Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 30 Day Movie Challenge

The 30 Day Movie Challenge

Day 01- The best movie you saw during the last year
Day 02 – The most underrated movie
Day 03 – A movie that makes you really happy
Day 04 – A movie that makes you sad
Day 05 – Favorite love story in a movie
Day 06 – Favorite made for TV movie
Day 07 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 08 – A movie that you’ve seen countless times
Day 09 – A movie with the best soundtrack
Day 10 – Favorite classic movie
Day 11 – A movie that changed your opinion about something
Day 12 – A movie that you hate
Day 13 – A movie that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14 – A movie that no one would expect you to love
Day 15 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 16 – A movie that you used to love but now hate
Day 17 – A movie that disappointed you the most
Day 18 – A movie that you wish more people would’ve seen
Day 19 – Favorite movie based on a book/comic/etc.
Day 20 – Favorite movie from your favorite actor/actress
Day 21 – Favorite action movie
Day 22 – Favorite documentary
Day 23 – Favorite animation
Day 24 – That one awesome movie idea that still hasn’t been done yet
Day 25 – The most hilarious movie you’ve ever seen
Day 26 – A movie that you love but everyone else hates
Day 27 – A movie that you wish you had seen in theaters
Day 28 – Favorite movie from your favorite director
Day 29 – A movie from your childhood
Day 30 – Your favorite movie of all time

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seven Steps for a Successful Acting Career

Seven Steps for a Successful Acting Career

by Sarah Bennett
There are no "overnight discoveries" in the tinsel town. Almost all of the famous celebrities and actors you know today by name made it to the top by sheer hard work and of course a lot of career planning too. It is very important to approach you acting career in a planned manner and this article aims to help you do exactly that. Read on to discover the seven steps for a successful acting career

1. Learn the rules of the game.
Read anything and everything you can lay your hands on regarding acting. With the Internet your access to articles on acting is unlimited; just know where to look for useful data. Once you are confident that you have a deep understanding of the acting business, try establishing contacts with actors in the industry. Keep meeting as many people as you can from various areas in the industry like directors, producers, editors, production managers, stage managers, grips and the like. Don't be shy. Ask questions and make it a point to take notes when they clarify your doubts. Sending a thank you card later on to those who answered your question is a good idea, too.

When you come across an actor that you feel has got to the place where you are aspiring to reach, interview him/her and persuade him/her to share their road map to success.

It is in this first step you lay a strong foundation for your career plan.

2. Analyze your odds.
It is not a simple task to become a Hollywood "A" list actor. The route to an Oscar is a pretty tedious and a tough one. It is always better to aim for the sky knowing fully well you may land on the roof. Aim to become a successful working actor who is able to bring the character to life effortlessly and you will soon find that your performance is beginning to get noticed and talked about.

3. Go to school.
Get trained on anything that can remotely help you improve your performance. Take classes on dance, signing, martial arts and personality development. Enroll with a good university and learn techniques of acting and the history of the industry. This would certainly boost your passion.

4. Get a head start with headshots.
Good headshots would portray your personality and give you the head start you need. The challenge lies in finding a photographer who can know your strengths and project them on your headshots. Take your time in selecting the photographer and doing the headshots. Don't rush because your headhshot can be your ticket to stardom.

5. Keep practicing.
Get going with any role that comes your way and give it your best. Don't eye the pay part during the early part of your career, every role you play gets you richer with experience. Being seen on the sets keeps you noticed in the industry and your chances of landing other roles are higher.

6. Network.
Be friendly, sociable and approachable. You will soon find that more and more people like you. This way your contacts in the industry expand and therefore increase your chances for success. Remember that most directors and producers like to work with people they are comfortable with.

7. Traverse the road positively.
Always have a positive outlook and never mix your personal problem with your profession. Try to brand yourself as a person who is fun to work with. Be very professional in managing the relationship of your peers. Have your radar for data always on and be hungry for any information that can help you get better. Finally act, act and keep acting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Don't Career Through Your Career
A successful branding strategy must be authentic, ongoing, and consistent.
By Kristine Oller
February 16, 2011

Branding is about communicating a memorable essence of your actor self. Your brand must be defined clearly and delivered strategically in order for it to help you generate the momentum to move your career forward.

Defining It

Defining your personal brand is an ongoing process. There are elements of your brand that will endure, as well as aspects of it that will evolve as you evolve as a person and as an artist. Getting help with the process of identifying and describing your unique essences is essential, because you are the only one who sees you through your eyes. Everyone else experiences you from an external point of view, so it is invaluable to know how other people perceive you.

Notice what others say or write about you, especially when the same descriptors are used by multiple sources. A casting director told actor Katie Enright that the office had nicknamed her "Jayma Fey," because she has Jayma Mays' looks crossed with Tina Fey's comedic energy. When Katie shared that story with me and the 20 or so people we were with, the entire group concurred. Realizing that the phrase resonated with people, Katie knew she had received a piece of her branding puzzle.

Do not ignore your innate essences that clash with your perception of yourself. In reality, you might be the complete opposite of a ditsy cheerleader or an elitist cad, but strong brands can be built around the contrasts between your appearance and your true nature or abilities.

Delivering It

There are countless ways you can communicate your brand, but your efforts should not be expended merely to make a random, flashy splash. The goal is to deliver an ongoing strategic campaign (which can include some flashy splashes) designed to increase and sustain awareness within the industry of what you have to offer as an actor. To be effective, your branding simply needs to be authentic, consistent, and concise.

Tempting though it might be to swipe elements of another actor's brand (phrasing, design, humor, style, dress, demeanor, etc.), chances are high that what is working for someone else will not work as well for you. A branding element that is not an authentic fit will usually seem like a gimmick. When tomboyish actor Karen Cauliff swings by to drop off a six-pack of her homebrewed beer as a thank-you gift, the whole package—her appearance, her energy, the beer, the clever bottle labels she designed—is in alignment and reinforces her branding as "the female Tom Sawyer." However, were I to ever swing by anywhere bearing beer as a gift, the gesture, incongruous with my image, would confuse people rather than engage them. I would only be delivering a gift, not my authentic brand.

The purpose of branding is not only to say "This is me," but also to say "I'm still here." Delivering your branding messages consistently is the only way to get those two statements to register with your intended audience. With high turnover among actors, the industry needs to be reminded (not bombarded, but reminded) again and again that you remain ready, willing, and able to work.

