10 Tips to Being a Happier Actor

How can you be the happier actor? How do actors keep their smile while facing adversity?

happy-actor

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell – casting director, director, author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes & Achieve Success as a Working Actors

 

How can you be the happier actor? Possibly the happiest actor on Earth? (Planet domination of joy may be theme park hyperbole.)

If we’re to believe Irving Berlin, show people are deliriously happy—branded so in his jaunty show tune lyric, “There’s no people like show people. They smile when they are low.” Possibly the only show “people” who match Berlin’s optimism are the saccharine animatronics singing at Disney’s Its A Small World.

Actors endure more rejection per week professionally seeking temporary employment than does a civilian job hunting a month for employment that is to be permanent. That’s a lot of lows at which actors are to smile at in return (thank you, Mr. Berlin). Yet, actors push forward. Actors seek coping skills so as not be mired in the debris of rejection. The happier actors climb and rise above the pile of dismissal. Atop the carnage actors look out on to the horizon of “What’s next.” How do actors keep their smile while facing adversity?

 

1. Equalize Auditions:

 

Equal all auditions with the same goal and manner of importance. Stressing more importance of one audition over another places unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety on the actor.

All auditions offer individual opportunities for actors to play their skills with a spirit of fun. A period of control the actor owns. When placing all auditions on a level playing field the life-long career process of auditioning is no longer intimidating, or a cause for worry. The audition is but a cog in the wheel of effectively pushing forward the machinery of the actor’s industry.

 

2. Plan for After an Audition:

 

Stage and screen star James Rebhorn spoke of his auditions as a, “part of my ordinary day.” He’d plan errands for afterwards so that the audition didn’t dominate the day or his focus. His life dominated the day. His auditions became more relaxed. He was comfortable. Onward he’d go to his next duty for the day.

One Broadway actress volunteers after her auditions to feed the homeless at shelters. Some actors schedule to volunteer, directly after their auditions, to assist at an animal shelter, or to work with children with disabilities.

Plan on productivity for directly after an audition (or series of consecutive auditions) so that you are being further productive.  The happier actor is the actor who gets out of their head after an audition and jumps into life.

 

3. Don’t Advertise Auditions:

 

When actors announce on social media that they, “have a huge audition” later that day, or need “Your prayers and support for a big call-back” the actor is placing undue pressure on themselves. The actor now must live up to their social media audience’s expectations. An unnecessary weight the actor has placed on their own shoulders. Worse the actor is inviting follow-up inquiries. Friends and family asking after the audition, “How did it go? “Did you get the part?” “You’re so right for that role. There’s no way they don’t hire you.” When the audition doesn’t go as well as the actor anticipated the actor is then embarrassingly reduced to answering with disappointment to the follow-ups. The actor may then perceive their work in the audition (or entire career) as a failure.

.

4. An Hour a Day Towards Future Pay:

Maintain a set schedule of one hour per day, five days a week to market your skills as an actor. Give yourself definitive tasks to complete. Maintain a home-office work space and schedule to complete the goals:

  • Update (or create) your website that represents your work.
    .
  • Research online for outreach to potential employers. Don’t just answer present casting notices. Begin reaching out to independent filmmakers, theaters, and advertising agencies (the latter for print and commercial work). Get entertainment employers knowing you BEFORE they need you. You just may save them the cost of future auditions.
    .
  • Need representation? Send land mail inquiries for when seeking representation. Alex Butler, Senior Legit Agent for Henderson/Hogan, advises actors, “My assistant deletes emails. I open all land mail from actors that lands on my desk.
    .
  • Read online entertainment industry trade publication. Be informed as to what is happening, and discover what is about to happen. Plan as to how to be a part of what projects are going to happen before they begin casting. Set goals. Reach out to the creatives. Get to know them, and let them know you.

Responses to your work will be similar as that of marketers who reach out to you: eventual response or no response. There will be immediate responses. There may be responses that come months to a year later, or longer. Give your efforts time. Keep reaching out to contacts already known, while expanding your outreach to new contacts. Dripping water cracks the stone.

