Hook-up Apps & Actors, Casting, and Talent Agents

Hook-up Apps

You’re in line for an open call. Or in the holding area for a screen project. Bored with your wait you tap open on your smart-phone a dating app (i.e. a digital hook-up facilitator: Tinder, Grndr, Scruff, et al.). For entertainment you casually swipe through faces, chests, or the gray-ish black boxes which hide an identity. Suddenly the face of a peer actor you see within real-life feet near of you is now showing on your phone! (Although in person, the hotness factor may be lesser. Or the weird-tongue sticking out factor in the picture is not as disturbing.) What do you do? Block? Swipe right? (The match wouldn’t make for a blockbuster) Swipe left? (I’m giving you the green light to my project.) Or do you nod to the actor whose profile shows that they’re on the app simultaneously as are you and you find the humor that you’re both human, but look here we are strangers on each other’s phone! (Do you have an agent and are they seeking my type?)

But what if the face and profile is of someone you know? Many hook-up apps display who has viewed a profile. You’re uncomfortably snagged? They’ll know that you know what they know which is: you each don’t want to live a life of cloistered solitude. Why not text: hi SmileyFace. Acknowledge the humor in the discovery. Or, maybe you both quietly have an undisclosed desire for each other? Will you be bold?

But… what if the face in the app on your smart-phone is the casting director for whom you’re about to audition? Or the mug is one of the creative team leaders helming the production you’re currently working on together? Or it’s a talent agent: yours. Or a talent rep you wish was yours professionally. Are they seeing you on their phone as well? What do you do?

You might easily tap ‘block.’ But how can you block hundreds of casting directors, agents, directors, producers, and writers of which you don’t know if they are using the same hook-up app(s) as you? You can, and will, appear on their phone and not be aware of their digitally spotting your intimate desires. Yikes?

Personal privacy perished when the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. Cut-n-paste, and eventually ‘share’ and ‘like’ ripped back all of our privacy curtains. So, what to do with your privacy on dating apps?

Firstly, no matter what your level of visibility as an actor you must understand that you are a public figure. Doesn’t matter if you’re known for being an actor below 14th Street in New York, or appearing in low-budget features shot in Louisiana, or appearing as an U/5 in an episodic shot in LA: being an actor equals being a public figure. With that in mind, how do you safely navigate your private life that the public may view on hook-up apps?

Well, you could do the no-image-attached-to-a-profile scenario. Or be one of hundreds of chest only shots as are like the chests breeding like bunnies on Scruff & Grndr. But no face pics = no taps of “I’m interested.” So how do you get favorable taps, woofs, pecks, or something more than a ‘waz up?’ while balancing public/private?

  1. Post profile pics that include your face which wouldn’t embarrass your mother
    ———-_____
  2. Keep your private pics (in your private folder of the app) G-rated to PG-rated. If you have genital nudity remember screen shots will be easily taken of your photos, and then shared with others without your knowledge.
    ———-_____
  3. Refrain from explicit language in your profile. There’s more to you than your sexual fetishes or desired position(s). Write a profile that if you came across it as a stranger your initial reaction wouldn’t be ‘freak’ but ‘this sounds like a sane person who wouldn’t talk endlessly about them self.’
    ———-_____
  4. Post on a dating app pics or information that you wouldn’t have qualms sharing publicly on social media platforms. (Caution: politics expressed on a hook-up site only excites FOX or MSNBC addicts. Is excessive viewing of either network considered a fetish? Hmmm.)

You can avoid the apps altogether. Go old-fashion. But dating via bars is so Saturday Night Fever.

Colleagues of mine come across the profiles of actors (strangers and friends) on social apps. If they know the actor well, and the actor’s profile isn’t lurid with fetishes, my colleagues might drop a note to their actor-friend stating the surprise and humor that both on the app. No harm. No foul. Smiles hopefully all around. Forgotten and moving on.

But what does an actor do when a casting director, agent, or director isn’t so much congenial as they are creepy and want to crawl into an actor’s crannies?

  1. Politely respond that you’re flattered (if you are). Then, if you have no dating interest, state so directly adding that you wish to maintain a strictly professional relationship. Be tactful. Be polite. Be honest.

These digital encounters with professional peers on dating apps are going to occur if you utilize such apps. You’re always in control of the situation. You’re the one who, either by continuing a texting conversation or not, makes the choice of what occurs next. If you perceive yourself as not being in control that’s when the creepy in our business seize the opening in the door that you left open.

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 over two-dozen universities including Yale, 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, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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:
Make It Your Business
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ACTING: Make It Your Business

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

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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

Agents. Auditions. Freak File. Flying phones. And a naked actor’s self play……

Naked auditioning actors? (Check.) A powerhouse casting director raging a “My Mr. Happy is bigger than yours” tirade with a big agency talent agent. (Double check.) A casting director’s phone tossed as a grenade? (Triple check.)

