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Friday, December 30, 2011

Successful Marketing


Queen of Everything blog readers are making tremendous strides in marketing themselves!

Derwin White is a Composer and the Owner of DKW Musicworks.  His new website launched last month.  He put a lot of work into it and it shows!  The website has a great look and is easy to get around.  When you click on the Music tab, it begins playing automatically, and is excellent!  Big things are ahead for DKW Musicworks! 

Wishing Derwin & his partner, Eric Nedelman (Composer/Producer/Recording Engineer), success, prosperity, and an abundance of work.  Check out the website at www.dkwmusicworks.com and be sure to visit the Resources page where he acknowledges this blog.  Thank you for the plug, Derwin.  It’s greatly appreciated!   

Garrett Goldenberg is a Filmmaker, Actor, Director, Writer, and Editor.  He just completed his demo reels.  He created a 1-minute Theatrical Demo Reel, filming his own comic and dramatic scenes, and uploaded it to Actors Access.  His 3-minute Director Reel is available for viewing at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k92ogDJIkng       Both reels required a lot of time and energy and are well done!  


Sigrid Holland has worked in the food service industry for over 40 years.  She’s a wonderful chef and has a successful blog called Frage Sigrid’ A Memoir.  She shares delicious recipes on her blog at http://fragesigrid.blogspot.com/ and is developing a television show.  It’s been wonderful to share ideas with her and follow her blog!  


Marketing is a key element to a successful business.  Congratulations to all of you!

                                    Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! 
                      Let your creative juices flow and your imagination expand!
                               May 2012 be a successful year of fulfilling big dreams!  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WEBSITES - Are They Necessary?


“Do I really need a website?”  This is a question I am often asked, and my answer is always, “Yes, you do!”  I’ve been talking about the necessity of a website for months, but haven’t gone into detail about why they’re important, until now. 

A website is your calling card.  It will enable you to have all your marketing tools in one place.  This information will be accessible to everyone, 24/7.  If your agent needs to send a potential client your info, they can simply direct them your website.  Think of it as hiring a publicist, only it’s a lot less expensive. 

Free Publicity
I think of social media as free publicity.  It's a great way to connect with fans, friends, family members, classmates, professional acquaintances, potential employers, and those who want to find out what you’re doing. 

Websites are similar, except that you will need to make a financial investment. But it won’t cost you much to set up and maintain, and is free for everyone who visits. 

Domain Names
The first step will be to purchase a domain name.  There are many companies to choose from, and their prices vary wildly.  Check out APlus.net, Register.com, GoDaddy.com, Whois.net, siteskins.net, etc.  Find out what they charge and do a comparison. 

It’s a good idea to register with the company who will also host your website.  I set up my domain name with Register.com, but then transferred it to APlus.net, which is the company that hosts my website.  However, it was problematic to transfer, and now that I know I can purchase domain names from APlus.net for a much lower price and no 'transfer' headache, I’ll do that in the future. 

I tried to host my own website years ago, leaving my computer on all day and all night, but that became challenging, so I decided to find a company with expertise in this area.  My web designer had done a lot of research, which is how we selected APlus.net.  They charge me a monthly fee of $4.99 to host the first website, and $1.99 for each additional site. 

Once you’ve made a decision on where you’ll purchase your domain name, enter the name you’ve chosen to see if it's available.  If you’re an actor, I would recommend choosing www.yourname.com.  If that’s not available, try yourname.net.


CREATING YOUR OWN WEBSITE

NOWCasting.com
If you sign up with NOWCasting.com, which is a website for actors, they’ll assist you with your domain name.  All actors should list themselves here for free.  Casting directors use this site to search for actors and their representation.  It doesn’t cost anything to upload your photo and resume, but if you want to include your reel, clips, etc, there will be a fee.  I signed up as a Reels & Clips member, paying $6.00/month.  This enables me to have my theatrical reel and clips on my Profile page.  I can email my this page to anyone who requests my information by simply attaching a link.  My NOWCasting.com profile page gives the recipient the ability to view my photos, resume, representation, personal website URL, email address, bio, and theatrical reel.  

NOWCasting.com offers a variety of services at a range of prices, including designing your own website.  Depending on how fast you make decisions, you can have your website up and running within a few hours.  They have dozens of great template designs to choose from, and your website can be as detailed as you’d like.  The down side is that, more than likely, your name won’t appear at the top of the search list when someone googles your name.  You will also have a longer URL address on your business card, which will look like this: www.nowcasting.com/yourname.com versus the simpler and nicer looking www.yourname.com.  Still, for $21.00/month, it may be the easiest and most affordable thing to do. 

siteskins.net
This is a very cool website design company that I just learned about from a make-up artist on a recent photo shoot.  She highly recommended them for creating your own website.  It’s free to set up your site; you just pay $7.95-$19.95/month for them to host it.  It’s a good value, and I visited the new website she created for herself and was very impressed.  She has a huge amount of information there, including hundreds of wedding photos and videos, for $19.95/month.  She mentioned that they were extremely helpful when she got stuck and called for advice.  They also offer domain names at a very reasonable price.  I highly recommend purchasing your domain from the same place that will be hosting your site.  As I said before, transferring your domain name can be challenging, and you want to avoid a severe headache or migraine.

iWeb
If you have a Mac, and have purchased iWorks, you can create a website using iWeb.  However, I attempted this and found the design choices too limiting.  You may have better luck.

Template Designs
If you’re computer savvy, you can chose a template, from one of many websites offering a selection of designs, and design your own site from scratch.  Once you’ve uploaded all your photos, clips, reels, and resume, you’ll need to know the secrets of how to place yourself at the top of the search engine list when someone googles your name.  You don’t want people to have to search through pages of listings trying to find you.  The goal is to be the first listing when googled.

You may be tempted to design your website in Flash, but I would recommend avoiding it, simply because iPhone users won’t have accessibility to your website.    Many business people are on the go these days, and they’re accessing information via smart phones, so keep this in mind.  How will your website look on a smart phone versus a computer?  Until Apple and Flash stop feuding, you’re better off designing your site so everyone can view it.   


Hiring a Web Designer
If you have the funds to hire a web designer, I highly recommend it.  This is the best option for getting exactly what you want.  Ask around and find out who your friends have used and if they’d recommend them. 

Do your research before you call the web designer.  View other websites, and make note of what you like and dislike about those sites.  Note the simplicity, the ease of getting around on the site, color scheme, layout, tabs, pages, and other design aspects that speak to you.  When you’re prepared, make your call.  Share this information with your web designer.  The more specific you can be about what you want, the easier it will be to collaborate.  You’ll pool your ideas to come up with something original that is unique to you. 

