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Laurieby Karen Michel Pavlick

My child is stuck in the body of an actor!

This past week I traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco via interstate 5. If you have ever driven this route, you will know that there is a lot of nothing to see! I used to dread this drive, but now, I find it to be very therapeutic.

As I climbed over the grapevine, without warning, I am enclosed between a beautiful snow capped mountain range that leads me down to the very long and straight stretch of interstate 5. As I gaze at the miles ahead, I am pleasantly surprised to see that the all too familiar desolate countryside was instead flourishing with endless rows of intricate baby pink and white blossom trees. It felt as if I were in the midst of witnessing winter melt into spring; the timing could not have been more perfect.

As I take all this in I can’t help but think of all the young actors and their parents who travel to Hollywood during this time with hopes of booking a show during pilot season.

QUESTIONS: My son is the actor and he gets lots of auditions. The feedback from the agents and casting directors is that he is real talented and they love him, but no bookings. What do we do in this situation?

ACTORS: I contemplated this question in silence wondering if we will ever really know why we do or why we don’t… book?

I remember when a producer came up to me at a recent shoot and openly told me that I was the easiest and first one they booked. Feeling like Nancy Drew trying to solve the mystery to booking a job, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling me what it was?

She simply said that she just knew the moment she saw me that I was to play the role of “The Loved One.”

If I were to go out for “The Loved One” again, I would have no concrete idea what I did that landed me that job!

My car phone rings bringing me back to the beauty that was outlining this drive. It was my girlfriend who happens to be an amazing actress. Since she has been getting lots of auditions as well as bookings, I asked her opinion.

You see, you can get a lot done on interstate 5!

Interestingly enough, she told me that as soon as she got new headshots, she started getting called in a lot more and a big percentage came from self-submissions. When she did book, after she felt comfortable, she’d ask those that hired her, why they hired her.

Yet every time the answer was different, they either liked her look or were impressed with her theatrical background, but she never got a consistent, concrete answer.

Recently, a casting director informed me that she can get up to 2000 submissions for just one role. I was like really? Not all that long ago, the only way to submit was by sending a hard copy of your headshot to a casting director. And if you were not with an agent, the chances of your envelope being opened and considered were slim.

Now, with the Internet, actors are encouraged to submit through different casting sites, including Casting Networks, Actors Access, and Now Casting.

So, your son has already beaten the odds just by getting called in, which tells me he must have an updated toolbox; headshots that look like him, a resume that best represents his talents and training and supportive agents. The fact that he is getting wonderful feedback indicates that he goes in prepared and is open to direction.

Perhaps all you need are some not so tangible tools to add to your kit! These are three of my favorites; Think Out of the Box, Commit & Take Calculated Risks and have a Selfless Gratitude Attitude!

When I first get a scene I silently read it through before I start to play with it. My first take is often what feels the most comfortable to me. Then, even if the scene has a serious tone, I will laugh all the way through it or perhaps try it with an air of sarcasm or whisper my dialogue. You never know, all of a sudden a moment may make more sense to you.

For example, instead of yelling you find that whispering is a stronger choice. This also keeps me open to taking direction.

Most importantly, before I even start my dialogue, I must know what happened just before the scene begins (even if it is not written, make it up.) Did you just hear great news or did you just lose your dog? Make a choice, so you start off from a solid place. And finally, I need to know what I want from the scene and where I would like for it to go.

Make strong choices and you will be remembered, even if you are not right for the role.

Another friend, who works with some of the biggest stars today, gave me a great example of fully committing and taking calculated risks. He had a scene where his buddy was badly wounded. After he kneeled down to care for him, he noticed there was no hope. With despair and extreme sadness, he slowly got up and in silence just stared at him. He took his time before he chose to walk away and never look back. Not only did he leave the scene, but he also left the casting room! He booked the job!

I am not saying leave the room, but leave everything that doesn’t pertain to the scene outside that room.

I encourage you to watch Rachel McAdams’ audition for “The Notebook” on You Tube. See what other actors are doing to get booked. She LISTENS to the reader and re-acts instead of acts. She too takes her time. I know all too well how nerves can play a big part in rushing the dialogue.

You can also ask a casting director if you can be a reader. This is a wonderful opportunity to read with every actor that comes into the room and to see the different ways the same character is interpreted.

Finally and most importantly, have a…

Imagine, instead of walking out of an audition and telling everyone in the waiting room, “You can go home now because I booked this one.” Yes, I have heard that one among others. You wish everyone the best, even if it’s in silence.

Along interstate 5 my girlfriend also shared that this brings her the most joy, to want every actor sitting in that waiting room to do great. Not only because she too wants to do great work, but because she also wants to be surrounded by great actors.

It’s so important to be aware of the energy you are sending out, because you will always get back what you give.

Before I even understood this universal law, I was at a callback for a TV commercial waiting to go in with another girl. This girl felt compelled to share her most recent trials and misfortunes and why booking this job would mean the world to her.

In that moment, before we walked in that door, I silently prayed that she would get the job. I truly and sincerely wanted her to get it.
And you know what? We both booked it!

So, we may never know why someone books over someone else, but what we can do is continue to sharpen our tools. And don’t forget to have fun!

If I were in your son’s situation, I’d try something new; after all… we are approaching spring! Yet, stay constant and his time will come…it just may not be in his timing, but it will always be in God’s timing. And then somehow… everything will appear to have been perfect!

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