Interview with a Triple Threat: Jalen Harris

Photo courtesy of Jalen Harris’s Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Jalen Harris’s Facebook.

You’ve probably heard of the expression, “Like attracts like” - nowhere else is that more true than at Studio 27. We have a high-caliber roster of coaches and talent - Jalen Harris being one of those talents. He is truly a star on the rise, having worked in the Broadway national touring production of The Lion King playing Simba, is a singer and model, and has graced your TV sets in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and - spoiler alert - was a contestant on American Idol. Jalen sat down to chat with Studio 27 on his life in the spotlight - read on.

S27: Hi Jalen! Thank you for speaking with us today! Tell us about your career: how did you get started in the music and acting industries?

JH: First, it’s an honor to share with you some of my journey throughout my life as an entertainer. I grew up in a musically-inclined-and-church-involved family in Memphis, TN. I performed my first solo in church at age 4, where my grandfather was the pastor and founder. From that moment on, I knew in my spirit that being on a stage was where I felt safe but also purposed. Performing in many talent shows, town fairs, church plays, and sporting events as a kid, my parents helped cultivate my musical talents, which eventually led me to be a contestant on American Idol Season 10 at age 15. At age 17, I met an angel. Her name was Cheryl Harris. Upon meeting her, and working with her on a few projects, she later became my manager, introduced me to different agents in the business, and the rest is history. Since training and developing my acting skills with her, I’ve appeared in different TV and film projects, and most recently as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King Broadway tour.

S27: That’s phenomenal - you’re a busy guy! What has been your favorite acting role to date?

JH: Definitely playing Simba. Not only is The Lion King the greatest show in the world in every way imaginable, it also taught me that I was much more capable of doing things I never knew I could [be capable of]. It is my favorite, because I grew up always wanting to be a superhero. Simba is a role where the actor sings, dances, and performs stage combat and various stunt work. Thus, singing every night on stage and avenging my father “Mufasa” from my evil uncle “Scar” was the perfect combo!

S27: Okay, dish the deets - what was the most dramatic moment you had while performing with The Lion King on Broadway?

JH: The moment that changed me as a performer due to the intensity of live theater, was my first performance as Simba. I had only rehearsed for 2 weeks, and had been anticipating the next 2 weeks to complete my training for the role. So without a dress rehearsal, or experience doing the show as Simba yet, a stage manager told me after the opening number, “Jalen, you have to go on now. This is not a test”. So the team and crew rushed me to the basement, where I would have to be put into makeup and wardrobe, in time for “Hakuna Matata,” Simba’s first appearance. When I was ready to go to my cue, I waited in the wing, with the entire cast a crew cheering me on, swung out, and began singing, “It means no worriessss……” I’ll never forget that time. I felt so much love and support from my show family.

S27: Outside of The Lion King, what was your favorite performance to date?

JH: My favorite performance to date was singing the National Anthem for the NCAA Football Championship Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. With 60,000 fans watching, and my parents being somewhere in the crowd, I was so proud to open such an incredible event, televised for the nation.

S27: What are some of your biggest musical influences?

JH: Musically, some of my biggest influences include artists from about every genre! [laughs] But most notably, I am most influenced by the styles of Prince, Whitney [Houston], Brandy, and of course, Michael Jackson. But also artists like Chris Brown, Enrique Iglesias, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce [are musical influences].

S27: Tell us about your new album - what inspired you to write it?

JH: I am so excited about my new album and collection of songs that will soon be available for everyone to enjoy! Honestly, my life experiences are the true source of depth in what inspires my writing. Whether it’s from memories in my childhood, experiences my siblings or friends have had, or even my own first-hand circumstances, I find that being genuine with my pen and being vulnerable in the music is the best way for me to connect to the listener.

S27: Plug time! Tell us what you have coming up next.

JH: Coming up next from Jalen: Music, music, and more music! I am honestly so grateful for my dream team of management, production, and agents. They work tirelessly everyday for me. You will be seeing me in other projects as well like feature films, television series, and maybe a magazine or two. But I am mostly excited to release my new music and performing live bi-coastally with my band!

We’re excited as well, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this superstar!

4 Life Hacks for Actors

actor-666499_1920.jpg

As working adult actors, we have all been through the wringer at one point or another: we got a flat tire on the way to an audition; we overbooked ourselves; we shook the auditors’ hands in the audition room, even though we KNOW it’s an industry faux pas. There are a myriad of ways we can ruin our careers - or at least, that’s how it can often seem. But as actors, we are also prone to - ahem - theatrics. None of the above examples will ruin your career, per se, but it can make for a stressful day, which no actors wants, especially when he/she is in the middle of auditioning! And if you live in a bigger city like LA or New York, you may have multiple auditions in a day. The following ‘life hacks’ will make your audition process smoother and more fruitful - no matter where you end up.