Behind-the-scenes tales of the entertainment industry are exposed, along with acting career-tips by casting director, director and author Paul Russell. A candid discussion hosted by Darbi Worley actress and producer/host of Everything Acting.

Everything Acting Podcast (click on arrow to play) Length, 30 mins. 25 secs.:

AMIYB_AmazonRead advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: 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, 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.

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Actor Beware! – Another Bad Apple Manager?

[UPDATE 5/11: The talent management company in question has since removed from the company website the quoted material below. Screen shots of the content taken 4/30/15 before the content’s removal follow the excised quotes.]

Cain Talent based in Long Island, NY states on their website that they’ll represent anyone…

“Who We Work With.

Anyone. Literally. We work with all ages, shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities and so on. Just register and we will help you get started. It doesn’t matter if you have no experience at all, or if you’re a seasoned veteran…”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Cain Talent’s target actor is preferably under the age of 18. While a seemingly wonderful opportunity for any mother who wishes her darling prodigy to be the next Disney Channel star Cain Talent will work with anyone but only after an upfront fee has been paid by the parent or actor as declared on Cain’s website:

“Before registering with Cain Talent, you must agree to the following terms…

You will pay a non-refundable registration fee in one of three ways. If you choose an installment plan, you will still be submitted for work immediately, but we will stop if you miss a payment. Your options are:

  1. a) $500 lump sum payment
  2. b)  $530 split in two payments of $265 now and $265 in four (4) weeks
  3. c) $560 split in four payments of $140 now and three payments of $140 every three (3) weeks for three (3) installments.”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

The starry-eyed may feel well looked after after handing over the upfront payment for representation. But that care by Cain Talent has a financial limit:

“You will remit 10% of all earnings obtained through Cain Talent after earning $750. You must notify Cain Talent of what your earnings are immediately upon receiving your check.”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Cain Talent goes to great lengths stating in all caps that they are:

“CAIN TALENT IS A TALENT MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTATION COMPANY. WE ARE NOT A TALENT AGENCY. YOU SHOULD NEVER PAY MONEY TO SIGN ON WITH A TALENT AGENCY. CAIN CASTING IS NOT A TALENT AGENCY. WE ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM A TALENT AGENCY.”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Yes, Cain Talent is very different: if only by one word “agency.” Operated by Candice Cain (owner also of Candy Cain Travel and the defunct Wedding Lane by Candy Cain), Ms. Cain states on the Cain Talent website that they work the same as a talent agency:

“We open doors to casting directors, talent agents and more in order to help our talent land jobs.”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Not only does Ms. Cain assert she can open doors for talent but she attests she can also assist in her talent in opening their wallets:

“We offer majorly discounted workshops and photo shoots specifically for our talent — To the tune of a mere $20 or $30, all of which are optional. We look out for our talent. We protect them. We help them grow. We make their dreams come true. Take a look at our list of services:

Resume services
Image building
Online profile maintenance
Coaching
Audition preparation
Discounted workshops
Discounted photo shoots
Representation
Introductions to agencies
Liaison between talent and casting directors
Contract negotiations
Assistance with SAG-AFTRA
Submissions for work in the entertainment industry
Travel planning

…And a whole lot more”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Ms. Cain’s enthusiasm for her services may be of such excitement that she overlooked that the upfront fee of $500 (more if on the installment plan) plus the “mere $20 – $30.” for “Representation” and “Submissions for work in the entertainment industry” potentially violates New York ACA. LAW § 37.07 : NY Code – Section 37.07: Performing artists; ads for availability of employment. The code clearly states:

  1. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, association, or agent or employee thereof, holding itself out to the public by any designation indicating a connection with show business including, but not limited to, talent agent, talent scout, personal manager, artist manager, impresario, casting director, public relations advisor or consultant, promotion advisor or consultant, to (a) Make, publish, disseminate, circulate or place before the public or cause directly or indirectly to be made, published, disseminated, circulated or placed before the public in this state an advertisement, solicitation, announcement, notice or statement which represents that such person, firm, corporation or association has employment available or is able to secure any employment in the field of show business, including, but not limited to, theatre, motion pictures, radio, television, phonograph records, commercials, opera, concerts, dance, modeling or any other entertainments, exhibitions or performances when an advance fee of any nature is a condition to such employment; or (b) Accept from a member of the public any fee, retainer, salary, advance payment or other compensation of any nature in return for services or otherwise, other than (i) repayment for advances or expenses actually incurred for or on behalf of such member of the public, or (ii) agreed commissions, royalties or similar compensation based upon payments received by or on behalf of such member of the public as a result of his employment in the field of show business.”

Ms. Cain emphatically states on her company’s WIX website that Cain Talent is: “NOT a casting agency nor a management company. Cain Talent is a talent management and consultation company.”