Far too often, actors think there is something wrong with their branding message or materials when the problem is that they are not delivering them consistently enough to make the desired impact. Determine what is appropriately consistent (as opposed to annoyingly constant) for your target audience.

Approaching branding as an ongoing campaign helps you avoid the common mistake of trying to communicate everything about yourself all at once. Your marketing piece—a postcard, a one-sheet, a website—can be conceptually authentic yet crammed so full of visuals and text that it overwhelms your intended audience and they ignore the whole thing. Consistency in delivering your branding messages frees you to make those messages concise. Serve people portions they can quickly and easily digest.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Directing Tools – The Actors Language

Directing Tools – The Actors Language
by Peter D Marshall

What do actors want more than anything from a Director?


To find a character they are playing, actors must surrender
completely to feelings and impulses – they must allow
themselves to be vulnerable. As a result, actors want to work
with Directors who can create a safe place for them to perform
and who understand their vulnerabilities.

Actors also want to work with directors who understand their
specific working language. When a director understands the
actor’s language, they will be able to communicate with the
actors more efficiently, which will help them to achieve more
believable and well-grounded performances.

Here are some of the more important parts of the actor’s
language that every director should know.

(1) Scene Objectives

What is the intent of the scene? Why is this scene in the
story? What happens in the scene? What is the reason for the
scene? Does it move the story forward?

The scene objective carries the character through this
particular scene. It is also something that a character must
achieve in that scene. It is something the character
consciously desires and wants to achieve.

These overall objectives are what drive the entire film
forward and create a state of suspense that generates audience

- What’s going to happen next?
- What will the outcome be?
- Who wins in the end?

(2) Character Objectives

1. Super Objective (“Power Over People”)
- What is the primal motivation of the character?
- What are the main needs of the character?

2. Objectives (“To Dominate Character X”)
- What does the character want (motives)?
- What are his active choices to achieve the super objective?

3. Main Actions (“What They Do To Character X”)
- What the character DOES…
- To get what he WANTS…
- To fulfill his NEEDS

4. How to Choose Objectives

Ask yourself “What does the character want in this

A character’s objective should create obstacles for the
character in the story.

In a story, characters rarely get what they want without
difficulty. How they go about trying to fulfill their
objectives is what makes for interesting drama.

The actors have to find that need and create it within
themselves. They then have a reason for their behavior.

(3) Text, Subtext and Context

1. Text is what is said. (It is the outer world of the

The text is what we get from the screenwriter. Text is what
forms the script – it is the dialogue and the stage

The Text in a script is like a map: we use it to find out
where we are going – but how we get there is up to the actors
and the director.

2. Subtext is what is thought. (It is the inner world of the

Whether we realize it or not, most of the time we have an
interior monologue going on. However, we may not decide to
outwardly express any of them.

What characters are really thinking has a great effect on how
actors move and how they deliver their lines. When subtext is
strong, it comes through and colors how the dialogue is

The subtext communicates that more is going on within the
person that they are sharing – that an inner conflict is

Subtext is a good way to help actors find out if they
understand the scene.

Subtext is what your characters really think or believe – the
content underneath the spoken dialogue.

3. Context means the circumstances in which the text is used.
It is usually the background, time period or the environment
relating to a particular event in the story.

The director can also adapt the context of a script to conform
with the particular needs of a production. For instance, Baz
Lurman’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” which was updated to
the modern suburb of Verona yet still retained the original

(4) Conflict

Conflict is the heart of all drama – for without conflict,
there is no drama.

From an actor’s point of view, conflict is the result of two
objectives in conflict with each other.

Five Sources of Conflict

1) Man against Man
2) Man against Himself
3) Man against Environment/Nature
4) Man against Society
5) Man against God/Principle

(5) Action Verbs

Verbs stimulate emotion. They have an emotional effect on
another person. The intention, or the verb, may change often,
even in a sentence.

Actions are active verbs. “I tempt you.‚” “You taunt me.‚” In
order to perform an action truthfully-and therefore
convincingly, an actor needs to find the right action to suit
that particular situation and that particular line.

By using action verbs instead of adjectives, the actor doesn’t
have to think “Now I’m supposed to be getting happy.” Instead,
the actor can concentrate completely on the situation and his
objectives. That is the motivation and that’s what the actor
needs to make a character come alive.

Actors need actions. Actors cannot “act” adjectives – they
need verbs. So, instead of asking an actor to play it sexy,
ask the actor to flirt with the other actor. This encourages
the actor to engage with the other actor, rather than be
focused on being sexy.

The best thing about verbs is that you can play with the
intensity. If you want more energy or intensity, give a
stronger verb. If at first they are playing “to complain”
about something and you want more, ask them “to warn.” If
that isn’t enough ask them “to punish.”

Examples of action verbs: If I want you to leave the room, I
might INVITE you to leave. If that doesn’t work, I might BEG
you to leave. If that doesn’t work, I might DEMAND that you

(6) Result Direction

Directing for results means telling the actors what you want
to see and hear without giving them any clues as to why or how
they will get there. Basically, you are telling the actor how
to react. Example: “I want you to be sad or happy or more
angry. I want you to shout, laugh louder or cry more.”

The problem with result direction is not realizing that an
actor’ emotions are the results of needs and wants. Emotional
responses come as a consequence of trying to fulfill a need.
“Thoughts lead to Feelings lead to Actions lead to Results.”

Result direction takes the actor’s concentration off his
partner and puts it on himself. He will start focusing on his
own performance rather than listening to the other actor. This
makes for a false connection.

Don’t tell actors how to feel. A good director uses other ways
to suggest ideas: facts, images, action verbs. Good directing
becomes a matter of searching for the right keys to unlock the
potential in each actor.

(7) Obstacles

Obstacles are what stand in the way of a character achieving
their objective. Obstacles increase the stakes and clarify the

An obstacle intensifies the conflict because as the story
progresses, it becomes harder to achieve the objective.

(8) Beats

Beats are defined as changes of circumstances or transitions
in behavior in the script. A beat can be one sentence or half
a page.

Whenever something changes in the scene, or whenever a new
behavior or subject occurs, that is the start of a new beat.

(9) Permission

Giving Permission is a very powerful tool for the director.
Permission allows the actor to go to places he/she needs for
the role.

Sometimes you have to allow actors to play, try things, play
with opposites, and take risks using play. No judgments, just
play, in order to discover the unexpected.