A voice-over actress I know had an artistic friend create a cartoon caricature of her as Samantha from Bewitched.  Her website even has the Bewitched theme music, and it’s fun to navigate.   The ideas are limitless.  However, what you come up with may require a lot of time and energy, and will depend on your resources.  You’ll need to gather your photos, resume, reels, video clips, write a bio, and write your own text.  You’ll have to make decisions on how many pages you want, where to place things, what font you want to use, and the overall look of your site.  It’s an extremely creative process, and it will be rewarding to see it evolving and taking shape. 

A Temporary Home Page
Have your web designer create a temporary Home page while you’re developing the site.  The creative process could take weeks, or months, depending on how involved it is and how much content you’re uploading.  Keep your temporary Home page simple.  Include your name, photo, and contact info, and let the visitor know that your website is Coming Soon or Under Construction.  You won’t be giving out your website address until you’re ready to launch, but this will be nice for those who search for you before the site is ready.  This step isn’t imperative, but it shouldn’t cost you any extra.


Website Servers and Hosts
Once your website has been created and is ready to launch, you’ll need to find a host, which we discussed earlier.  There are a lot of great choices out there.  Hopefully you selected your domain name from the same company who will be hosting your site, but if that wasn’t possible, you’ll need to go through the transfer process.  This will, more than likely, require some assistance from the company who will be hosting your website.  If you hired a web designer, they’ll know how to do all of this.

Launching Your Website
Once your website is completed and ready to launch, make a big announcement.  Tell everyone!  Post your new website on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.  Upload it to casting services like LA Casting, Actors Access, and the Casting Frontier. Mention it anywhere and everywhere you can think of!  Email the link to all your friends and ask them to share it with others.  Be sure to include your new website on your business cards, and hand your cards out wherever you go. Design a postcard announcing your new website, get them printed up, and send them out!  

Keep Your Website Updated 
If you’re not managing your website yourself, make sure you’ve discussed expenses with your web designer.  They may teach you how to make changes on your own, which is normally included in the initial fee.  I know a great web designer who charges $3,000 to design your site, but all future updates are included in that fee, and he teaches you how to make changes on your own.  Every website that he has designed looks amazing, and was well worth the investment. 

Landing one big job can potentially reimburse you for all your web design expenses.  That happened for me.  Shortly after I’d launched my new site, I was booked on an infomercial, and the director told me he was impressed with my website and that it was a factor in landing me the job.  He had access to my reels, resume, photos, and other info that helped him make his casting decision.  Although it’s hard to gauge who is actually viewing your site, you’ll know, because people will tell you.  Be sure to set up an email link on your site so your viewers are able to contact you directly. 

I update my website frequently.  My web designer is a friend.  I paid him an initial design fee and am charged on an hourly basis for the changes I make.  I email him updates, additions, deletions, new video footage, and new photos, and he bills me every few months or so.  This morning I emailed him, asking if he could put my October Newsletter link on the Home page.  He had it done within the hour.  A few days before that, I decided to include my Host reel on my Video page (as well as the Host page where it already exists) and he had it done the same day.  He also edits my theatrical, host, and commercial reels, which are constantly being updated, and keeps me at the top of the google search. 


Knowing What You’re Getting Into
Make sure you understand the agreement that you enter into with your web designer.  A flat rate could run you anywhere from $750 to $4,000 or more, depending on the amount of time and work involved.  You may be able to find a friend who can help you, or is willing to charge a lot less.  Maybe you can make a trade with someone.  Whatever the expense, this investment is a good one.  It’s also completely tax deductible!  Your website is an integral part of your Business Marketing.

Business Can Be Creative
Artists tend to lack business skills.  Acting is so much fun that they can’t be bothered with the ‘business’ of acting.  As I’ve said before, marketing is essential, and building your website can be very creative.  You’ll be making decisions that are design related and artistic in nature.  I found that writing my own text, bio, and photo descriptions, really made me hone in on what I was contributing to the world as an artist.  It was also rewarding to see a body of work take shape before my eyes, revealing years of experience.  Now it’s all in one place where I can easily share it with others.  It’s accessible 24/7 to casting directors, agents, potential employers, directors, producers, fans, friends, family, classmates, and anyone who’s interested.


Congratulations!
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, created your website, found a host, and launched the site, pop the cork on a nice bottle of bubbly and celebrate!  You have your own website!  Tell everyone!


All Questions Welcome
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  And remember:  Marketing is the key to your success!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Agents - Do You Really Need One?

I love my agents.  All of them.  I work with three Talent Agencies in Los Angeles who represent me for film, television, theatre, commercials, hosting, voice-over, internet  and print.  I also have an agent in San Diego, Colorado and on the East coast.  Do I think they’re all necessary?  Yes, and here’s why.

Agents Get You Work
First of all, agents only make money when you make money, so it’s in their best interest to get you, and all their other clients, work.  Agents have access to casting directors and will be able to get you auditions that you can’t get on your own.  

Agents Negotiate Bookings
When it comes to negotiating, I’ve found that it’s good to let the agent handle the client, and not get involved in the negotiations.  If I receive a direct call from the casting director or client and they start talking about money, I refer them to my agent, stating that my agent handles the financial stuff.  That way, my agent can be the ‘bad guy’ asking for more money, while I remain the ‘good guy’ who shows up to work with a big smile.  However, I enjoy the phone calls from my agent telling me where they’re at in the negotiation process.  In the beginning it was difficult to know a booking could potentially be lost, but I’ve always allowed my agents to do their job, deferring to their expertise in the art of negotiating.  After all, that’s why they’re there, to do the very best that they can for you.

The amount of money you’ll make when you book a television job will depend on whether the role is a co-star, guest star, or series regular, your last quote, and how much money is in the budget.  If it’s a feature film, your rate will depend on whether the feature is an independent or studio film, your last quote (if you have one), and the money available.  Webisodes (short episodes for internet) fluctuate wildly, commanding larger fees for name talent.  Commercials sometimes vary in pay as well, although most SAG and AFTRA session fees are standard.  Non-union commercials usually pay less, but not always.  Hosting jobs are all over the map.  If residuals are negotiated for infomercials, it’s at a much higher rate than commercials, and if back end is negotiated, you could be an extremely wealthy individual, if the product does well.  Notice there are a lot of ‘if’s’ in that sentence. 

Agent Commissions – They Only Get Paid When You Get Paid
The Agent almost always gets their commission on top of whatever they’re able to negotiate for the job you booked, and normally that’s 10%.  Print is different.  Agents take 20% out of your paycheck, whether they negotiate an extra 20% on top of your salary, or not.

