Commercial Actors Should Never Send Inappropriate Emails

night-laptop

Mailing a hardcopy headshot and resume to commercial casting directors is a thing of the past, certainly in Los Angeles. I think we can all give a collective shout of approval for that! It’s a huge financial savings to actors and a step in the right direction for the environment. Like everything else, the way of the Internet is the way of the commercial casting industry. You submit yourself and/or your agent submits you on commercial and print jobs online daily. It only makes sense that you create and maintain your industry relationships in the same manner. Have an update or a booking to report? I’m a strong advocate of communicating this information online. Sure, you can post your exciting news or new headshots on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You should definitely update your personal website and your online actor profiles. But you may want to personally share this information with some casting directors. Email is the obvious way to do this, but not any ‘ol willy-nilly email will do. Actors are getting creative; sometimes in the best way, and other times, not so much.

Commercial actors should never send unprofessional emails to a casting director.
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Commercial Actors Should Never Have Just One Ball In The Air

Juggle. Balls.

There is such a thing as being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, and it’s not something to aspire to. There’s also something to be said for not having all your eggs in one basket. I’m just a fountain of idioms and figures of speech, aren’t I? Allow me to inch toward the point. I have a front seat to observing and listening to actors on a regular basis. Being a commercial actor is an exciting thing. Unfortunately, being a commercial actor can also be a long, hard, frustrating haul at times. A career in commercials will be both, count on it. But there are some actors who go with the flow better than others, even when they suffer the same inevitable set backs. They keep on the sunny side and don’t let bitterness take over. I’m intrigued by these actors, so I’ve studied them. Do they possess superhero powers to deflect the effects of rejection?  I don’t think so . . .

Commercial actors should never have just one ball in the air.

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Commercial Actors Should Never Lose Track of the Big Picture

big-picture

I chirp like a bird about the details of commercials.  The wardrobe you should be wearing, the types you should have represented in your headshots, the research to do ahead of time, the copy, your audition time, listening, reading – the importance of the minutiae. The details will get you the callback, the details will book you the job. Attention to the details will win you the respect of the casting office. Sometimes the Small Picture (and by that I mean details) is a great place to focus. And sometimes, it can lead you astray…

Commercial actors should never lose track of the Big Picture.

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Commercial Actors Should Never Blame Their Agent

agent-actor-partnership

Blaming an agent is an easy thing to do.  You can easily pin almost everything going wrong in your career on them.  It’s common.  I hear it all the time, and it’s not my favorite.  Sometimes I’m sure it is warranted.  But it’s my strong belief that it is a veeeeery rare occasion that your agent is sabotaging your career.  And even if they are, you have some responsibility in that.  Let’s talk about it…

Commercial actors should never blame their agent.

There are a small handful of commercial agents that have, on occasion, made me furious.  This is a fact.  But don’t get cocky.  So have actors…infinitely more times than agents, but that’s neither here nor there.  What we should talk about is the blame game.  Talent agents are given blame far more often than they should.  And I don’t think it’s helpful.  In fact, I’m sure it’s not.  It takes all responsibility (and power, frankly) out of the hands of the actor and leaves you a helpless victim.  This isn’t the case…or it sure as heck doesn’t have to be.read more

Commercial Actors Should Never Needlessly Feel Bad About An Audition

Commercials are funny things. The commercial audition is even funnier. Not to say that I don’t take the process very seriously. I do. And you should, too. But we aren’t curing cancer. Often times (certainly in the last few years) commercial auditions call on your comedy skills, ask you to be silly, improvise, or simply to have barrels of fun. Because if you are having fun, we, the audience, likely are too. However, comedic or not, the commercial audition can be a minefield, occasionally leaving an actor to feel embarrassed or bad about their performance as they leave. Sometimes you should feel that way and other times you shouldn’t . . .

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Commercial Actors Should Never . . . Forget You Are Hired for Who You Are

You’ve all figured out by now, there is no one road to commercial success.  No recipe to follow.  There’s no, “if you do x, y & z then you will book.”  Here’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up in one sentence:

Commercial actors should never forget… you are hired for who you are.