(10) In the Moment

When an actor is “not in the moment”, they are in their heads
and not in their bodies.

When we intellectualize our feelings and emotions, we are not
in the moment. Although working on a back story, which can be
the actor’s job, can help to feed a character.

Being in the moment for an actor has to do with freedom and
trust. It has to do with an actor not watching himself. The
actor who is “in the moment” is thinking real thoughts and
experiencing real feelings. He is responsive to the world
around him and to the behavior of other actors.

(11) Listening

The most powerful way an actor can stay in the moment is to
listen to what is being said. Just like in real life, observe
what happens around you. Or if the objective is to “not
listen” – ignore, that’s a different story.

(12) Physical Sensation

Knowing or taking into consideration the temperature of the
scene is important. (Hot, cold, windy, etc)

(13) Improvisation

Improvisation is a good tool to use with actors when they are
having a difficult time understanding or relating to a scene.

By letting the actors improvise the scene, you are letting
them have the freedom to get under the lines and find a
meaning to them. In other words, it allows them to find the
subtext of the scene.

Improvisation is also another way to discover something in the
scene you may have missed. It is also a good way to just
loosen the actors up.

(14) Stakes

To raise the stakes means to increase a character’s commitment
or involvement in the story. This usually implies doing
something that will increase the level of risk for a

How important is it for your characters to reach their goal?
“If they don’t get across the river they will die.” “If he
doesn’t propose today, he’ll lose the girl.” How far will a
character go to reach their objective?

(15) Character Arc

A character arc is the beginning, middle and end of a
character’s or inner emotional change. It is based on the idea
that there should be a progression to the character as the
story develops.

The beginning of the journey is never the same as the end.
What is the transformation that your character will go
through. How is she/he at the end vs. the beginning? What does
she/he learn, lose, acquire?

Characters begin the story with a certain viewpoint and,
through events in the story, that viewpoint changes.

(16) Back Story & Biography

Actors should know what happened just before the scene they
are doing. They also need to fill out their character’ life
without saying anything that will show up in layers in the

(17) Business (Props, Tasks)

Sometimes it’s so good to have another task to do during a
speech or a dialogue. Actors can do well with “business”.

(18) Italian Reading

This is when the actors run their dialogue very quickly
several times. The objective here is to get them out of their
heads (don’t think about their lines) and get into their
bodies (listen and feel.)

To read more on how to direct actors, check out Judith Weston’s book, Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten Top Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Day

Time Management for Actors (and Other Busy People!)

Ten Top Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Day
by Victoria Larimore

1) The Swiss Cheese Method: Often a large goal, say, creating a one-man or one-woman show, seems so overwhelming that it you may give up before you even begin! The “Swiss Cheese” method, recommended by many time management experts, suggests breaking the big goal into many smaller “bites,” like the punched holes in Swiss cheese. If you keep “nibbling away” at your big goal, you'll cut it down to a manageable size and be amazed at how much easier it gets. In addition, every small step checked off your list not only brings you closer to achievement, but gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, making it easier to keep moving forward.

2) Work Backwards: This technique is especially helpful when a deadline looms ahead and it seems like you'll never be ready in time! For example, you just booked a big audition on Friday at noon, and it's already Wednesday night. What to do? Make a flowchart in reverse. Ask what steps are required to adequately prepare: get the sides, research the character, run lines with a partner, get off book, do a dry run in front of a pal, etc. Then schedule it backwards. You won't create any extra time, of course, but you will have the advantage of seeing quite clearly what needs to be done and in what order. There's nothing worse than scheduling rehearsal time, then realizing that you forgot to pick up the sides across town. Having a time-line perspective allows you to combine or even drop steps in order to make your deadline, or perhaps see if you can push it back.

3) Keep a Task Basket on Hand: Ever notice no matter how much you try, life throws you a million curve balls? Lines at the supermarket, waiting at the dentist's office, your scene partner runs late… Make every moment count by having a stack of short to-do tasks on hand so you can turn that “waste” time into great time. Don't think you can do much in 5 to 10 minutes? How about address postcards to casting directors, agents, and managers; read a chunk of a new play; memorize lines; skim the trades; make a quick business call on your cell; even listen to a play on tape? One friend clips articles she wants to read and pulls a few out of the file and into her purse before she leaves in the morning. It's also a good idea to carry a small notebook with you. You can jot down your daily “to do” list, draft a note to your agent, brainstorm a role you're working on…. You get the picture. A minute to get organized before you run out the door can save you wasted hours, especially if you commute. And keep an in-box filled with pesky tasks at home so you can knock off a few items while waiting for laundry to dry or a phone call to be returned.

4) Schedule It In: What if you just can't seem to find the time to work on a big project, such as finding a legit agent or developing a one-woman show? Let's get real, day-to-day life (the day job or temping, errands, the gym, rehearsals, auditions, class, etc.) has a way of taking over your time, and before you know it, another month has gone by and you still haven't taken a single step toward your goal. One of the best solutions I've found was shared by bestselling writer Sue Grafton. Treat your goal like a class and just schedule it in. If you signed up for an acting class, for example, you'd go every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, or Saturday morning from 10am to noon; work on your goal the same way, treating that time as a serious commitment. No cheating! Go to a library, an Internet café, or anyplace where you won't be interrupted and can focus. Stick to your schedule for at least a month and you'll be amazed at the results. Consistent effort over time is the key to ultimate success.

5) Drop or Delegate: There's a famous saying: “You can't be all things to all people.” In other words, no one can do it and be it all. We all must choose where to put our efforts, and because acting is a very demanding career, it's extremely important to cut out extraneous activities that eat up your time. Although every time management expert will advise you to “just say no,” that might prove challenging at times. It's hard to say no to a friend or family member, but remember, it's your life, and time is what life is made of. So drop an event or task if it does not fit into your priorities. Can't drop cleaning your apartment, organizing tax receipts, or baking a cake for your boyfriend's birthday? How about delegating? Pay someone to do the things you don't have time for or don't enjoy, and if money is tight (sound familiar?) consider swapping with a friend. If you're a great cook but can't sew, offer to cater dinner if she sews your costume; tune up your pal's car in exchange for having him help landscape your yard.

