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camera-690163_1280“What have you done for me lately?!” Mr. Martello called out to his new ensemble cast. He was my high school drama teacher. He was revered by the student body and the community for putting on truly excellent theater that put other schools to shame including some local colleges. But this statement seemed awfully self-serving. He continued, “I don’t care if you were the star of every show you’ve ever auditioned for – that was then, this is now. No one is a star now. ‘What have you done for me lately’ is the question. We’re about to find out. It’s time to get to work.”  Mr. Martello was a wise man. He knew that was they way to approach every day.

As you move forward in your acting career, I always want you to be asking yourself that question. Through each of these steps, through every audition, through every day on the set, you must remember that while experience matters, the experience that matters most is the present. That’s good and bad. It’s good because whatever failures you had are in the past and success can begin.  It’s bad because, well, that’s a lot of pressure isn’t it?  Tough.  Take a deep breath, go do your best and let the other people squirm their way out of success. With that in mind, here are the first three steps:

Step 1: Go get some experience.

I don’t care how talented you are or how great your audition is, if you don’t have some kind of a ACTING resume to show a talent agent, casting director, or any other “door-opener”, you are not ready to dive into the professional talent pool. The “Door-openers” know this rule and follow it.  As I said in the Getting Started post, this is a business. Would you hire someone with no experience knowing they will be on camera in front of thousands, possibly millions of people – people you want to influence? The answer is almost always a resounding “No”.  Ah ha! I hear someone saying “But Larry, what about all those actors who got ‘discovered’ and had no acting experience?”  Look, if that really happened (and it may have in extremely rare cases), do you really want to try your luck at getting discovered by accident? If your answer is ‘yes’, you probably don’t have the passion and desire needed to truly succeed in this industry. Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to work our butts off to make it in this business. Check out my Acting for Free?! post for info on getting this critical step done.

Step 2: Go get some PROFESSIONAL headshots.

Headshots are the business card of the acting industry. They are the first impression Door-openers have of you. They are your most important marketing tool. Marketing? Yes – remember this is a business and you are selling YOU.  If you give a Door-opener a snapshot of you that your “bestie” took on a good hair day, you might as well hand them a snotty tissue – because that is the look you’re probably going to get.  On the other hand, an excellent headshot can get you in front of Door-openers and, on some occasions, even book you the job without an audition!  That can happen when you’re being considered for print work and sometimes for specialty work that requires performance skills you possess (e.g. teleprompter experience/certification, juggling, etc.). Bottom line, competitive headshots are a must. Don’t go cheap on your most important marketing tool! Check out my post on Headshots for a more detailed discussion on this topic.

Step 3: Go get some training.

My guess is that if you are reading this blog to get started in the acting industry, you don’t have a Master’s of Fine Arts in Acting from Columbia or NYU.  And if you do, you know the value of ongoing acting training from reputable  teachers and coaches.  Not only is it critical to get outside coaching on your acting, but it is a must on your acting resume’.  Acting is a serious art form that can be a very rewarding (and lucrative) career. Even pro athletes have coaches and trainers off the field. You need them when you’re off the stage and camera. My personal endorsement for acting schools in Atlanta is The Company Acting Studio. Classes are very reasonably priced and the training is not only fantastic, but recognized by many door-openers in the industry – especially in the Southeast.

OK. You’ve got the initial prep work done. In my next post, we’ll hit the next three steps which is where you start to engage the industry to get your foot in the door! Seven Steps To A Professional Acting Career – Part 2