10 Job Skills You Can Learn From Acting

Few actors are lucky enough to support themselves solely by acting. Whether it’s a day job or a new career, your acting skills and training will help you become successful in any profession. Here are 10 job-related skills the craft can teach you.

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1. Closing the deal

In any business, whether it’s a sales job or owning a business, you’ll need to sell a product or service. Convincing someone of something is a valuable asset. In addition to your inner truth, let your buyers know you’re truly confident in your product by the way in which you speak and how you hold yourself physically, skills you learn in the acting classroom.

2. Trust

Advancing in your career without being trustworthy is hard. In my classes, we play a game where a person has to close their eyes and fall backward and trust they’ll be caught. It’s not as easy as it sounds; letting go can be scary. We often try to control the scene or outcome without trusting our instincts and being present in the moment. Developing trust in your self can take time, but it will help you in any career setting.

3. Empathy

Putting yourself in another’s shoes is a crucial people skill. As you take on different parts, you will naturally become more empathic and understand others’ emotional experiences. Since our emotions play a prominent role in thought, decision making, and success, when you have empathy, you will stand out in the workplace and be a superstar, especially in careers where you work directly with clients or customers.

4. Active listening

Being a good listener is a fundamental component of interpersonal communication skills and the key to a healthy relationship. If you’re familiar with Meisner’s repetition exercise in which two actors repeatedly exchange the same two lines of dialogue, you know it takes a lot of practice. Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just hearing the message of the speaker. In learning how to listen, you remain neutral and non-judgemental, both important when working with bosses and co-workers.

5. Curiosity

Who am I? What do I want? How do I get what I want? Where am I? When does the scene take place for me? These are all questions used to break down a scene and work on character development. Showing up authentically and being curious about what will happen next is key to success, not only in your acting but with your employees and customers.

6. Patience

You spend hours on set only to find out your scene is now being pushed to the next day. You deal with many personalities and egos, all while keeping your cool. Learning to maintain a level head in stressful circumstances is an asset in the workplace as your patience will be tested over and over again.

7. Critical thinking

Observing, interpreting, and analyzing are skills needed in the workplace. If you audition regularly, you know that thinking outside the box is crucial for gaining attention. Acting requires critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skill, all of which also enhances academic performance and are marketable strengths.

8. Teamwork

You don’t act in a vacuum—you rely on other actors to play with you. Acting also requires that you leave your ego outside the stage door. Want to get that promotion? Be a good team player. Employers hire people they like and believe will get along well with customers and co-workers.

9. Working well under pressure

Many job interviewers or college admissions staff ask how well you can work under pressure, a question actors can ace. Getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people, taking risks, and memorizing pages of dialogue gives you lots of experience in managing stress.

10. Transferable skills

 

The lessons and skills learned in acting will transfer to any career path and enhance your professional success. The acting skills you master now—including communication, empathy, patience, problem-solving, and self-confidence—will help you succeed today and for the rest of your life, whether you decide to continue with acting or enter another profession. It’s all good!

Source: Denise Simon @ Backstage

Why Being ‘So Busy’ May Be Hurting Your Career

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I’ve started to notice something recently.

 

Every time I see friends and ask how they’re doing, they always say with an exasperated sigh, “Argh! I’m sooooo busy.” Or, “You know, I’m just going and going and going, never time to rest!” Or, “Ugh. I’m exhausted. So much to do.” It’s often said with an equal mix of angst and a little pride, so happy to be able to report that things are happening but being overwhelmed by what it’s taking to get there.

I’ve been a guilty of this too. I mean, it’s harmless, right? The short answer is no, as evidenced by a situation one of my students went through recently.


This actor was part of several developmental readings of a film, creating great relationships with the producing team in the process. Each time the actor spoke to them, he excitedly talked about all the projects he’s been a part of and how busy he’d been, hoping they would see how in-demand he was and that he was a viable, working actor. 