The Emergency Actors’ Kit

Keep an “Emergency Actors’ Kit” in your car - this can be a makeup bag or pencil pouch filled with the essentials: a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, makeup, lipstick, mints, a token that reminds you why you’re living this insane life; whatever you think will help you nail the next audition! If you don’t have a car, keep it in your purse or “audition bag” - it helps to also pack a change of clothes for the next audition or gig.

Headshots & Resumes

You knew this one was coming: always keep at least 10 headshots with your actor’s resume stapled to the back in your car or audition bag. You never know who you’re going to run into, or how many you’ll need for an audition. These days, most auditions have gone digital and won’t ask for a headshot/resume (because they’ll already have your info on their tablets or computers!), but it never hurts to be over prepared.

Scripts

Have a go-to monologue or scene? Bring those lines with you! You never know when you’ll need to quickly review it for an audition. It happens more often in theatre, but often, auditors will ask you if you’ve prepared anything else - and you want to be ready.

Writing Items

Make sure you bring a notepad or tablet with you wherever you go - you also never know when you’ll need to take notes! Your phone works, but if your day turns into a more intensive note-taking session, you’ll wish you had more room to write.

What are your #actorslifehacks? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on February 5, 2019 and filed under Actors.

Interview with Sara Coates, Actress and Future House Name

Headshots by Leah Huebner. Z Nation shots by Daniel Schaefer. Photo of Reuben by Sara Coates.

Headshots by Leah Huebner. Z Nation shots by Daniel Schaefer. Photo of Reuben by Sara Coates.

Studio27 Talent: Hi Sara! Thank you for speaking with us today!

Sara Coates: Hello! I am so excited to chat with you! My pup Reuben is currently lounging on my legs. I may get a cramp.

S27: Reuben is a star in his own right, and it is an honor and a privilege for him to join us as well. First off, tell us how you became an actor, and how it’s led you to where you are today.

SC: For starters, I can’t imagine doing the same thing forever. As a child I wanted to be/do everything. Vet, lawyer, cop, lunch meat seller (that is real). It took me a long time to realize that I could be all of those things and more. I also have fallen in love with the hard things about being an actor. I love auditioning, I love the grind, I don’t hate the “No’s”. I am consistent, I take the hustle seriously, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

S27: I love that, and am tattooing it on my body. Next shameless question: what’s your favorite part about being low-key famous?

SC: [laughs] LIVING MY BEST LIFE! Honestly, the things that I am recognized for are so immersed in nerd culture, and they are the greatest fans ever. That’s what I grew up with. My older brother is a gamer, and it’s so cool to be in things he likes. Also, someone made me an action figure, and it shook me to the core.

S27: Love it - quick! Name your favorite director to work with, and tell us why!

SC: Rachel Goldenberg! Her background is with “Funny or Die” and she let’s me improvise the [crap] out of scenes. She directed a few of my ZNation eps, and I would follow her to the ends of the earth.

S27: What acting techniques, tools, or teachers/coaches help you get in the zone the best?

SC: [My advice would be to] take some sort of class. Anything to stay creative. UCB is wonderful, and I met so many people I could call tomorrow to help me with an audition. But classes can get spendy, so even just gathering friends and reading something out loud is helpful. I also make sure I am so off book for auditions. It lets me be free to change it up in the moment. I always hold my script, but I never look at it. I also don’t take myself too seriously. This can be the best job, and the weirdest job.

S27: Do actors need to move to LA to make it in the biz? What tactics can they take if they’re stuck in their hometowns?

SC: I don’t think you need to be in LA. But, there is SO MUCH WORK here. That doesn’t mean you can’t book things at home. I would get close to a “hub” if you can: Atlanta, NYC, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, etc..I’m sure there are more. It’s just important to not wait for things to happen to you. Make things happen.

S27: Tell us some hot celebrity goss. We’ll never tell.

SC: I once held hands with Idris Elba at the “Beasts of No Nation” premiere, and left my boyfriend out in the car for 45 min. I have no regrets, and I would do it again.

S27: Ha! Okay, now, tell us an on-set Z Nation secret that viewers may not know, that you’re not contractually obligated to KEEP a secret.

SC: I once was crying in a scene with Keith Allen “Murphy” and I was leaning over him and a booger came out of my nose and landed on his face. I think it’s on film somewhere. It’s my greatest acting moment.

