This post is for actors / anyone wanting to be an actor / anyone who is bored and wants to learn something about the entertainment industry. I have LOTS of thoughts about the business and how to best position yourself in it, but these are the first, very basic, tips that come to mind when I meet actors starting out!
I rant about a few of my pet peeves, but mostly I’m just trying to help you out and give you some guidance. Doesn’t everyone LOVE unsolicited advice???
There is no right or wrong way to navigate this business, but in my 2.5 years experience on the agent side of things, these are my tried-and-true experiences and thoughts. Yes, some of these things will seem super obvious, but you’d be surprised…
TL;DR I work at a talent agency and tell you my secrets…
Ok first and foremost. NO BRICK WALLS. If you take away anything from this post…. DO NOT GET PHOTOGRAPHED IN FRONT OF A BRICK WALL. Just don’t. It’s outdated, it’s tacky, and no one looks good against one. (How about I tell you how I really feel???)
And just for a good laugh… Here’s my old headshot, hah! My hair would not hold a single curl that day, I wanted to cry I was so stressed about it, and the make up artist wanted to thin out my eyebrows “because they would read too heavy on camera” and I was like “absolutely not” and that was the end of that discussion! THE BROWS. He wanted to fuck with MY BROWS. Also LOL throwback to my blonde days. Looking back I would have worn a different color that might have complemented me a bit better, which brings me to my next point….
Figure out your colors. I put a lot of emphasis on this in my private actor consultations when working with clients who are prepping for new headshots. You gotta figure out what colors are good for you, and which colors you should stay away from. This is also goes for the color back drop you’re against, as well. One of my biggest pet peeves is when an actor is wearing a dark shirt against a dark backdrop and then they just look like a floating head. I don’t understand how photographers let that happen. In my consultations, I list out every color that works for you and your skin tone/hair color, every color you should stay away from, which textures/patterns work, and I even map out which outfits to wear for certain colored backdrops. It all needs to work together to show you off best.
I cringe when I see a poorly organized and poorly executed resume. I’m not talking about the number of credits you have on your resume (that’s a whole other conversation) but when I see a sloppy resume, I just get annoyed. Like… do you not care that this is…sloppy?
You should have Theatre / TV Film / Training / Special Skills sections to start and make sure you’re formatting makes sense within each section and flows nicely. People have mailed me resumes where the alignment is all off or they are using different fonts and I just don’t get it. I’m also extremely Type A and realize that some people probably don’t pay attention to these things as much (you should lol), but please have a friend take a look before you send it off.
Your name should be in a larger text size so that it pops at the top, and be sure to include your email / cell / website (if applicable) under your name. Do not put your address on any resume, ever. There are creeps out there, it is not necessary to tell people where you live.
I’ll make this one quick since it’s been a while since I’ve been in the room with actors and casting but my main thing…. Be prepared. It’s literally part of your job to prepare your sides. Do not come into the room reading directly off your pages.
But I actually grabbed drinks with a couple of casting friends a few weeks ago and here were their top tips:
1.) Don’t take your shoes off.
haha WHAAATTTT?! I screamed at the bar when they told me this… who does that?! Like…That is not a thing. Do not do it. I mean, maybe in a movement call or something? I’m still laughing at this, I think it’s hilarious haha
2.) Thank the casting director/associate by their name when you’re leaving, it’s just a nice professional courtesy.
My friends also mentioned that it’s awkward when you leave the room saying, “It was so nice meeting you!”… when you’ve already been into that office before and met… They recommend keeping track of which offices you’ve been in for and who you met so you can recall people’s names more easily!
3.) Hold your pages.
For theatre auditions, they said they get nervous when actors put their sides down. It actually comforts them when you hold the pages so they know you’ll have a reference point should you need it. And they also said don’t be afraid to ask for a physical copy of the sides if you weren’t able to print them out, they have plenty of copies for you! Also, even if you’ve only had the sides for a day or two, they just want you to be ready to work and do your best. And for TV/Film auditions, hold your sides, as well!
I will let you in on a little secret… Agents just want to get to know you as a person. We know you’re talented (that’s why we brought you in for a meeting or agreed to take a meeting from a referral), so relax and just be yourself. Let us in a little bit. It’s completely normal to be nervous before these types of meetings (I thought I was going to vom before a couple of big meetings out of acting school, like I was so nervous, I get it!!!), but the best meetings are the ones where we can connect with you and chitchat and laugh and just get to know you. We can look at your resume and reel, sure, but at the end of the day we want to know if you’re someone who we would enjoy partnering with. Because it’s a partnership! You’re interviewing us as well, don’t forget that.
In these types of meetings. agents will usually ask you a number of questions ranging from Tell us about yourself! to How did you get into acting? to What types of projects are you right for? What roles would you love to play someday? to Do you have a support system to turn to? to Do you have any relationships with casting offices? and so on and so forth. They’ll probably look over your resume and ask you some questions about anything that catches their eye, too. Hopefully they will tell you about themselves and their office, but that’s not always the case. And they’ll usually finish up by asking YOU if you have any questions for THEM.
All in all, be yourself and be genuinely curious and attentive. Ask smart questions, do your research, and thank them for their time!
Alright, that’s it for now. Let me know if that was helpful at all, or if there are other areas of the industry you want my hot take on. —— Shine bright, you STARS!
xo Your Agent,