Whether the agent’s commission comes out of your paycheck or not, they’re not making money if you’re not making money.  Consider the fact that they have access to casting directors you don’t, and can get you the auditions you need to book jobs; it’s the best 10-20% you’ll ever spend.


How To Get An Agent 

Personal Contacts
Think about who you know.  You may have contacts who are able to open doors for you.  Maybe you have a family member in the business, or friends in the industry who can assist you in getting appointments.  I got my recent theatrical agent because a casting director, who had cast me in two different projects, opened a door for me.  She made a phone call to the agent and recommended me.  Prior to that, most agents I’ve worked with were acquired by writing cold letters, or by sending a headshot and resume to an agent recommended by a friend.   

An Approach That Worked For Me
Here’s how I got one of my first theatrical agents in Los Angeles.  I went to SAG and sat in a small room filled with stacks of big directories.  I knew the agents I wanted to target because I had read about them in the Ross Reports (which has been renamed Call Sheet) and in guides at the Samuel French Bookstore.  I looked up the agent client lists in the directories.  If I didn’t recognize an actor’s name, I wrote it down, and then looked up the actor in the Player’s Directory.  With all that information gathered in my notebook, I went home and wrote letters to the agents that didn’t have actresses similar to me.  I made sure that they weren’t representing five of my type already, and preferably only one of me, or even better, none.  In my letter, I told the agent a little about myself.  I wrote about how I was from Ottumwa, Iowa and the oldest of five kids.  I mentioned that I had been onstage since I was four years old, the names of acting teachers I’d studied with, and recent plays I’d been in.  I said I would be calling them to set up an appointment, and that I would bring in my demo reel when we met. 

That approach worked well for me.  I have fond memories of receiving a response from the Gersh Agency, who have always been kind and encouraging to actors over the years, even in the face of rejection.  I haven’t worked with them, but they actually took the time to pick up the phone, call me, and say, “Thank you for your submission, but we’re not taking on any new talent at this time.  Stay in touch and let us know what you’re doing.”  It was so classy, and such a nice thing to do. 

Cold Calls
Some agents may not respond or even take your call, but do call them.  The worst thing they can say is “no, we’re not interested” or “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”  At least you’ll know where you stand.  If you hand-deliver your headshots, you may run into one of the agents in the elevator, or build a relationship with the receptionist which could be very helpful. 

Social Media
There are a lot of other ways to connect.  Social Media, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are good ways to get the word out about what you’re doing, and that you’re seeking representation.  Make requests.  Ask friends and teachers if they know someone they could recommend.  If you’re not doing theatre, maybe you’d enjoy doing stand-up, improvisation, or making YouTube videos to get your work seen. 

Networking
A website is essential.  It should include your headshots, resume, bio, demo reel, and appear at the top of the Google list when your name is searched.  

You’ll need a business card to hand out everywhere you go.  It should include your photo, website, email address, and phone number.  For every card you hand out, be sure to collect a card.  You never know who you’re going to run into, or where you’ll meet.  I met a representative of Survivor waiting in a movie theatre line in Marina del Rey.  She gave me her professional business card which directed me to their website.  At the time, I wasn’t thrilled about reality shows, but they’re here to stay, and they’ve made many unknowns famous.  Look at what’s happened for some of those who have appeared on The Apprentice, The Bachelor, Survivor, Dancing With The Stars, Jersey Shores, and other reality shows.  Make sure you get out to events and mingle.  And, when you do, make the effort to look great.    

Here’s a good question from Garrett Goldenberg, Los Angeles, CA.
“What’s the difference between a manager and agent?”

Agents vs Managers
Is it possible to have a successful acting career without an agent?  It’s not impossible, but it is much more challenging.  I know actors who have a personal manager, but no agent, and they get auditions.  I know actors who have agents and personal managers, and they seem to do better.  Since managers receive 15-20% commission on the gross of everything you make, you could be giving away 25-30% of the gross of your earnings if you have both an agent and manager.  Still, if they’re getting you work, it’s worth it.  After all, commissions are a write-off, and work leads to more work.

What Managers Do
A manager usually has fewer clients than an agent and will give you more personal attention.  They may assist you in selecting headshots, updating your resume, getting you feedback, giving you advice, helping you with what to wear, and scheduling conflicts that may arise.  Managers will take 15-20% out of your gross earnings.  They’re not legally allowed to negotiate, though some do.  If they have great contacts and can open doors for you that your agent can’t seem to open, it will be worth it to have a manager as well as an agent.  If you just have a manager, they’ll be able to get you auditions and guide your career, although they may not be able to get you in as many doors as an agent would, depending on who they know and how influential they are. 

What Agents Do
Agents will service an entire roster of clients at their agency.  They will submit and pitch you to casting directors, set up auditions, and make sure you get the script and sides.  They’ll notify you when you get a callback, and negotiate for you when you book the job.  They won’t have time to coddle you or give you much advice, unless they get negative feedback about you from a casting director.  You may not have much interaction with your agent because they’re so busy, but they’re busy trying to get their clients work which is what you want.  My theatrical agent is wonderful about responding to short emails, but many agents don’t want to be bothered.  It will depend on your relationship with your agent. 

Getting Your Own Work
Actors also get paid work on their own, from time to time.  It’s always a good idea to make your agent aware that you’re working and offer them their 10% commission.  If you’ve signed contracts, they’re legally entitled to a commission on all your acting earnings within a 50-mile radius.   

Hiring Both An Agent and A Manager
I’ve found that, if you have a manager, they will deal with your agent, which means you’ll receive appointments and bookings from your manager rather than your agent.  I enjoy developing a relationship with my agent and acting as my own manager.  I pay myself 15% of the gross of every check I receive and invest it.  That way, I get to keep the money I earn.

Remember that as much as 30% could be taken out of your gross paycheck when you have both an agent and a manager.  If the manager is able to bring some awesome connections to the table, it could be well worth it, and when you get busy and have trouble juggling appointments, your manager can help you out with scheduling.  Propose working with a new manager on a trial basis, or sign a short term agreement, but it’s best not to commit to a longer term until you know what they’re capable of doing for you.  