He finally saw a breakdown come out for the project and noticed that the role he had read was pre-cast—with someone else. Hurt and embarrassed, he reached out to the filmmaker to find out what happened and why he hadn’t been contacted about the role. The filmmaker apologized profusely and said, “With everything that you’re involved with, I assumed you were too busy.”

Record scratch.

Yep. My student lost an opportunity because he had made it seem like he was too overloaded to take on more work.

This really made me think: how often have I done the exact same thing, unburdening myself with “busy-ness” when someone asks how I’m doing? So I started an experiment. For one week, I tracked how often people asked how I was doing and how often I felt the need to say, “I’m really busy,” as a response.

Interestingly, I felt myself wanting to say, “I’m so busy” almost all of the time. But I noticed something even more interesting. The conversation stopped there. Very few people asked, “What’s making you busy?” It’s almost as though “I’m so busy” is a back-off answer, something we say when we don’t want to talk about what’s really going on. 

Much like we reflexively say, “Fine” when someone asks “How are you?” we may say, “I’m so busy” as a reflex that encourages people to back off. The conversation never moves on from there—no further inquiries about what we’re up to or what it was like to be so busy. It’s a roadblock to real conversation. 

So I took my experiment to the next level. Whenever I was asked what I was up to, rather than saying “I’m so busy,” I chose one thing I was really excited about and shared that instead. I also banished any talk of “busy-ness” from my social media pages. It was magical. 

By being so open and focused on what inspired me, I no longer needed to share my anxiety. Instead, I got to make a real connection about something that mattered to me and let another person into my world. And I began to wonder what would be possible if actors owned what made them busy and saw it as a benefit rather than a curse? Would my student have been offered the role if he had been focused on the quality of the work he was sharing rather than the quantity?

I invite you to try the same experiment; see how many times you’re compelled to say “I’m busy” rather than really engaging with your peers. Catch yourself each time you try to unload your “busy-ness” and see what’s really there for you to share. And let me know how the experiment goes and what you learned.

 

Credit: Article sourced from Backstage Magazine (Erin Cronican – Professional Actor)

Auditions Songs for Musical Theatre

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You’re probably looking for a long list of really good audition songs that no one else knows about, right? Well we’re sorry to disappoint, but you won’t find that list here. And you’ll be hard pressed to find it elsewhere on the internet.

Why? Because the truth is this: Any song you choose is a good audition song on two conditions:

  • 1. You love it. You’ll be singing it a lot, so choose something that speaks to you. Something that really fires you up.

  • 2. You present it well. This is crucial. To have a good singing audition, you must present your best work. We’ll discuss how to do this a little later. So, to use a cliché, instead of giving you a list of songs and feeding you for a day, we’ll give you the information you need and feed you for a lifetime. Let’s get started.

What Should You Sing?

We’ll give you the same advice we preach over on our free monologues page: Sing what you love. You’ll go to see a musical, or be in a talent show, or attend a class and you’ll hear a song. And you’ll say, “I have to sing that. I love it.”

At least that’s the way it happens for most actors.

Another good way to get song ideas is to ask your friends who are in the business. Maybe they just heard this one beautiful ballad and thought of you.

And if all else fails, here’s the absolute best way to find auditions songs:

  • 1. Pick a Broadway star you see as a role model. It should be someone you can see yourself taking after.

  • 2. Go to the iTunes Store and type their name in the search box. iTunes will let you listen to 30 second clips of songs before you download them. Find something you love, and write down the title.

  • 3. Find the vocal sheet music.

Other things to consider when choosing a song:

  • • Type: Remember, casting directors love to put you in a box based on your age, height, weight, look, etc. Don’t fight that. Play into it. For example, if you’re the girl next door type, don’t sing I Enjoy Being a Girl from Flower Drum Song. A better song would be Notice Me, Horton from Seussical.

  • • Vocal Range: Not as important as it used to be with the advent of transposition software. But still, make sure you can physically sing the notes. So many singers come into auditions with music that’s wayyyyyyy to high for them.

Diversify Your Songbook

God willing, you’ll be auditioning for a lot of musicals. And no two musicals are alike. And sometimes, it’s not even a musical. It’s a concert, or an opera, or something else. So you’ve got to be prepared.