What does that mean, exactly?  Just what you think.  You will book a job because you have red hair and you will not book a job because you have red hair.  You will be hired/not hired for any and all of your physical characteristics.  Your height, weight, age.  Your gender.  Actors are hired because of their agent… and yes, actors aren’t hired because of their agent.  You will be hired because of your social media presence.  You will be hired because you have no social media presence…or because no one cares if you have a social media presence.  When you have a special skill, you can be hired because of it.  I’m guessing a special skill wouldn’t be used against you…gotta love special skills.  Your perceived imperfections will both hurt you and help you.  Your perfections will do the same.  I’ve heard, “She’s too pretty,” more times than I can count.  No kidding.

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Commercial Actors Should Never Half-Ass Their Career

This month is going to seem like I’m pulling out the tough love. A possibly RUDE choice during these jolly holiday times. Some may jump to sharpen their pencil to send me disapproving thoughts. I would urge you, however, to be open to the possibility that the topic this month (and every month, frankly) comes from a place of love. Yes, out of love for the brave actor artist. I’m on your side.

With that being said . . .

Commercial actors should never half-ass their career.

Now that is rude. Believe me, I actually looked up synonyms for the half “arse” word. And nothing seemed to pack the necessary punch. So I’ll stick with it.

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Commercial Actors Should Never Fail to Recognize When The Power is in Their Hands.

It seems like there are endless examples of when the power is out of the commercial actor’s hands.  You are all painfully aware of those.  But like a broken record, I’ll remind you of my belief that booking a commercial is not a numbers game, it’s not luck… there is plenty of power that truly does rest in your hands.  I’ve written about the importance of research, arriving on time, in wardrobe, knowing the copy, etc., etc… this is well-covered territory.  But I’d like you to be able to identify the jobs that REALLY have everything to do with you grabbing the booking that is yours (almost) for the taking.

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Commercial Actors Should Never…

Commercial actors should never entertain paranoid thoughts.

I usually try to sprinkle a bit more sugar coating than that…but I thought the direct wording would further my cause.  Thick skin may be the most important tool you have in the marathon that is an acting pursuit.  You can possess all the talent in the world, with the absolute perfect look…but if you quit out of misery and paranoia, does it matter?  You can’t take anything personally.  You all face staggering odds and terrible unemployment statistics.  The product you are selling is YOU which makes the mounds of rejection all the harder to handle.  You are courageous people and you need to clothe yourself in that courage every single day.  Don’t let your insecurity–which easily becomes paranoia–get the best of you.

Don’t worry, from here on out I’ll be chock full of good news.  Because I’m here to put to rest all of the paranoid thoughts I hear said out loud ALL the time.

Scenario #1: A casting director has called you in multiple times.  You’ve gotten a callback more often than not and you were put “on avail” on the last job and you haven’t been called in by that office since.  A paranoid conclusion: The office doesn’t like you anymore.  You’ve done something wrong.  You’ll never be called in again. What’s likely going on? They haven’t been casting actors in your category.  They’ve been seeing kids, senior citizens and santa claus (and you are none of those). Maybe the person who did the prep work on the jobs moved to a different office or opened their own casting company.  You’ll still be called in by them wherever they are and you’ll need to get to know the new person who is now prepping the jobs.  If you have the lingering feeling that you’ve done something wrong (because you have and you know you have), then apologize.  We all make mistakes.  Whatever the explanation, it isn’t that they suddenly don’t like you or instantaneously forgot you.  That’s the paranoid thought to ditch immediately.read more

Commercial actors (and casting directors, and producers, and, and, and…) should never forget the power and warmth of THANK YOU.

Please know that when I am pointing my finger at you, the commercial actor, there are a whole heck of a lot of fingers pointing at me, the producer, the director, the agent … and I would think this applies to everyone in the industry.  But I write for actors. So, actors, listen up.

It seems there are several camps of actors in the “to thank or not thank” realm but I can easily simplify that to just two. There are the actors that believe that showing up to the audition, the callback, the wardrobe, and the shoot (when you’ve booked the job) is thanks enough. They are the actors that feel like they performed a needed service, provided it well, and find no reason to offer thanks. In fact some would probably like a thank you from the industry professionals to whom they provided their services. I’ve been in the room while the sometimes touchy topic is discussed. I get it. There’s a logical argument to defend the choice of not giving a thank you on the actor’s part. Plenty of logic sprinkled with ego, perhaps. It’s not my way, nor what I would recommend, but I don’t think the choice damages the actor’s career by any means. If you are a no-thank kind of actor, I respect your decision … for what that’s worth, which is basically nothing. But good for you. I hope that is working well for you.

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