Archives for posts with tag: agent

Last week, I attended an open meeting with a commercial agent at the actor’s union (SAG-AFTRA) office. As a Meisner trained actor, I am confident stating listening is a strength of mine. screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-2-06-11-pmCommercials, however, while they may involve listening or reacting to another actor or situation, are more likely to be a monologue. In every situation an actor must bring herself to the material, let it flow through without pushing, relax, have fun, and ultimately play!

The ‘Casting Access’ opportunity stipulated “bring 30 seconds of commercial copy”, your headshot and resume, oh, and it is not advised to wear flip-flops. They really have to say that; maybe it’s for the L.A. folks. This was to be my very first foray into commercials. Of all the classes in which I have invested, from improv to auditioning for the camera, I now shake my head that so potentially lucrative a field as commercials was overlooked. Commercial acting is … acting, but it is also specific in its technique, and thanks to the Q&A with the agent, there is now a serious value for years of thorough improv training.

Google [personally I utilize blackle.com] knows everything, and with a quickness I found an ice cream commercial that felt right for me, “my type”, the young mom, shall we say. I worked on memorizing it, and the day came for my very first commercial audition, albeit for a commercial agent. As far as I could feel, it went exceedingly well. He was very positive with his feedback, remarking he could see me recalling the memory like we do in real life (the cogs turning so-to-speak), I was warm and brought my organic essence; I felt like I had nailed it. Then, I had to let it go. Doing fantastic makes one levitate with ecstatic satisfaction- you feel validated, like “yeah, I am very good”. In the end, though, in every aspect of life, we have to let it go, move on, because after we do whatever it is we do, there is the next moment in life, and holding on to the past stifles the future.

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SundanceOn-set, talking with others tends to be easy- the outgoing side of my nature shines, making people laugh and enjoy the energy brought instantly.  However, another part of my nature enjoys quiet time.  Thankfully, when I was blessed with a commercial (turned out to be with J.Lo for Verizon) the energizing upswing was in full force.  I wonder now, if the “diet” I was utilizing (a book by nutritionist Haylie Pomroy) helped push those hormones in the positive direction.  Please, forgive the tangent.

Point being, the commercial paired me with an adorably freckled boy, Cameron, who looked like he could have been my kid.  His actual mom and I hit it off, having a poignant conversation-exactly what my little self needed to hear that day.  (Love those moments in life when you realize what is happening is the best medicine for you, and, truth is every moment IS that best cure.)  Thanks to the guidance of BBR Productions: I offered an exchange of information- handing the lovely mom, Whitney, my business card and we ended up connecting through Facebook.  This was months ago, and yet this week she messaged me: “Hey!!! Can u call me right now!!!!! I might have huge audition for u now!!!!”  Well, with that many exclamation points, I did not delay.

Though I had just crossed the threshold, home from filming on “White Collar”, having woke long before sunrise, I eagerly called her. She told me about a new game-show, “The Million Second Quiz” with Ryan Seacrest, auditioning for a questioner. Her agent had gotten her this opportunity, but she could not commit to a 12 day stretch of 12 hour shifts because she has children.  Two o’clock nap-time postponed, I raced, running in three-inch-wedge-heels to catch the train before departure… then sat waiting as it pulled away from the platform a good three minutes late.  Alas, the important part is I made it, happily in the rain!  It is required for the questioner to have good diction, smooth reading, and to remain confident with unfamiliar words- not providing a “tell”, right or wrong, when reading the answer choices: I got the part.

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For a third time, I will be playing a "Smash"‘costumer’ on the NBC show “Smash”.   This time I received a call from casting without even submitting for the role!  One can join casting websites, whether you belong to the Union or not, where casting directors post roles with type descriptions for current/upcoming projects. The first time I was contacted by this casting agency, I had been submitting for over a month on numerous parts.  Thankfully, the background casting company (Grant Wilfley) finally called to confirm my availability for the shoot date and tell me the necessary wardrobe to bring to set.  The soundstage was in Brooklyn, they were filming a baseball dance routine rehearsal; there was great catering, and it made me giggle to hear Anjelica Huston’s laugh at lunch.  

About five weeks ago, after submitting to another post for a ‘costumer’, casting called me again!  I was told wardrobe was “wear one/bring one”.  Simply put, they were getting more bang for their buck by using me twice (they do pay a little extra for a wardrobe change).  First up, I sat as an audience member in one outfit- had I truly been out for a night at the theater in late Fall (season specific, though it filmed in Winter).  This time filming was on-location at a gorgeous theater in Manhattan.  What a glorious day at work, being entertained by guest star Bernadette Peters singing and dancing in the episode’s on-stage routine at a historic vaudeville theater.

Picking me out in an audience wide-shot, or the back of my head as the camera flies toward the stage would be a challenge.  However, changing into my own all black wardrobe of a ‘costumer’, and an apron with some fabric swatches provided by the Props department, I stand on-stage with both Anjelica Huston and Bernadette Peters!  Despite not having any lines, it remains an immense thrill to be a part of a live set.  A phone call from casting today, to portray a costumer tomorrow, pleased me beyond words.  No post was there for which I submitted- I have made it to a short list- in a very good way.