How? You diversify your songbook.

The most basic songbook has two ballads (slower songs), and two up-tempos (faster songs). But there are other considerations too: Something comedic and something dramatic. Something to show off your upper vocal range, and something that shows you can get down and dirty.

And don’t stick to just musical theatre songs. Branch out into pop, rock, classical, country, and every other genre. Ideally, you want to have at least 15 to 20 songs ready to sing.

Overdone Songs

Singers often ask about songs that are overdone. They figure that casting directors have heard Tomorrow from Annie way too much. And that may be true. But 9 times out of 10, they heard it done really badly.

What they really want is a singer who can march into that audition room and blow their socks off. And that’s going to be you.

In short, there’s no such thing as an overdone song. Just sing it well, and sing it with truth.

Audition songs are everywhere, you just have to pay attention. What’s more important is that you choose the songs that fit you best so you can ace your audition.

Credit: Article sourced from Ace-Your-Audition

Singing Auditions for Actors in Musical Theatre

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If you want to be in a musical, singing auditions are usually required. Now don’t panic, We’re sure you have a beautiful voice.

We’ve done our fair share of musical theatre, so we know that wonderful feeling of singing your face off, baring your soul onstage, and hearing that thunderous applause. It’s quite a thrill.

First, let’s clear up some common misconceptions…

The Myth

When you think of singing auditions, you probably think about American Idol.

At the beginning of every season, potential contestants are shown parading into the audition room. They wear big numbered signs on their chest, sing a cappella, and are given feedback about their talent. It’s like watching a train wreck: you don’t want to look, but you can’t turn away.

That stuff is great for ratings, but it’s not reality. (Thank God.)

Singing Auditions

The Reality

For starters, you won’t have to sing a cappella. There’s almost always an accompanist in the room. And there’s no feedback from the auditors, just a polite “Thank you.”

Don’t let me fool you, singing auditions are high pressure situations. And how you perform will determine if you get hired. The very best thing you can do? Prepare.

Preparing for your Audition

Frequently, you’ll spy a musical theatre actor walking around holding a three-ring binder. That’s his songbook. It contains the 15 to 20 audition songs that he rehearses and uses at his auditions.

Your own songbook should contain the piano and vocal sheet music to your audition songs. When you walk into the room, it goes in front of your accompanist.

It’s important to create a diverse array of audition songs. Pick from different genres of music, and you’ll be prepared for any type of audition.

Singers often ask if they should use choreography in their songs. Well, that depends. Do you think it’s appropriate?

You may wish to use light choreography in your more comedic songs, if it seems to fit. But if you’re singing a heartfelt ballad, perhaps you’d rather just stand there and sing with truth.

If you choreograph your audition songs, commit to that 100%.

The Bottom Line

The goal at singing auditions is the same as with your monologues, resumé, headshot, etc. Present your best self. Because you’re selling you. Do that, and we promise you’ll be working as an actor in no time.

Credit: Article sourced from Ace-Your-Audition

Acting Advise for Kids and Teens

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Auditions for kids and teens are plentiful. But you have to know where to look. (And who to talk to…) So let’s get started!

What do stars like Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, and Leonardo DiCaprio have in common? They were all children when they got their start. And they all had an agent.

Agents and Managers

For adult actors, representation is not as important. It’s better to focus on finding auditions and mastering their technique. Getting an agent happens when they’re working consistently. It happens when they’re ready.

But when finding auditions for kids, they must have an agent first. Why?

Ever been to an open casting call for the Disney Channel? It’s a zoo. Everyone and their mother is there. Literally.

Agents and managers can save you from that stressful experience by getting you a private audience with the powers that be.

Here’s how to find an agent/manager for kids:

  • 1. Do your research. Search for acting studios in major cities near you. Call and ask if they teach a class for kids (or teens). If they say yes, it almost always means that they’re looking for local talent to sign.

