November 28, 2011

Sometimes You Get Gut Punched

I've been meaning to tell you all about this experience for a couple of months now. Back in August, I booked a day player role for a feature film called 'Hello, I Must Be Going...' starring Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men). I had about 3-4 lines in the film playing a restaurant hostess that flirts with Melanie's ex-husband as they walk into the restaurant where I work.

The scene was filmed in Connecticut so I had to travel there by train the day before and the producers put me and the other actors up at a hotel. The morning of the shoot, we were all driven to set and once I got there, I immediately had feelings of trepidation. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, I just had a nagging feeling that something bad was going to happen. I pushed the feelings aside because I wanted to have a good shoot and I was still very excited about playing this part. I had just filmed 'What Maisie Knew' (the scene with Alexander Skarsgard) a couple of weeks before and I was still riding that wave of happiness at booking two big features back to back.

I went to hair and makeup and waited to be called to set. Production was behind schedule so we got started a couple of hours late probably around 10AM. The scene was seemingly pretty simple, Melanie's character walks into the restaurant with her ex-husband played by Dan Futterman (A Mighty Heart), he and I have a little inside joke/flirtation, and then I walk them to their table and give him a flirty smile as I walk away. After that, the two of them (the two exes) have a long conversation that results in her walking out on him. Simple.

So, the director decides to shoot the second half of the scene first. This is where I walk them to the table...etc. However, their conversation is well over 5 minutes long. Shooting me walking them to the table, handing them menus and the long conversation takes a few hours, allowing the director to shoot the wide shots, two shots, and Dan's closeups. Then we broke for lunch.

While eating, this is when that nagging feeling comes back. I overhear the director saying how they have to be out of the restaurant by 4PM. It's after 1PM and we have not shot Melanie's closeups yet. The set also needs to be completely changed around. Once lunch is finished, the crew gets to work changing the set in order to shoot Melanie's closeups. Once they start filming her, this takes another couple of hours. The director is running the scene from start to finish for every single take. There were many takes where either Melanie or Dan flub lines and the entire take needs to be scrapped, even if it's almost finished. Keeping in mind, each take lasts roughly 7 minutes. All in all, the second half of the scene probably ran close to 30 takes.

When the second half is finally finished, the crew begins to strike the set. At this point, the restaurant workers have started to arrive and are preparing to open the restaurant for business. I had known for sure around 2:30PM that my lines would not be filmed but the director, Todd Louiso, finally confirms it once the scene wraps. He obviously needed to shoot the second half first because it was the most important part of the scene and I understood that. He was also very apologetic and seemed genuinely sorry that I would not get to fully play my role. Despite the apology, I was bitterly disappointed and very angry. I could barely contain my tears long enough to walk away and call my manager. Once I got him on the phone, I broke down. He explained to me that I was still booked and going to be billed as a principal actor, that I would still get paid the principal rate. But that didn't matter to me.

It was heartbreaking. As an actor, you spend so much money on classes/headshots/clothes/etc., you go on audition after audition, facing rejection after rejection. But, you keep getting up and going to the next one because you know that your time is going to come. Then, you finally book that job, the job that will give you perfect footage for your reel, look great on your resume, and give you that emotional boost to keep going. You sign your principal contract. You even get on set, get your hair and makeup done, get dressed, and spend the whole day doing your job, waiting for your little moment to shine.

And then the rug gets pulled out from under you. To work so hard, to be that close, to literally be on set and then have the opportunity taken away, through no fault of your own, is infuriating. 

I remember having to pull myself together long enough to say thank you and goodbye to the director and producers. I thanked them for the opportunity and I remained as professional as I could under the circumstances. Even Melanie seemed really sad that I didn't get to do my part and she also apologized and gave me a big hug before I was taken back to the train station. I spent the hour and a half train ride home trying not to cry. But when I got home, I cried for two days every time I thought about it, or talked about it. I kept getting angry. I was angry at the lack of time that resulted in my part getting cut. But I was even more angry at the fact that a role that was so important to me, wasn't really important at all. That was the worst feeling, knowing that I didn't matter, that I was expendable.

I suppose you could call it a humbling experience....and being humbled pissed me off too (haha!) because I feel that I have a deep appreciation for everything that I get out of this business. I don't take anything for granted and I work very hard. I kept trying to figure out the lesson in this situation because I didn't understand what I was supposed to be learning.

The biggest thing that I have learned from this is that no matter how close you get, how hard you work, or how much you may think you deserve something, things don't always work out and you have to be able to bounce back quickly. It's okay to feel upset or sad, but you can't let it stop you from moving forward. I've also learned not to put too much stake into really small roles that aren't integral to the story because, most of the time, if there is a lack of time/funds, that will be the first part to get scrapped or end up on the cutting room floor. I look at these parts as necessary for establishing relationships with casting directors, building a resume, and building reel. Once you do enough of them, you'll get the chance to start auditioning for parts that really mean something to the story and allow you to be more creative as a performer.

November 14, 2011

Progress Report

This past month has been VERY busy for me and while I have a couple of awesome bookings, my booking ratio wasn't that high this month.

1. Most excitingly, I shot a co-star role on the TV drama 'The 2-2'. This show is being executive produced by Robert DeNiro and stars Leelee Sobieski. It's a cop drama centering around a group of young rookies. In fact, I think the original title of the show was 'Rookies'.


2. Had a general meeting/audition with a casting exec at BET. She's prepping for a slew of new tv pilots that BET will be producing next year and wants to see what kind of talent NYC has to offer. The meeting was awesome and she had nothing but great things to say about me. She was gushing over my headshots and told me that my performances were very natural and that I have a very bright future ahead of me. Hopefully I'll be auditioning for some series regular roles for her in the next few months. 


3. I took a 4 week improv class at The PIT (People's Improv Theater) and had A BLAST!! It was so much fun and really liberating. I was scared shitless at first but I learned quickly to just let loose and go balls to the wall. It's already helped me in my auditions, especially in terms of thinking on my feet and being more courageous with my choices. I'm currently researching classes at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) and may take one with a couple of my friends.

4. Auditioned for a lead role in a Hallmark Channel movie, no dice. That was a bummer because the story was pretty awesome. I also auditioned for a lead role in a SAG low-budget feature. No dice there, either.


5. I have had a handful of commercial and voice over auditions. I had a callback for one of the commercials today and they are currently holding me for ten days. I'm never optimistic about VO auditions because in two years, I have never booked a single one. I mean, NOT A SINGLE ONE!

6. I shot a print ad for Always feminine products, and while it was a long grueling shoot, the pay rate is very high and kept a smile on my face.

7. I re-signed with Buchwald, this time for 3 years. 


8. Oh, and I had my first guest star role audition for a show that will not be named because it's pretty embarrassing. I didn't get it, but it was exciting to move up the TV audition ladder. 

----So, as you can see, I went out a lot for a pretty large range of projects and I only booked two. I think that it's time for me to get back into a really great acting class because I'm starting to go out for bigger roles and I want to make sure that my skill set is up to par. 

November 10, 2011

Q & A

I hope you all have been well!!
 
Anyway, this past month has been pretty busy and blogging just kind of fell to the back burner. I have a progress report post coming up in the next few days. I'm sorry for taking so long to post the answers to these questions, I feel pretty terrible about it. 
 
Dreamlover225 asked....
Hi! Andrea you're such an inspiration. About a year ago, I moved to NYC to model and I havent had much luck.

Its difficult because I hear so much conflicting advice. I read a book that says you don't need professional pictures to apply to an agency but then others say that you do.

I don't know if its difficult to get into an agency at this point and time because of the economy or what.

I really appreciate your advice, though. Good luck with everything!
 