 

5. Get Out:

Depression loves loneliness, and abhors company. Depression or sadness breeds and thrives on your keeping to yourself. Get out of your living quarters, and out in to life and the world:

 

  • Take walks
    .
  • Wander free museums
    .
  • Sit in a coffee shop or fast food joint that has free WiFi where you can do your actor marketing and research
    .
  • Call (don’t text) a friend and plan to meet in a park or café. See and hear friends. Let friends see and hear you

 

6. Avoid Social Media:

 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are digital Petri dishes that foster and grow your comparison worries. Avoid long periods of sustained exposure to social media. Stop watching for, and comparing to yourself, the achievements of others. Your perception of others’ successes may not be the happy reality you believe they are enjoying. Focus on what you need to do to achieve your goals.

 

7. Learn, Grow, Network:

 

Take a class that truly educates, and expands your skill set as both an actor, and as a business actor. An actor is not only the product but the promoter of the product. The more assets (skills) an actor has the more marketable (employable) is an actor.

While learning you’ll network with actors, and other professionals in the business, who will inform you of opportunities available to you. You may also gain great new friends.
.

 

8. Exercise:

 

Movement forces blood flow which stimulates brain activity. Increased continuous movement also diminishes toxins in the body that cause us to be sluggish and depressed. An exercise routine can be as simple as fast-paced walks for 30 minutes to an hour around your neighborhood. Or solo or group activity at a gym. Move the body and you’ll move ahead emotionally.

 

9. Give Back:

 

Volunteer an hour a week at a charity, and/or volunteer time and efforts at a theater company or an arts related organization. Helping others in need provides you the giver a sense of purpose while distancing you from the worries you may be letting get a grip on your goals. And possibly, while volunteering an arts organization, you may come across someone who needs your skills professionally. Feed your soul by lending a hand to others whose souls need nourishing.

 

10. Intern:

 

I often chide that I was once the oldest casting intern at age 29.  My casting, directing, and teaching career owes much to the foundation of my being that ancient intern. Interning at a casting office, talent agency, or production company brings you closer to knowing professionals as individuals. Entertainment is a people business.

An actor will have opportunity to witness while interning what fellow actors do that gets a positive response from casting and agents. And the actor will eye what mistakes actors make that drives away entertainment professionals.

 

Can You Be a Happier Actor?

Yes. But happiness is relevant to each of our needs and desires. No one’s happiness is the same as that sought by others. Once you define what your goal is for happiness then support and nourish its longevity.

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. He’s directed in New York and regionally. In 2017 Paul will be remounitng his production of MAMMA MIA! for the Barter Theatre. He’ll also direct productions of FOOTLOOSE and Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and teaches 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:

 amiyb_basicholiday_base

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!

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

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!

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.

How to Keep Facebook Friends & Twitter Followers

There’s a war of self-indulgence blasting on social media that’s causing your friends and followers to fall away…

FallingOffGrid

There’s a war of self-indulgence blasting on social media that’s causing your friends and followers to fall away…

“Heads-up!!!! people!!!! Dropping Facebook peeps who don’t respond to this cut-n-paste update.”

“Another day of the world hating me.”

“Dropping Trump supporters on my FB friends list.”

“Muting Clinton supporters on my Twitter feed #byefelicia”

“Ten years ago today my goldfish Goliath floated to the top of the bowl.”

Social media has become anything but social. It’s an online muddy battleground where few sprouts of positive growth spring. That was my dismayed belief for several years until recently one month I noticed on my Facebook newsfeed a longtime friend of mine posting daily posts that include the following examples:

“I am grateful to anyone who had to clean up my mess.”

“I am grateful for all the good good friends I have made and known over the many years and wish I could see more of every one of you.”

“I am truly grateful for the chance to entertain as many people as I have in my career and grateful to have helped anyone I have ever been lucky enough to help.”

“I am grateful for antibiotics, anesthesia and the widespread use of soap.”

“I am so grateful to my parents for all the sacrifices and beautiful labors they endured and I never thanked them for. Childhood is entitlement and parenting is responsibility.”

“I am grateful for avocados.”

Paul Romero, an actor I truly call ‘friend,’ is the author of the above ‘grateful posts’ and many more like them.

Each day Facebook algorithms placed the grateful posts in my newsfeed because Romero’s grateful posts garnered more ‘likes’ and comments. Many of his other posts I found on his Facebook page never appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. They didn’t generate enough ‘likes’ or comments for Facebook algorithms to deem each worthy of attention.