6) Don't Fight Nature: Being productive means realizing that your energy will have peaks and valleys, and to maximize efficiency, go with your own unique energy flow. If you're a morning person, use your best hours to work on your most important goals; if you're a night person like me, you'll find you focus better after dark. Schedule important meetings and auditions during your primetime whenever possible. Equally important is knowing when to take a break – there's no point in fighting exhaustion. Getting the flu because you've skimped on sleep is counterproductive. Three days in bed, miserable, is too high a price to pay for squeezing in a few extra hours of work!

7) 21st Century Multi-tasking: Here are some new twists on the old concept of multi-tasking. Do double-duty. You gotta eat, so network over lunch or dinner, inviting a new contact to join you at least once a week. Your jog in the park can be done with a friend, combining exercise time with social time. Listen to a play on tape during your morning commute; run lines with your roommate while doing the dishes; address postcards while watching TV….

8) Go on a “Timewaster Diet”: If you need to lose weight, you need to reduce your calories, and one way is to identify what to cut out (beer? chips? candy?) If you're trying to be more energy-efficient, you need to cut out – or least back on – your worst time-wasters. First step is to identify where most of your free times goes. Blabbing on the phone with friends, shooting pool, hanging out at the corner bar at happy hour, surfing the Internet, parked in front of the boob tube at home? Whatever your guilty pleasure, add up the hours you spend per week, then cut them in half. You'll get more done and maybe even increase your enjoyment of “slack time” because now it's a special treat.

9) Be Energy-Efficient: Most people know enough to group errands or make shopping lists in order to be efficient, but sometimes thinking outside of the box is necessary to really boost your productivity a notch. Here's one way: Switch the task to fit your “energy profile.” Did you ever feel mentally tired but full of physical verve? For example, after a long day of office work or memorizing lines, it feels great to take a dance class or shoot some hoops? Or the reverse – you've been waiting tables or cleaning the apartment all day and you're dying to curl up and read that new script your agent sent you. That's because there are two types of energy, physical and mental, and switching to an opposite type of activity can actually rejuvenate you. So don't throw in the towel for the day before you try a switch. Another energy trick: discriminate between outer and inner tasks, and decide which fits your energetic state at the time. Examples of “outer-directed” activities include making phone calls, taking an acting class, rehearsing, auditioning – every time you need to project yourself outward. “Inner-directed” tasks can be done alone and often without interacting with anyone – learning lines, reading a play, researching a character, working out at the gym. Learn to match the job to your mood and you'll double your productivity and have more fun in the process!

10) Procrastination Is the Enemy: And like all crafty enemies, procrastination often disguises itself as feeling tired, being “too busy” to do the dreaded task, or being bored and unable to focus on it. At the root of procrastination is fear – fear of not being “good enough,” fear of the unknown, even fear of finishing a project. Entire books have been written about ways to battle procrastination, but one of the best techniques I've found is the “kitchen timer” method. No matter how unpleasant a chore, you can stand anything for 15 minutes! So set your timer (or alarm clock) for just that, and dive in. If, after 15 minutes, you simply can't go on, quit. At least you're 15 minutes closer to finishing next time. But chances are, you'll keep on working because starting is often the hardest part.

* * * * *

Victoria Larimore is a writer/director whose work has appeared in theatres and festivals around the world, and has been broadcast on ABC-TV, Discovery Channel, A&E, Comedy Central, PBS, WTBS and in more than 20 foreign countries.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

7 Time Management Strategies That Work

7 Time Management Strategies That Work
(The following is an excerpt from an eBook, 15 Steps to Freelance Illustration by Øivind Hovland.)

One of your most valuable resources is time.

Unfortunately, time is also one of the first things to run out on you, which can affect your quality of work, your ability to meet deadlines, and your peace of mind. Time management can be one of the most difficult parts of freelance business to master, so it’s important to set up a time management strategy as early as possible. That way, you’ll have a better chance of staying on top of the demands of running a business, as well as a schedule to return to when things inevitably get out of control.

Here are some tips on setting up a time management strategy that works for you:

1. Know your personal clock.

Figure out what times of the day you are best able to perform specific tasks. For example, you may be more creative in the early morning hours and better at taking care of mundane business tasks later in the day. If you pay attention to the way you work, you can plan accordingly and make the most of the time you have.

2. Make lists.

Document your goals for the day, the week, the month, and so on. While this may not sound like the most exciting activity, it can help to clear your mind and keep you on task. In addition, the feeling of accomplishment each time you cross off an item on your list can be a great reward. Consider keeping your daily list short (3 or 4 tasks) so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Often, this is more than enough to keep you busy for one day.

3. Assign daily duties.

Consider allocating specific tasks to each day of the week, so that you don’t feel the need to address everything at once. Here’s an example of how you might organize your time:

Monday – Marketing

Tuesday – Business Duties

Wednesday – Website and Blog

Thursday – Networking

Friday – Research

4. Promise low, deliver high.

Often, Illustrators are tempted to promise the world in order to secure a client, but it’s important to give yourself more than enough time to complete a project. You never know what distractions might arise. Another benefit of this approach is that if you complete a project ahead of schedule, it always impresses your client more than if you were to merely meet the deadline.

5. Set up an efficient workspace.

Try to keep your office free from distraction and clutter, so that you can get more accomplished in less time. In addition, using the right tools for the job and to fine tuning your workflow can also help you to increase your efficiency.

6. Break down your projects.

One trick to help you work your way through a project without feeling overwhelmed is to break things down into smaller pieces. In other words, focus on just the first stage of a project, rather than trying to wrap your brain around the entire concept. Just like making lists, this can also help to motivate you by showing you a pattern of forward momentum.

7. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Another effective approach to breaking down your time into manageable bits is called the Pomodoro Technique, which was developed by Francesco Cirillo. Here’s the basic idea:

Choose a task to be completed.
Set a timer to 25 minutes.
Work on the task until the timer stops, then take a 5 minute break.
Start again from Step 1.
This technique is great for helping you to stay on task and rewarding you for your accomplishments. Find out more here.

Whatever methods you choose, pay close attention to what is working and what is not. If you consistently find yourself feeling overwhelmed and short on time, take a step back and reevaluate your schedule. Often, making a simple adjustment here and there can have a substantial effect on your ability to keep up with the demands of a freelance business.

Top 10 Dumbest Mistakes Make In Their Careers – Part 2

Top 10 Dumbest Mistakes Make In Their Careers – Part 2

Here’s part 2 of the the dumbest mistakes thread from Backstage.

