Becoming An Empowered Actor

SERIES PART 1

*Don’t read if you aren’t down with some cursing*

In an industry that often feels like a locked and gated community that we as actors aren’t holding the keys for, can sometimes feel like a sh*t place to live and work in. Any underdog energy and naive wide eyed gratefulness we are carrying for any “opportunity” that comes our way can be difficult for us to recognize.

We love this craft.

The high we feel when an audition invite comes in and the exhilaration of BOOKING the job is unmatched by most anything else we’ve experienced. Being a member of a “set family”, exploring the script and creating character gifts a surreal freedom and some pure f*cking creative joy. 

As I look back on my career thus far, there are some things I would do differently. In this series, let’s talk about an agent meeting that I had back when the film Manchester By The Sea was released. A friend of mine, and fellow actor, who was currently on this particular agency’s roster was kind enough to refer me to them. I had been working on commercials, industrials and indy films for years and now I had booked a supporting role in an Academy Award winning film. I had joined SAG, I had built and fostered relationships over the years with casting directors and I was constantly learning, training and growing in my craft. This meeting must have gone excellent and I was asked to sign with them immediately, right?

Wrong.

It didn’t go well at all. I left there thinking that they weren’t going to sign me and I was right.

So what happened?

A few things, beginning with me being cloaked in underdog energy. “What? A larger agency in New York wanted to meet with ME?” If only time travel was possible and I could go back and grab the woman I was by the shoulders and look her dead in the eye, tell her “Tits up!” and list off the track record of work and accomplishments she had garnered so far in the face of far less than ideal circumstances. But alas, here we are.

I’m an introvert and can be what some might consider quiet and shy when I first meet someone. Throw in a few glasses of wine and I have the confidence of Amy Schumer at stand-up, but alas no wine is served at these kinds of meetings so after falling flat on my ass at this one I learned a very valuable lesson.

I had to get on my own team.

I had to make a list of everything I was already bringing to the table. Your reps are a part of YOUR team. Talent meetings are very much you interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. I simply didn’t have the experience to grasp this, yet. 

Now with the benefit of hindsight and multiple successful talent agent and manager meetings under my belt, I have some insight to share if you are searching for some on this topic.

First and foremost, get on your own team. Empower yourself by listing out everything you already bring to the table. 

1. Your training.

What are you consistently doing to elevate and develop your craft? All great actors never stop training and learning. Have a list of your recent classes and workshops to discuss.

2. Your relationships with casting directors.

Be prepared to talk about what offices call you in regularly and which casting directors you are building relationships with through workshops and email updates when you have new materials or bookings to share.

3. Your goals.

Is it to book your first co-star? Is your goal to move on from co-stars to guest star and/or recurring? Series regular? Film?

 Don’t have clear goals outlined, yet? 

You can’t plan out a route if you don’t have a destination.

Seriously, reflect on them today and write them down. You need this information. Be prepared to discuss shows you believe you are a fit for that are shooting in your target market and also what types of roles you see yourself playing.

4. Have your questions ready.

Here is a list of some examples for you.

I hope this helps and that any upcoming talent rep meetings go excellent for you.

I also hope you do your art today. Empower yourself with recognizing that you never need an invite from someone else to create. Practice a monologue, create a self-tape, write a short scene, write a short film, film a scene using three camera angles using just the camera on your phone and a tripod, edit it together in Imovie, the possibilities are as limitless as the infinite galaxy of creativity that you already possess.

Much love,

Jami

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