 
---Thank you!! Now, I know that you posted this question on my "Becoming A Commercial Print Model" post, and that post pretty much answers your dilemma in great detail. Here is a quote from the post:
 
"The photos don’t have to be amazing, but they should be professionally done (re: look professional) even if they are the result of a trade. A simple smiling headshot is perfect when you’re starting out."
 
You absolutely need at least one photo in order to get started as a model. It doesn't have to be a professional photo, but it has to look professional. Re-read my blog post, it's a pretty comprehensive summary that could help you get over your current hump.
 
Mark asked....
Say someone who is like me, all they got is one student film, would it be ok for them to start going after commercials. OR would it be a bad idea since it can make them a SAG?
 
---Go after commercials whenever you feel like it, it's up to you. Booking one commercial will make you eligible. Any SAG jobs you book after that will make you a "must join". I would go after commercials while still trying to build my resume with student films/indies/shorts/etc. Joining SAG before you have enough experience or even a reel can result in you being unable to compete on a professional level.
 
Never join SAG until you have to. Once you join, you will be unable to audition for any non-union work. 
 
Erica asked....
Hey..this is more a commercial question. How do I get a talent agent if I don't have a reel? Do I just submit pictures to the agency? I've already taken on-camera commercial classes.
 
 ---You don't need a reel for commercials. Reels are really only meant for tv/film actors. You would find a commercial agent much the same way you would find a theatrical agent. You would submit a headshot and resume via snail mail (email if you're bold), or ask a friend for a referral. Some actors try to meet agents and workshops and seminars, it's not my cup of tea, but it's an option all the same.
 
Harold asked....
What are the turn off and turn ons Casting directors would find in a resume.
 
--It might be better for you to ask this question to a casting director or an agent, but I'll do my best to answer you. Based on things that I've read or heard the past few years, CDs don't like when actors list extra/background work on their resumes. They also like for resumes to be well formatted and spell checked. If you don't have any experience at all, listing just your training is fine. If you're very young (under 22 years old) it's okay to list high school and college theater productions on your resume.

Under your "Special Skills" section, don't list anything that you can't do very well. If you've only been on a skateboard once, then listing it as a skill would be a mistake. Should you be called upon to show a casting director that skill, you will be perceived as unprofessional and misleading. Don't be afraid to list things that seem mundane, such as the fact that you have a valid US passport. If you live in NYC, listing that you have a driver's license is good. If you live in LA, it's pointless.

Sandy asked....
My main focus is on Tv/Film, do you think it is a must to have some theater background? Have you done theater and what was it like?
 
---I don't know if it's a "must", but it can NEVER hurt to have a theater background. A lot of casting directors love actors that have worked in theater. I have done a bunch of theater but haven't been on stage in about 3 years. I absolutely love theater and I find it to be very challenging. Performing on stage in front of hundreds or even thousands.....hell, just 10 people is very scary, but also exhilarating. The adrenaline rush is insane and so is the high that you feel as you're coming down from a performance. I would recommend that every actor perform in at least one play.

JJ asked....
Casting directors seem to love you! Im glad. But how is it that your charm them?
 
---I don't try to charm CDs. I just behave as myself. CDs are real people and they can tell when you're being fake or genuine. They just want to see you as you are, not putting on a front because you're trying to impress them. 
 
I think I have a pretty awesome personality, but I'm sure that there are people out there that can't stand me! Hahaha! Not everyone is going to love you, and that's okay. Always be yourself and you'll win more fans that way.
 
 
djwhiley asked......
I'm so happy you're doing this.
Lots and lots of questions to ask...
1. How do you determine your type? Am I the girl next door, wall flower, leading lady etc? It seems important to know this for headshots and knowing what roles to submit for
2. What sorts of photos should I have in my portfolio to start with?
3. NY or LA??
4. Do I really need an agent/agency to start?
Thanks in advance!
 
---I'm assuming that your first question is for acting? You don't need a "type" for commercial print. Commercial print, is about you as a person. If you're interested in finding your type for the purposes of acting, I wrote a blog post once on how I figured out my type. Bonnie Gillespie, is an indie casting director and a really great columnist for Actors Access. She's written countless columns on how to figure out your type. Are are a couple that I really like: here, here, and here.

2. You don't need a portfolio to get started in commercial print. Here is the link to last post that I made regarding how to get started as a print model.
 
3. That's up to you, both are great markets. If you are more interested in theater, I would say NYC for sure. For tv/film, there is more work in LA, but NYC is still great. Mayor Bloomberg signed a ton of tax incentives last year that make it more economical for productions to shoot here in NYC, as a result, over 20 TV pilots were filmed here this year, many of which were picked up. 
 
4. For acting, not really. You can start doing student films and no-budget indies without an agent. For print work, you need an agent in order to be seen for print castings.
 
Joel asked....
You should do a youtube channel, that would be so cool. Can you also talk about your experience of Acting Schools in NYC, what they were like and which one you like best. And which was afforable.
 
---I've considered a youtube channel, but blogging is already a lot of work! 
I've only been to one acting school here in NYC, The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. I dropped out after one semester so....yeah. The classes were great, but it was too restrictive for my blood. I don't have enough experience with acting schools to justify writing an entire post about them. I prefer private acting classes with less than 14 students. 
 
Finding a great acting class is a lot of trial and error. You just have to keep trying out classes until you find what works best for you.  I'm currently on the hunt for my next
 
Dear Lovely asked....
I didn't want to have to ask this here because it's not a big question or anything but I'm curious. Did you ever take a picture for a Social Psychology textbook? lol
I'm reading through my textbook now and I swear this is you! If not, you have a doppelganger! lol

---Not that I know of! I did do a shoot for a test prep book once, but it was for the cover. Hmm, I'm curious to see the photo though. Maybe it's from a stock photography shoot I did a few years ago.

September 29, 2011

Becoming A Commercial Print Model


Disclaimer: This post is about Commercial Print, because this is the only type of modeling that I do and feel confident speaking of. I am NOT an expert and am only speaking from MY perspective based on MY experiences. I always encourage others to try different methods that may work for them. Please keep in mind that this post mostly deals with major markets such as NYC or Los Angeles. I don’t know anything about smaller markets or the resources available to aspiring models in those markets. 

I tried to make this as in depth as possible so it’s quite a lengthy read. Pop some popcorn and grab a drink!


***********************************

I cannot tell you guys how many emails I get from people asking me how to get started as a model. My eyes always kind of glaze over when I read the question because, frankly, there is no simple way to answer it. But I’m starting to realize that what people are REALLY asking is for me to tell them what I did to get started.

So, here is a summary of how I got started:

I met a photographer at a photo printing studio who asked me if I’d ever considered modeling. Yes, I had considered it, but didn’t feel a strong enough desire to pursue it. I also had the misguided notion that working as a model would somehow lower my credibility as an actor. Oh, youth. Anyway, we chatted a bit and he told me about a website called Model Mayhem, which is a really great networking site for models, photographers, makeup artists, etc. Users create their “portfolios” and add their stats and photo preferences for other to peruse. People then reach out to each other to collaborate on projects, usually on a trade basis. Meaning, you each work for free with the understanding that you will have new photos for your portfolio. He gave me his card and I left.

I checked out his work on Model Mayhem and really liked what I saw. He had good references and I felt like I could get some good photos out of a trade. So, we did a shoot and I got some adorable photos. Well, at the time they were adorable but I hope they never surface in the future. Haha!!!

I created a page on MM with about 5 photos, including one of my first headshots. I immediately started getting messages with requests to collaborate on photoshoots. A couple of months after putting up my page, I got a phone call from a hair weave/extension company that was looking for models for an upcoming shoot. I was only moderately interested until the woman told me that I’d be paid $500 for the day. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!?? I had never been paid for a modeling or acting job up to this point so it was VERY exciting for me.