This was written by TRUTHTELLER59. He always has some great things to say on the forums board.

1. Do extra work in hopes of getting “discovered.” You won’t!

2. Show up on time. In this business, on time is late and EARLY IS ON TIME!

3. Take classes or hire a photographer based solely on name/”Guru” status. What might be awesome for some might not be for you. You need to audit/meet before making a smart decision.

4. Shake a casting director’s hand when he or she does not offer it first. CDs meet so many people and the last thing they want to catch is a cold.

5. Not reading the contract. Too many actors don’t read their GSAs, SAG Contracts, etc. carefully and start complaining and can’t get out of their contract because they weren’t smart about it.

6. Joining a union right away, especially when getting lucky with SAG vouchers. I see too many beginning actors make this mistake. As soon as they get their 3rd SAG voucher they join SAG right away and now lock them out of a lot of opportunities to build their resume and reel with non-union indie/student films. They also are unable to compete with the people who EARNED their SAG card. ONLY join when you HAVE TO!

7. Quitting their job thinking that the huge amount of money they’ve saved up will support their acting career. That money will run out faster than you know it. Acting is a full time thing and if you plan on seriously pursuing it, you need a FLEXIBLE survival job(s) or a business that can support your acting career. 9-5 jobs are more difficult to do with acting.

8. Not having a headshot and resume available. ALWAYS keep spare headshots, cut to fit updated resumes, and a stapler with extra staples in your car! And always make sure you have enough. Sometimes you never know when you need it for auditions can sometimes be unpredictable.

9. Not doing research before meeting an agent, casting director, actor, teacher, or scam. Knowing more about an agent or casting director will give you some material for your conversation with them, build better rapport, and can help you save time by knowing who to target. Of course always research any company before wasting your gas and time. You could always say no to a scam, but you cannot replace the time you wasted meeting with them.

10. Not being prepared. Self explanatory.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 10 Dumbest Mistakes Actors Make In Their Careers – Part 1

Top 10 Dumbest Mistakes Actors Make In Their Careers – Part 1

I found this on the Backstage message board and thought it was really insightful.

Written by Broadway2Hollywood, its well worth a read.

1. The top dumbest mistake is Being Dumb!
Includes not knowing even the simplest of industry vocabulary.
(upstage, downstage, slate, scale, sides)
If you don’t know something, do research, look it up or ask around until you get a proper answer. Everyone wants to work with intelligent people. Don’t perpetuate the idea that actors are dumb and untrustworthy.

2. Not getting training.
In this reality-show era, many people show up in town and think they can start an acting career just because they (think they) have a really great personality. Most of them don’t think they have to learn how to act.

3. Being Unprepared (or underprepared). — see #1 and #2
Also includes going to auditions without looking at the material, not making any choices, or knowing anything about the project (often including its title or the casting director’s name).

4. Sending out sub-par materials.
Headshots that don’t look like them, or are poorly photographed. Demo reels that are endless and/or look like they were made in a basement by teenagers and shot on a cell phone, and include bad acting.

5. Thinking that getting an agent is the end of the rainbow and that the agent will do all the work.
An agent only gets 10% — they should only reasonably be expected to do 10% of the work.

6. They don’t know how to spell! (or proofread). (see above: Being Dumb!)
Includes misspelling words, titles and people’s names on their resume, and also misspelling the names of the agent or CD they’re sending a correspondence to!

7. Having an unprofessional resume.
Oh boy, here are just some of the things this includes:
-Lying on their resume.
-Their resume is difficult to read. (They use fancy fonts, tiny print or distracting graphics)
-They don’t have their resumes cut to 8×10
-Listing a Teaneck, New Jersey theatre as “Off-Broadway”
-Listing extra work (or listing extra work as “featured”)
-Having lengthy resumes filled with absolutely nothing anyone in the industry has ever heard of.
-Not having their name AND contact number on their resume (and every other business correspondence)

8. Not taking direction.
Includes direction from directors or casting directors at auditions (where they give an adjustment and the actor ignores it and does it again the exact same way, usually the way they practiced it at home.) Also includes not following basic audition instructions — bringing in a 5-minute monologue when they’ve asked for a 2-minute monologue, singing an up-tempo pop song when they’ve asked for a classic ballad, showing up at 4:00 when the audition was scheduled for 3:00. (Um, see “Being Dumb!” again.)

9. Being Rude, Pushy, Impatient, Unpleasant.
…In everyday life as well as auditions and work situations. Most of our colleagues have very long memories, and everyone makes a mental list of who they would want to work with, or work with again (even if they’re not aware that they do.)

10. Hanging out with people who do not either empower them or support their dream.
(Or only hanging out with unsuccessful, bitter, complaining actors. OR, exclusively hanging out with other people in the industry.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Create an Action Plan

Create an Action Plan
It can give you a fresh, strategic, proactive approach to building your career.
By Brad Lemack
November 18, 2010

No business stands a chance of long-term success without a strategic action plan. An action plan will keep you focused on achieving the results you seek and help you manage the distractions that will inevitably occur along the way. It will help you gain visibility and assemble the professional partnerships you will need for the long haul. A successful action plan requires commitment to a daily regimen that focuses on completing the tasks required to attain your goals. Here are some of the basic tasks that every action plan should include:

Self-Submission Services

At least three times a day, review and assess all the casting opportunities posted on the professional sites you use. If you determine that you are right for a role, submit yourself for it immediately.

Headshots and Resumes

Do your headshots still look like you? Are they representative of your current image and your brand? If not, get new ones.

Whenever you have a new item to add to any section of your résumé, do it right away. Remember, any change you make to your online résumé needs to be made to your hard-copy résumé as well, so that the résumé you take to auditions always has exactly the same information the casting director saw online.

Classes, Workshops, and Seminars

When you are not acting (or working to earn the funds to support yourself and your career), you must be in a class. Search out opportunities with your smart-actor filter in place as you evaluate various programs and teachers. You should be in a class at least once a week.

Personal Exposure

Seek out opportunities to build your career community. Research local industry-related events, including film festivals and conferences, where you can volunteer some time and take away potentially important information while making potentially important connections.

Create a 'Hit' List

Start with the people who cast the projects you would like to audition for, including casting directors for local theater companies. Add agents and managers who represent actors like you. As you meet new people, add them to your hit list. Also create a personal hit list: When something newsworthy happens for you in the business, let the community you call your own (family, friends, teachers, etc.) also know about it.