  • 2. Take a class. The studio might offer kids’ courses from 6 to 9 weeks long. (This is another good signal that the studio is poaching kids to sign contracts.)

  • 3. Snoop around. Ask questions, seek answers. Someone connected to that studio is an agent or manager. Make sure they know who you are.

  • 4. Be talented. They won’t sign just anyone. From a class of 30 kids, maybe 1 will be approached about working with an agent. Make sure it’s you.

The strategy is simple: Find the right community and become an indispensable part of it. This is how success works.

If it doesn’t work the first time, try again with a different class. Or even a different acting studio. Keep your eyes and ears open. It’s easy to become a child actor, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Be Careful

Some agents and managers can get you into private acting auditions for teens and kids. Absolutely. But others are just liars and charlatans. Here’s how to tell the difference:

They ask for money. If an agent or manager tells you there’s a fee for signing his contract, run the other way. Why?

Because agents and managers get a percentage of what you earn as an actor. If they ask for money up front, it means they might take it and disappear.

And the same goes for organizations like ProScout, which promise to set you up with agents and managers.

Hide your checkbook. Period.

Acting Training for Kids & Teens

Kids have a wonderful capacity for imagination. Much better than us adults. And imagination is one of the key components of acting talent.

In my experience, acting classes stifle a kid’s ability to imagine. Too much structure and not enough creativity.

“But you just told me to sign up for an acting class!”

True. But stick to classes like voiceover or commercial technique. Anything that doesn’t directly involve acting methods. Plenty of time for that later. Make auditions for kids your first priority.

Stage Mothers

The musical fable Gypsy is about Mama Rose pushing her daughters to be vaudeville performers. But along the way, she exposes them to adult situations, and destitution.

Mama Rose is the ultimate stage mother: Agressive, domineering, and downright pushy. So what happens to her? She ends up alone, desperate, and abandoned by her family.

A simple word of caution for parents: Make sure you’re not confusing your kids’ dreams with your own. Don’t push them.

The Bottom Line

Auditions for kids are out there. But it’s a wild world, and you should only do business with people you can trust. If you follow this advice, you’ll be a real working (child) actor!

Credit: Article Sourced from Ace-Your-Audition

Top 7 Tips for better Headshots

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The headshot. It’s the single most important marketing tool for an actor, singer, dancer or model, and it’s amazing how many people do it wrong just to cut a few corners. Artists, it’s time to take it more seriously. When that little headshot jpeg pops up on a casting director’s computer, you want them to say, “Yes, bring that person in!” Not “Yikes, that guy kinda scares me.”

Your headshot is your calling card. A nice color 8×10 of your face, from which people will hire you, and you will make lots of money for them. It will be sent out and emailed to tons of casting directors and agents, who see hundreds of these every day, on their desk and on their computer. If your headshot is bad, you look bad. You want to be seen as a pro, not an amateur, so the way you present yourself in your picture is everything. If you want people to take you seriously, you must have a good, high quality, killer headshot. Not an iPhone pic, not a Facebook photo of you outside with the wind gently blowing your hair, and not a JCPenney glamour shot with palm trees in the background that you reproduced at Kinko’s. Save those for your grandma’s mantle.

Here is what you need to keep in mind when it comes to your headshots:

1. Go pro. 
Spend the money. It’s worth it. Go to a professional, who is trained, understands lighting, and takes headshots for a living, not some friend who happens to have a decent camera who “sorta knows a little about photography.” Save those pictures for Instagram, and leave the headshots to the pros. Good headshots range from $400-$1200, and to get them professionally duplicated (not at CVS) will cost you another $100. Anything less is just a glorified passport photo. If the headshots look cheap, they probably are. And you look like you don’t care about your career.

2. Go for personality over glamour. 
Make sure it looks like you. Chill with the airbrushing. Casting directors expect you to look just like your headshot, and will not be happy when you show up looking totally different, or 10 years older. It’s not about looking pretty, it’s about representing your type, age wrinkles includedIt should look like you on your best day, showing your age, and who you are now. It’s not about the type you want to be, it’s the type you are.

