2It’s amazing how often I see actors with terrible headshots. Sadly, nobody will tell you when you have a crappy headshot. Except me. I’ll tell you.

Part of the problem is that your friends and family don’t know the industry, so they see a pretty picture of you and they say, ‘Wow! Gorgeous!’. Little do they know that those shots are actually useless. What’s worse, a lot of agents won’t tell their clients either. I’m not sure why exactly – maybe they’re being polite or maybe it just takes up too much of their time to explain why they’re crap and what you need to do to fix them.

But it’s ok, I’m here to help. Here are the crucial things you need to know to get an amazing headshot:

1.  Your headshot must, I repeat, MUST, reflect your casting type.  There is absolutely no point having a headshot where you look like a sex goddess if you generally get cast as the naive wallflower.  If you don’t know your type, read my other post on this, do some research, or ask your agent. Once you know, you want to just gently suggest your type in your headshot. A naive wallflower might wear something in soft colours and textures, and the nerdy guy might wear a checkered shirt and glasses. Just be subtle about it. The main thing is not to play AGAINST type – so if you’re a naive wallflower, it’s not helpful to wear a leather jacket and black eyeshadow.

We all want photographic evidence that we’re sexy, intelligent and powerful. It’s ok to pursue this, just don’t use those shots for your headshot unless your casting type is sexy.  Even better – stop trying to be sexy and just be natural and your casting type should appear naturally in the photo.

2.  You CANNOT use professional glamour photos as your headshot.  Glamour shots (those studio ones that you got a special deal on for Christmas) are usually under strict copyright so they cannot be reproduced or distributed by you or your agent.  You need to go to a photographer who has specifically agreed to shoot actors headshots, because they will understand that they need to give you the right to reproduce the image.  If in doubt about copyright, ask your photographer before you agree to anything.

3.  Apart from the copyright issues, you shouldn’t be using glamour shots anyway – they’re not appropriate.  Agents don’t want glamour, they want an accurate but flattering picture of the real you.  If your shot looks like it came out of a fashion magazine, then you’ve gone wrong somewhere.

If you get to your audition and look nothing like the shot your agent sent ahead, you and your agent will be in big trouble.  So keep it simple – natural-looking makeup is best, natural lighting, minimal photoshopping.  You want to look like you at your best.

4.  The days of black and white headshots are sadly over.  As far as I’m aware, this is the case in pretty much every country, but you can always check with your agent. Colour is preferred now, but get your photographer to format your favourites in both B&W and colour so you can use either.

5.  It needs to be current.  Don’t submit a shot of you with an old hairstyle or hair colour or from two years ago, just because you think it looks better.  If it’s not current then your agent can’t use it.

6.  Full-length or ¾ shots are optional – some agents use them, some don’t.  If you have a smokin’ hot body, it’s probably worth getting one.  If not, I wouldn’t bother unless your agent requested it.

7.  You don’t need character shots.  Generally I think they’re not very practical – name me an agent who has time to shuffle through folders to find that ‘nerd’ shot of you for one random audition per year. Besides, if you are a nerd type then your headshot should suggest that – that’s step 1!

If you want to get one just for fun and it’s not going to cost you anything extra, no worries.  You may find it useful for auditions that you source yourself, or for websites that allow you to display multiple photos.  But personally I think your time, money and energy would be better spent on a ¾ shot.

Overall, I find it useful to keep in mind what headshots are actually used for.

Your headshot is the ally that works for you when nobody else can.

Whether it’s by you or your agent, your headshot will be sent ahead to your audition.  Your prospective employer may look at it before, during, and/or after your audition.  Before the audition, it may be your first and only chance to convince a prospective employer to actually consider auditioning you.  But you’re not there yet, so your headshot has to convince them for you.

After the audition, your prospective employer will look at it simply as a quick visual reminder of what you looked like.  They may have seen a hundred people audition that day, so the memory of your audition may be a little foggy, even if they liked what you did.  When they’re trying to decide who to call back or who to cast, they will probably spend some time looking at a bunch of headshots.  Again, you’re not there to remind them how awesome you were in your audition.  So your headshot has to convince them again.

No matter what your type is, no matter the role, your headshot is always basically convincing people the same thing:

“I’m professional, I’m appropriate, I’m worth it.”