I was curious as to the why of Romero’s grateful posts and the reaction generated. When I inquired Romero responded:

“I was in a job I wasn’t very happy with or proud of, and it presented me
[only] a single day-off in two months.  During that single day-off I moped around how I only had one day-off and had to go back to work, and how hard it was for me that I had pissed away two-thirds of the day and it suddenly occurred to me I had pissed two-thirds of my only day off I really ought to try to look at things from a different perspective. I came to the conclusion the thing to do was to look at the things I was grateful for. Not waste my time pitying myself or thinking how hard things are for me. So I decided to kick it over and look to something everyday that I was grateful for; to remind myself that things aren’t really that bad.”

Romero’s seasonal job was financially rewarding but left his creativity in debt. He re-examined how his artistically bereft employment, and his career in general, affected his online relationships.

 “I have about 800 friends,” Romero said of his Facebook friends. “If I post something [career related] 10 – 20 people might chime-in.”

That’s a low ‘interest number’ for Facebook algorithms. Low interest posts with few ‘likes’ and/or comments or shares signals to those algorithms to not re-distribute the poor performing post to the newsfeeds of others. Same happens on Twitter and Linked-In. But Romero noticed a difference with his grateful posts. With a newly found objective to view his life more positively posting daily grateful posts Romero was surprised the response his grateful posts generated.

“I’m amazed at the [large] amount of attention that activity garnered,” he said. “My grateful posts generated 50 – 100 people being involved.”

The ratio of ‘likes’ to comments was vast. Possibly because Facebook users prefer to ‘like’ a post rather than place a comment. A ‘like’ involves less interaction. Facebook users find annoyance receiving notifications to a post on which they commented. Romero noticed this. “I roughly get 10% comments the rest are likes,” he noted.

Did any of Romero’s grateful posts generate a larger response / audience from his Facebook friends? Several did.

“Being grateful,” Romero began, “for the friendship for the friends that are already gone, and being grateful for the opportunity to entertain people in the many, many ways I can entertain people. And being grateful to my parents for the education and the support that they have given me. Those are the three posts that got the most attention.”

But did the positive posts generate new Facebook friends? Did being positive grow his audience?

“As a marketing tool it’s essentially insular,” Romero believes. “You’re only reaching people that are already in your ‘data base’ for lack of a better word. It [the grateful post] doesn’t encourage activity outside of your present world. It does raise your attention with people who are already there. It’s a good way to shake hands within your world but I don’t think anybody new comes tripping across unless people in your world are sharing-out [your] posts.”

Romero was keeping the interest of his audience; his friends.

People who utilize Facebook as a marketing tool can overlook the personal value of social media. Social media is not exclusive to generating new ‘friends’ or followers. Social media as a marketing tool is about keeping those who already follow you. And Romero has keen insight on who people on Facebook value or discard. In such, he sees others on Facebook utilizing the platform that is disdainful to him and likely just as unappealing to most Facebook users.

“There’s nothing that annoys us most than the things that we embody that we dislike in ourselves,” Romero began on what troubles him mostly about societal usage of Facebook. “People’s need to ask for other people’s attention, and pity because they’re having a bad day. Or because something bad has happened to them. Or just because they stubbed their toe. I think I was that person when I initially came on Facebook so I try very hard never to be negative. The converse of that is the thing that annoys me most professionally on Facebook is people who use Facebook purely as a tool to promote themselves without ever expressing themselves in any way. I certainly am as guilty as anyone using Facebook to promote myself especially when I’m working to direct traffic to my career. Facebook is useful to getting 10 or 12 people to any play that I do which is small potatoes but is useful. But I am offended by people that promote through Facebook and don’t ever have an actual dialogue on it.”

A lesson this author knows well. I intersperse my social network posts of career promotion with posts that offer information of benefit to those who asked to, or voluntarily, joined my platform(s). The vast majority of my ‘friends’ and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In found me so as to possibly leverage my position in entertainment for their benefit. I don’t begrudge their intent. But I don’t fool myself as to what is reality and what is career promotion. Romero has a clear view on this situation as well.

“I deliberately attempt to be sincere as opposed to having another agenda,” Romero said. “If my sincerity causes people to gravitate towards me that’s great. It was important to me because of the reason I started the project [is] that all the posts be legitimately ‘grateful.’

“I could post that, ‘I’m grateful that The Oldcastle Theater cast me as Big Daddy’ and tag all the individuals that were a part of that and that would be a much more savvy choice than trying to open my arms up to the world.” But Romero knows in his heart that some may view honesty as self-promotion.