 

3. It’s all about the eyes. 
Just like with on-camera acting, it’s all about the eyes, and what’s happening behind them. It’s your closeup, your moment. Your eyes should be perfectly in focus, alive, and energized, and not dead and glazed over. There should be strong inner thoughts, implying a backstory and a life behind the eyes. A slight squint and strong piercing eyes will bring a picture to life and help it stand out in a pile of hundreds. A good headshot photographer knows how to bring this out in you.

4. Pay attention to framing, lighting, and background. 
In general, a good headshot is chest-up with good lighting on your face, and no strong dramatic shadows, unless you are going in for “The Phantom of the Opera.” Three-quarter shots are good for print, and extreme close-ups are good for, well, nothing. Look directly into the camera, and the focus should be on the center of your eyes, not your left ear, or your shirt collar. No peace signs, weird facial hair, or the famous “hand on face” pose. Be sure the background is blurred, which means it’s shot with a good, high-quality camera with a high depth of field, which makes you stand out. We don’t need to see that you are standing on the beach in Santa Monica, or on a tour boat in front of the Statue of Liberty. It’s about you, not the environment.

5. Natural light vs. studio.
Some photographers do both, as they offer a different look and feel. Natural light gives a very real, “film” look, which I prefer. Studio lighting tends to be a little more polished, with a more neutral backdrop. Both can be wonderful. If you are more of a sitcom actor, perhaps a good well-lit studio headshot is more suited for you. If you want to look like you are on “True Detective,” then go for the outdoor look.

6. Clothing and props. 
I once saw a headshot of a guy with a bird on his head. Why? Because he wanted to stand out. Let’s not get crazy here. Keep it simple and classy, and follow the standard format. Professionalism gets you noticed, not desperation. Leave the Ed Hardy and the “statement” shirts at home. A simple, solid color shirt with a little texture that fits you well and matches your eyes should do the trick. No whites and no graphics or anything you think might distract from your face. And no props. (You know that, right?) If you think you are going to play cop roles, you don’t need to wear the outfit in the headshot. It’s a bit much and very limiting.

7. Don’t go crazy with the makeup. 
Yes, lots can be done with retouching. There is no need to put on tons of makeup. You want to look like yourself on your best day, and not look like you tried too hard. Girls, be yourself, do your hair the way you would for every audition. Guys, bring some oil sheets to take down the shine, and maybe use a lightly tinted moisturizer to take out the redness and even your skin tone. Some people spend way too much on makeup, only to have to get their headshots redone afterward because they look fake in all the photos.

Find a photographer that gets you. You have to vibe with the photographer, and that person has to make you feel very comfortable, as you will hopefully be using this headshot for a couple of years and sending it to everyone in town. Research photographers online, go to Reproductions and look through their portfolio books, look through the list of photographers in Backstage, ask for a consultation, get a feel for how they photograph your type, your ethnicity, your gender, etc.

And most importantly, don’t cut corners.

Credit: Article Sourced from Backstage Magazine (Matt Newton)

4 Reasons You Can’t Cry on Command

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Do you have a hard time crying on command? More likely than not, you’re making one of the following mistakes. But before we get into those mistakes, let’s talk about a problem with our thinking.

 

We say “I have to cry” or “I want to cry at this part of the scene.” But remember that your job as an actor is to create lifenot perform, and planning an action you’re going to do at a specific moment is not creating life. So what should you do when you’re preparing and the writer says, “Now she begins to cry”?

Don’t panic! A note like that doesn’t mean not crying will result in losing the job and it also doesn’t mean that you should just put your head down, cover your face, and make a crying noise. This is simply the writer telling you the depth of pain the character is feeling at this moment in the story.

Yes, it’s your job to experience something at that moment in the scene that allows the audience to see the pain the character is feeling, but it’s not necessarily “crying.” Instead of thinking in terms of “doing an action,” think in terms of “a feeling to experience.” Casting directors, directors, producers, and audiences would much rather see pain without crying than no pain with crying.

