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Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

lose perspective… It’s a great time to be an actor.

It’s a new year.  Surely you are all setting goals and making resolutions both personally and professionally.  If not, you should be… and write them down for Pete’s sake!  There are alarming statistics to back up the value of the writing of your goals… but that’s not what this article is about.  Then what, you ask?  You might have gathered that I am a big fan of hanging on the sunny side of life as much as possible.  It’s no secret that your chosen profession is a tough one.  I certainly won’t try to convince you of anything different.  But, if you have heard me speak, you have likely heard me repeatedly say, “It’s a great time to be an actor.”  I’m a broken record. (Oh the pun!)  And it is… so this month, let’s explore the topic and let your mind play in that positive space.

Commercial actors should never lose the perspective; it’s a great time to be an actor.

Online Casting: the revolution has benefited you in so, so, so many ways.  Forking out money is tough for any small business owner (and that’s what you are, as an actor), but we all have to do it.  The truth is, you are saving a lot of money in printing and postage costs by having an online account.  You also have the opportunity to post multiple (color!) photos, video clips of your special skills, your reel… It’s amazing, really.  If you are too young to know the incredible goodness these things mean for you and your career, ask a veteran actor or industry pro for a few stories from the “olden” hardcopy days.  The benefits to you are outrageous, actually.  Another juicy tidbit for the actor represented by a lower tier talent agent (or at all) to be thrilled about is that their submission very likely appears right next to the actor who does have the hot shot agent. Pre-online casting: the submission likely would have remained in an unopened envelope.  The online revolution has leveled the playing field in many ways.

Social Networking: you are now able to more easily establish your own relationships (vs. solely relying on your agent’s relationships) with industry professionals.  Actors have always developed and strengthened their industry relationships by being consistently prepared, on time, and good in the room.  This is still wildly important.  But getting you in the room was a trick primarily left to your agent.  Social networking is a relatively new opportunity to get on the radar/STAY on the radar of participating industry professionals.  Through Facebook and Twitter (those are the obvious ones.  I’m sure there are others), you can share all your good business news, the opening of your play, your newly edited reel, your updated website… or you can comment on an industry pro’s tweet or status update, adding to the conversation or simply making them laugh.  There are networking events that are set up/promoted on these sites that you may never know about if you aren’t consistently participating.  Not all casting directors, agents, producers, directors are into social networking… but some (especially the newer wave/next generation) are. Stop resisting and get involved.

Resources:  knowledge is power, and now more than ever, the resources are out there and abundant.  There is an incredible amount of knowledge to be had by doing some online research, joining industry chat groups, religiously reading valuable blogs, industry newsletters, etc.  These are free… and at your fingertips.  Lucky you.  Stick with reputable resources… and recommendations from actor friends who are perhaps older, wiser, and trustworthy.  Or, ask the industry pros their opinion of what to read.  Unfortunately, misinformation is plentiful and out there, as well, so don’t throw your common sense out the window.  If regular online research, reading choice industry publications isn’t a part of your normal routine, change that.

Do it yourself:  technology today allows the “regular” person (aka YOU) the option to edit your own reel, create your own website (one option is through LA Casting)… be in charge of your own actor tools!  Or at the very least, sweetly bat your eyelashes and ask a technically savvier friend.  Amazing!  You can take your own footage of you performing a special skill on your resume and post it on your account!  You can put yourself on tape! If this doesn’t amaze you… it should.

Self-producing:  this seems to be the day of actors making their own opportunities through creating their own work.  Awesome.  It’s totally acceptable and respected. High quality equipment to create a professional product is readily available for less and less money.  Everybody’s doing it.  This is a bandwagon you should definitely consider hopping on.  The power to build a reel is in your hands.  The power to increase your visibility is in your hands.  Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

Actors (celebrities/stars not included) truly are at the bottom of the pyramid of industry power.  In what sometimes might feel like a powerless profession… there is simply more and more power in your own hands. The days of sitting around waiting for your agent to call are over.  At least they should be. Focus on actively doing what you can do… controlling what you can control… and stay positive and energized. Don’t be tempted to take a stroll down bitter lane. It’s a great time to be an actor.

Laurie Records, Casting Director