Professional Marketing

The best way to continually market your brand is through a dedicated business website. Its domain name should be your name followed by .com. Part of your brand is your name, and name awareness is a crucial component of building a career and a brand.

When you have something to announce, create a marketing mailing (hard copy and/or email) to promote the achievement. But take note: Never announce a casting assignment unless you have cleared the way to do so. Casting information is considered confidential for very specific reasons. Never publicly discuss anything that you have not first asked permission to reveal.

Monitor Your Brand

Through online services such as Google Alerts or Yahoo! Alerts, create a free alert to monitor your own name. Whenever your name is detected on a website, you will receive an email informing you that someone has posted something that may be about you. In a global marketplace, this is a great way to keep on top of news about you and your brand.

Fiscal Matters

Smartly invest in yourself and keep receipts for every business expense you incur. Those expenses can add up to a valuable tax deduction at the end of the year against any business-of-acting income you earned.

Is following an action plan easy? Of course not. But anything worth achieving requires commitment and dedication to both the process and the plan. Feeling satisfaction at small accomplishments all along your journey is essential to being able to tolerate the pockets of turbulence that inevitably occur. It is not just an end result but rather a continuous stream of opportunities that a smartly constructed action plan can deliver, as long as it is rooted in managed expectations along the way.

Brad Lemack established Lemack & Company, his talent management and public relations firm, in 1982, and he represents a wide variety of actors and artists. He is also a professor of performing arts and communication studies at the Emerson College Los Angeles Center. He is the author of "The Business of Acting: Learn the Skills You Need to Build the Career You Want" and the just-published "The New Business of Acting: How to Build a Career in a Changing Landscape." He writes a business-of-acting blog at TheBusinessofActing.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Superstitions Actors Observe

Superstitions Actors Observe

Actors tend to be extraordinarily superstitious. Perhaps it is because no one know what creates fame or how it endures. Bit players and stars alike are prone to the same rituals.

Actors can certainly be considered “birds of a different feather.” Here are some eccentricities that actors have been known to show on a regular and even a compulsive basis.

It is considered bad luck to wear yellow onstage during a performance. No one really knows where this one came from, however, it is true that the color yellow appears white when it is illuminated with stage lights with colored filters. This of course presents huge headaches for the costume department.

Whether by tradition of by fear, most actors will seldom refer to Shakespeare’s play MacBeth by it real name. It is usually referred to as “The Scottish Play” because of the unlucky history of flops and mishaps that are believed to be associated with a curse that plague productions of the play.

Tell an actor to “break a leg” instead of wishing them good luck before a performance. Since wishing someone luck is considered bad luck, wishing someone bad luck is in reality wishing them good luck. By telling someone to break a leg, while hoping they really don’t, is actually a blessing. Confusing isn’t it?

The expression “Merde” is often said to ward off bad luck. It is thought to bring good luck before a performance, and is often said after a mishap while dressing or before going onstage. Merde is actually an ancient expletive that was certainly not positive, but the logic in this one follows that behind “break a leg.”

It is never acceptable to whistle in the dressing room. Doing so is thought to ensure a bad performance. If it is done accidentally, they only way to counteract it is to run out of the dressing room, turn around three times and say “merde.”

If you are going to see a friend perform in a play, you are obligated by “stage etiquette” to visit them backstage afterward. You are also expected to tell them how much you liked their performance. Incidently, you are also expected to lie to them if you didn’t like their acting.

When an actor is backstage waiting to perform, it is considered bad luck to have someone look at them. There could be some merit to this, considering the fact that having someone stare is a sure way to be distracted from what someone needs to be thinking about.

Although actors are known to sneak a peak through a peephole in the curtain (most theatres have them), it is considered bad luck to be told who is in the audience. It makes actors nervous if they are told that friends, critics, or important people are there to watch their performance.

Rituals can also be comforting. Actor Jack Lemmon always spoke the same line before he went onstage or did a “take” in a film. He would always say “It’s magic time.”

Actors Having The Career of Their Desire

Actors Having The Career of Their Desire
October 16, 2011 at 8:08 am | Posted in acting, actors | Leave a comment
Tags: acting, actors, casting, how to become an actor, auditions, entertainment industry, acting tips

Photo Credit: JackMenashe.com
“You’re an actor? What might have I seen you in?”

When I was an actor I hated being asked that question by civilians. Because I knew that their short-sighted knowledge of ‘what it means to be an actor’ equaled a walk on the red carpet, encored by an acceptance speech, then followed by a month in rehab. My earlier career as a continually working actor included carpets in cast houses stained red by wine, accepting paltry payouts masquerading as salaries and a month rehabilitating my self-esteem after walking into an audition donning a cow costume. (Long story. Don’t ask. But I got the gig plus much additional employ as a result… but you’ll never get the embarrassing bovine details outta me. Never.)

Any, non-deluded, active participant in the arts whether actor, writer, director, designer or production member hopefully understands that their career is not about fame but the work. And that that employ will not be steady nor long-term.

But civilians who look to the fables of HBO’s Entourage and our industry’s other self-inflicted emasculation believe that for one to brand themselves as ‘actor’ that harpy of Hollywood, Broadway or the West End must be recognizable. In the civilian’s loopy logic an actor can not be an actor unless said actor is attached to notoriety. Odd how the civilian working the counters of McDonald’s or the register of a Walmart retreats from their own association with employment notoriety.

When I was a working actor encountering the “What might have I seen you in?” interrogation I often wanted to reply questioning the civilian, “Oh, so you’re a receptionist? For what Fortune 500 Company exec do you gopher coffee? What desk might I have seen you in?”

Civilians, and too often our families and non-arts friends, will never comprehend that working in entertainment does not necessarily produce a career of glossy exposés on TMZ or ferried limos to premieres and opening nights. Often career-in-the-arts pursuers are driving limos and working letters online to solve next month’s rent due.

Beyond my accepting that civilians have for far too long been brainwashed by those of us who’ve moved into the hot white glare of entertainment; writing, directing and acting in distorted mirror imagery falsely defining the majority of employ in the arts I’ll never get why civilians overlook the obvious– not every actor, writer or director can stand in the tiny celebrated circle of being number one. Just as in the civilian’s own tedious toil of whatever employ is theirs. Not every data entry operator will be heralded as the World’s Fastest Typist in the Guinness World Records.