In the past, I’ve had a manager and an agent, and that was great.  Part of the reason it worked well was that my manager also had a background as an entertainment attorney and publicist.  He had a lot of contacts, which really helped me when I was on the soap opera, Another World, in New York City for two years.  Even though I was locked into a contract and paying him 15% out of every check, he was able to continue working for me from Los Angeles.  When I received my first paycheck from Another World, I was in shock.  I wasn’t incorporated at the time, so state & federal taxes were approximately 30-40% of my gross earnings.  With my agent taking 10% and my manager taking 15%, I saw less than 50% of my paycheck.  That was a real eye-opener.  When I talked to my manager about my meager paycheck, he offered to take 10% instead of the 15% he was entitled to, which helped a bit.  I don’t have a manager now, though I’ve recently been considering it.  However, I’ve always had an agent.  I wouldn’t have been able to get the work I’ve obtained without being represented by my agents.  I am forever grateful to each and every one of them.

Hiring An Entertainment Attorney
I also have an entertainment attorney who has been extremely helpful, going over spokesperson contracts and assisting me with my corporation.  I pay him whenever I need his services.  Even though I’m incorporated, I handle the business myself, without the assistance of a business manager, who normally takes 5% of your gross income.  My accountant helped me figure out how to do payroll, pay corporate taxes, file paperwork with the government, etc.  Incorporating is a whole different topic which I’ll cover in a future blog entry.  For me, it has been essential.


Garret also asked another good question.  “Should you leave your agent if you’re not happy, or stay with them and wait until you find a new one?”

Should You Leave Your Current Agent?
From past experience, I’ve found that it’s best to stay put until you have somewhere else to go.  You can utilize your current agent by using them as leverage to get into casting offices.  If you have an agent listed as your contact, vs a personal phone number, you’ll be more likely to acquire a meeting.  It’s more professional.  If you’re unhappy with your current representation, ask your agent to set aside some time to talk with you, and let them know you‘d like to get out more.  Ask what you can do to help.  Tell them you want to be proactive and assist them in getting work for you.  They may have some ideas.  Treat them with the respect that you’d like to be treated with in return.  Enlist them to work together as a team.  You are essentially hiring them, and they know that.   

Marketing Is A Must
You may find that you’re self-disciplined, motivated, and a good marketer.  However, most actors require assistance when it comes to the ‘business of acting’.  The creative part, where you actually get to act, comes easy and is fun.  The key is to combine business with creativity so that you enjoy doing it.  Otherwise you’ll need to hire someone to help you, or make a trade with a friend.  It won’t help you to send your material to agents if you’re resentful that you have to do it.  An optimistic attitude will make a huge difference and bring you better results.

A Job To Support Your Career
If you don’t have the funds, then you’ll need to get a job so you’ll have the ability to pay for top quality headshots, reproductions, resumes, a website, business cards, mailing supplies, and the casting services you’ll need to register with, such as Actors Access, LA Casting, The Casting Frontier, and NOW Casting.  If you’re a voice-over actor, you’ll need to create a professional one-minute demo reel and upload it to voicebank.net, voices.com, voice123.com, and other VO casting services.   It’s a financial investment in your future.  When I first started out, I worked at Maxwell’s Plum in New York City, waiting on tables.  The tips were good, and every bit of money I made that didn’t go to my living expenses, went to investing in my career.  I didn’t love that job, but I did love that it enabled me to pay for the tools necessary to get the acting work I truly wanted.  I waited on tables for two years, until I got a good agent, started auditioning a lot, and booked a few commercials.  When I was able to quit my waitress job and dedicate myself to acting full time, I was thrilled!

Don’t Sit Back And Do Nothing
Actors who get agents and think they don’t have to do anything more because they’re being taken care of, will be in for a big surprise.  Once you have an agent, you’ll need to market yourself.  That will never end.  Even major celebrities promote themselves.  They hire publicists to keep their faces in the magazines and on talk-shows.  Marketing is key, as well as keeping up with all your online acting resources.  You’ll need to keep all your materials up-to-date.

Agents Are An Asset
Good luck with your hunt for an agent.  In the thirty years I’ve been in this business, I’ve only met one agent I didn’t like.  He worked at a well-established, high-powered agency and was arrogant and condescending, kind of like Ari Gold on Entourage, but long before the HBO series was created and became popular. 

I’ve met a lot of agents over the years, and they have all been hard-working, passionate people who are trying to help you book jobs and get paid well for your work.  They’ve created many opportunities for me, and negotiated much better deals than I could have ever negotiated for myself. 

So, do you really need an agent?  Yes, I would say that you really need one.  Or more!



If you come up with a new approach that lands you a good agent, let me know.  I love to post success stories as well as answer your questions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Back Into Acting? Here's What You Need To Know!

Another question from one of my Blog readers:

I'm thinking of getting back into acting, but I haven't done it since Jr. High. I was good, too! I won an award or two, until I got the music bug. I want to check it out, just not sure how to go about it.  – Mike Rose, Simi Valley, CA


The Business of Acting
The acting industry has changed over the years.  The majority of submissions are now done online.  Social media has made it easier to connect with casting directors, 
directors and producers, and find out what’s currently casting.  Although emails have made contacting potential employers faster, good old-fashioned post office mailings and networking are still necessary.

But first . . .
You’ll need to get new professional headshots and update your resume.
Resumes you can do on your home computer, but don’t skimp on your 8x10.  Put your best face forward with an awesome photo. 

Headshots
Ask around for good photographers, and view the photographer’s portfolio, either online or in person.  Get clear about how you want to sell yourself.  Watch TV and notice where you fit in.  Are you a mom or dad type, business type, blue collar or model type?  You may be more than one type, but you may also find that you book more in one area than another.  When you choose wardrobe, keep it simple.  If you need glasses, wear them in the photo.  And if you have contacts, make sure to take some photos without your glasses.  For women, keep your make-up natural.  Hiring a make-up artist is a good idea, as long as they understand that you need to look like you, not a glamorous model or hooker.  The overly made-up look isn’t going to work for commercial acting, and it’s not appropriate for theatre, television series, or feature films.  Often the photographer you hire will have a make-up artist that they like to work with.  I always go with their recommendation. 

Resumes
Update your resume.  If you don’t have recent credits, list everything you’ve done in prior years.  Embellishing is okay, but avoid lying.  It will eventually catch up with you.  Let the casting director know that you’ve been onstage or in front of the camera.  And if you haven’t, you’ll need to create credits by actually getting work, either at a local theatre or in an independent film.  The best thing you can do is to generate legitimate credits, which will also give you a chance to improve your skills and hone your talent.  In Mike’s case, it would be beneficial to include his music credits because it shows the casting director that he’s been in a creative mode even though it wasn’t necessarily as an actor.  You can list your awards, too.  Be sure to include your height, weight, hair color, eye color, website address, and contact information.

