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First, it is important to have a frank conversation about you and your brand. There I said it. Some folks think this is a silly concept. A few years ago, this was a cool topic to investigate. Then it got a bad rap. Somehow the idea of shaping yourself into a commodity that is then bought and sold is abhorrent to mostly everyone. Yet, at one time, that is exactly the way, “branding” was thought of. No wonder the artist hated this approach to being a professional. Nevertheless, if we can tolerate re-framing the concept, it could be extremely valuable and quite useful. So, the first portion of this article will be about you and those things you can control. We will break down the components needed for a successful acting career. The tangible assets that can shape and define you as an actor. For example, pictures, resumes and other components will need to be objectively evaluated. Who you are as a talent will be the core of your brand.
Next, we will make inroads into the profession. The, “Nuts and bolts” of the industry. It is here that we will explore the audition process. Finding agents and managers that can help and possibly hurt you and your goals. Although most of my expertise is with East coast practices, I will point out some variance's with the other entertainment mecca's (L.A, Chicago, Atlanta). What is important to remember is that there are many roads to finding a fulfilling career path. How you want to be defined within the industry will factor into your career choices. Many of the discoveries you make about how the business works will become frustrating, I am sure. The reason is that many of the principals we'll learn are things you cannot control. The best you can hope for is to have a working knowledge of how it works rather than having a strategy of what to do about it. The successful working actor does not try to control the way their career is going but, rather, know the choices that are available and then acting on that. (Pun intended)
Finally, we will need to explore the myriad ways new technology is changing the professional landscape. Submitting yourself on video for projects is now commonplace. I can't tell you how many times very talented actors sabotage themselves because they do not know how to correctly present their digital audition. Even more amazing is that video audition submissions for theatre are happening all the time too. How would you show your stage chops on your cell phone? Seems unthinkable just a few years ago because the stage performance requires the element of being on stage. Just how are you suppose to act on a hand held device for Hamlet or Ophelia? It will also be important to show how social media is being incorporated into every part of the industry. Having followers; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, can account for many decisions affecting you and your career. What seemed intolerable to most is now acceptable to many. What will future trends require? Will you be mailable to them? Some forecasting may be in order as we decide what to do with what's in store.
In the first session with several of the training workshops I teach, I give each student a one page handout called the questionnaire. I often get looks of confusion, the occasional “ugh” and noticeable sighs with the first glance at this assignment. In truth, the perception is that there is too much work to actually explore your reasons for becoming an actor, evaluating your interests and committing to the options that are in available to you. In reality, though, this assignment is the very thing you should do. The reasons are many. The answers will shape your focus on how to pursue your career on a fundamental basis. It can serve as a guide on multiple career fronts from finding the right agent, discovering your “medium” (stage, film or tv) and re-set some of the strategies for building your acting business. I urge you to take time with these podcasts. You evolve and change as a person, so your work as an actor will demand a revisit multiple times to analyze those changes.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you've gotten this far, chances are you are motivated and for my sake and yours, I'm grateful. Please provide some podcast feedback or questions. I would love to include your thoughts on future shows!