Mistake #1: Wrong Substitution
As we’re learning who or what to use for substitutions, we often try to use things in our life that seem to make the most sense. But sometimes, it might not actually be the substitution that works best for you. In the scene, if your character is heartbroken from a breakup, you might try substituting a past fling who broke your heart.

But what if your body isn’t able to connect to that memory the way you thought it would. Keep trying. Maybe your childhood pet passed away or your parents broke hard news to you as a kid. Is one of those memories more powerful? Look for a substitution that’s honest and works within the circumstances laid out by the writer. Remember that no one has to know who or what you are using to get there emotionally.

Mistake #2: Lack of Specificity 
Sometimes when we engage our imagination, we’re not specific in what we see or we ignore engaging our other senses altogether. Yes, sight is the most used sense during imagination but you have others—don’t forget to use them. When creating a scenario in your head, see as many details as you can, smell what’s there, feel what you can touch, allow your taste buds to roam, hear as much as you can. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to create that reality and authentically feel.

Mistake #3: Lack of Focus
I see a lot of actors who can’t reach the depths they want due to a lack of focus. You don’t have to meditate in a sauna to be focused, but you do need to be in an area where you can drown out sounds, movements, and other distractions. The goal is to be so regular at this that you can focus anywhere.

Think of the movie “For the Love of the Game.” There’s a moment when Kevin Costner is on the mound about to pitch and he hears all the sounds and screaming fans around him. In an instant, he tunes them all out and it’s just him and the catcher. That’s what we should be able to do with our trigger work.

Mistake #4: Be Easy on Yourself
This is probably the most common mistake for green actors. We want to reach certain depths of pain or the heights of elation so badly that we add pressure to ourselves to make it happen. We try to cry. Then we try harder and harder. And we fail, over and over again, all the while telling ourselves, “I’ll never be able to do this” and “Well, if I can’t do this, I’ll never make it as an actor.” All this does is suffocate your abilities.

Remember that the goal should never be “to cry” but to honestly feel the depths of pain your character is feeling. Be easy on yourself—it’s a process. You can’t do 50 pull ups before you can do five. So continue trying new substitutions. Be specific. Focus. Be easy on yourself. You’ve got this.

Credit: Article Sourced from Backstage Magazine (Zane Stephens)

Social Media DONT’S

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When you think about embarrassing social media behavior, you probably think about octogenarians who accidentally post their phone numbers in a Facebook status. But embarrassing social media perils are everywhere for users of all ages, particularly for actors.

 

But it’s 2019 and social media is as important to your acting brand as your signature monologue or audition song, so we want to help you avoid these digital landmines and lead with your best online foot forward.

Contacting industry professionals you don’t know.

“If you met them at a pay-to-meet or networking event, it’s a perfect time to follow up. In NYC recently we queried over 50 top industry professionals at our Actor Marathon, and only one percent wanted to be reached via Facebook, none via Twitter. On the west coast about 20 percent said it was OK and actually had a separate professional Facebook account for actors to reach them. Still, you need to ask first.” —Gwyn Gilliss, manager, casting director, and Backstage Expert

Not actually learning how to do it.
“Many actors dislike social media because they don’t understand how it works. They sign up for a new platform, spend 15 minutes on it, then get angry at themselves for not being more socially savvy. Sound familiar? You can learn to use social media to create the career you want. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how good you are with technology—learning a new social media platform is like learning how to ride a bike. It takes time, practice, and determination. Trust your training wheels before you tackle the big hill. Start slow and learn the basics of each platform before you try posting 20 times a week.” —Heidi Dean, social media expert and Backstage Expert

This. 
“Never send out a tweet with specific details of an audition or job. That will get you fired.” —Marci Liroff, producer, casting director, and Backstage Expert

Total social media insincerity.
“Above all, you have to be yourself. Before you post anything, ask yourself, ‘Would I say this in real life? Would I talk about this in real life?’ If you wouldn’t, don’t post it; people see right through the fake and the phony. Your audience is following you not only for the information you’re putting out there but how you’re putting it out there and that’s where your personality comes in. Anyone can find the facts, but there is only one you.” —Arda Ocal, NYC-based broadcaster and Backstage Expert