Demo Reels
One actress I know sat down and wrote herself a funny ten-minute short film.  She didn’t have any video on herself, so she created it, enlisting her actor friends to assist her in front of the camera.  She hired a director and camera operator, who also had knowledge about lighting and sound, to shoot it.  The film turned out great and she was able to use a lot of the different clips from the short, which made her demo reel look like she’d done a variety of projects.  Plus, she produced a good short film, which is the first of her webisode series.  She’s written another ten-minute script and plans to film that soon.  Developing projects for yourself is a great idea, and it keeps you creatively fulfilled.  Whether it’s a one-person show, a stand-up routine, a film, or a play, keep those creative juices flowing and get your work seen.

Websites & Business Cards
Websites are your calling card.  If you don’t already have one, purchase your domain name, and get to work on designing your site.  Make sure that your website has all your contact info.  You’ll also benefit from utilizing video clips, with you talking about yourself, or various clips of your work, or both.  Keep the video short and fast-paced.  Be sure to include your bio, photos, and resume on the website.  Design a color business card with your photo, email address, phone number, and website, and hand them out!

Marketing and Networking
Read my last blog entry on marketing titled, Marketing Nuggets: Mining For Gold.  You’ll find some excellent tools to help you succeed.  Implement them and watch the work flow in!

Online Casting Services
List yourself on casting sites, such as LA Casting, Actors Access, and NOW Casting.  Search online for auditions in your area.  Google is awesome! 

Theatre Companies
If there’s a local theatre group in your area, get involved.  Whether you’re part of the crew, passing out programs, or performing onstage, it’s all a great way to find out what’s going on.  Become part of the acting community and share information. Take acting classes and workshops to hone your skills.

I have a friend who has a regular 9-5 job working as a financial planner, but he also has a commercial agent and once in awhile they send him on an audition.  He enjoys getting out of the office and in front of the camera, and manages to book a commercial every three years or so.  That’s enough for him.  It’s not a way to make a living, but it’s a fun hobby.  Maybe that’s enough for you, too.  For me, acting is a full-time job, and I love every minute of it.  I started in the theatre at the age of four, playing the youngest of the Snow children in “Carousel” at the Ottumwa Heights Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.  Being onstage feels like home to me.


Have Fun
The main thing is to have fun.  If you don’t enjoy acting, it’ll show, and there are too many competitors out there who love it.  I’m one of them.  It helps to have a positive attitude and optimistic outlook.  Being a successful actor requires work, so be prepared to spend some time and energy on marketing yourself.  My recent post on marketing is filled with great information.  Agents are very helpful, but you can do a lot without one.  My next blog will be about Agents, how to get one and what to expect from them. 




Anne Marie Howard is the Queen of Everything.  Sort of.  As the President of Queen of Everything, Inc, she wears the crowns of actress, writer, producer, director, and exhibited artist.  Acting professionally for over 30 years, Anne Marie is best-known  as Nicole Love on Another World and Kimberly Brady on Days Of Our Lives.  She frequently guest stars on primetime television in series such as Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Castle, Nip/Tuck, Cold Case, and Make It Or Break It, and has been seen in hundreds of television commercials.  You may recognize her as the recent Spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors.  She’s hosted talk shows and infomercials, interviewing celebrities such as Donald Trump, Vanessa Williams, Melissa Etheridge, Frances Fisher, and James Cromwell.  She also appears regularly on the big screen in films such as The Weather Man w/Nicolas Cage and You Don’t Mess With The Zohan w/Adam Sandler.  For a complete resume and video clips, visit her website at www.annemariehoward.com  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marketing Nuggets: Mining for Gold


I’ve been receiving questions in response to my Blog postings via Facebook.  Here’s a great one from Derwin White:
Hi Anne Marie,
I was wondering if you could impart some tips that you use on how to effectively promote oneself, in a way that would make one stand out from the others.  If there are ANY nuggets you could share, I'd be appreciative.  I’m looking forward to getting a piece of the GOLD that has helped you to make a living in Hollywood. 
Thanks!  - Derwin White, Serra Mesa, CA

My answer to Derwin’s question is 6 pages long, single-spaced, and there’s still so much more to say.  I hope you enjoy this GOLD from the Queen!

There are many talented performers in the world.  What separates successful artists from all the others is the ability to market their product well.

Think of yourself as a product.  See yourself on the shelf.  What type of packaging will you use to draw attention to what you do?  If you’re an actor, musician, director, writer, or producer, you may choose to use your best headshot.  If you’re in a band, maybe it’s a group shot or logo.  If you’re a voice-over artist you may have created an animated image with a catchy phrase that lets the producer know your specialty.  Producers need to know where they can peg you.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself in a specific category.  You may think you’re boxing yourself in, but what you’re really doing is giving them a clear idea of how you can be cast.  There will aways be room to branch out and expand.  Give yourself a specific starting point to assist those who haven’t a clue who you are.  Yet, that is!

Create a website.  Brand yourself.  Whether you design your website yourself or hire an expert, make sure it’s awesome.  This is your calling card.  You’ll include your bio, photos, resume, contact info, and video or audio clips.  You want to be at the very top on the first page of entries when your name is Googled.  You may need to enlist someone who is web savvy to assist you with this. 

If you can’t afford to set up your own website with a professional web designer, check out NOW Casting or Argentum Photo Lab.  They offer templates that make it easy to upload your information and charge a monthly fee to host your website.  Make the investment because it will pay off. 

Design a logo.  It can be your initials or your name in an interesting font & color, a colorful emblem or company crest, or an image that represents who you are.  I used my initials at one point because my agents often referred to me as AMH.  Now I use a headshot with my Queen of Everything crown logo beneath it.  If you’ve already done this and it’s been over ten years, you may want to rebrand yourself.  Keep it fresh.

When I was Corn Fed, Inc, my logo was  corn cob.  It represented the fact that I was from Iowa which helped me book roles.  I was new to the commercial acting world and Midwestern actors were a hot commodity in the New York City casting circuit.  Now that I’m Queen of Everything, Inc I use a crown for my logo with the log line, Creativity Rules.  It represents the fact that I wear many different crowns, that of actor, writer, producer, director, painter, teacher, and overall creative artist. 

Once you establish your chosen logo, stick with it.  Use it everywhere.  On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, your website, stationery, envelopes, business cards, postcards, Constant Contact or other emailing service.  Use it as your email signature, on your Blog, and anywhere and everywhere else you can think of.  Be sure to include your website address with the logo.