Doing that shoot and walking out with a $500 check was exhilarating. I was a model! For the next several months my only paid modeling jobs were with this company because I did not have an agent. I’d ended up going back to Texas for about 6 months (this was the end of 2007) and came back in April of 2008. I linked up with the hair company again, did some more shoots with them, and I got some new headshots as a trade with a photographer who was building his portfolio. Sometime around October of 2008 I submitted 3 photos to Gilla Roos (now closed) who gave people the chance to submit photos through their website. Two days later, I got a call from them and was asked to come in for a meeting. I went in and met Jillian who took me on right away. About two weeks later, I booked my first major print job, earning $4000. I ended up booking two more jobs before Gilla Roos closed, and a few months later I submitted to an agent at CESD via facebook. Yes, facebook. I was contacted for a meeting that same day and have worked with them ever since. Around that same time. Jillian started the print division (PMG Models) at Prestige Management Group and introduced me to my manager, Christopher Silveri.

That’s how I became a model and got with my first agencies.

The biggest mistake that a lot aspiring models make is that they try to become fashion models. If you aren't at least 5'7" IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They don't do their research enough to learn about all of the different types of modeling. Besides commercial print and fashion, there's beauty modeling, fitness modeling, maternity, glamour (aka nude, think Playboy), urban modeling, fetish (I hear it pays well...), and the often overlooked parts modeling (hands, feet, legs).

The most common and recognized style aside from fashion is commercial print. It's also the most lucrative.

What Is Commercial Print?

It’s not fashion. That’s not to say you may never be modeling clothes (I’ve worked for Puma), because there are plenty of “commercial” clothing lines that will hire commercial print models for their clothes. But as a general rule, commercial print is all about products. I’m talking anything from toothpaste, cell phones, pain meds, hair color, candy, etc.

There are no height or weight requirements, age limits, or racial boundaries. People of all ages, races, and weights purchase/need/want various products and commercial print models represent those demographics. Some commercial print models are gorgeous or what many clients like to refer to as aspirational (meaning, they want the targeted consumer to see the person and aspire to be just like them), some look like average/everyday people, some are really hip or tough looking, some are super preppy. It just depends on what the client is looking for. The most important thing is that the model seems relatable to the client’s targeted customer base.

Commercial print ads tend to project happiness, contentment, or satisfaction with whichever product is being represented. It is rare that you will see a print ad where the model seems unhappy. If the model is unhappy, it’s usually for comedic reasons.

Grab a magazine and flip through it. Pay attention to the advertisements that you see and take note of what kinds of models are in the ads. Pay attention to their facial expressions and body language. This is the type of energy that you, as a commercial print model, will need to project when having your photos taken. That relaxed, happy energy is what will get you booked.

Print vs Fashion

A lot of people ask me if print models make more money than fashion models. The general answer is yes. Obviously, if your name is Chanel Iman or Adriana Lima, that’s not true. In order to make really good money in fashion, you have to be a “name”. Sounds familiar, right?

All of the fashion models that I know say that the bulk of their income comes from doing fashion shows. The pay rates are from a few hundred to a few thousand per model. The biggest source of income for fashion models are campaigns, and most of those go to super models or models that are already building names for themselves. Editorials don’t pay much at all. I’m talking around $200 for the entire day. Magazines are notoriously cheap in the way that they pay models. The biggest incentive to doing a magazine shoot for such little pay is the exposure and the amazing photos that the models can add to their books.

If you go to enough print castings, you will notice that a good number of the models there are from fashion agencies. Some fashion agencies have print divisions, but most of them just send their models out to print castings along with the commercial print agencies. If you are not at least 5’7”, I would not recommend submitting to the print divisions of fashion agencies.

The biggest reason why commercial print is more lucrative than fashion is because commercial print models don't age out the way fashion models do. The career longevity is unmatched.

Pay Rates & Making A Living

Print jobs can pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars, to several thousand dollars. Pay rates are determined by the company/product size (Coca Cola or a Mom & Pop diner), the usage terms, where it will run (just the USA or internationally), and whether or not you will be paid exclusivity (not being able to work for a competitor for a specified amount of time).

Can you make a living as a print model? I’m sure many people can and do, but I think it’s smart to have more than one stream of income. I don’t just do print modeling, I also do commercials and acting. Oh, and being married helps. ;)

Just like with acting, it’s a very unpredictable business. Some months you may book 4-5 gigs, the next month you could book nothing. 

Getting Started

Photos & Photographers

Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need a portfolio. Fashion models certainly need them, but not commercial print models. Don’t go out and waste a bunch of time/money paying to have a portfolio shot. You will be very disappointed when no one ever asks to see it. My portfolio, that I stopped updating nearly two years ago is under a stack of about 10 magazines. The only time I’m asked for is when I’m being seen for a beauty campaign for hair relaxers/hair color. And in this digital age, I’m rarely asked for my comp card.

Your number one priority should be to have a couple of really decent photos that you can submit to agencies. Notice I said “decent”. The photos don’t have to be amazing, but they should be professionally done (re: look professional) even if they are the result of a trade. A simple smiling headshot is perfect when you’re starting out. Most casting directors don’t care whether or not you have a comp card. I’m BEGGING you, please don’t submit photos that were taken on a digital camera, or cell phone. You have NO idea how badly you are embarrassing yourself! If you don’t have at least one professional photo, then wait until you get one. Don’t be desperate! 

What’s most important are that the photos give off good energy. Smiles are great (preferred, even), especially when they are genuine. Ninety nine percent of commercial print photos that you see in magazines are showing people that are happy and full of energy. If they aren’t happy, they are proud, or content, or inspired. You are selling a product. Consumers don’t want to buy a product that will make them sad or unsatisfied.

If you decide to do a trade shoot, make sure you choose your photographer carefully and this is for safety reasons, especially if you’re a woman/girl. A lot of photographers have small studio spaces in their homes, especially if they aren’t making a good living. This is not unusual, but it’s still no excuse to throw caution to the wind. Never shoot in a photographer’s home unless at least two people know where you are, the EXACT address and their phone number. Even better would be to have a friend or boyfriend come with you. A lot of photographers don’t like when models bring an “escort”, but you need to protect yourself. Shooting in a home is different than a studio. If you bring an escort, then your escort needs to understand that they are to be seen and not heard. They shouldn’t be disruptive or try to control the shoot. If you don’t feel comfortable going alone, DON’T DO IT. I don’t care how great the photographer is, it’s not worth the potential consequences.

Trade shoots can also be tricky because sometimes a photographer may have a specific vision in mind. Make sure you both are on the same page about the concept of the photoshoot. But also be flexible. They may be willing do some commercial shots for you in the first half, if you’re willing to do some fashion shots for them in the second half. Never agree to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. I’ve had some FANTASTIC photographers tell me that they’d do some gorgeous beauty shots for me in exchange for my posing nude. I’m not cool with that so I say no.

If you have money to spare, you can always hire a photographer to shoot you a comp card. A comp card is a single sheet, usually 5x7in that has a handful of your best photos represented. Many established headshot photographers also shoot comp cards (usually 4-6 different looks), you just have do a search. If you are going to pay to have your photos done, I would recommend asking other models for recommendations. I would also advise against paying more than $1000 for a comp card shoot, especially if it’s your first one. As I said before, you don’t really need a comp card to get started, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one either, as long as it’s good.

Whether you decide to hire a photographer or a do a trade shoot, make sure that you have a contract stipulating all of the terms and outlining what you each receive in return AND when you will receive it. You should not be waiting more than 3-5 days to get your photos.

And please remember. Just because a photographer is charging, that does not mean that they are a professional! And just because a photographer is willing to trade, it does not mean their photos aren't of professional quality. What is most important is how the photos look.

Agents

In my opinion, getting a print agent is much easier than getting a theatrical/commercial agent. You don’t need a resume, reel, classes, or even experience. You just need a great look (which is VERY subjective), a really great personality. There are really only three ways to get a print agent.