Not every actor is going to be continually employed at their love’s art. Who would comb crumbs from our tables at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse or pour our rum and cokes at Friday’s?

Not every actor is going to be a principal on screen or on Broadway. Odd how civilians (and a number of actors themselves) over look that stages and screens are filled with bodies that speak and engage the audience and those communicating corporeal forms are not always celebrities. There are journeyman actors like James Rebhorn and Phyllis Somerville (see Acting: Make It Your Business). Acclaimed industry actors not known by name in the rural reaches and sub-divisions of suburbia. But each artist has worked hundreds of major (and minor) screen and stage projects as principals. Are journeyman actors any less an actor because they’re not a household name in Des Moines?

As an artist you shouldn’t live to be the career that others project or desire upon you.

How do you define your career? Happiness? Sense of accomplishment? Earning money to meet basic needs? Or is career success defined as being recognized by many? If that latter definition is the prevailing opinion within your cranium, a premise held by many civilians, I would then counter argue to that limited measurement that our spinning ball of dirt and sea is over-run with failure. And I’d bet several truckloads of Tastykakes that a majority of the world’s populous would take umbrage at such an assessment. Do you consider yourself a failure because your stint in a play in New York or Naples, Florida wasn’t recognized by the populous of Hoboken or Houston? Is a doctor in Nappanee, Indiana any less a success to his/her patients because Chicago medical professionals never heard of the farmland doc?

Do not let others dictate definition of your career. Too many actors are guilty of limiting upon themselves the scope and definition of their success. And some actors not only wound themselves with doubt because they believe success as an actor is a walk on the red carpet but they foist the same delusions upon their peers as well.

I, as a director, casting director and author, encounter the civilian query… but mostly by actors in the form of, “What have you done lately?” My answer is almost always, “I’m keeping busy.”

A single credit in any one of my career pursuits does not globally define my success. I define my career as, “I’m doing what I want, must, and just as importantly engaging in work that keeps me from the grave.” If that answer for my career doesn’t meet the expectations of others… I’m not living for their desires I’m living for myself and those I love.

There is only person’s career expectations to which you’re bound: You.

Side Note: And finally; the final TV/Film/Thtr. Access to Agents of 2011 disappears soon. For this last go ’round I’ve invited two bi-coastal agencies and a third well-respected New York agency. Details on the four week career enhancing seminar are @ http://paulrussell.net/Access_to_Agents_TVandFilm.html. What do you want for your career?

My Best,

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

50 Great Acting Quotes to Inspire You

Got these from http://www.ace-your-audition.com. We must find inspiration wherever we can!

1. Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
~ Sanford Meisner

2. An actor is a fool for God.
~ Gerardine Clark

3. Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation.
~ Bette Davis

4. The best acting is instinctive. It's not intellectual, it's not mechanical, it's instinctive.
~ Craig MacDonald

5. That's what makes acting so attractive. You get to break all your own rules.
Gerardine Clark

6. Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life.
~ Bette Davis

7. Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
~ Rosalind Russell

8. Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.
~ Meryl Streep

9. Good acting -- real acting is impossible to spot. Do you ever catch talents like Robert Duvall or Kathy Bates acting? No. I defy you to show me where.
~ William Esper

10. Stop explaining yourself. Shut up and act!
~ Craig MacDonald

Practical Acting Quotes
Acting quotes to remember when you're working.

11. Find in yourself those human things which are universal.
~ Sanford Meisner

12. The more personal, the more universal.
~ Gary Ballinger

13. An actor has to burn inside with an outer ease.
~ Michael Chekhov

14. Use what you know. Don't worry about what you don't know.
~ Michael Shurtleff

15. The actor has to develop his body. The actor has to work on his voice. But the most important thing the actor has to work on is his mind.
~ Stella Adler

16. An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.
~ Sanford Meisner

17. Conflict is what creates drama. The more conflict actors find, the more interesting the performance.
~ Michael Shurtleff

18. If you really do want to be an actor who can satisfy himself and his audience, you need to be vulnerable.
~ Jack Lemmon

19. Creating relationship is the heart of acting. It is basic. It is essential.
~ Michael Shurtleff

20. Listening is not merely hearing. Listening is reacting. Listening is being affected by what you hear. Listening is active.
~ Michael Shurtleff

21. Whatever you decide is your motivation in the scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in it.
~ Michael Shurtleff

22. Humor [in a scene] is not jokes. It is that attitude toward being alive without which you would long ago have jumped off the 59th Street Bridge.
~ Michael Shurtleff

23. Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.
~ Michael Shurtleff

24. The first step to a better audition is to give up character and use yourself.
~ Michael Shurtleff

25. Competition [in a scene] is healthy. Competition is life. Yet most actors refuse to acknowledge this. They don't want to compete. They want to get along. And they are therefore not first-rate actors.
~ Michael Shurtleff

26. Honesty isn't enough for me. That becomes very boring. If you can convince people what you're doing is real and it's also bigger than life -- that's exciting.
~ Gene Hackman

27. Take nothing for granted. Make an emotional discovery as often as you can find one in every scene. Ask yourself: What is new?
~ Michael Shurtleff

28. There's only one reason why a character drinks: to seek confrontation. To fight for what they want in ways normally denied them.
~ Michael Shurtleff

29. My job is usually to express emotion as freely as possible.
~ Meryl Streep

30. I'm curious about other people. That's the essence of my acting. I'm interested in what it would be like to be you.
~ Meryl Streep

31. I think the most liberating thing I did early on was to free myself from any concern with my looks as they pertained to my work.
~ Meryl Streep

32. I believe in imagination. I did Kramer vs. Kramer before I had children. But the mother I would be was already inside me.
~ Meryl Streep

33. All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today, in any scene.
~ Meryl Streep

34. The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part.
~ Miguel de Cervantes

35. Actors think more with their hearts than with their heads.
~ William Esper

Funny Acting Quotes
Acting quotes to make you laugh.

