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. 

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. 

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  

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