Your green monster is showing. 
“Seeing your social media ‘friends’ post photos from the audition waiting room or on set along with #SoBlesed and #ActorsLife can make you feel like you’re not enough. There you are looking at Facebook in socks and underwear eating cereal for dinner in your tiny apartment comparing yourself to a well-filtered image of your Facebook friend next to the steady-cam operator. Then that negative voice inside your head starts to pipe up. It compares you to the actors you see on social media. All of a sudden you’re paralyzed with feelings of inadequacy that prevent forward motion as an actor. Worthlessness sets in and you start to believe that you won’t succeed.

“But most often it’s comparing the worst parts of your life with the best parts of other people’s. And when the comparison is with a social media picture or narrative, you’re comparing yourself to a skillfully manipulated image designed to present an image of success. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, most of us use social media to present a facade to manipulate the viewer into believing something about us that we are trying to be. The comparison is flawed.” —Risa Bramon Garcia and Steve Braun, Backstage Experts

Trying too hard to be social media “famous.”
“Social media is a very powerful tool, and being a social media figure isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and planning, and I can tell if someone is really ‘working it’ or just phoning it in. I’m looking for an organically authentic person—and perhaps someone who isn’t just concerned about getting photos of themselves out there, but who has taken on a political and social stance that can, dare I say, make the world a better place. Look at Yara Shahidi of ‘Black-ish.’ She used her platform to start Eighteen x 18, an initiative to encourage young people to vote for the first time.” Marci Liroff

Falling off the digital map. 
“Fans love keeping up with actors and social media makes it easier than ever, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. With new platforms launching practically every day, it seems nearly impossible to keep up. Don’t panic! Instead, concentrate your efforts on fewer platforms so it’s easier for you to stay active without burning out. What you don’t want to do is go M.I.A. as it’s the fastest way to lose fans.” Tammy Lynn, publicist and Backstage Expert

Credit: Article Sourced from Backstage Magazine

How to Help Your Child Actor Maintain Normalcy

Many children I’ve worked with have expressed a need to act. It wasn’t just that acting was a hobby they enjoyed, but that they derived more happiness from acting than any other activity on the planet. If you have a child like that, you might worry that participating in the entertainment business will harm them and they won’t be able to live any type of normal life. There are downsides to fame after all. 

 

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However, my 30 years in this industry have taught me that children who pursue their acting dreams actually reap great benefits from their experiences and they can navigate any downsides and achieve normalcy with your help.

 

Here are four concerns you might have about the industry and how you can help your child with them as they pursue their acting career.

1. Bullies
It’s no secret that fame can often lead to some forms of bullying, especially with the prominence of the internet. What’s important to remember though is that your child will always have a strong support system. You, their parent, will be their number one advocate who will always have their back. Don’t underestimate your importance in this journey. Their team, including agent, manager and acting coach, will also be there to provide support and help them gain confidence. Neither you nor your child will be alone on this journey.

2. Jealousy 
In a competitive field like the entertainment industry, it can be tempting to fuel jealousy of other children. But it isn’t difficult for a young child to make friends in the industry and grow with them. Remember, your child is still learning as they go and looking closely to you for guidance. Encourage them to feel happy for other children who get opportunities and to support their friends. In fact, I’ve found that the acting industry, being such a close community, actually encourages children to behave more maturely than their peers. They are expected to act like adults, and there is no room for bad behavior. As long as they are being guided along the way, there is no reason for a child actor to develop bad habits.

3. School
It can be difficult for a working child to attend school consistently, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult for them to get a quality education.  Actor unions closely monitor the amount of time a child is allowed to work and mandate that they are provided on-set tutors. For children with special learning needs, accommodations can be provided to cater to their specific course requirements. This is typically negotiated by your agent. One of my students didn’t attend a full week of school for much of her youth while she was working, but she was eventually accepted into Harvard. There is no need for your child’s career to prevent them from studying and growing.