Did Romero’s grateful posts inspire his social media friends to follow in his digital footsteps?”

“F*ck yeah!” he said. “There are people who shared-out. And then there are people who picked up the ball and ran with it on their own… and are continuing to post grateful posts. It’s fascinating to me the worlds from which people came out of to say that they liked something. You would think that if the [post] was particularly appropriate to them in some way whether it was career orientated or youth orientated, or family orientated, then you would get a higher proportion of people from those worlds that were involved but the truth is I was amazed at names I had probably forgotten on my friends lists who were jumping on. In the spirit of fair play I tried to reach out to those people whenever they showed up [in response to a grateful post] and say “Hey! Thanks for saying ‘hello.’ I’m saying ‘hello’ back” because the weird identified anonymity of Facebook is a strange thing to me.”

Romero’s saying ‘hello’ back is the ‘social’ that social media has steamed rolled flat. The perceived usage of social media’s platform is to focus us on the “I” and not so much the “we.” The digital world needs more “we” than “me.”

Will Romero continue his positive ‘grateful’ posts?

“I’ve decided I’m going to continue in a less formal fashion for as long as I’ve something to be grateful for,” he said. “I assume I’ll find three or four times a week something that I’m grateful for and that life ain’t so bad.”

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!

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.

How Not to Be Blacklisted by Casting

A casting colleague recently posted on social media:

“Dear Actors. PLEASE READ BREAKDOWNS THOROUGHLY BEFORE SUBMITTING.

The disrespect I get from actors about how they are not available for an audition is disgusting.”

A casting colleague recently posted on social media:

“Dear Actors. PLEASE READ BREAKDOWNS THOROUGHLY BEFORE SUBMITTING.

The disrespect I get from actors about how they are not available for an audition is disgusting.”

The sentiment may be viewed as a harsh rebuke from this casting director who is widely known in our community to be accessible and deeply supportive of actors. But the casting director above has a frustration shared in the casting community. Every casting director encounters being stood-up repeatedly by actors for what is essentially a professional date to employment.

Yes, between an actor submitting and the casting director contacting the actor with an appointment, the actor’s schedule and circumstance may have altered to be that they are legitimately not available for the project and/or audition. Completely understandable. But when the percentage of turn-downs of appointments rises to near a quarter from the actors asking for an appointment (which happens) and the percentage of actors out of work is in the 90s percentile: too many peer actors are playing catfish with casting.

When a casting director receives submissions the process likely follows this process:

  1. Review agency submissions (in New York alone there are over 50 offices representing at the minimum 100 – 150 actors each. LA? Actor representation is as common as Starbucks is to suburbia). The casting director then ranks choices to 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority to be contacted.

Why the ranking? Because 1st and 2nd choice actors desired to be seen who are submitted by agents have a 50-50 chance of passing on the audition for various reasons. Enter the 3rd choices… 4ths and 5ths.

  1. Review unrepresented actor submissions. Actor response can be as few as 300 to over 1,000. The casting director is eyeing each picture; each resume; each credit on the resume just as they do with the actors who are represented. As with the represented actors the non-represented actors are placed with the represented actors in 1st, 2nd and 3rd priority to be contacted.

Then the casting director reviews all choices and plans how to strategically place each actor into individual 5 – 7 minute time slots of which the casting director may only have 20 – 30 for one day.

Most casting directors do not schedule the actors by happenstance. The experienced casting director methodically plans to the actors’ and projects’ best interest plotting which actor is seen in relation to the other actors being called in.

  1. Who do I want to be the first actor to set the day’s expectations?
  2. When do I put in the actor I have faith in but that actor from my experience needs a bit of hand holding? When do I place them in the schedule to have that actor at their best?
  3. Do I place Actor Jones (who I know will blow away my director) early or do I wait until after lunch when the creative team is refreshed but anxious that they may not have choices.

Choices:

When working simultaneously on a motion picture and casting for a regional Shakespeare festival I experienced great anxiety as I kept losing actors I wanted to call in for the festival. My casting colleague who only knew the luxury of major studio casting said to me, “Oh, Paul you only need one person per role.”

No. No, I don’t. In casting there’s a phrase we use at the table… “How deep are we?” Meaning: if our first choice who auditioned passes, and then our second choice who auditioned passes how deep can we go until we’re forced to begin the entire process again with actors not seen? A casting director who can’t go deep in one audition round is the casting director who retires to a MACY*S perfume counter.