Demo and Audio Reels are a must.  If you don’t have any video, create it.  Videotape a nice warm welcome for your website, or shoot a scene with other actors.  Put together something that shows you off well.  Actors Access has a service called Actor Slate, a sixty-second general interview.  If you don’t have a demo reel, this is a great way to be seen by casting directors.  If you do have a demo reel, keep it up-to-date, putting your high profile scenes up front, and keeping the DVD only a few minutes long, with a variety of scenes progressing at a nice energetic pace.  One-minute demo reels are currently the rage.  Voice-Over artists absolutely must have a one-minute audio reel.  You can create one from scratch.  Once you have a VO demo, get it out in the world.  There are many online voice casting services such as Voice Bank, Voice123, Voices, and more.

Keep your info updated.  Be diligent about updating your website, resume, IMDB credits, Social Media, and all your other info listed online or elsewhere.  Keep it current. 

Send correspondence regularly.  Whether it’s 8x10 mailings, or 4x6 postcards, mailings are a must.  You don’t have to have anything important to say.  It’s about getting your photo, or company logo, across the desk of those you’re trying to meet or stay in touch with.  A simple “Just wanted to say Hi!” will do if you don’t have anything new to mention.  It’s all about the reminder.  You want to get your image across their desk so they keep thinking of you.  Whether you choose to send your postcards, or email notices, once a week or once a month, stick to a plan and make sure you do it.  There are online services, such as Overnight Prints and Vista, that offer excellent prices on picture postcards.  When you do have something to brag about, have a special postcard made and send it to everyone you can think of. 

Actors, check out Envelopenz at Actor Tips online.  They’re large white envelopes with a clear plastic opening on one side so your 8x10 can be seen.  This is a good way to introduce yourself.  After the initial mailing, you can send follow up postcards, using the same photo so you can be easily indentified.  Always include your website & let them know they can view your work there. 

Create Email Blasts.  Blast out several hundred notices with the touch of a button.  I use Constant Contact, but there are many excellent email marketing services available.  Some offer free services, others have monthly fees, depending on your needs.  Gather emails and enter them in the database.  I create newsletters, notices, invitations, updates, etc.  It’s a great way for actors to let a large group of people know when you’re going to be on television or in a film.  The templates they offer are easy to use and since it’s creative, I enjoy doing it.   They also offer classes which I have found to be very helpful.

Think outside the box.  Stand out from the crowd.  An actor friend of mine got a huge role in Apollo 13 because he found out the casting directors liked chocolate chip cookies.  He ordered a box from their favorite cookie company, taped his photo on the lid, and took it over to their office with a note saying that he wanted to audition for them.  He got the appointment and booked the job.  He even got to go to the Academy Awards when the film was nominated.  You want to avoid being obnoxious or desperate, but if you take the time to find out something specific about who you’re going to meet, you can make a good impression on them.  With the help of Google, social media, and word of mouth, you can come up with something that will get you noticed in a good way.  Put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re contacting.  Make sure the item you choose to give is something that you would be comfortable receiving.  You don’t have to do this every time.  I rarely give gifts.  I like to find other ways in, such as a referral.  Facebook is great for this because it lets you know which of your friends know each other.  Ask for a favor nicely and be okay with a no.  Don’t ever let a no get you down.  You’re not putting yourself out there if you’re not getting turned down here and there.  Let a rejection spur you on.  And be sure to express gratitude when a door is opened.  Thank you notes are wonderful and hand-written notes are especially nice.  

Be persistent in a nice way.  When I want footage from a TV show or  film that I’ve worked on, I’ll call the production office and ask nicely for a copy of the episode or feature.  They may not be able to help you out, but if they say yes, and you still haven’t received your DVD a week later, give them another call.  Ask nicely again.  Sometimes they need a gentle reminder.  If they’re unable to provide you with material, you’ll almost always be able to find it online.  Though with feature films, I’ve often had to wait until they’re released in video stores and purchase the film  there or online at Amazon. 

Derwin White, who wrote the question that prompted these words you’re now  reading, is a great example of being persistent in a good way.  It took awhile for me to write this article.  His first email arrived on August 24th.  I responded, letting him know that I was planning to answer his question in a few days.  When he didn’t hear back from me for awhile, he sent a nice follow up message, saying he knew that I was busy, but that he was looking forward to getting a piece of the gold that has helped me make a living in Hollywood.  His Facebook messages not only inspired me to sit down and write, but also supplied me with the title! 

Keep track of networking and appointments.  I have an assortment of 3-ring binders with insert tabs that have the names of the projects I’ve worked on.  I use separate binders for each category: Theatrical, Voice-Overs, Commercials, and Hosting.  I also have a 3-hole puncher and the minute I get home from an audition or shoot, I punch holes in the sides, directions, call sheet, contract, and any other information I’ve received, and put it into my binder.  Every year I create new binders, saving those from prior years so I can refer back to them when necessary.  This way, I have all the information I need right at my fingertips.

Make sure your photo looks like you.  There’s nothing worse than presenting yourself other than how you actually look.  You won’t do well on a dating website with a photo that misrepresents you and you certainly won’t do well when you go in to take a meeting with a casting director, producer, director, or network executive.  Get new photos taken a minimum of every three years, more often if you change your look.  Be sure to use a professional photographer and refrain from doing too much retouching.  You want to put your best face forward, but you want it to look like you.

Go to events.  I attend a lot of plays and always run into directors, casting directors, producers, or agents at the theatre.  It’s good to be seen, and even better to attend shows that will inspire you and spark your creative juices. 

Make a Map of Relationships.  Put yourself in the center of the page, and then put your closest industry relationships in the next circle around you, and so on, until you get to the outer circle, which would include business associates you don’t know that well.  Find their contact info if you don’t have it handy.  Get back in contact with those you’ve lost touch with, and make it a habit to stay connected with those you know well. 

Make requests.  Learn to get good at asking for help.  Find a mentor, someone you admire and respect.  They don’t have to be famous.  It could be someone who has a career that is further along than yours.  Contact them with specific questions.  Social media is a great way to connect. 

Target the top 10 people you want to meet.  For actors it may be the top 10 shows you’d like to work on.  Send to the casting directors of those shows regularly.  Make requests for a meeting or audition.  If you’re a musician and want them to listen to your music, offer an easy way to sample it via YouTube, Vimeo, MySpace, your website, or other online source.  I can’t tell you how many contacts I’ve made through Facebook and Twitter.  These are the top two social media networking sites.  Get familiar with them.  When you post new info, ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to spread the word. 


Find a way to make marketing fun.  Most artists would rather be creating than networking, and honing their talent rather than their business skills.  But you need to find a way to make the ‘business’ of your career enjoyable.  It doesn’t do you any good to put your work out into the world with resentment.  You need to do your mailings and marketing with a joyous intention.  The best way to do that is to make it easy.  Most industry bigwigs don’t have time to read lengthy letters.  Just send a short personal note with your photo.  Here are a few examples:  “_______ suggested we meet.  I’ll call you next week to schedule an appointment.”   “I’d love to meet you for the role of _________ in the film you’re casting, _______.”  “Visit my website to view clips & learn more.”  Whatever it is, a short handwritten note attached to your mailing will be sufficient. 