That means you have to ask yourself:

1.  Does my headshot look professional?  Don’t lie to yourself… if it looks amateurish, you will look like an amateur actor.

2.  Is this headshot appropriate to my type?  Does it scream, “Yes, I can play the awkward smart girl, hire me!”?

3.  Does this headshot really look like me?

I like to think good headshots look ‘striking’ rather than ‘pretty, ‘handsome’, or ‘sexy’.  If your eyes sparkle and you look incredibly alive, that’s what you want, even if you don’t look classically beautiful.  We’re actors, not models… we’re here to play real people, so we need to look like real people.  Put your ego away and your best face forward…

…and go and read part 2 of this blog post.

The #1 mistake actors make in auditions

43Recently I was asked for some feedback by someone who (unsuccessfully) auditioned for me.  It’s unusual for actors to even ask for feedback, so I was happy to take some time to write him an email. When I thought more about it, I realised his mistake was a really, really common one for a lot of new actors, so I thought I’d better share it with you here. Read More

MORE reasons why your headshots are no good

No matter how often I write about headshots, the same issue seems to come up again and again… glam shots. They’re no good, people! How many times do I have to tell you?

(It’s usually girls who are the culprits, but guys… you can learn something here too.)

Those fancy, professional-looking shoots, where you pretend you’re a model and you put on lots of makeup and pout at the camera… they suck. They’re no use to you.

Sure, they’re fun to do. They make you feel sexy and they get lots of likes on Facebook. Awesome. But as an actor, 99% of the time, they don’t represent YOU, the real you… so they’re pretty much worthless. Worse than worthless, they look pretty silly actually. Read More

Why you need to be a multi-skilled actor

During my first year of uni, we were lucky enough to be visited by a prominent Melbourne director. During our Q&A time with him, someone asked what actors could do to get ahead of the crowd. He answered, “Speak several languages, and take up horse-riding and fencing.” I think a few of my classmates thought this was a bit of a simplistic answer, but I appreciated his honesty. In a way, it’s reassuring to think that casting is just a numbers game – that if you have enough tools in your tool belt, eventually someone is going to hire you because you, unlike many others, have access to a specific combination of tools.

In reality, I’m not sure it’s that simple – there are certainly a number of other factors at play in every casting Read More

3 steps to picking the perfect audition monologue (and 4 common mistakes to avoid)

While I’m on a roll with the audition prep stuff, I may as well talk a little about choosing a monologue It may sound like the easiest part of your prep, but it’s actually incredibly easy to get wrong – and getting it wrong makes a huge difference to your chances of being cast.

Let’s say you’re auditioning for a production of Hamlet.  You’ve heard it on the grapevine that they’ve cast all the roles except for Ophelia, so you deduce you will either get cast as Ophelia or you won’t get a part at all.  They’ve asked you to prepare one Shakespearean monologue.  For your recent drama school audition, you performed Hermione from The Winter’s Tale, and the teachers worked with you on it, so you feel like you’ve got a good understanding of the monologue and the way it should be performed – and it’s Shakespeare, which is what they asked for.  You go to the audition, you do a good job of your performing your monologue, they work with you on a few things, and you walk away feeling like a winner… then you hear nothing back from them, and eventually you realise someone else has been cast.  What happened?

There are a lot of elements at play here, Read More


If you’re a freelance actor, you’re probably carefully monitoring Facebook pages and audition sites for audition notices. (You are doing that, right?? If not, you need to check out my post about how to use social media to get auditions.) You probably spend less time thinking about how you write an Audition Request Email – but did you know a terrible introductory email can work against you? If there are limited audition slots and your email is informal, rude or lazy, you might not even get offered an audition time. You could be ruining your chances before you even get out the door, just through lazy writing! So what can you do to strike the right tone and guarantee your chances of an audition? Read More


3In my first post, I gave you the most important things you need to know about headshots before you go for your shoot. If you haven’t checked that out, you may want to check that out here. Now that we’ve covered the essentials (that everybody seems to get wrong), here is some practical insight into what the shoot will be like, how much it will cost, and what you can expect to get out of it. I also have some tips for DIY headshots for you as well.