The casting director places great concentration and effort in accepting and reviewing actor submissions. Respect by a portion of actors seems to be dwindling for the process and dedication to actors being considered for an audition appointment: of which there too few. A producer’s budget is the true gatekeeper.

When an actor submits on a project casting directors regard the actor’s submission as a commitment to:

  1. The actor is seriously interested in the project.
  2. The actor is available for the project and the audition.
  3. If offered a contract the actor will more than likely accept the job.

If an actor cannot answer ‘Yes’ to the preceding commitments: Do Not Submit for an Audition.

The old-school, foolish thinking: “Oh, I’ll just submit myself to keep my face in the casting director’s eye” is b.s. An actor submitting for consideration to a casting director for a possible audition appointment is no different than proposing to a romantic interest, “Would you be interested in a date?” If the person of desire answers “Yes” and then the inquirer replies “Only kidding. Not interested.” how much time do you think there will be before a palm stings a cheek?

An actor submitting to casting because they are a marketing flirt will leave the actor with few professional romances in this industry.

How to Get Casting Director & Talent Agent Attention

Share this:

How to Get Casting Director & Talent Agent Attention

One pivotal, pro-active, career-changing step delivered actress Holly Williams five continuous years of 365 days-per-year of union principal work plus paid vacations and benefits. Holly also received multiple agent meetings and representation. Gonzalo Trigueros booked a principal role in his first film after he, like Holly, discovered how to snare successfully the attention of both casting and representation.

Fall casting for screen projects, Broadway, and regional theater is in full swing. An actor nabbing the eyes and ears of casting, directors, and/or representation while among their crowded peers is never an easy task. Sometimes, the actor feels as if they’re screaming into the wind while no one is listening. An actor need not scream. An actor must navigate the gales to be the sole breeze caressing the ears of their targets. How did Holly, Gonzalo and do your competitive peers be that successful breeze? They take control of their careers, and never apologize for their boldness. Like fellow pro-active actors who land screen projects, Broadway, and/or representation these step-forward actors began their winning marathon here: Paul Russell Casting. I’m just a signpost. Actors choose to either ignore, or take advantage of my direction pointing actors to their desires. Holly and Gonzalo chose to follow and charge ahead:

Drive your career for longevity in four, short weeks as you and I along with 3 entertainment industry executives work together to bring home your goals. A month-long intensive to embolden your career for the long haul:

WEEK 1: Mastering Getting Seen & Known – Skilled Modern Actor Marketing

Pinpointing, leveraging & effectively branding your individuality. Includes: creating dynamic actor web sites (including mobile friendly), email campaigns that gain entertainment industry attention (without being lost to spam), and smartly leveraging social media and the digital revolution to an actor’s advantage to make each actor rise above the competition. Plus, ensuring your hard-copy marketing gets seen by gatekeepers: guaranteed.

WEEK 2: Mastering Every Audition – Getting Jobs

How do some actors get more call backs & job offers? We target the behind-the-casting-table insights into what makes each actor’s individuality excel while in the audition room. Utilizing audition scenes—from current screen and theatrical projects—I and my assistant work with each actor to command every audition encountered.

WEEK 3: Commanding the Audition Room & an Executive Gatekeeper’s Office

A reinforcement session to audit and increase improvement on commanding every audition room, improving text analysis, and discovering an audition and interview wardrobe that is unique to you, and tells casting and talent representation, “This is who I am. Embrace it.”

Interview strategies are demonstrated.

Q & A preparing the actor for the panel.

WEEK 4: Entertainment Executive Panel’s Guidance & Feedback

An open Q & A with a panel of entertainment executives who represent actors as principals in major-studios films, TV series, Broadway, national tours, and regional theater.

Then… each actor is individually introduced by me to panel members. The actor presents their new and improved skills discovered from the prior 3 weeks of my personal guidance.

The evening culminates with individual feedback for each actor as provided by the panel.

A wrap-up follows.

Two-dozen universities from Yale to Elon to Wright State annually invite me share my NYC master classes on their campuses with their acting-major seniors. You can get a jump on those actors now sharing with the entertainment executive panel what you and I worked on together to showcase your improvements.

October 2015 is the ONLY 1 of 2 master classes of this kind for 2015/16 to be held in NYC.

Dates, Executive Panel, & Registration @ http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

10 actors only accepted.

