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Laurieby Karen Michel Pavlick

My child is stuck in the body of an actor!

I received a question about how to begin in the acting business…when we are in our thirties. Well, there is no right or wrong way to start, but you must be right with your soul before you dive into the acting world, especially, if you have chosen to do it when you are a bit “wiser.”

QUESTIONS: I am in my late 30s, petite, Mediterranean and new to acting as a business. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is the best way to get started in film, documentaries, TV, commercials, music videos, even theatre? I have been looking for non-union jobs on Craigslist; is that a good place? I was wondering if someday I could make a living acting in films.

ACTORS: First of all congratulations, for sharing that you are in your late thirties and new to acting. I was twenty-eight when I quit my job at a winery to pursue acting and all I heard was I was too old, but that never stopped me; if anything, it only propelled me. I knew, even back then, that the baby boomers would be the generation that wouldn’t quit because of a “number.” I have always thought how silly this business is when it comes to age, as if only those that are “young” should act, so when we “grow up” we have no one on TV or in films to relate to? It never made sense to me, but what is making sense, finally, is that women can be over thirty and get great roles! If your soul wants to act, it will act. And as a wise friend shared, a soul has no wrinkles!

I, too, started in San Francisco and I love the theatre world in the Bay area and that’s where I began, on stage.

And like I said, there is no one way to start. Everyone will share “their way;” however, I will say one of the best ways is to begin with training. Taking classes are not only beneficial to learning about who you are as an actor, what roles seem to come more easily than others, but it’s also one of the best places to network. You meet fellow actors who will share teachers, classes, photographers, agents and other acting advice. One of your new actor friends may even refer you to their agent. And if you don’t know anyone at first, pick up a Backstage West, get on Casting Networks or ask local theatre companies if they could recommend a good class or instructor. Most of the time, you can audit a class to see if you like it.

What I often hear from people just starting out, more than training, is how to get a SAG card! That should not be your first step. Get your ducks in a row: training, a real good headshot that looks like you when you walk in the door while building your resume with classes, theatre, student films and print jobs.

Yes, you can find non-union jobs on Craigslist, as well as Casting Networks, Backstage West and other sources, but PLEASE make sure they are legit. Never go to a person’s house. I remember I drove over thirty miles for a print audition and the address was a home. I didn’t see anyone walking in nor were there any signs (as that should not be reason enough to enter), so I simply turned around and drove home. Only twice in my career did I go to a house; once for a commercial callback, so I could show the producers I could swim and secondly, for an audition that my agent informed me would take place outside a home. And still, I brought somebody with me. I don’t want to instill fear, just be aware.

And remember… a SAG card doesn’t make you a great actor.

A dear friend of mine, Peter Coyote, whom I played his wife in the film, PATCH ADAMS, didn’t even get his SAG card until he was forty! And now twenty some years later, he is still working.

Can you make a living at it? That is completely up to you. I would ask yourself one very important question, “Why do I want to act?”

I promise you, if your soul wants to act, you won’t find excuses, you won’t blame society, or your agent, or the business. You won’t want to do anything else. YOU will find “your way.”

MY BEST ADVICE: Love what you do, be patient, stay constant and don’t be attached to the result!

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