The best way to get a print agent is through a referral. If you have a friend that models, ask them to hook you up. Please don’t ask a stranger or someone you’re vaguely acquainted with, you’ll just annoy them.

A referral is not you sending an email to an agent saying “Hi, my favorite blogger, Andrea, is represented by you guys and says great things about you!....” That’s called name dropping. A referral is your friend, calling up her agent or sending an email and telling them about YOU. Learn the difference! Name dropping is fine, because it creates sort of a common bond between you and the agent, but it doesn’t necessarily give you clout or priority.

If you’re an actor that has a commercial/theatrical agent and you want to get into modeling, ask your agent to refer you. Even if your agency doesn’t have a print division, they know someone that’s a print agent. As long as you and your agent have a good relationship and they view you as professional and trustworthy, they shouldn’t have a problem doing so.

The second way to get a print agent is to self submit. Some agencies have websites that allow the model to submit photos online. But, those are few and far between, unfortunately. There is always email and snail mail. I’ve never submitted my photos via mail before and frankly, I hope I never have to. It’s way too passive for my taste. I’m very assertive and a control freak so things have to happen on my terms. But if you have to, make sure you include a nice cover letter with your photo(s).

Many, many people will caution against submitting photos via email or social networking. I disagree. Wholeheartedly. I got CESD for print via facebook, and I signed to Buchwald’s commercial division after sending an email. If an agent is presented with good talent (i.e. you can earn them money) they don't care where or how they find you. My rule of thumb is this: if you go to an agency’s website and an agent’s email address is listed there for all the world to see, then I would submit via email. If they don’t want emails from random people, it wouldn’t be listed on a public website. Simple. The worst they will do is delete your email. So what?

If you do email your stuff to an agent, do not put attachments on the email. Agents are wary about attachments from unknown senders because of the virus risk. Attachments can also take forever to load which is annoying in and of itself. Embed your photos/cover letter in the body of the email. If you have a website, include a link. Do not link them to your facebook page, not everyone is on facebook.

I would also recommend dropping off your photos in person. Sounds scary, right? Well, grow some balls. You’d be shocked at how nice agents are. If you’re going to drop off to a larger agency, you will most likely be giving your materials to a receptionist. You are NOT walking in and asking for a meeting. You’re JUST dropping off materials and you need to be respectful. Put your photos(s)/comp card in an unsealed envelope (for easy opening) along with a quick cover letter. Label the envelope to a specific agent. This is where research comes in.

When you walk in, if there is a receptionist (bigger agency such as CESD, Abrams, etc.), go up to them and say you’re just dropping off a submission for Jane Doe and hand them your envelope. Be polite, and smile. If you walk in to a tinier agency where there is no receptionist, tell the first person you see that you just want to drop off a submission for Jane Doe. They will direct you to who you’re looking for or will take the submission from you. If you’re told that they don’t take unsolicited submissions, thank them anyway and leave. Don’t argue.

Make sure that you look your best when you go to drop your things off. There is a chance that if you have a great look, they’ll want to see you right away.

The final way (that I can think of) of getting a print agent is to be discovered/approached by one. This is completely out of your control, but if it happens, still be diligent about vetting the agent and making sure they are legit.

A few people have asked about getting an agent via seminar/workshop. Personally, I don’t believe in seminars and workshops (the thought of paying to be seen leaves a bad taste in my mouth), but I wouldn’t tell someone not to do them if it’s something they feel can be effective for their career. To each his own. I’ve never known of any print agents that attend workshops/seminars, but if you see that one will be in attendance, why not take the chance to meet them? It’s your money! Oh, and speaking of money.......

Scams

**Sigh**

Everyone should know this by now, but just in case YOU don’t know........NEVER PAY ANY MONEY UP FRONT!! EVER!!

Just don’t. Please?

However, some agencies(even big ones) have “website maintenance” fees that they charge for having your photos on the website, but it really shouldn’t be any more than about $75. You also have a choice of whether or not your photos go up on the website. You don’t have to have your photos on the agency website in order to be submitted for print jobs and I would be very cautious of any agency that says otherwise. You will mostly be submitted through Breakdown Services and Casting Networks. But, on the other hand, there are some casting directors that peruse agency websites and hand pick models that they want to see. If you really want to be on the agency website, I would ask the agent if the fee can be taken out of your first booking, rather than paying up front. They shouldn’t have a problem with that.

There’s one pretty well known “agency” that I can think of that charges something like $400-$600 to be on their website for 1 or 2 years. They have THOUSANDS of models on their site and many of them have been on shows like America’s Next Top Model. However, the majority of their models are not working and there is no way in hell you should be paying that much to be on a damn website. I’ve been to well over 100 print castings and I can’t recall ever seeing this “agency’s” name on the sign in sheet.

Also, if you meet with an “agent” and they can’t stop gushing about your look and how much money you’ll make....and then tell you that all you need is an $800 photoshoot with their in-house photographer....RUN!! Having an in-house photographer that shoots in the next room is almost a sure sign of a scam. I’ve heard too many horror stories!

If you’re meeting with a legit agency and they think that you need better photos, they will give you a list of recommended photographers that you have the CHOICE of shooting with, but you will never be pressured to do so.

Meeting With A Potential Agent

When you get called in for a meeting, make sure you look nice, smell nice (seriously) and bring all of your photos with you. If you have a disc with all of your images, bring it with you as well. Relax. If you’re getting a meeting with a print agent, that means that they are very interested and they probably want to work with you. It’s your job not to convince them otherwise.

They want to see you in person to make sure you look like your photos and will want to gauge your personality. The meeting will most likely be a bunch of small talk and some generic talk about the business, their agency, and what their practices are.

Ask questions and listen to what they are saying. If there is any advice/constructive criticism to be had, they will give it to you and you need to take it with an open and gracious attitude.

Signing Contracts

Commercial print agents don’t sign models. They work exclusively on a freelance basis. This is why many print models work with more than one print agency. I would never sign with a print agency and if you are being offered a contract dictating exclusivity to them, I would be VERY cautious. It is NOT the industry norm at all.

You will, however, be asked to sign forms giving your agent the right to accept payment on your behalf. I don’t remember the technical name but it’s similar to a power of attorney, but only for receiving money. This is the norm and very few agents will allow you to opt out. The client sends the payment, the agent will take their cut, and then cut you a check.

Note for models in Los Angeles: While I know that theatrically, actors cannot freelance, I’m pretty certain that print models can freelance with multiple agencies. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know.

EDIT: I have been notified that models in LA are restricted to working with a single agency and are not allowed to freelance with multiples. 

The Commercial Print Casting

Print castings are very easy. When you get a time slot for a casting, your agent will send you a breakdown that contains all of the information: the product, casting office/director & address, dress code, pay rate, usage (where the ad will run and for how long), and shoot dates. Sometimes you will be given a specific time to go in, other times you’ll be given a time range such as 1PM-3PM.

For most castings, you will wear whatever you want, dress in your own personal style. If the casting directors want you to dress in a specific style, it will be detailed in your breakdown. Upon arrival, there will be a sign in sheet and you will usually have to fill out a size card with all of your measurements and contact information.

If there is a specific concept for the photoshoot, sometimes the CD will post a mock up (photographic example of what they want the ad to look like, sometimes it’s animated) outside in the waiting area so that you can have a good understanding of what emotions you should bring to your photos. Other times, the CD will just tell you what to do when you go into the room.

When you’re called in you hand your headshot/comp card to the CD or assistant. Then, you will most likely be placed in a white space (you’ll most likely be is some form of a studio) and after having the concept explained to you, the photographer will take anywhere from (on average) 3-10 photos of you. As I said before, most times you will just be smiling and looking happy/pleasant/laughing/etc.