Finding a photographer

A professional headshot is an important investment and doesn’t have to be super expensive, but sometimes finding a photographer can be tricky.  Photography studios don’t always advertise whether or not they do actors’ headshots, and independent photographers who often do headshots may not have an online presence where they advertise what they offer. It’s worth doing your own research before you choose someone, and it’s definitely worth reading up on what makes a good headshot before you go to your shoot.

It’s best to work with people who have done headshots for actors before because they’ll know what works and what’s expected, plus they’ll give you the rights to the material so you can reproduce the photos as needed.  As I explained previously, you can’t use glamour shots from companies where you are expected to buy prints directly from their company; those companies have strict copyright on their shots and you will not be able to reproduce or distribute them as needed.  Invest a little bit of time asking around and looking at websites before you decide on a photographer.  It’s also a good idea to check out the headshots of professional actors (have a look on for the real pros) to get an idea of what makes a good headshot, what’s popular and acceptable and what you would like yours to look like (poses, colours, clothes, hair and makeup, etc).  There are trends in headshots as much as anything else, so it’s a good idea to be aware of what’s ‘fashionable’, Read More


191I promised I would talk about headshots, but there’s something important we need to discuss before we get to that: casting type.  If you want your headshot to actually get you work, it has to look like you – but it also has to bring out the right elements of you.  If you get a headshot that brings out your sexy side, but your casting type is not sexy at all, then your headshot won’t help you in the long run.  So let’s get to know ‘type’.

Typing is good for you

A lot of actors resist their type.  You have probably heard whinging or bitching about certain actors being ‘typecast’ as the same roles over and over again – generally considered lazy, unlucky, or a result of no talent, whereas the reality is quite the opposite.

It’s very common for actors who have just graduated from a training institute to try and resist their type, because they have probably been cast against type during their training, to challenge their abilities, and therefore think they can play anything.  This may be true, they may have the ability to act a large variety of roles, but no actor is EVER cast like that.  You will get, at most, Read More


Whether you’re applying to an agent, or submitting freelance for auditions, at some point you will need an acting CV.  Your acting CV (or arts CV, or resume – same thing) obviously needs different content to a CV you would give to a retail or hospitality employer, but often it’s hard to know what to include and how to format it, especially when you feel like you don’t have much to include yet!

Let’s start with format.  There are a zillion different ways to format an arts CV, so the smart thing to do is check your agent’s website before you submit to them Read More


17-2You may have heard other actors talking about being ‘represented’.  This is the terminology used for an actor who is registered (or ‘on the books’) with an agent, who puts them forward for roles and handles their contracts and payment if they are cast.  An agent is a useful ally to have, but having one is not necessarily essential when you first start out.  Let’s talk through why you may or may not need one.

  1. What they do

    Firstly, you need to know the difference between an agent and a casting agent. A casting agent is the liaison between a client (someone who needs to cast a role) and an agent (who represents people who want to be cast).  They are usually the ones who run screen tests and assist the client in making casting decisions.  Casting agents do not have ‘books’ as such; that is, they don’t represent actors directly.  It is their responsibility to find the most appropriate actor for the job, and therefore representing particular actors would be a conflict of interest.  So casting agents are not the ones to approach when you are looking for representation.

    Occasionally, for certain projects, casting directors will accept freelance submissions – meaning if you don’t have an agent but you hear a role is being auditioned, you may be able to book an audition time straight through them.  This is usually only possible if the casting agent has advertised the role publicly, or if an agent knows your work and trusts that you are worth submitting.  This sort of arrangement varies greatly from state to state and I’m referring particularly to what tends to happen in Perth, so you will need to suss out the situation for yourself in other states.  In general, it is more advantageous – and appropriate – to develop a relationship with an agent rather than a casting agent.

    Note: casting agents are mostly used for screen rather than stage work.  In the theatre, it is most often the director who makes casting decisions.  This will be the case on some lower budget screen projects as well.

    Now, an agent is a company or an individual within a company who puts you forward for auditions.  Every day they are asked by the various casting agents to provide actors to fill certain briefs, eg. ‘athletic blonde, late 20s’, ‘cute and bubbly, 20-24’.  They will be given a certain number of audition slots to fill and they will choose actors from their ‘books’ to put forward for those slots.  If one of their actors is chosen, they will negotiate the terms of the contract and handle payment, from which they will deduct a fee for their commission.