4. A Happy Childhood 
Many parents fear that the stress of working in an adult industry can have lingering psychological effects on their children, from the stress of learning lines to the constant rejection. I’ve found the opposite to be true so long as the child is truly passionate about acting. Children who enjoy acting don’t have to have conventional upbringings to be happy because they love what they’re doing. That said, if you find at any point that they have lost that spark, that they don’t want to go to auditions anymore or have experienced mood changes, it’s OK to take a break! Give them some time to pursue other hobbies.

Let them decide if they want to return after taking some time off. There are simple ways to maintain a sense of normalcy as your child is pursuing their dreams. Eating dinner as a family can be a great way for everyone to bond when they may not see each other as often. But there is no need to worry about your child being unhappy with their upbringing, If they love what they’re doing, acting can actually teach them skills that can help them all throughout their life.

Despite what many parents believe, when done right, acting can be a greatly beneficial skill for a child. They learn professionalism from a young age as well as empathy and other virtues. If they have someone to help guide them, there is no reason an acting career should impede your child from learning and improving just as anyone else would.

Credit: Article sourced from Backstage Magazine (Denise Simon- Acting Coach and Career Consultant)

7 Tips for Booking Commercial Voiceover Work

 

 

Photo Source: M&M

 

Commercial voiceover (VO) work is lucrative and usually knocked out in short sessions, which makes it an ideal genre for voice actors. So how can you book these jobs? Here are a few tips for landing commercial VO gigs on broadcast TV and radio advertising.

1. Listen
I know we get paid to speak, but first you have to listen. Keep your ears open, especially to national brand advertising. What types of reads are you hearing over and over again? Real person? Flat? Excited? Cool? Warm? What did the cadence feel like to you? Was it rhythmic? Measured? Uneven? What you hear on those national ads are the reads you’ll need to master. Keep listening too because popular commercial VO styles are always changing.

2. Practice
Those read styles you heard? Now, you need to practice them. Write down the scripts from some of those national commercials and record yourself. Don’t try to sound exactly like the VO they used, rather mimic the style and feel of the ad voice using your own. 

3. Find a Coach
As voice actors, we should always be learning. While you’re practicing, find a great VO coach or sign up for a commercial VO class to polish those commercial styles of yours. A good coach will help you identify which reads are going to make you money in commercial voice-over.

4. Create a Commercial Demo
A voice actor’s commercial demo can make or break a career. This is the first demo anyone breaking into VO work should have produced. Notice I used the words “have produced.” Don’t trust this most vital tool in your promotional toolbox to anyone other than a professional VO demo producer. Your commercial demo should highlight commercial reads you’ve mastered and can easily replicate in a broadcast advertising VO recording session.

5. Find Auditions
Finding commercial audition opportunities is where you can get creative. Sure, the biggie auditions are likely going to come from an agent, so if you don’t have one, try to get one. You can find advertising VO auditions online, by seeking out production companies with voiceover rosters, connecting with advertising agencies and broadcast media outlets, and by having another VO talent recommend you.

6. Read and Analyze Copy
When you have an audition, read the specs first. What does casting say they want to hear? Secondly, do a quick mental read of the audition copy. What’s the overall feel? Third, analyze where you want to color a word or two, emphasize or de-emphasize something, or consider adding a nonverbal device like a laugh or sigh. Finally, actually record the audition exactly as specified (slate, no slate, one take, separate takes, etc.)

7. Compare Work
Memes warning us against comparison flood social media, but when you’re trying to master a VO genre, ignore the memes and do the work. When you hear an ad you auditioned for but didn’t book, listen closely to the read they chose. Then go back and listen to your audition. Were you close, way off the mark, or somewhere in-between?  Learn from comparing your audition read to their chosen VO read.

There is a lot that goes into booking commercial work, but starting with these seven tips should get you well on your way to landing commercial VO bookings!

Credit: Article done by Award-winning Voice-over Talent, Kelley Buttrick