36. Show me a great actor and I'll show you a lousy husband. Show me a great actress, and you've seen the devil.
~ W. C. Fields

37. Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
~ George Burns

38. The theater has never been any good since the actors became gentlemen.
~ W.H. Auden

39. Actors die so loud.
~ Henry Miller

40. I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
~ Oscar Wilde

41. If I wasn't an actor, I'd be a secret agent.
~ Thornton Wilder

Even More Acting Quotes
42. The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.
~ Stella Adler

43. I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point.
~ Michael Caine

44. Acting in theatre or television or screen is only for the irrecoverably diseased, those so smitten with the need that there is no choice.
~ Michael Shurtleff

45. Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.
~ George Bernard Shaw

46. There's nothing more boring than unintelligent actors, because all they have to talk about is themselves and acting. There have to be other things.
~ Tim Robbins

47. Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
~ Stella Adler

48. I think your self emerges more clearly over time.
~ Meryl Streep

49. I need to go where people are serious about acting.
~ Meryl Streep

50. The work will stand, no matter what.
~ Meryl Streep

This spoke to me

I read this on A.C.T.'s blog and had to copy it cause it rang true to me. Enjoy!

Notes on the Craft: An Excerpt from Marco Barricelli’s 2011 A.C.T. M.F.A. Program Commencement Address
Posted by Marco Barricelli, Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz and former A.C.T. Core Company member

I am not saying I am or ever was a great actor, but this is what I now know after 30 years of doing this:

Acting, great acting, allows feelings of vulnerability to inform everything you will do onstage. I hereby require you, as actors, to not cover up or deny those feelings when you work—they are grist for the mill of your craft. And, certainly in terms of the craft of acting, this makes perfect sense because if you try to act starting from a place of “cover” and “denial” of what you really are in that moment, you will be starting from someplace false and then pretending to be something else—which is also, ultimately, not real. If you start from someplace real, what is then produced will have its foundation in honesty and truth. As actors, tell the truth. You can only be you, so be truthful about yourself. Stanislavsky said: “The person you are is a thousand times more interesting than the best actor you could ever hope to be.”

Stay humble: Always search for what to respect in those you work with. When I audition actors, I check on their resume for theaters that have had the actor back for more than one production. This usually means the actor is respectful of others when he/she is working. In the spirit of that, I would argue that we actors are “interpreters,” most of the time, not “creators.” Interpreters. We interpret the words of the playwright, the notes of a director, the reaction of an audience, etc. I say this to urge you to retain some humility, remembering where an actor’s place is in the grand scheme of creating a production. Yes, it is ultimately an exalted place because it is the most direct connection for the audience to the material, but it is still, to my mind, an interpretative role. Remember, yours is only one cog in the complicated wheel that makes a production—an “interpretive” cog. However, as Oscar Wilde said: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

Keep training: How we “practice” our discipline is, truth be told, very different from the practicing of other art forms. Actors, unlike writers, painters, dancers, singers, and musicians, cannot and do not lock themselves away in a room alone and “act” . . . as these other artists can when they write, or do scales, or barre work at a mirror, or paint. We “practice” in everyday life. We are collaborators. We are “armchair” psychologists. We observe and analyze ourselves and other people in everyday activity, in extreme emotion and in repose. We work at play . . . we do “plays,” after all; our task is to have fun, to free ourselves, to let our instincts have full reign . . . never to judge. Never, ever to judge—neither ourselves nor the characters nor the people we’re working with. Does that sound easy? It’s not. It takes a very special and controlled kind of concentration. And a disciplined concentration is difficult to master. The discipline to free oneself physically and intellectually, and to “live” in the moment spontaneously, is an enormous challenge. As you all know.

Career. What can I possibly tell you about a career? How to be successful? No. As I say, success means different things to different people at different times. No one can tell you how to be successful. Your measure of success will ebb and flow, that you can be sure of—there’ll be times when everything will seem to be going great and other times when everything seems to be disastrous. Be nice to everyone because you never know who will eventually end up in a position to hire you. But more precisely, it’s as important to be a good citizen as it is to be a good actor.

As I said, your definition of success or a career will change as you grow in this business. Speaking for myself, by the time I started to understand why I tortured myself every time I worked on a role, it was too late. That torture had diminished my appetite for acting exclusively as a career and I began longing for something more consistent and permanent which would keep me entrenched in the theater but not require the endless banging away at the same show eight times a week, over and over again, for the rest—of—my—life. And so now I find myself here, 30 years on, having acted some great roles, succeeding in some—failing in others—some shows I would consider outstanding productions—others were turds. Now, as AD, my challenges are different and, thankfully, more rewarding to me. I have to say that with all the curtain calls and (deserved or not) standing ovations and big laughs and muffled sobbing I’ve experienced when acting, there is NOTHING more rewarding than what has now become my favorite part of doing theater: standing in the back of a full house, watching an audience watch a play I’ve produced, and realizing that they’re having this very singular experience because I’ve brought this story and these particular artists to them—and they will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. I still, for example, consider my greatest legacy at A.C.T. to be, not the roles I’ve done, but the creation of the exchange I developed with Prima del Teatro, San Miniato, in Italy. I am certain that each student who goes there will remember that experience for the rest of his or her creative life. There is now, at this point in my career, no greater joy than things like that. And this reward has a quiet sweetness that feels better to me than the big Broadway shows, the jobs on the big and small screens, and (almost) better than making a ton of money (but not really)!

The best advice I think I can give you regarding building a career is to just show up. Whatever the occasion, just show up. But what you show up with now, thanks to this training program, is a vocabulary, a recognition of your own integrity, a burgeoning understanding of your own aesthetic, and a basic skill set which will be informed and honed by the hard knocks and great joys of real life. Life, real life, will take over, like it or not. And Melissa and the wonderful faculty at A.C.T. have given you a technique and craft that will allow those great highs and lows of life to inform your work, thereby making your acting more human and, by extension, more relevant. Allowing you to tell the truth.


• You can’t please everyone.
• Don’t expect praise and especially don’t believe anything anyone tells you in your dressing room right after a performance.
• How you start a play is more important than how you finish, because it is then that an audience makes up its mind about you.
• Don’t try to impress people.
• Never explain, simply reveal.
• You can’t worry and think. So do your homework and show up enormously prepared—that way you don’t have to “worry” about not having done it while you’re trying to work.
• The first duty of an actor is to be heard.
• Vowels travel easily, consonants don’t. Vowels carry the heart, consonants the intellect.
• Do your homework; as I said, show up exceptionally well prepared; then, as you start your scene, let it all go and simply open the door and see what happens.
• Always show up every day in a good mood.

“Do not try to push your way through to the front ranks of your profession; do not run after distinctions and rewards; but do your utmost to find an entry into the world of beauty.”
—Konstantin Stanislavisky