  2. How much they cost

    It is unusual for an agent to ask for money before you have completed a job for them, but it does happen from time to time.  Some agents ask for a fee to represent you as an extra only, rather than for featured roles (which will get you some experience and exposure but won’t make much money for them, so it could be considered fair enough to charge you), while others may ask for a fee for headshots or for website maintenance.  Ask around and search online to ascertain whether this is a reasonable request before you agree to anything. A general rule is that you shouldn’t have to pay an agent anything until they’ve booked you for work.

  3. Why they’re useful
    Having an agent cuts down on your workload. An actor’s workload can be huge, as you’ll have to juggle other jobs, study, going to see shows, working on grants and other creative projects; networking and researching like crazy on top of that is a lot to ask.  Not to mention the fact that after a while you’ll begin to annoy peers, professionals and even your family if you advertise yourself as a product too much (“like my facebook page”, “look at my website”, “give my CV to your friend”… blurgh).  There’s nothing wrong with asking people to come to your show, but when you get to the stage where you have to manipulate your friends and family in order to get to where you want to go, you’re straying into very unprofessional territory.It’s also worth considering that once you’re at a professional level, if you’re not represented, it can raise serious questions about why you aren’t.  Is it because your previous standard of work wasn’t good enough to secure you an agent, or is it because your personal code of conduct was not satisfactory? That is, are you just plain not a good actor, or did you act like a jerk and piss someone off?  Neither may be the case but unfortunately both these scenarios are all too common, so it’s probably for the best that you plan to seek representation once you’ve started to work at a professional level.

    Above all, your agent has experience and knows what they’re doing.  They know what needs to be in your contract and how much you need to be paid.  They can help you avoid getting ripped off or working under poor conditions.  If you’re a freelance actor, you’ll definitely want to become an Equity member to help you deal with these issues.

  4. When should I get one?
    Let’s get one thing clear.  You don’t necessarily need an agent to work as an actor in Perth, especially when you’re first starting out.  It is possible to seek work as a ‘freelance’ actor, especially for stage or film work that is considered ‘independent’ (which is generally the small-to-medium size stuff that sits between community theatre and major theatre companies).  However, if you are ambitious, it is infinitely easier to access the big stuff via an agent.My general guideline is to think about getting one once you’ve finished, or nearly finished, training of some sort.  Agents don’t just look for credits on your CV but often prefer taking on actors who are trained to some degree.  However, training is not a strict prerequisite, so decide when it’s right for you and plan ahead before you approach them – take a long, hard look at your CV and think about ways to fill in the gaps.  You don’t have to have a long list of credits to your CV, but what you list should indicate the sort of actor you are, as well as what sort of actor you want to be.

    Keep in mind that a lot of agencies only take on new actors at a certain time of year (unless they’re scouting for something very particular), so it’s worth calling them and asking when it would be best to apply, and while you’re at it, check what format they want your CV and headshot in (soft copy via email/hard copy via post).  If in doubt about when to send, send it through when you’re ready and follow up a few months later with an update.  Don’t give up if you don’t hear back right away – agents receive so many submissions every day and won’t go through them straight away. It could take months.  My recommendation would be to submit around January/February, when agents are more likely to be assessing whether they are able to take on more actors.

  5. The tricky stuff
    Getting an agent is not the hard part of being represented.  The hard part is maintaining a relationship with your agent that is pleasant and mutually beneficial.  Until your agent gets to know you and trust you very well, you may not hear from them much at all.  The catch-22 is that they may not trust you until they see you do work, but you might feel like you can’t get work until they trust you enough to give you auditions!  Persevere with getting your own work through auditions you’ve found yourself, and make sure you invite your agent along to see your performances or screenings of your work, and send your updated CV every so often.  Keep in touch without being a pest, and eventually it will be pay off.  Don’t be alarmed if that takes a few years, and most importantly, NEVER whinge to or about your agent.
  6. Who are they?
    So if you think you’re ready to be represented, you need to do some research about the agents in your state. Before you agree to ANYTHING, you really need to understand properly whether your agent is a major acting agent in your city, a small extras and promotion agency, or a dodgy online operation. If you don’t know any actors who can give you the inside scoop, hit up a few Facebook groups for actors (you should be following these types of groups anyway) and ask for their opinion. 


    There’s a lot more that you need to know about agents, but before I write more posts, let me know – what do you most want to know about having an agent?