actors who would wait in line without a book, come to the table hand me their picture and resume then ask me to keep them in mind for future casting. Excuse me?

What is most important in the message here is this: Try at all times to keep a picture a resume on you. One that is up-to-date, the picture and resume are stapled together and clean in appearance. Have it in some form; full or reduced to an over-sized postcard easier for constant carry. You may not run into an industry person on the street but there will be many times when you’re needed to be at an audition with very little notice. Sometimes only an hour’s notice. This happens often with film and TV casting.

I teach. Students at NYU, privately and as a visiting guest to campuses across the country. In every situation one of the first things I ask (including my weekly NYU students) is, “Who here has their picture and resume, stapled together, ready to hand to me or anyone in the industry you meet on the street who can get you work?” I’m lucky if one hand goes up. And forget about the stapled together request… that would be asking far too much.

Not having your business card (i.e. an updated picture and resume) with you as often as possible means that you are losing out on opportunities for future employment. It’s your career. Your opportunities for work lost or won.

My Best,
Paul

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love the Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

AMIYB_Amazon“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
(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 & 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!

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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 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.

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

5 Ways Actors Obliterate Post Project Blues | Answers for Actors

Paul Russell
Photo Credit: JackMenashe.com

A joyous job lands in your lap. There’s excitement. Heightened anticipation. Self-imposed anxiety as you desire to deliver more than your best to an upcoming project. Then come the rehearsals. Bonding with new friends. Veering from the drama queen(s). Discoveries bloom both on and off stage or screen. You explore: viewpoints, Snickers vodka, hang-ups and hangovers. “High-ho the glamorous life.” But then…the fun is done. The project concludes. Once more your feast has withered to famine. WTF to do?

You’re lost. No longer are there the opportunities for enjoying late-night parties with cast mates followed by the 4 AM Taco Bell runs. Departed is rowdiness (and occasional raunchiness) embraced with new peers whose names and faces will be lost to your recall six months hence. Gone are the red-eyed rehearsals following late-night excesses. There’ll be no more sharing with your bros and gal pals the snack of ‘grandma’s special brownies’ spiked with green herbs picked from a local corner ‘retailer.’ No more “I dreaded this one aspect of a scene but then I conquered my fear. I now can kick ass on any challenge.” No more pondering of a co-worker while you snuggle in their bed, “How did you get in my arms and how was I so lucky to discover you? Does this mean we move in together later? My independence forfeited to my bad habit of co-dependency? I should rethink this showmance…”

There’s no more floating within the cozy, production bubble protecting you from living reality beyond the short-lived bubble’s membrane. Protection has popped. You fall back to a hard landing on the unyielding cement that is a civilian’s path. Depression seeps up from the cracks lining life’s sidewalk. Grief anchors your legs. Sadness mires your spirit. Welcome to what nearly all performing artists suffer at least once in their career: Post Project Blues.

The best remedies against Post Project Blues for when you’re suddenly unemployed are:

  1. Seek future work prior while working. Set aside time from temporary play associated with your current project so that you may invest in your long-term career. Do your digital and hard copy marketing to highlight to future employers and gatekeepers your current work. A working actor is far more attractive to an employer than a desperate, unemployed artist pleading for attention. Work begets work.
  2. When your current project ends delve deep into tasks that will further propel your career forward. Engage strongly in expanding your marketing, networking, auditions, and classes. To continue growing a successful career the previously highlighted activities must never be abandoned during an actor’s journey. Investments in yourself spark your synapses and opportunity.
  3. Return to your routine of life’s daily rituals (exercise, strolls, and meet-ups with friends) that you enjoyed prior to your most recent creative project that had scheduled your every available moment.
  4. Hold fond the memory of the recent experience but don’t dwell on what no longer exists. Focus on the future. Going forward requires momentum. Backing up restrains speed.
  5. Keep close the new friends you made and create with them new memories. Even when distance of geography may separate you technology assists remaining close.

Upon my return from working with John Guare with my having directed the regional premiere of John’s A FREE MAN OF COLOR I suffered severe Post Project Blues. I crashed harder than I had ever before professionally after a project’s end. I was nearly immobile mentally, and physically. The mental paralysis could have been fatal to my career and daily living. In order to survive, grow and prosper both professionally and personally I had to abandon my mourning for the project’s end. I had to push forward and abandon my loss. I retained fond memories while shunning depression. To conquer Post Project Blues I, like every artist whose heart is broken after a joyous project terminates, knew that in order to harvest future joys I BookMoreWork_TelseyQuotehad to return to seeding the field that is my career.

Plow forward so that you may seed and harvest new goals; especially if you’re currently enjoying a feast of a goal met.

My best,
Paul

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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 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.

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