Holds, Releases, Bookings & The "Other" Release

As the clients (the people doing the hiring) view the photos from the casting session, they will narrow down their favorites. Once they get their top choices, they will ask to have those models placed on hold. Being “on hold” means that the client has first pick of booking you for the days that they place you on hold. So, if you are placed on hold for Pepsi for October 5th, and then later that day you are placed on hold for Apple for the same day, Pepsi has first pick or what is also referred to as “first refusal”. If Pepsi books you, you will not be able to do Apple, even if Apple wants to book you as well. If Pepsi releases you, that means that Apple now has first pick.

If you are “released”, that means the client has chosen not to book you.

If you are booked, your agent will call you with the good news! A couple of days before the shoot, you will be given all of the shoot details such as call time and location. You may also be contacted by the wardrobe stylist who will tell you what items they will like you to bring. Unlike SAG jobs, you are not compensated for bringing your own wardrobe to set.

The Other Release

The other release that I'm referring to is the form that you sign that states all of the pay rates and usage associated with the images that will result from the photo shoot. It also states that you have no right to anything regarding the images. This is what you sign in exchange for being paid. Sometimes the release will be given to you a few days before the shoot, other times, you will sign it at the end of the shoot. ALWAYS double check with your agent and get their approval before signing anything handed to you on set.

***********************************

So this post pretty much explains the process from getting your first pictures, to getting your first job. Once you’re on set, it’s up to you to do what you were hired to do.

Good Luck!!!

September 22, 2011

Major Post, Ask Your Questions NOW!!

I'm working on a gigantic post about how to get started as a commercial print model. I have been getting SO MANY emails from people asking me this and it's time I finally made one master post that I can direct people to in the future. I may even need to break it up into more than one post because I've been EXTREMELY thorough in not only detailing what I did to get started, but what steps I recommend others take. I'm also talking about things to avoid such as pervy photographers and scams.

If there are any specific questions that you'd like addressed regarding how to get going as a print model, please leave a comment. I will be publishing the post sometime this weekend.

Thanks!!

August 31, 2011

Searching For An Agent Just Got Easier

I was recently contacted by the creators of this new website called Find The Best. It's a search engine that is designed to allow the user to filter based on the criteria that is most important to them. One of the great things about this search engine is that it's completely unbiased in it's content. You don't have to worry about companies paying for favorable reviews or top billing when people type in search tags that pertain to their business or trade.

I thought this wold be an excellent resource for actors who are on the hunt for new representation. Using Find the Best, you can filter through agencies based on name, location, or even the specific industries that the agency focuses on! Below, you can click on the link that was created just for Talent Agencies.




I also want you guys to know that in exchange for this post, I have not been compensated in any form other than being gifted a link on the website in order to make my blog more searchable. My blog is not monetized and I do not make money from my blog....yet. LOL

I have only agreed to post this because after checking out the site, I really do think it's a great tool for actors. Finding the right agency for you is tough, and this makes the search so much easier.

August 27, 2011

NEW HEADSHOTS! & The Opinions Behind Choosing To Wear My Hair Straight

I'm so excited about my new headshots! I went back to Laura Rose. I wasn't happy with my last set and felt like they weren't marketing me in the most effective way. I also wanted to experiment with straight hair to see if it affects my audition/booking ratio. Even just an increase in auditions would be awesome!!

I have a new commercial shot, and three new legit shots, all of which showcase a different look/side of me. I know I'm facing the same direction in all 4, but I know my angles and this one is my best and most flattering. Otherwise, I think I have pretty good range to work with and I'm so excited!! I apologize for the slight blur, I re-sized them to make them a bit larger and more viewable.





The following two comments are from the "CBS Diversity Workshop & Headshot Advice" post I made on July 10th. Apparently my choice to try out straight hair was a bit controversial. While the first post is the only one that was left on my blog regarding this issue, it's not the first time that I've been confronted with it.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Hey, a friend of mine saw you in the 'staremaster' and told me about you - found my way to your blog. We were so excited to see an actress with great hair! Now I see that that you've decided to straighten it. Now you'll look just like everyone else, it's a shame. I'm sure this woman meant well, but keep in mind that you can hear advice without having to take it! oh well . . . . . . moving on"
Well.......um.....I'm sorry you're disappointed? I'm not going completely straight, I won't even be straightening my real hair so keep your panties on! I'll be wearing a straight hair wig. I will have a couple of headshot options with my curly hair, and I will have a couple of headshot options with straight hair.
I'm very aware that one can hear advice without choosing to take it. However, when a VP of CBS casting recommends that I have some headshot options with straight hair, I'm going to take her advice. I've been considering trying out straight hair for over a year now. This decision comes from feedback and inquiries from multiple casting directors, as well as discussions with my manager, agent, and friends. My manager was all for it, and my agent was on the fence until he saw my new photos and he loves the straight hair.

I will be honest, I spent a lot of time rallying against trying straight hair because I was afraid that I would look like everyone else. Then I finally realized that I was being silly and dramatic. It's just hair. Yes, there are a lot of social and racial implications when it comes to how black women are portrayed on TV and it's an exhausting debate/discussion. Do I feel that wearing my hair straight will make me a more desirable choice for casting directors and producers? Yes. Is it fucked up that I even have to think this way? Yes. But, I also want to work as an actor and I want more opportunities so right now, it's just another way to increase my casting range. That's all.

Thanks for your post.
Anonymous said...
"I think that woman is wrong. your small chin, button nose, and apple cheeks read sweet and innocent. Especially your eyes. But you definitely convey a grown and sexy element in pictures and on camera. I see you as the sweet sexy love interest. Maybe even playing the part of a girl who comes on sweet at first but has underlying motives. I think that your hair since it's grown out gives you extra sex appeal and makes you stand out. You would be a major contender for the usual celebrated Hollywood beauties if they would just be fair and balanced. I have seen the stern, take charge, attitudinal role from black women time and time again, and you just don't have that look. :( But anyway, I wish you much success very soon, and a long career. Good luck."
Thanks a lot for your post!
Sweet and innocent is not really my type, but I DID think of you when I posted the headshot with me wearing the coral shirt. I think that photo conveys that sweet sexiness that you referred to, so I think you definitely have a point! Fern Orenstein was right that my old headshot was reading girlish. If you look at the types of roles that I book, none of them are girlish. Most of my characters are strong, sexy, smart, and opinionated. There's noting wrong with that. I'm not sure why it bothers you to see black women play strong/opinionated/tough roles. Plenty of non-black women play these kinds of roles on TV and film, why is it a problem when black women do it? While I can agree that many times, some black actresses turn their performances into....caricatures, it can be done with finesse too!
What you said about me being a contender for the usual Hollywood beauties is incredibly sweet, but Hollywood isn't fair and balanced! It's just not. And let's be honest when it comes to hair. When most people think of sexy feminine hair, they think of long flowing hair, not a full highly textured afro. That's the truth, right or wrong. I think my fro is sexy, and if I could cast myself in all of my dream roles, I'd be set for life. But I can't.

Not yet, anyway. ;)

August 24, 2011

My First Role In A Major Feature Film

So, on the 15th. I shot a scene in my very first major feature film! It's a new film called "What Maisie Knew" and it's starring Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright). I played 'Waitress' (lol) and had one line.

I originally auditioned for the role of 'Hostess', a role that had about 8 lines. I was placed on hold a few days after auditioning and was told that I was being considered for either the hostess part or or the waitress part. I had not seen the sides for the waitress part so when I was booked as the waitress and saw that I only had 2 lines (which was later reduced to 1), I'm not ashamed to say that I was very disappointed. And may have cried a little.

Which, in hindsight, is pretty stupid.

It's stupid because I booked a role in a major film, after auditioning for Avy Kaufman (a huge feature film CD in NYC) for the FIRST TIME! This means that I will certainly be called back in to audition for her in future and possibly for bigger parts. I was simply weeping for those meaty 8 lines, and that solid two minutes of screen time. The part that I got was not nearly as interesting, but it was still a huge accomplishment and I'm very thankful for the opportunity. They could have easily booked different girls on both parts.