Ms. Cain need refer to Merriam-Webster for the definition of ‘management’ when she herself states that Cain Talent is not a management company but in the following sentence states Cain Talent manages talent.

Ms. Cain’s misunderstanding of the English language is further taxed when on her website in the Registration Terms she states:

“You will also receive a written agreement to sign, which Cain Talent will sign and return to you.  NOTE: THIS IS NOT A CONTRACT. THIS IS A TALENT AGREEMENT.”

(4/30/15 screen shot)

Perhaps Ms. Cain should reference a thesaurus for when she next updates her website which carries advertisements for creating a free WIX website.

Ms. Cain also places on her website her reasoning for creating Cain Talent. A former actress who she herself sought a “leg-up” in the industry. Answers for Actors could not find attributable acting credits on Actors Access (a division of Breakdown Services the predominate outlet for casting information between representation and casting) or elsewhere. Ms. Cain also states that she has access to “breakdowns and casting calls that not everyone has the opportunity to get.” Breakdown Services reports that Cain Talent is not a subscriber. How is Cain Talent getting Breakdowns?

Cain Talent targets the parents of aspiring child actors. Image2Youth who dream that they will be in the spotlight on Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel. Sadly both parent and child may be disappointed to discover that for their $500 “registration fee” and commissions, Ms. Cain most likely provides toll access for being a background actor (of which Cain Talent charges an additional $50 per month “Background Casting Service“). Ms. Cain lists her connections to major industry players but those players are extras casting offices. Screen work any civilian can nab on their own if their body type, face, race, and age match what is needed by an assistant director for the silent actors playing background to the principal actors. An exercise that we all do daily for free in our lives as we walk sidewalks, mall corridors, and the aisles of retail stores.

Ms. Cain may believe herself not to be a representative of talent but her words formerly on the Cain Talent website seemingly state differently; why then the change of content for her services to actors? (4/30/15 screen shot)

Address concerns regarding Cain Talent to: The New York State Attorney General.

[UPDATE 5/11/15: Cain Talent has a new website on which is now stated “Cain Talent Management does not charge a fee as a talent manager. There is no registration fee. Those on our talent roster remit 10% of their gross earnings once their check from production is received.”

The $500 registration fee remains payable for “Consultation Services.” A service which is prohibited in the New York code: “…indicating a connection with show business including, but not limited to, talent agent, talent scout, personal manager, artist manager, impresario, casting director, public relations advisor or consultant, promotion advisor or consultant,…”]

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

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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!

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

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

Actors Who Money B*tch & Steal

Why do a peevish percentage of actors believe stealing revenue from fellow artists is an honorable entitlement to the profession?

Why do a peevish percentage of actors believe stealing revenue from fellow artists is an honorable entitlement to the profession? A premise derived from a mistaken belief that as ‘artistes’ they’re morally above commerce?

An actor I believed smart and civic-minded posted on Facebook:

Image1

“Oh, Paul get over yourself,”  you reply. “Everybody swaps music.”

What if you’re the artist who survives on royalties from your opus? If you write for the screen or stage—your words, plot lines, arc and character development were distributed or produced without financial cha-ching compensating your labors? Others are profiting. Would you appreciate a nay-sayer’s, “Oh, get over yourself?”

Your artistic peers don’t seem to give a damn for your starving artistry as demonstrated in the replies below:

  Image3

One objection:

Image1

The thread quickly vanished.

Composer Jason Robert Brown and a young actress debated heatedly online regarding free online access to his (and other composers’) published sheet music. His copy-written material being accessed by thousands of purveyors for free seriously dips into his revenue stream. He doesn’t have the deep pockets of Sir Webber. He heads a middle-class household. But the actress argued she’s “a starving actress.” Her professional peril she grumbled should allot her and other actors free access.

Really?

No one forces upon anyone the profession of actor. An actor isn’t born butt branded designating their career for life. There are many paths available which traverse more stable and monetarily lucrative journeys. But this young woman placed her impoverished career on an altruistic moral plane where money is to be waived because she’s a “starving actress.”

Somalia is starving. You’re spoiled.

When I was near finished writing ACTING: Make It Your Business an actor in a production I was directing asked I forward him the book’s files from my computer. He wanted a free read. I shook my head; walked away. I should have turned, and said, “You give up the $1,500 per week you’re being paid at present to be in this show and…maybe I’ll consider your request.”

For two years an actress e-mailed me seeking free advice of which I dutifully answered thinking she’d been a reader of my first book. In her last list of questions she revealed that she’d go to Barnes & Noble, read ACTING: Make It Your Business, transcribe information, and then place the tome back on the shelf. She could have bought the book on Amazon for $13. Over two years that’s less than 0.0178082191780821917808219 cents per day! I stopped answering her.