Utilize online casting services.  There are numerous online casting services, such as Actors Access, LA Casting, NOW Casting, and more.  Purchase the CD Directory and the Ross Reports for updated casting addresses.  There’s also an excellent app called Actor Genie.  Get the trade papers, also accessible online and as apps: the Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, BackStage West, and more.  Read as much as you can about your field.  There are so many great books, classes, and workshops.  Stay on top of what’s going on in your industry.  Keep learning and growing. 

Set up a company.  I have my own company that I use for production purposes.  It’s a sub-chapter S Corporation, and it’s a tremendous asset when I present myself as a professional offering services. 
I know a group of actors who got together and set up a management company.  They pooled their money together to cover expenses.  Because they formed a legitimate company, they were able to receive Breakdown Services, which is the best source of casting information available.  Each actor was designated one day a week, searching for roles in the breakdowns that would be right for their fellow actors as well as themselves, and mailing or hand-delivering packages to the casting directors. 

Get an Agent or Manager.  When I started out, I didn’t have referrals so I had to get creative.  I wrote letters to agents telling them a little about myself, and requested a meeting.  Because I was young and fresh out of Iowa, this approach worked well.  Later, when I decided to change agents, I went to the Screen Actors Guild, opened their thick books of Agent Client lists and wrote down the names of the women I didn’t know, then looked them up in the Player’s Directory, noting if they were direct competition.  I wrote personal letters to the agents I was targeting, stating that they didn’t have anyone on their roster like me and that I would be a good asset and looked forward to meeting them.  This approach worked for me as well.  The agent I have now was recommended by a casting director.  She opened the door by making a phone call.  There are Agent and Manager books available at Samuel French.  A manager usually has fewer clients and can offer personal attention.  Whatever you do, know that marketing doesn’t stop just because you have representation.  You still need to do as much as you can to let others know about your awesome product, which is YOU!

Hire a Pro.  It takes a lot of time and energy to get ahead.  If you really hate the idea of marketing yourself, have a friend help you or better yet, hire a pro.  It will be worth the investment.  I had a girlfriend who came over to my house one evening a week after her secretarial job at Disney.  She sat at my computer and entered hundreds of contacts, helping me create a new database.  I also had her help me with fan mail.  She took my autographed headshots home with her and sent them out to fans who had requested them.  I paid a small fee for her services, but you can make a trade with a friend.  Be creative.
 
Shake it up.  If you’ve tried every one of these things and you’re still not getting work, or at the very least, meetings, appointments, or auditions, then reassess what you’re putting out into the world.  Maybe it’s time for a new look, a new website, and a new approach.  Shake it up.  Rebrand.  Make a change.  Think about who you are and what you want to say.  Express yourself in a way that is clear and concise.

Mine for Gold.  Hopefully, one of these gold nuggets will inspire you to mine for more gold.  Let me know how you do.  I’m building a roster of career breakthroughs and I want to put your name on the list of success stories! 




Anne Marie Howard blogs regularly at http://queenofeverythinginc.blogspot.com/
Submit your email address at the top of the blog and you’ll be notified when new articles are posted.  Check out her website at: www.annemariehoward.com

Friday, September 2, 2011

Letting Go Is Key


One of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my career involved coaching. I went to a big film audition to read for an important casting director. She liked what I did at the initial meeting and so I was given a callback to meet the director & producers. I was really excited and wanted to be the best I could so I decided to hire a private acting coach and work on the material before the callback. We rehearsed the sides to the point of exhaustion and talked at length about the role. I was thinking about the part very differently now and was looking forward to bringing this new take on the role back to the casting director.
The next morning at the callback session, I did my audition and felt good about it. The casting director wasn’t friendly, but I just assumed that she was busy and preoccupied with all the actors she had sitting in the waiting room. I had a personal manager at the time and he was really good about getting feedback, so he called her office to inquire how I’d done at the callback.
“I don’t know what happened,” she told him. “Anne was excellent at the audition but when she came back, it was very different. She changed everything and it was all wrong.”
After thanking her, he hung up the phone and called me.
“She said you did something completely different at the callback. What happened?”
“I went to an acting coach.”
“Well, don’t ever do that again. She liked what you did at the audition. That’s why she brought you back. She didn’t want you to change it. She wanted to show the director what you had done for her.”
“Oh,” I said, taking a deep breath. “I thought what I did at the callback was better.”
“It wasn’t,” he said.
We hung up and I didn’t see that casting director again for over fifteen years.
When I finally saw her again she still wasn’t friendly. There were about twenty girls sitting on the floor in the long narrow hallway outside her office door. The few folding chairs were filled with bodies and there were women standing, leaning against the walls, and sitting on the floor, all waiting their turn to audition. She was behind schedule casting another big feature. After taking a long break, where we all started wondering what was going on, she came out of her office and passed out new dialogue. All of the actresses had learned a lot of dialogue for the audition, but she handed us completely new material, and I was up next. As actors, all we can do is roll with what we’re given and do our best. Then let it go when we leave. And that’s what I did. Months later, when I saw the movie, a male actor had been cast in the role. Good thing I didn’t waste time and energy dwelling on that audition.
A casting director friend of mine told me recently that most actors don’t do as well at the callback session. When I asked her why, she said she wasn’t sure, but that it was almost always the case. “Maybe the actor feels there’s more at stake because they’re closer to getting the role,” I volunteered. She thought about it for a minute and then replied, “Maybe.”
When I think about making changes, I think about a high school girlfriend who signed my yearbook. She wrote in really big letters right in the front, “Don’t ever change!” I took one look at it and thought, “God, I hope I do!” I was heading off to New York City to study acting and, more than anything, I wanted to change, and I anticipated big changes occurring in my life.
Change is good, for the most part. But to make big changes between an audition and callback was a mistake. I’m not opposed to private coaching. After all, I teach private hosting. It just needs to happen from the start.
Holly Powell, an LA-based acting teacher and former casting director for twenty-three years said in the August 18-24, 2011 issue of BackStage West, “When you choose to become an actor, you have really chosen a career as a professional auditioner.” It's our job as actors to get good at the audition process. When we're put in a difficult position, we need to flow with whatever comes our way.
I learn something from every experience. Here’s the wisdom I gained from this one.
When going to a callback session:
Do the same thing you did the first time around. (If you’re going to hire an acting coach, do it before your first audition.)
Wear the same outfit, if you still feel good in it.
Go with the flow. Flow with what you’re given, including direction, comments, amount of time spent waiting to go in the audition room & the waiting room conditions, and any changes that are made.
Stay focused.
Do your best.
When you leave the room, let it go.
Get feedback when you can, listen to it, and apply it.
Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes, and apply the lesson to your next audition.
Onto the next . . .
I did my best that day. When I got the feedback, I didn’t beat myself up. I took it in, digested it, figured out how to apply it to my next audition to make it better, then let it go. It takes practice, but letting go is key.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Believe In Abundance