Show us what you have and desire. Let’s get to work, my friend.

My best,
Paul Russell

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, and former actor spans projects for major film studios. His involvement with casting principal talent includes over 500 projects covering: 20th Century Fox, HBO; television networks, Broadway, and regional theater. His work as a casting director is recognized with the Drama Desk winning (best casting ensemble) COBB produced in New York & LA by Kevin Spacey, COSBY, ER, the original company of DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the original productions of STRING FEVER (starring Cynthia Nixon), PERA PALAS (Sinan Unel), WOODY GUTHRIE’S AMERICAN SONG (Drama Desk noms.) plus casting for Asolo, San Jose Rep. Two River Theatre Co., Florida Stage, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Lark Theatre Company, Barter Theatre (TONY recipient) and over a dozen more NYC and regional theaters.

As a director featured in American Theatre Magazine Russell worked with legendary playwright John Guare directing the regional premier of Mr. Guare’s A FREE MAN OF COLOR. Paul also directs for the TONY-winning Barter Theatre, and in New York.

Paul is the author of the best-selling acting book for actors ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor (Penguin Random House). He teaches master classes at over two-dozen universities including: Elon, Wright State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Rutgers University, Emory & Henry College, and Louisiana State University. Russell taught the business of acting for NYC-Tisch‘s acting program at The Atlantic Theatre.

Dates, Executive Panel, & Registration @ http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

How to Find the Best Acting Coach, Voice Teacher, & Actor Friendly Bathroom

If trumpeting for votes to receive an ‘award’ was the basis for legitimate honor then how soon until Donald Trump rallies his followers to vote him a Nobel Prize?

An actor reached out to me regarding an acting coach who touts prolifically online to his being “a Back Stage award-winning acting coach.” When researching the acting teacher’s credentials and professional history I discovered multiple empty resume pages on casting’s and representation’s go-to casting resource Breakdown Services. Odd that the actor/acting coach created several profiles but left each space for a resume blank. These entries are only seen by the entrant and by entertainment’s gatekeepers who have been granted private access by Breakdown Services. One of his three profiles did contain substance within his Special Skills section. Although I question the validity. The white actor/acting teacher has Russian, Puerto Rican, Irish, and New England accents while promoting he’s of African descent and speaks fluent Korean. Perhaps he should receive a Back Stage award for Most Likely to Page at the U.N.

Back Stage, like other publicly polled award benefactors, has no vetting process for their ‘honors.’ No academy of learned entertainment peers who owl over the scope of entertainment professionals. No red carpet ceremony leading to a hall of seated professionals. No precious mineral or Swarovski statutes handed to masters of craft. Recipients of the Back Stage nod for ‘best’ of whatever: audition studios, acting or vocal coach must rely on their soliciting votes themselves as do politicians running for elected office. If trumpeting for votes to receive an ‘award’ was the basis for legitimate honor then how soon until Donald Trump rallies his followers to vote him a Nobel Prize? Fortunately the Nordic organization which has honored Einstein, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Madame Currie, and Malala Yousafzai has no laureate honoring bluster, and best blonde from a bottle.

Want to know what acting coach, voice teacher, or audition studio is best for you? Ask working professionals and peers whose values and opinions you trust and respect. With awards by solicitation you’re relying on votes cast anonymously by the nominees; uninformed neophytes; the prejudiced; and those who check-box a ‘yes’ because the nominee’s name appears vaguely familiar. And what of the numbers who participated in the open poll? The tally could be a few as a single vote to as many as several hundred. Is that a fair and broad range of insight to serve your craft well?

To be objectively informed research beyond the award-by-poll nominee’s and recipient’s marketing and website. The praise on a virtual home base is too often stolen from a thesaurus. And don’t click to outside websites such as IMDB. IMDB’s content is not reliable. The information within is likely supplied by the subject and/or the subject’s publicist. Trust the values network you’ve built to inform and guide your journey.

A polled award is a marketing tool leveraged to expand exposure by both the awarder and the solicitor for votes awardee. A true honor is earned, and then rewarded by the value of the craft generated by the recipient. For these people or institutions there often is no ‘best of’ public recognition. Often the best are quietly at their prime: focused on the doing rather than ‘look how others believe I’m doing.’

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

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!