While teaching a collegiate class a student whined, moaned, bitched and convulsed a hissy-fit when I mentioned that, as an actor who needs to network with the industry, he would need to obtain the Call Sheet listing agents and casting directors.

His reaction? “I have to spend more money?”

Civilians don’t often bitch about having to pay expenses related to their professional growth. They may complain about the price but not the requirement to pay for education, networking, and career expansion. But with some actors… well… they are an “ahc-torh…” and it’s sacrilegious to their divine muse to dip into the wallet and pay for the benefit of their career. Give me a penny-pinching-pretentious break. This is not Star Trek where money is a charming antiquated form of commerce. If you’re waiting for star date 1314.5 you’re a Ferengi with a dismal future of big-eared begging.

Want to support fellow artists so they in turn can support you? If you recognize yourself resembling one of the above “thieves”: Stop stealing. Pay-up, pay it forward.

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!

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

Share Answers for Actors:

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

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

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ACTING: Make It Your Business

The Millennial Actor: Parasite? Overly Coddled? Or the Norm?

Are a number of millennial actors the exemplification of dependent?

“The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise…
Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at [the] table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs. They tyrannised over the paidagogoi and schoolmasters.”
– Kenneth John Freeman, 1907 (Quote often incorrectly attributed to Socrates)

A farm silo outside of Flemington, New Jersey caught my attention during a weekend jaunt to New Hope. It’s atypical of the silos of my rural youth; a white cylinder capped by a metallic yarmelke. But under its brim sprouted modern fixtures. Emitters. Cellular antennas. A savvy additional form of revenue generation for farmers beyond the plethora of autumn haunted hayrides that prevent shrinking acreages from blooming more McMansions. And that got me thinking. If I had a silo, who would I contact to lease-out my grain storage’s exterior as a cell tower?

When I began teaching actors how to be better actors, become smarter business actors, and most importantly to independently manage their career I received many questions from students that possibly only I could answer. But often came questions from a percentage of millennial actors the answers of which I had previously provided during earlier lessons. Some millennials asked questions that a Baby-Boomer not associated with the arts could remedy themselves the correct answer.

During the first hour of the first class I inform actors of directories (both hard copy and apps) listing the contact information for entertainment’s gatekeepers. Directories that need to be refreshed with a purchase EVERY 6 months because rocketing rentals on real estate continually force gatekeepers to relocate. Talent agencies and casting offices are the denizens of our landlords’ Anatevkas. Millennial ActorWhen the industry panel evening arrives I place a reading order of the actors (for the actors) on the outer glass of the audition studio’s door. At the bottom of the order I include the contact information of each attending industry person. I’ve done this because I’ve grown exasperated by too many millennial actors who on the final night of a four-week class routinely demand I provide the street addresses of the panel members. Gatekeepers they’ve known for possibly two months they’re going to meet. Gatekeepers listed in those directories I instructed the same questioning actors re-fresh every 6 months. The older actors rarely ask.

Besides my routinely offering the 20-somethings answers prior to their asking the questions… there must be a modern invention to assist their querying minds. A brainchild wonder that existed primarily in fiction during my day of being an actor when typing a résumé involved a ribbon, White-Out, and a hardware store’s photocopier. Something… oh, I don’t know, some thinking contraption that would help them search and find the answers at their fingertips?

When home from my New Hope trip I was curious about that Flemington silo. If a silo owner and I wanted to generate additional revenue without hiring high school age “actors” to stalk my fields every October, where would I begin? I typed into Google’s search field: Cell phone tower leasing. Hundreds of answers populated my browser’s window. Eureka! If a farmer, I was suddenly rows ahead of my fellow dirt tillers and teat pullers.

Too many millennial actors I encounter seem mystified and/or unaware of the Internet’s technology that is synonymous with their generation. Questions bombard me near daily via email, social networks, and in person. Inquiries easily answered if the questioner utilized the Internet with minimal effort. No catching a train or bus to a library to paw fingertips through yellowing directories, or books published from when your grandfather’s swimmers were sprite with butterfly strokes. Today up-to-date information from around the globe is literally in the palm of our hands whenever needed from virtually anywhere we might likely be; even if that includes orbiting our planet. But a disturbingly high percentage of millennial actors ask others for answers before investigating the results independently. They’re virgins to self-accomplishment. How do these self-hobbling intellects of non-inquisitiveness order for delivery a vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO pizza?

I’ll spare you the millennial actors who register for and attend the four-week class—who are continually made
aware the names of the attending panel participants—but then ask minutes before the panel arrives, “Who are we meeting tonight?”

Beyond older peer perception of the youth that trails them not being industrious as the older generation; are millennials truly any more intellectually lackadaisical, or self-entitled than the perception of their preceding generations including my own? Look to the 1907 quote by Kenneth John Freeman as a potential answer. If that answer doesn’t satisfy…

…go Google yourself.

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!

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