Secret to Acting Career Longevity

 

Paul Russell PaulRussell.net

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

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

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

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

Idealism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has taught master classes at dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor.

For more information on Paul’s projects, visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

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

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

awards_titled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which on a resume is this:

awards_resume_reduced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share this:

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Why LA LA LAND Fails Actors

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

la-la-land

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

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

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

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

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In the entertainment industry an actor doesn’t:

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

,

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

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

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

.

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

Share this:

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

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.

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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.

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

The Background Actor with The Extra Smell

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

Extra Background Actors

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

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

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

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

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

More Characteristics of Actors with the Extra Smell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(continue reading)

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

AMIYB_Amazon

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

My best,
Paul
www.PaulRussell.net

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

“Humorous and witty…
Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)

 

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

 

“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates

 

“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

 

“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.

 

“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

 

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

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

“Scam” Paid Auditions vs. Legitimate Acting Classes

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

ScamVsLegit

Paul Russell_Headshot

Paul Russell
PaulRussell.net

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Confusion

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

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

Differences Between Paid Classes With Industry vs. Paid Auditions

Classes / Workshops:

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

Paid Auditions:

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

Are Paid Auditions Valuable?

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

Why Paid Auditions Are Popular

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

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

Classes for Actors vs. Paid Auditions

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

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

My best,
Paul

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

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

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors
Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director, CSA
(Hamilton, The Intern, NBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked)
All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Bu

 

 

Top 10 Email Mistakes Actors Make

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

Email Mistakes_a4a

actor email

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

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

1. Forwards

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

email

 

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

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

 

2. Email Addresses that are Tinder or Grndr Bound

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

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

 

3. Dear Mr./Mrs. as Greetings

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

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

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

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

 

4. Begin with Positive not Negative

From a recent actor’s email:

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Next.

 

5. Incorrect Capitalization

From an actor’s email to casting:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

8. Using lots of Vocabulary to Say Nothing of Substance

9. Not Having a Proof Reader

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

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

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

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

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

My best,
Paul

Share this:

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

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

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

Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director, CSA
(Hamilton, The Intern, NBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Into The Woods – The Movie, Wicked)
All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Bu