Many actors don’t come into the city with a strong business sense. There is no right or wrong answer as to how you should approach branding, but I think this is worth examining and asking yourself:
Who am I in the current marketplace? What types of characters would I play? Examine what shows are right for you and also ones that are further away.
Do you have a personal website? Do you have social media accounts such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Are you branded across all platforms? Is there consistency in how you’re presenting yourself?
It’s really worth thinking through because it is the actor’s job to tell the industry who they are and not the other way around. Also consider that actors work with their friends. Putting out consistent signals even on your social media platforms will help people keep you in mind as a type when roles come up!
Improv is not necessary to act well or become a Sitcom actor. A lot of the messaging in Hollywood is that it is necessary. Agents, Managers and Casting Directors will tell you to have it on your resume. I advise people to find a balance. Commercial auditions ask actors to improvise frequently. Theatrical auditions, not so much.
I’m an improviser myself. My first teacher was Lisa Kudrow and I had the opportunity to work with many of the original Groundlings. I went all the way through The Groundlings and the training I got helped me immensely.
It’s worth noting that many actors working in TV and film comedy do not have an improv or sketch comedy background. Either way, it comes down to auditioning well.
People can get over trained in improv. Sometimes they spend a lot of time in those venues without learning how to audition. It is important that actors get familiar with working on camera and the audition configuration.
Remember to think about what your goal is as you take improv: do you want to be on a team? Do you want to join a theatre company? If so, adjust your training and budget accordingly.
Remember to balance improv with on-camera training!
There’s no magic bullet that answers how you get an agent or manager. I wish there was.
The easiest way is through a referral. Ask a friend whose has reps you would like to work with. See if they can make an introduction or walk your picture in.
There are also open agent/manager workshops you can sign up for. There are some really great agents and managers who frequent these. You can find listings for these workshops online.
After that is cold calling. Everybody on the other line knows you want to be represented, so think outside of the box when calling, mailing or emailing. Set yourself apart from other actors who are also cold calling.
Otherwise, stay busy. Act. Los Angeles has a great theater scene. Write for yourself and create content. In general, talent is more desirable the more skills and experience you have to offer. Keep learning and keep creating.
Be persistent. It’s possible!
What is the difference between headshots that works for me or against me?
I could talk about this forever. Actors aren’t really taught how to take amazing headshots. That unfortunate lack of knowledge often causes frustration and a lot of wasted money. That’s why I offer Smart Headshots; individual coaching sessions designed to train actors on how to get killer photos.
Ideally, your headshot should represent you clearly as an actor. Simple. They also indicate how you are best cast. If your pictures are on point, it suggests you understand how casting and others will see you.
Most pictures are too general. Actors often believe that there are only two kinds of photos. One of them smiling aka “the commercial one”. Another one where they are serious aka “the theatrical one.”
Truly awesome headshots have elements of great photography combined with specific needs of industry standard pictures. Most actors don’t know how to prepare for that combination. Actors often surrender all authority to their photographer. Actors with great photos know they need to collaborate for the best results.
You should go into your headshot session thinking of the kinds of characters you would play on TV. Which show they would appear on? Next, wardrobe appropriately. When taking your photos, have specific thoughts and objectives in line with the characters you have created. Deliver those thoughts and objectives into the camera to create interesting, unique headshots specific to you.
The biggest mistake actors make is not setting themselves up in regard to business. Especially if you come to Hollywood to be a career actor or writer. Most actors typically want auditions, representation and bookings. In order to do that, you need to get organized first.
It’s easy to do with gmail, google docs and spreadsheets. Start envisioning who you would want to meet and set up lists and ways of accounting for the relationships you are going to make in this town. Want an agent? You might have to ask a lot. It will help to keep track of who you’ve reached out to and when.
Are you starting to get auditions? Have a system in place to keep notes about how particular offices function and the names of everyone who works in them. Create an actual LLC or business identity for yourself so when you start making money, you can save on taxes. If any of that sounds overwhelming, just ask the internet how to go about it and learn. That’s what I do!
A little more work organizing in the beginning can save you countless hours of searching for information later.
Oh my goodness! Find a place to live! LOL!
Los Angeles is a big, spread out collection of multiple neighborhoods and cities. It’s really important for you to get grounded and learn the landscape. There is a lot of traffic here; that’s very well known. However, unless you’re from another giant metropolitan area, it’s going to be more intense than you might think. This entire place is intense.
Get adjusted to the sprawling size of Los Angeles and learn how to get where you need to be on time. It’s hard to park, we have too many signs and it takes forever to find a space. You sound new and frankly, unprofessional when you ask people for help parking. It’s tough. Adjust your schedule to allow for the shock traffic, parking and a walk that’s further than you thought it might be.
Past that, you need to build a community. A network of friends and peers is essential. Get in class. Learn to talk to strangers if you haven’t already. A sense of humor and mad comedy skills come in handy when you’re new. If you’re shy, just pretend like you’re in a Sitcom.
We should be proud of what we have chosen to do. I know that can sometimes be challenging, especially if you’re new to LA and you’re trying to get representation, join the union and break into the industry. It can be difficult to get the auditions you need to get the bookings you dreamed of.
For some there’s pressure from people back home. Your friends and family call, asking the familiar questions: “What are you doing out there in Los Angeles? Have you booked anything lately?”
There are those times you introduce yourself to someone new and they ask, “What do you do?” And you say, “I’m an actor.” Then they give you that glazed eye look and we all know what that means. “Oh… You’re an actor…”
Above all, you have sacrificed a lot to get here and trained hard to get here. You have put in countless hours to become a performer. Whatever your journey, be proud of yourself and what you’ve chosen to do. Have pride in being a storyteller. Comedy makes the world a better place. We make the world a better place. And when people ask what you do, tell them confidently, “I am an actor!”