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
One of the things that can be quite daunting as a young actor is the sense of isolation. If you have friends or family in the industry, or if you’re studying, you may not feel it, but to some extent it’s common to feel like you are alone in your pursuit. This is partly due to the fact that actors are set up in competition against each other every time they meet – auditions, classes, even social events can feel like a race to impress other people in the industry. At other times you may feel like the only person in the room with ambition. It’s hard to feel like you have an ally, and it’s hard to know who to ask for help – but you will need help at some time or other.
The primary reason I started this blog was to create somewhere for you to go for help, but you will probably have more questions than I can answer here. Feel free to comment and I will do my best to answer, but ideally you’ll probably want a mentor of your own. You need someone you trust who has been working in the industry a while and understands its ups and downs. But how do you find someone when you’ve just started out and the only people you’ve met are lawyers who like to do community theatre in their spare time?
The tools you need… without looking like a tool
Before I get onto discussing how to use social networking tools for professional advancement, I need to wade through the quagmire that is ‘self-promotion’.
When I say ‘self-promotion’, I’m talking about websites, Facebook pages, business cards, mass mail-outs of headshots, or any sort of advertising that is produced by you solely for the purpose of promoting you as an actor.
Suffice it to say: I’m not a fan. I don’t think it’s appropriate or necessary when you first start your career – and I’m not the only one.
Ahhh, the balancing act of life. Everybody has to balance the many aspects of their life, no matter whatprofession they’re in, but it may come as quite a shock to you to balance quite so many things straight out of high school. You will probably be working full time or part time, taking classes of some sort, going out to see shows, reading whatever seems interesting and relevant, looking for auditions, practising whatever needs practising, and… the rest of your life. Cleaning the house, maintaining relationships, chilling out where you can. I hate to be a party pooper but I’ve got to tell you now: as an actor, this never changes. You will ALWAYS be balancing a million things. Even if you succeed at becoming a big movie star, the balancing act will only get worse, not better. Successful actors work incredibly hard to become successful and incredibly hard to stay that way. You need to learn to work hard and smart, and learn to deal with stress and tiredness in a graceful way. Read More
Right, so I promised I would talk about voice next. As always, I will try to keep it extremely general, so you can look at it as a broad guideline of things to work on rather than a detailed criticism of different techniques.
When you first start out as an actor, voice can be one of the big things that hold you back, particularly if you are doing stage work. Screen work is more forgiving because you don’t need to project as much, but you’ll still need good vocal technique for emotionally and physically difficult scenes. Women in particular can struggle a lot when they first start out because a naturally high voice is difficult to hear, and smaller frames can mean smaller lung capacity. Don’t let this get in your way, it can be improved with a little time and effort – but firstly you need to be aware of what you need to work on.
Regardless of whether you have a light voice, Read More
Right. I just finished talking about your body, and now I want to talk about – your body. Yes. In an entirely different way. Let’s stop thinking about what it looks like and start thinking about what you can do with it. This discussion relates more to stage than screen, simply because usually your whole body is visible in theatre, and in film there is often more of a focus on your face. However, I believe the best actors, regardless of medium, know how to use their bodies. If you’ve ever thought, “What should I do with my hands?” then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
You might want to ask yourself, “What is a great actor’s body? What do great actors do with their bodies when they act?” Read More
It might be a bit of a touchy subject, but I’d like to talk about your body for a bit. This is a really tricky area, especially for a lot of young women, but it affects everyone in the industry to some extent. I have seen a LOT of actors struggle with body image issues, so it’s something I feel passionate about. Often we think that changing our bodies or faces to fit a particular ideal will get us more work. More often than not I think the opposite is true: changing to fit an ideal will get you less work because there’ll longer be anything interesting or memorable about you. It happens a lot to celebrities – they have plastic surgery and suddenly they look like grotesque and inhuman and cease to be cast in anything. And beyond that, chances are that whatever you think is a problem is probably not what’s stopping you from getting work – it’s more likely to be a lack of confidence, or the fact that you don’t seem alive or vibrant in auditions because you’re too busy thinking about your big nose… More about noses later. Let’s start with body.
I don’t believe for a second that you have to be super skinny or super muscly to be a successful actor, but your body shape will affect the sorts of parts you get. To some extent, you won’t be able to help this, because your body has a ‘type’, just as your face does. Read More