As we navigate through these murky waters of the entertainment industry while attempting to stay safe, sane and healthy, many are trying to figure out what this new normal will look like.
Well, I got a taste of it first-hand when two weeks into “sheltering in place,” I booked a National Commercial. Yup! You heard me right. No, I didn’t break quarantine and run out to a casting office to audition. I literally had to put myself on tape in less than 24 hours and was told if I was lucky enough to score a callback, instructions would be forwarded regarding how to prepare. In the event clients and the ad agency liked me, that footage would be used in the actual spot.
As daunting as this could’ve been, it was a piece of cake for me (a self-proclaimed tech geek). I was armed with a plethora of recording devices, lights, microphones, tripods and my condo provided the perfect location backdrop. My mind raced wondering about the hundreds of actors who are intimated by technology, yet alone uploading a file to email. The whole process took the entire day, with extra time the day before to figure out the exact location, how to connect, etc. It was daunting, frustrating, thrilling and exhilarating all at once. There was a sense of accomplishment that I completed an entire shoot alone with the end result culminating in some mailbox money.
I have to admit, I always hated self-tapes or taped auditions. As a major people person, I was convinced people needed to be in the room to connect with my effervescent essence.
What the hell was I thinking?
Putting myself on tape is the gift that keeps on giving.
I can do the material as many times as I want until I get it right. After all, it is my job to get my essence across no matter what character I am playing. The camera is my audience, the casting directors, the producers, the writers and the better acquainted I become with that reality the more bookings I shall procure.
This commercial was just the tip of the iceberg! Self-taping IS the new normal and has been for quite some time. COVID-19 just acerbated the process.
That is why now, more than ever actors need to be crystal clear about who they are. What is your type? What makes you unique? All those quirky, crazy things folks would point out as your faults are actually your secret weapon and your super-power. You are a Wonder Woman, Black Panther and Superman waiting to be unleashed for the masses. How you choose to do that is totally up to you.
So, while you are shut in, locked down and sheltering in place, get that reel together, takes some online classes, make a career business plan, work on some monologues, pull out some side from parts you didn’t book and play around with those characters to discover something brilliant you didn’t know you had lurking underneath.
Don’t know how to put yourself on tape? That’s what YouTube and online classes are for. You can either complain or get to cracking so that you are 100% ready to roll when those restrictions are lifted. I promise you those actors taking advantage of this gift of time we all so grossly squandered are the ones who will emerge victorious. It’s like this advice I got in an audition workshop about comedy, “the ones who get the laughs…get the gig.”
Be prepared, stay ready and the life changing opportunities will find you.
Author: Carla Renata,
Carla Renata is a multi-talented actress, branding expert, film critic and author of The Actor's Guide to Self-Marketing: How to Brand and Promote Your Unique Image.
Having recurred as "Janet" on NBC-TV's Superstore for the last five seasons, Carla broke records becoming the first actress to recur on four sitcoms simultaneously in one episodic season TWICE! A graduate of Howard University, she also broke records becoming one of the first post-quarantine actors to book a commercial online via self-tape. Her book can be found online via Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and she is a much sought after Adjunct Professor at Universities and Colleges all over the country.
As a practicing Buddhist, her philosophy is that one should embrace what is unique - ultimately becoming what we believe. It is those core beliefs that has allowed Carla to flourish in multiple lanes of the entertainment industry ranging from voice-over to commercials to episodic televison to online workshops to a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic with her own show on Black Hollywood and request Guest Film Expert for Fox 11 Los Angeles.