I had a fabulous time on set. For one, rather than having a trailer, the day players were put up in their own hotel room at the W Hotel in Union Square. I got to order room service, lay in a plush bed, and watch tv (ok...sleep) for 4 hours while I waited to be called on set.

While it took only around an hour to shoot my scene, I got to chat with the incredibly sweet (and gorgeous) Alexander Skarsgard in between takes. We start the scene next to each at the bar, in the background, and then I walk into the shot to deliver my line. He reminded me to enjoy my moment and made jokes about not dropping my tray of drinks.

This experience was a great reminder to me that things don't always work out the way you plan, but they always work out for the best. :)

****
Progress Report

In other news, I've stayed pretty busy over the last few weeks. In addition to the feature, I also booked/worked on the following:

1. I booked another day player role in another feature film. It shoots in Connecticut on the 31st. I play "Sexy Hostess" and have two lines!

2. I shot another SAG national commercial for Home Goods. It's a holiday spot so it probably won't start running until late October, early November.

3. I shot a supporting role in a NYFA short film. The footage is going to be great for my reel and because there was a SAG contract, I'll be paid (eventually) for my work. The film was shot on a RED camera and the footage is so beautiful! I got to play a character that is blunt, intense, and kind of nasty. I had a blast!

4. I also booked a print job for HTC. It was a two part shoot for me and was a VERY long day. In the morning, I played a BMX biker chick which I had no idea I'd be doing. It was kind of odd, being put on a bike at a skate park with 3 skate boarders, but it turned out to be really fun. We just rode around the skate park, the actual park, and posed in front of a really nice cafe.

In the afternoon, I shot a picnic scene with my 'boyfriend', another 'couple', and their two cute 'kids'. The photographer was a lot of fun and this was probably the most physical shoot I've done to date. I was sore the next day when I woke up.

August 22, 2011

Answers To Blog Comments

The following blog comments are from the "Quick Update" post that I made on July 27th. I thought the questions were very interesting and decided to post my answers in case anyone else was interested. I'm sorry that it took so long to post this, I've been trying to queue up multiple blog posts at once.
Anonymous
Anonymous said...
"Hey, just wondering do you have a survival job? or did you have a survival job while you were working on booking steady jobs. Other than the waiting tables lol"
-No, I don't have a survival job, this is what I do full-time. I do work a part-time job 2 days a week (reservationist) and the money is direct deposited into me and my husband's "Moving to LA" savings account. I'd say 98% of my income comes from my modeling/acting jobs.

I used to work a survival job my first few years in NYC, and sorry to disappoint you, but I was a server!!
Jazine said...
"Hey Andrea, Congrats on the CBS Stay at Home Dad short vid. It was funny and cute. You were great. I wish you the very best in your career. I saw Captain America last weekend, and for some reason when I was looking at Chris Evans, I couldn't help but think how stunning you would be in a romantic drama or comedy with him as your leading man! Cheers!"Delete
-That's very sweet of you to say, thank you! I'd do a movie with Chris Evans any day! LOL
Anonymous Jamie said...
"What book have you read that you would recommend other actors to read (acting related)"
-I haven't read an acting related book in a long time. To me, they all say the same things. The book I'm about to recommend isn't about acting, but it can help you cope with the business and emotional sides of acting in a tremendous way. It's a great book for life, in general! It's called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is small and very short, less than 150 pages and so worth the read!
In short, the four agreements are as follows:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
3. Don't Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Carl said...
"Do you have any career coaches, your doing it up so big!"
-Thank you! But no, I don't have any coaches. I mean, I do ask my manager and agent for advice. I also consult my husband and close friends when I'm experiencing a decision making dilemma. I think I just have a pretty clear idea of who I am, what I want, and how I can attain it. If one method doesn't work, I try something else.

Jay said...
"Hey, before you had an agent. Where would you look for acting jobs."
-I looked to the major casting sites that are accessible to actors such as Actors Access and Backstage, and then the 'lesser' sites such as Mandy and NYCastings. I don't know of any others that are just as good as these four. If anyone has recommendations, please post them in the commments! And of course, STAY AWAY FROM CRAIGSLIST!!!!

August 18, 2011

Reader Email

I received the following email from a reader and she asked a couple of really interesting questions that I think a lot of actors have. My response is below the email, and it's a bit long. :)

****

"Hi Andrea!
I recently discovered your blog and am loving it! I appreciate how honest you are with your bookings and disappointments and even sharing parts of your life (like your bday party pictures). I study acting at a class that seems to be more tailored for the "hobby" actor than the career actor. But lately, I've been getting the bug to be "seen". My biggest challenge is... my nerves. I wondered, how does she calm her nerves? I see that at times you have to do live events or audition playfully eating an ice cream bar. Have you ever had to figure out how to combat your own nerves? I also struggle with my own ability to feel like an "actress". At times I wonder, who do I think I am trying to pull this off! I do wonder if you ever felt the same. Especially because you seem so sure of yourself (it really does come across in pictures!). Also, have you ever dealt with unfriendly competition? How do you handle that if you have?
PS, I'm considering taking classes for the beginner actor at Larry Singer Studios, thanks to your mention on your blog :)
Kudos again for creating your blog, it's wonderful!
Melissa"
****
Melissa, thank you so much for the email (I love how honest and candid you were) and for reading my blog!

I'm sure most actors feel some sense of nervousness when they walk into a casting/audition. For me, the key is to not care whether or not you book the job. And I know that's easier said than done. When I go to a print casting or a commercial audition, I usually have a pretty nonchalant attitude about it. If I book the job, great! If I don't, who cares? But when it comes to TV/film auditions, I have a harder time combating my nerves.

The nervousness generally comes in when you start focusing on the real-life stakes, "Wow, this series regular role can make me a star....I can pay my rent for 6 months from this print job....This commercial will FINALLY make me SAG Eligible!" These types of thoughts are preventing you from focusing on the most important stakes, the stakes within the scene. If you aren't focused on your character and the circumstances, it WILL read in your performance.

And the fact is, chances are high that you won't book the job, regardless of how much the role can change your life, earn you money, give you your SAG card, etc. If you concentrate on just having fun in the room and giving the best performance that you can, it'll be easier to forget the things that are making you nervous.

You also need to remember that the casting director is on your side. They want you do a great job, they want to see you nail it.

In order to cut down on my nervousness, I have a few tricks that have been helping me a lot in the last several months. Keep in mind, this is what I do for TV/film auditions. My number one is showing up early. I try to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to my audition time. This gives me time to catch my breath, cool off and re-hydrate, touch up my hair/make-up, and give my sides one last look. Then, I just zone out. I think about the scene, I imagine it in my mind. I do a few mouth exercises (quietly...) to loosen my tongue. I stretch if I need to, take deep breaths, or lean my head back and close my eyes. Every actor has their own methods for combating nerves and learning to relax. You just have to try a few things and see what sticks.

****

I understand what you mean about not feeling like an actress sometimes. When I first moved to NYC and was studying acting in school, I thought I was the SHIT!! Then, I had to wait tables full time to support myself and wasn't doing ANY acting. Every time I would tell someone that I was an actress and they would respond with, "What have you been in...?", a little piece of me would die inside. For me, I know that the insecurity came from feeling like an actress on the inside, but not being taken seriously by others. Once I starting modeling and booking commercials/indies/small tv roles/etc. it was easier to call myself a model or actress because I could actually answer those annoying questions with real work examples.