Share this:

Skype With Paul
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

ACTING: Make It Your Business

Jon Stewart as I Knew Him Before the World Knew Him and The Daily Show

His phone calls to me came daily. Jon Stewart, long before his Oval Office meetings with President Barack Obama, doggedly pursued a meeting with a woman most people never heard of but have seen and enjoyed her work.

His phone calls to me came daily. Jon Stewart, long before his Oval Office meetings with President Barack Obama, doggedly pursued a meeting with a woman most people never heard of but have enjoyed her work internationally.

Working with the formidable and detail diligent casting director Mary Colquhoun on the casting of Picture Perfect starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, and written and directed by Glenn Gordon Caron (Moonlighting, Medium) I was Mary’s gatekeeper for three films.  Mary was strictly devoted to her English birth certificate. God save the assistant who didn’t adhere to writing all correspondence and deal memos in the Queen’s English. A generous heart buried in stone Mary brought many of her assistants to tears, including and allegedly Alan Filderman who she berated for tripping and injuring himself in her presence.

Well before The Daily Show, one morning during the casting of Picture Perfect in the mid-1990s Mary asked, “There’s this fellow Jon Stewart. Find him. Set up a meeting.” As I wrote his then unfamiliar name ‘John Stewart’ on a slip of paper Mary commanded, “I believe the ‘h’ is silent.”

Sleuthing successfully to find this then little known actor/comedian came via Screen Actors Guild. I was informed by the SAG membership rep that the ‘h’ in Jon’s name was indeed silent. The phone number SAG provided began with a 201 area code: northern New Jersey. Stewart hadn’t representation.

During our first conversation I was surprised when Jon informed me, “I’ve been waiting for your call Paul.” He was, as he is today, exceedingly proactive in attaining goals. He leveraged his network of fellow actors and comedians to get himself into studio executive offices including Mary’s. Jon wasn’t shy, nor was he obnoxious. As I discovered over a month of phone conversations Jon Stewart was, as he is today, a gentleman. Stewart knew the game of courting gatekeepers and he mastered it well.

Near daily I had to call Jon Stewart to apologize and cancel his scheduled meeting with Mary and Glenn Gordon Caron that I’d just canceled several times and rescheduled each day prior. Caron’s daily calendar changed more often than a chameleon’s skin during India’s Spring Festival of Colors Celebration. Jon never voiced frustration. Snarky? Wonderfully yes. But never disparaging or ill tempered. He displayed then to me privately his humor his audience now enjoys. Jon was also keen with insight.

Jon Stewart knew who else we were seeing for the love interest of Jennifer Aniston’s character. He floored me when he made an inquiry as to how far along was Caron’s interest in Jay Mohr. Stewart showed then what we know now; he’s passionate for being well informed.

Eventually, Stewart didn’t wait for his phone to ring with my cancellations. I remember early morning calls from Stewart with one starting with his asking, “Are we on today Paul? Or is Glenn Gordon Caron doing a steam with Bacon?” Our formal and brief business discussions evolved into lengthy chats. There was never malice or bitterness in his subtext. Jon Stewart knew how to win the game of patience. He played it well. When Mary would next inform me that “A ring needed to be made to Mr. Stewart” to once again cancel I dreaded being the bearer of disappointment. But I knew Jon Stewart would handle the momentary setback with humor and grace, and I partly looked forward to the laughs he would evoke from me.

Jon eventually had his meeting with Mary and Glenn Gordon Caron. Jay Morh won the role.

The eventual success of Jon Stewart’s patience and pro-active perseverance has been on display in the opportunities he’s created and/or encouraged elsewhere. Jon Stewart’s present day success did not come from a sensibility of entitlement. Humility, ambition, humor, diligence and an eagerness to share common respect propelled his desires to the destinations within his heart.

Jon Stewart’s viewers will now be the patient ones. Eager with humor and humility to welcome his charm once more as his schedule takes Stewart on to a new journey and adventure.

I miss our calls Jon. And I’ll miss your visits four nights a week to my living room. But at least we’ll both still have New Jersey.

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!