I’ve been a working actress for over 30 years. I believe there will always be an abundance of work. I have a ‘knowing’ about that, an inner trust.
When I hear actors complain about the lack of work available, my response is “If that’s what you believe, that will be your experience.” Where thoughts go, energy flows.
Talent is important, but I’ve seen many talented actors fail because they don’t do the marketing that’s required. Think of yourself as a product. Then package and market it well.
You will succeed if you believe you will. Keep showing up.

Article contributed to "Making It In Entertainment" (title subject to change) by Jennifer Vaughn, author of "Making It In The Media."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Be Bold, Brag A Little!

Advice For Actors . . .
You have to want to be an actor with every fiber of your being. If you have any doubts, or think you need something to fall back on just in case the acting thing doesn't work out, do something else. There are too many dedicated & talented actors out there who want nothing else & will do anything to achieve their dream. I never wanted anything else & I knew I would be successful if I put all of myself into my acting career. I rallied my parents behind my dream & they became my biggest fans.
You are a product. Brand yourself & market your product well. Do at least one thing every day to move your acting career forward. Yes, even on the weekends.
When I moved from Iowa to NYC to become an actress, I worked as a waitress until I didn't have to anymore. The money I made was wisely invested in my career. The job was flexible & my manager was supportive. He always made sure I could go to my auditions, even if it meant being short a waiter. Find a way to make ends meet that fully support you.
Never second guess what the casting director, or director, are looking for. When you present yourself, don't be what you think they want you to be. Get comfortable in your own skin & be yourself.
You'll take a lot of different classes over the years, if you want to improve. Take the best from each class & create your own technique that works for you. There is no one method that is the correct way. Only you know what speaks to your heart & helps fuel you.
I was doing a new play in NYC at an off-Broadway theatre. At one of the rehearsals, the director told me to bang my fist on the table before saying my next line. I resisted, saying that it didn't make sense to me to bang my fist on the table for no apparent reason. Just do it, he insisted. So I did. Out poured a flood of tears & deep anger that I didn't even know were there. I never resisted after that. Always be willing to play. Allow yourself to be surprised.
A wise old actor once told me that all actors need to learn to "go fishing" in-between their acting jobs. Later in life, I understood the meaning of this statement. Enjoy all aspects of your life. Learn new things, take time to explore, be curious & adventurous. It will all be helpful for your acting. Real life makes you who you are.
Where thoughts go, energy flows. Make sure your thoughts are positive.
Surround yourself with supportive, loving friends. If they're not behind you 100%, they're not good for you.
Envision yourself succeeding. See it, feel it, breathe it in & out. You are everything you imagine yourself to be. Imagine yourself wildly successful!
Reporters who have never met you will write things about you that just aren't true. It happened to me while I was on Another World. It was upsetting at the time, but now I've learned that it's good to be talked about & that people will say whatever they want to say anyway. Don't dwell on it. Let it go. Pay attention to the good things that are being said about you. There will be far more positive comments. Enjoy them!
An actor friend of mine told me that he had trouble talking about his successes. He said it felt like he was bragging. No one is going to know what you've done unless you share it. When you have successes, share them with the world. Be bold. Brag a little!

Article contributed to "Actresses @ Work/Cautionary Tales from the Rank and File" by Molly Cheek and Debbie Zipp (not yet published).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Theatrical Demo Reel


To view more clips visit www.annemariehoward.com
Edited by Jim Legoy with clips from Nip/Tuck, Castle, Desperate Housewives, You Don't Mess With The Zohan, Criminal Minds, Close To Home, UNfabulous, The Weather Man, and Las Vegas.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keep Showing Up!

“Keep showing up.”

That’s the best advice I’ve been given recently, and I’m passing it on.

When you’ve been kicking around as long as I have, sometimes the slumps weigh on you. Let’s face it, when you’re auditioning and not booking, it’s a drag. When you’re not getting appointments, it’s even worse. But when you’re cast in a good role . . . Well, that’s what keeps us all going, isn’t it?

We all want to be working, all the time. So we keep showing up. We make the effort. We put ourselves out there over & over again. We hone our craft.

We’re prepared. We’ve learned our lines & thought a lot about the audition material, maybe even hired a coach. We’ve found the part of ourselves that resonates with the character. We go to our auditions dressed how our character would dress, not in costume, but owning the role. We give it our best shot.

Then, after the audition, we let it go.

It’s okay to acknowledge ways you could improve the next time, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel you nailed it. It’s a waste of time & energy that’s much better spent moving forward.

Market yourself. Network. Send out your material. Build a website. Too many actors forget this part. They think if they have an agent or manager, it will be done for them. Not true.

Learn how to brand yourself. Take classes. Utilize Facebook, Twitter & other social network sites. Send picture postcards. Create e-mail blasts to announce appearances. Make sure your accounts with LA Casting, Actors Access, Casting Frontier, and other casting sites, are up-to-date.

See theatre. It’s a great place to learn & be inspired. Even better, do theatre. It’s a great place to learn your craft. For me, the stage feels like home because it’s where I started out.

When I hear other actors complain about the lack of work available, my response is, “If that’s what you believe, that will be your experience.” Where thoughts go, energy flows.

However, that’s not my experience. I’ve been a working actress for over 30 years and I believe there will always be an abundance of work. I have a ‘knowing’ about that, an inner trust. And I trust that the next job will come, and the next one, and the next one . . .

Why? Because I keep showing up.

Anne Marie Howard is regularly seen guest starring on TV. She’s also spotted frequently in feature films & has appeared in hundreds of commercials. Her career began onstage in Ottumwa, Iowa at the age of 4 in the musical, Carousel. She studied acting in NYC at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Neighborhood Playhouse & with Stella Adler. Well-known for playing Nicole Love on Another World & Kimberly Brady on Days of Our Lives, Anne Marie is currently recurring on Make It Or Break It. Check out her website at www.annemariehoward.com.


Article published in "Hollywood Dailies: Behind the Reel" by Travis Britton.