But at the same time, that's not fair. When a med student graduates, they are considered a doctor, even if they don't have a job yet. The same with law students, teachers, etc. But as an actor, I have to be starring in a big movie in order to be considered one? Screw that! We put in the work just like other people, it just takes a bit longer for us to reap the rewards. Melissa, if you have the passion and drive, study the craft, and put in the work, you're allowed to call yourself an actress, regardless of how large or small your resume is. They key is learning to take pride in what you do, at any level.

****

I have only had one direct experience with unfriendly competition. This bitch was just plain rude. A few years ago, I went to an audition for a "pilot" (I didn't know any better at the time....) where they were only seeing girls for the character I was auditioning for. When I walked into the waiting room, all of the girls (about 8) were white. I went to use the restroom and as I was washing my hands, there was a girl at the sink next to me, applying her makeup. She asked me what character I was auditioning for and I told her that I was pretty sure all of us were reading for the role of 'Kate'. Then she rolled her eyes and said, "Ugh, these casting directors don't know what they're looking for."

Now, if all of the girls had made up a wide range of ethnicities then her comment would have made a bit more sense. But, all of the girls auditioning were white, save for myself. To me, it was meant to get under my skin. My response to her was, "Well maybe the casting directors are more concerned with talent than skin color." I then walked out of the restroom without waiting for a response from her. I had no desire to entertain her or her negative energy. Stay away from people like that.

Other than that, I haven't had any other experiences with unfriendly competition in an audition setting. I have had run-ins with annoying "bragtors". A bragtor is an actor who brags a lot. Yes, I just made that up and I may need to copyright it. Anyway, these are probably the worst that you will see. When you're in a waiting room with a bunch of actors, sometimes people are friendly and will chat you up. Before you know it, you're forced to feign interest while they check off the details of their 'busy' schedule. You can remedy this situation by pretending to listen to your iPod.

****

Melissa, I want to thank you again for reading my blog and for sending me your email. I answered the questions as best I could, at the risk of seeming long winded! I hope that I've been of help to you and anyone else that reads this post.

Take care!!

July 27, 2011

Quick Update

A few days after my last post, I flew to Texas with my husband for 4 days to visit my mom and sisters. My niece and nephews were an absolute JOY to be around and we all had so much fun! I also ate like a pig....an indulgence that I'm still recovering from. I practically lived off of Reese's blizzards from Diary Queen, Jamoca milkshakes from Arby's, and AUTHENTIC southern sweet tea. These are three of my favorite things and none of them are available in NYC so of course I made up for lost time while there.

I'd had a couple of auditions the week before I left, but nothing came to fruition. Because the past month has been so slow, I expected to come home to a quiet week. But, as soon as I got to Texas, I started getting calls and emails for upcoming castings/auditions. When we made it back to NYC on the 17th, my whole week had already been booked up!

I auditioned for 2 feature films, two print jobs, and two commercials. I booked one of the feature films, I'm on hold for one of the print jobs (HTC), I have a callback today for one of the commercials (Home Goods). I'm also auditioning for another feature film and have a print casting.

I'm just happy that things are getting back into full swing and episodic season is right around the corner!

July 10, 2011

CBS Diversity Workshop & Headshot Advice

So, a few weeks ago, I attended a workshop for actors of color with the VP of CBS casting, Fern Orenstein. It was a free workshop that I found out about through my SAG email alerts. It was through submissions only, so the day I found out about it, I dropped my headshot off at the SAG offices here in NYC.

I got a call a few days later saying that I'd been selected to attend. Basically, Fern would be discussing what it takes to get cast in TV and she also helped each actor determine their "type". On top of that, she'd be critiquing our headshots.

I arrived about 15 minutes late because I took too long getting ready, lol. She had already started and I walked in on her telling an actor that he "Looks crazy as hell" in is headshot. Ha! This lady was ON FIRE. She was brutally honest when talking about how casting works and how casting directors have no imagination. She dropped many F bombs and was absolutely hilarious. She said that they have very specific ideas about what a "type" looks like when casting a role and if you don't fit the description, you don't get called in.

She had a copy of every actor's headshot and went one by one, showing it off to the entire room and asking the others to weigh in on what kinds of characters we thought the person could play. She also asked each actor to tell her what they thought their type was. Nine times out of ten, the actor's thoughts did NOT align with her perception of the actor's headshot. I was shocked at how terrible most of the headshots were. She was not shy about telling actors exactly what was wrong either!

Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice that she gave:

  • Think of it as "I just got hired to play...." when dressing for headshots. How would you be dressed on set? (Don't take this literally when thinking of a nurse/doctor role, but your outfit needs to have the essence of it, such as a v-neck shirt) Think of the photoshoot as a performance. All of the elements need to contribute to the performance.
  • You need to have separate shots for each 'character'. Don't try to marry multiple characters into one shot.
  • Pay careful attention to the background! Make sure it matches the character. (Many actors had headshots that were done against brick walls, giving the shot a grittier feel when the actor's type may have been 'girl next door' or 'sensitive artist'.)
Out of all of the actors (around 30), she only said that she liked about 5 photos. When she got to me, she said that she really liked my headshot (yay!) but that it reads a bit girlish/young compared to how I looked in person. I was dressed in a tight tank top, skinny jeans, and platform heels. I also had a full face of makeup. This was in prep for Geoff Soffer's class that I was taking afterward. Plus, I wanted to look hot. :)

I told her that I'd be re-shooting in a month and she said she wants me to get photos that show me as more sophisticated and womanly. She wants more attitude and a 'take charge' personality. I think she pegged me pretty well considering she'd never met me before. Also, when I look at the acting gigs that I've booked in recent months, she's DEFINITELY spot on because I've been playing women with attitude and a take no prisoners approach. She also said to make sure I get photos done with my hair straight.

All in all, it was a great works shop and I'm glad that I read that email from SAG. Fern was such a nice woman and she gave all of the actors her email address so that we can keep in touch with her and ask for advice on new headshots.

July 6, 2011

My First Webisode

This episode is from a web series titled "Stay At Home Dad". I blogged about booking this back in March. The episode has been live for a few weeks now, and it's pretty funny. Please ignore the racist idiots in the comments section.




Progress Report

So far the summer has been DREADFULLY slow. I booked one photo shoot last month and have only had ONE audition since early June. That's it!!

On the bright side, I just celebrated my one year anniversary with my husband on the 26th of June. I'd meant to post wedding photos on the day of our anniversary but you all know I'm not the best at regularly updating my blog. I may post the photos in a day or two.

Since things have been so slow, I've been taking the time to keep on top of my "actor tools". I started a new scene study class at Larry Singer Studios. I also took Geoff Soffer's TV auditioning class again, to see if I've improved at all. I felt very good about the class and Geoff says that I've definitely gotten better since the last time I took his class.

I'm also getting new headshots!! I'm no longer happy with my current ones and I've lost a few more pounds. I'm going to go back to Laura Rose since the photos I got the last time I shot with her were so amazing. I'm shooting with her on the 21st of this month and I could not be more excited. I'm going to be mixing things up and doing a set with curly hair and a set with straight hair.

June 3, 2011

The Day The Movies Died

A few months back, I read this amazing article from GQ about how priorities and preferences at the executive level have drastically shifted the film industry in the last 20+ years. Do you want to know why Hollywood execs no longer greenlight original stories? Why our only options are remake after remake, comic book film after comic book film? Well, read this article. It was beyond interesting and has caused me to begin reexamining my future goals in film.

The Day the Movies Died


Progress Report

1. I booked a photo shoot for Morgan Stanley, I shoot on June 6th.

2. I'm currently holding for a Fisher Price photo shoot.

3. Had an audition for a day player role in a new Robert DeNiro film.

May 29, 2011

My Dove Chocolate Commercial

I shot this commercial last summer, right after I shot the CitiCard one. One of the spots has been running for over 6 months, and while I'm in it, you don't see my face. As a result, I was downgraded out of that spot and have not been collecting residuals. I get pissed every time I see it, lol. This one (where you can clearly see my face!) starting running last month.