 

Share this:

Skype With Paul
A Casting Director’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned more than thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Follow:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell on Facebook

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

ACTING: Make It Your Business

Actor Jealousy & Comparisons

This week: Jealousy Losses. Ambition Wins

Comparisons; they happen. Especially in group settings such as the collaboration that is the performing arts. And they can destroy the harmony and productivity of any project. The comparison can be a seemingly innocent thought such as a dance captain musing to themselves that one the dancers in the theatrical company has a better extension.  Or it can be a morale damaging comment carelessly (or with malicious intent) spoken by a secondary role actor that they believe they have superior skills than the actor playing the leading role. Comparisons do damage. Whether spoken or silently pondered. While you may think comparing is helpful to better oneself; careful. Human nature often goes towards the negative like a sexual compulsive to a bathhouse. Either situation; the chatterer or the salacious sex fiend, leaves them feeling empty and less than their worth. Jealousies fester.

We all do comparisons of ourselves to others. My partner constantly reprimands me for diving into the infested waters of the comparison swamp. I’ll comment about peers who I assume or know to have more profitable careers than I. And then I’ll mope. For days. Sometimes weeks. Thinking ‘I’m not good enough.’ When my book ACTING: Make It Your Business was first released I was daily, almost hourly, obsessed with going to Amazon.com to see where my sales rank rated and how it compared with similar books. When my high school friend Kevin Murphy, the creative behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Reefer Madness – The Musical, became an executive producer and writer for Desperate Housewives I wallowed in the soulless self-pity of ‘Why can’t that be me?’ None of these actions were helpful to my moving forward in my goals. Nor was I a happy camper to be around in the company of others. And this wallow and worry was also a major waste of time and energy. Energy that could have been put to better use elsewhere; like an ambition to looking for new opportunities for growth. As I often say (but seldom follow) ‘Worry is a waste.’ Eventually I’ll slap myself and stop what is essentially career momentum stopping behavior.  We all have our moments but when they build from moments to eras then you need to fix your comparison problem.

Positive comparisons are fine such as one actor complimenting another on their performance, “It’s wonderful how you ground your character and keep the tension of the story; I’m learning much from your work.” With a comment similar to that you’re not only providing positive reinforcement to a fellow company member (who may be in their own comparison swamp) you’re also displaying your desire for growth.

BackstabA potential negative comparison such as one actor to another in a regional theater setting, “Your comedic timing is fascinating; I’ll never be as good as you.” opens a Pandora’s Box for trouble. It may have seemed that what was expressed was a compliment. But words have a funny way of being twisted and carrying meaning beyond what we intend. Let’s take a look at where the statement crashed. First; the comment, “I’ll never be as good as you” belittles your contributions and openly announces insecurities which others in the company seize upon as a confessed weakness and gives an invitation to dismiss you. Secondly, you empower the person to whom you’re speaking. And thirdly, the vagueness of the comment “fascinating” could be viewed as sarcasm by the recipient.

The comparison statement doesn’t even have to be made by you to the person you admire (or are jealous of). Some people with insecurities (and that’s the heart to where this problem stems) will whisper to others in a company that they believe their skills to be far superior to someone else within the same company. That statement then, like the childhood game of telephone, is spread from one company member to another. The telling of the comparison changes as the information is disseminated and distorted between exchanges. Eventually this brings attention of the person(s) you were comparing yourself to. Gone is company moral. Unnecessary tensions build. Distrust breeds. Negativity manifests within the production.

Making comparisons is not healthy if you continually focus on your faults or the faults of others.

One of the traps in the comparison swamp is perception. While you may look at someone else who dabbles in your field of expertise and think them to be wildly successful you never truly know what their life is like. To the public they may seem as if they have a sweetly composed life accompanied by a healthy bank account. But in reality they may be like you; comparing their career (or lack thereof) to someone else while wishing their own were better.

If you wallow in the “I wish that were me” then you’ll always be mired in the comparison swamp. Lost in the reeds. Drowning. When the comparatives surface in your cranium think carefully before giving them validity. Is it jealousy that prompted the thought or is it a desire to better yourself? If it’s the former, toss the thought of, “I could be better than so-and-so…” away. If it’s for the betterment of you and invigorates your ambition for improvement then embrace and keep the thought to yourself while working on finding means to be content with what you presently can develop or keep from your talents. You’ll be a much happier artist if you do so.

My best,
Paul

Read advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Share this:

Skype With Paul
Read Paul’s Best-Selling Book for Actors

Share Answers for Actors:

Facebook Twitter More...

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail Post to Friends…

Follow Paul Russell Casting:

follow Paul on Facebookfollow Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Elon and Wright State University. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Follow:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Paul on Twitter

Paul Russell on Facebook

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net

ACTING: Make It Your Business