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I have been exposed to a new term- “Background Whore”.  On-set consorting with fellow extras one man told me how he worked four, sometimes five, days a week using this term, though now his focus is honing his basketball skills so he can take advantage of the next commercial opportunity to be one of the tall players chosen.  A commercial pays more than double what one day as a television or movie background actor garners, plus possible residuals.  This young man revealed he had been working this way, ‘whoring’, for a year and a half.

Another actress posed the question of whether this (working as an extra) was my ultimate aim.  She did not mean to offend, however I was aghast, later realizing- it was a good question I needed to hear. Knowing the answer and taking action toward a truer goal- while I am full of gratitude to be making money to cover bills through this endeavor rather than relying solely on savings- I WANT A PRINCIPAL ROLE! and desire to focus efforts on achievement!!  This same day, still on the set of ‘Smash’, I was called to play a stewardess on Martin Scorsese’s current film project ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.  Though far from the mark, still a step closer, an opportunity to share space and be seen- perhaps even bumped up to having a line by a well respected director.

From what I heard, redheads are favorably singled out by Mr. Scorsese. We shall see, indeed my hopes are this hearsay carries validity.  In any case, I will be on-set with one of the great film makers of our time and there most certainly will be something valuable to be learned.  Since becoming more re-familiarized working as an extra, I feel I have lost some of the curiosity and irreverence from my first day on ‘Made In Jersey’.  Then I barely stayed in ‘Holding’, rather enjoying the outside and watching the movement of the crew and directors- staying out of the way- but also staying in eyesight: ever smiling.  Be interested, and you shall be interesting- I heard that cleverness somewhere smart.

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The average yearly income for an actor in the state of California is $60,000….a median number I would will be happy to earn next year.  This fact was delivered to my attention in the form of a notice stating $4030.50 was due by me before September 15th. Thankfully, a pleasant and knowledgable Jack in Sacramento made this simple mistake, via the city of Los Angeles, disappear.  Some individuals might have become worked-up over a scary expensive notice with no validity, but because I knew there was zero truth to the claim- it was easy to laugh.

I love how we are tested to practice what we preach.  This bill arrived the day I signed up to become a member of SAG-AFTRA, the union for professional film, television, and radio artists.  A weighty decision- admittedly not contained in the budgetary savings- with a price tag of $3,000.  Being eligible to join from time studying/pursuing acting in Los Angeles, I committed to the currency of this endeavor after taking a step back and re-evaluating the ultimate goal: to be working as an actress professionally.  Naturally, at some point, to achieve this ambition I would eventually be paying the initiation fee to be a part of this organization.  So why now?

Because, one company (utilized by ‘Boardwalk Empire’) supplying background actors for television and films shot in New York, where it pleases me to reside, allows union members to register with them on the first Wednesday of each month.  Non-union actors are invited to mail a headshot/resume, and submit themselves for occasionally updated casting notices listed on the website.  This option seemed to present a lower opportunity for success.  The intention is in pursuit to live the life of my dreams: to be paid as an artist, therefore, I consider this a necessary investment moving me toward my professional career!  In spite of the monetary magnitude, I am grateful for the skill alluded to with this status.  When approaching agents and casting directors one less obstacle, that may or may not have been preventing progress, is removed.  I was already behaving as a professional and now I made it official!

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Since childhood, I have a fascination with wolves.  Perhaps it was growing up always with rottweilers (earnestly loving their little bear-cub looking puppiness and the sweet protectiveness ours grew into) while my best friends’ parents were cops with German shepherds.  Or maybe, being an only child until the age of twelve lent itself to the independent, lone wolf mentality.  In fact, wolves are endangered, misunderstood, and loyal.  When I began in Show-Business, my fledgling actor self arrogantly questioned “Why does anyone need an agent, except because the system says so?”; why give ten percent of moneys earned, when I am doing all the acting? Silly girl.

Now, working full-time as my own agent (submitting for auditions), manager (creating a brand/voice), and publicist (contacting media), I realize – when will I have time to audition, not to mention act in the parts I will procure!?!  And…. create time to continue efforts in attaining said opportunities to act professionally.  This is when I realize: an agent is not someone simply taking a cut, or working as a middle-person to weed out the truly talented from the masses of flash-in-the-pan wannabes.  An agent is a Professional, a dream I share.  Only mine is one of acting, and earning in complete sustainability of this humble lifestyle: TO ACT full-time is the goal. This, I realize, includes a business team– numerous persons putting together cover letters, headshots, resume, press packets, and providing professional relationships.

It is trite to read: if there is ANYTHING else you could be happy doing, by all means do it…. the truth is- the business side of the show can be tedious.  Having walked a block in the shoes of a show-Business professional, I barely have a glimpse of what their day in and day out drudgery entails.  I whole heartedly respect the side of the biz in which I have less experience.  Do what you love, and you shall be happy.  Part of my goals going forward involves developing a loyal pack to represent the vitality and passion for this art, with the prerequisite flair for the business aspect of this exhibition.

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