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May 26, 2011

Another TV Gig, Another Let Down

I booked How to Make It In America!!! The very day that I posted my last update, I got the call after finding out that I had also booked the Citi Financial commercial that I'd mentioned. I was very excited to know that I'd be filming HTMIIA the next day and then flying to Los Angeles for a commercial shoot a few days later.

Filming HTMIIA was a lot of fun. I only had one line (well, one word if I'm being completely honest), but I'm in most of the scene that I shot. Well....it depends on how they edit the scene of course. Never count your chickens before they hatch, right? *sigh* Am I being cynical?

Anyway.

I worked with the two stars (Bryan Greenburg & Victor Rasuk) as well as another actor (Nick Chinlund) who plays another major character. It was probably the most laid back set that I've been on and I had a great time watching the guys perform. They're pretty amazing. In between shots, we all sat around chatting and they could not have been nicer to me and they complimented me on my performance.....even though I didn't really do much. It was still very sweet and appreciated though.

I filmed from 7am to about 2pm and when I left the set, I got a call from my manager. He told me that the Citi Financial commercial shoot was no longer happening. I'm still kind of fuzzy on all of the details, but the gist of it is that they decided to hire LA actors rather than fly NYC actors across the country.

While I was disappointed that I wouldn't be doing the commercial, I was even more disappointed by the fact that I didn't get to go to Los Angeles! I've never been and was really looking forward to spending a few days there. I'm also irritated with the producers/clients for putting me through all of that crap, only to change their mind a day later. Ah well....you take the good with the bad I guess.

May 19, 2011

Yes, I'm Still Alive!

I haven't updated in a while because after detailing my restless feelings in my last post, I slipped into a state of pure apathy and laziness. I've been auditioning and have booked a few gigs since then, but if my manager/agents didn't set me up with the appointment.....well it didn't get done.

I haven't self-submitted to any projects, taken any classes, updated my website or blog, nothing! I'm not worried though. I go through these phases periodically and it's really just a time for me to step back and really think about where I'm at and decide how I want to move forward. It's also just an excuse for me to be lazy. But, now I'm moving back into my proactive phase and I have a lot of things that I'd like to get done over the next few weeks.

For one, I've begun working out again and I'm giving myself a month to get back to my old weight. I realized that my weight gain was mostly due to the hormones in my birth control method. I've since switched to a much lower dose and within a week I dropped 4 lbs! I'm also making some dietary changes because I haven't been eating as well I could be. Taking care of my body is part of my job as a model/actress so I need to stay on top of it like everything else.

I will be getting new headshots, most likely at the end of June or early July. I'm giving myself enough time to get back in shape and get my hair situation under control. Most likely, I'll have photos done of me with both straight and curly hair.

Other than that, I've been staying fairly busy and I'll take this time to move into my progress report. I've had some pretty decent ups, but some heartbreaking downs too.

Progress Report

1. I booked a photo shoot for Citi Financial in mid April. I played a bride dancing with her father at her wedding. It was a very fun shoot. The concept is being turned into a commercial and the clients/producers "tested" me and the model that played my dad earlier this week so see how we look on film. If I book it, I'll be flown to Los Angeles this weekend for the shoot.

2. I booked a campaign for Dr. Miracle's relaxer. I'm going to be on perm boxes all over the world now! I refused to have my hair relaxed so instead, my hair was pressed and the hairstylist added a few pieces. It looked absolutely beautiful, but I was a bit sad to have several inches of my hair cut off.

3. I went straight to the producers of Law & Order: CI again. This was my third time going in and once again, I did not book it. I was told that they love me, they think I'm great, but they decided to go in a different direction. The feedback has been great, but it's so frustrating. If they love me, why won't they just book me? The show is almost done filming and this is the last season. I don't have very many more opportunities to be on the show.

4. I auditioned for "How to Make it in America" twice, a new Louis C. K. show, and a new HBO show. Didn't book any of them. *sigh*

5. I had an audition for a supporting role in an amazing play. I desperately wanted the part and prepared as thoroughly as I could. I didn't even get a callback! :(

6. I've also had a handful of print/commercial/VO castings in the past 6 weeks, nothing special aside from the ones that I booked.

April 2, 2011

My Birthday!! And Then A Quick Update

My birthday was on March 31st and I celebrated last night (April 1st). I had an AMAZING time!! My best friend put together a small dinner party with our close friends. We went to Spice Market in the Meatpacking District. It was the prefect opportunity to get all dolled up. I wore a beautiful orange dress and went crazy with my makeup, I had a lot of fun getting dressed. Here are some pics:


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


Progress Report

I'm starting to feel really restless again. It's time for me to get back into acting class and I also want to lose some weight, maybe 5-10 pounds. I've gained about 12 pounds this past year and I'm blaming it on getting married. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I can definitely see the extra weight in some of my birthday photos. When I reach my goal weight (what I used to weigh) I want to get new headshots. My manager and legit agent think my current pictures are great but what do they know!? J/K.

But on a serious note, once I make up my mind that I don't like my photos, nothing can make me think differently except getting new ones. And honestly, I want to get new photos because I'm not happy with my weight. I already have a square jaw and chubby cheeks, so any extra weight really shows in my face. That's not good for taking photos. I'm hoping to shoot in June, so that will give me two months to get back to my old weight. If anyone has recommendations on good, decently priced headshots, please post a comment or shoot me an email! I really don't want to spend $900 again, but I will if I feel it's necessary.

I'm also thinking about changing my hair, going straight. It's been on my mind a lot but I'm just not sure that's the right move for me. Changing my hair may make a difference in my TV/Film career path, but it will most certainly have a negative impact on my commercial/commercial print path. And right now, modeling and commercials are my bread and butter. I'm not sure I wanna mess with that stream of income. *sigh* This is what happens when I get restless and bored, I start finding (or imagining) all sorts of flaws.

Anyway, here's what I've been up to...and it ain't much:

1. Last week I was called back in to audition for Law & Order: CI, so that was pretty quick right? The audition went well. I haven't heard anything yet so we shall see.

2. Last time I told you guys I booked Puma again for a 2 day shoot. We shot on the 23rd and 24th, and both days were outdoor shoots. It was SO COLD!! But, everyone had a really good time and the the photos look AMAZING! They won't come out until near the end of this year.

3. I auditioned for a role in this new VH1 series and even though I thought the audition went really well, I didn't get called back. *cries* :(

March 18, 2011

March Is Moving Along Nicely...

So far this month has been kind of slow. I haven't had very many auditions aside from a teen CW pilot, and a new TV show that's being produced by Queen Latifah. I don't want to say which show, but I'm sure a quick google search might tell you which show that is. ;)

I've also been booked by Puma again. They will be shooting me for two days next week. This means I will have worked with them 4 times in the past two months. The last shoot was pretty easy, other than the fact that we shot outside and it was about 25°. Mmmhmmm, that's right. This shoot is supposed to be outside as well, but considerably warmer. Hopefully.

In other news, I just shot a "guest star" role on a comedy web series called "Stay At Home Dad". It's about a man named Brandon who, due to the poor economy, loses his job on Wall Street and becomes a stay at home dad. He's a crude asshole and this show chronicles his offensive exploits. It's already been up and running since last summer and has garnered quite a bit of buzz. The new episodes (including the one that I shot) will be aired on www.CBSSports.com. I had an amazing time shooting and the episode is going to be hilarious.

I play "Christy", a super hot woman working out at the gym. Brandon spends the duration of his "workout" trying out inventive ways to stare at my breasts and butt without being seen. Except, I see everything and eventually confront him. My episode only took a couple of hours to shoot (each episode is only a few minutes in length) and the director, Adam Jones, was great. As soon as my episode airs, I'll be sure to post it on the blog and my website for anyone who wishes to see it!