S27: I hope he kept the booger. Thank you so much for chatting with us, Sara! Plug time - what can our readers see you in (or hear you in) next?

SC: I have some more video games on the horizon. I am in a horror movie called “The Parish” coming soon! I have the greatest dog in the world named Reuben Wrinkles. You can find us daily on my instagram @scoatesy ! Thank you so much. ACT my friends! ACT LIKE THE WIND!

Posted on January 15, 2019 and filed under Celebrities, Interviews.

Finding the Character for Actors

Happy 2019, everyone! Studio 27 Talent started back on January 2, and boy, are we ready to hit the ground RUNNING! Our classes this week have been focused on character work, which is one of my favorite topics in acting for film, so I figured I’d dive in fully and in addition to teaching, write a blog post about finding the character for actors. Here’s how to do it.

Photo by Howard Schatz

Photo by Howard Schatz

Listen To Your Coaches/Teachers, & Do Your Homework

There’s a reason why we assign students homework at Studio 27, and it’s not just to win awards. No, it’s because we want our students to improve their acting for film abilities and talent, and to accurately, efficiently, and effectively bring their characters to life off of the page. By working on film character analysis worksheets, acting students can work through a character’s arc and see right there on the page his or her emotional growth. It’s imperative that actors do this work before a performance, even if it’s a last-minute film, commercial, or television project, so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Do Physical Warm-Ups

Think about how your characters portrays themselves in a physical way: do they walk with a limp? How old are they? Where are they coming from in each scene? Where are they emotionally and mentally? Are they rich or poor? All of these details are factors in how your character carries themselves. Doing physical warm-ups, like stretching, yoga, and improv exercises can help you get in touch with your character’s physicality, and figure out how they move. Physicality is the #1 way you can inform a character, so work on that before you do anything else!

Play Some Jams

I love making playlists for each show or film I’m in to inform my character work. I try and focus on what the character would listen to, or simply add songs that remind me of my character. It helps TREMENDOUSLY for me to get in the mood while driving on the way to rehearsal or a show/performance. I generally try to avoid noise interference when learning lines, but playing music throughout my day (if I’m working on something that doesn’t require my full attention) is helpful!

Whether You’re Method or Meisner, Use Your Experience

Using your experience to inform your character work is key. Hopefully in your acting career, you’ll get to play a myriad of characters who are from all walks of life (or who knows, maybe you’ll even get to play an alien or monster - how cool would THAT be?), and you may not be experienced with said walks of life. You’ll need to draw on your own experiences to portray a character well - for example, if you’re playing a mom but have never been a mother, you’re going to have to figure out a person or animal you love like a mother would a child. It’s not the same thing, but you’ll need to get pretty close to play this character well.


How do you get into character before a big shoot or performance? What’s been your favorite character to play? Let us know in the comments!


Posted on January 4, 2019 and filed under Characters.

6 Films & TV Shows That are Shooting in Georgia in 2019

Jumanji.jpg

Happy holidays, guys and dolls! 2019 is right around the corner, which means PILOT SEASON is right around the corner which means big production companies are also gearing up to shoot their features in good ol’ GA. Here’s a list of films and TV shows that are shooting in Atlanta and the surrounding areas in the new year:

Jumanji 3

Filming for the blockbuster will take place in Atlanta from January 21st - April 26th, and reports are that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan will all be reprising their roles. Keep an eye out on the casting boards - especially if you’re good at running through jungles.

The Glorias: Life on the Road

Filming in Savannah from January 14th, 2019 - March 30th, 2019, this film is an adaption of Gloria Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road. Hot tip: read the book before you audition for bonus points!

Zombieland 2

That’s right - the zombies are back, and they’re hungrier than ever! This horror comedy is filming in Atlanta January 28th, 2019 - March 15th, 2019.

Echo Boomers

A Bling Ring-esque romp, this film is about a group of twentysomethings who steal from the rich to give to themselves. Filming in Atlanta January 20th, 2019 - March 15th, 2019.

Limited Partners

I am a big Tiffany Hadish fangirl, so I was stoked to read that she and Rose Byrne (also a fan of hers!) are filming Limited Partners, a film about two women from a beauty company that gets bought out by a big tech company. Filming in Atlanta starting on June 28th, 2019.

Watchmen

Now in pre-production, this show is filming in Macon, GA in 2019. Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Adelaide Clemens , Frances Fisher, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeremy Irons, Rgina King, Don Johnson, Andrew Howard, it’s sure to be a superpowered dream.

What are you most looking forward to auditioning for in 2019? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on December 17, 2018 and filed under Filmmaking, Filming.

The Best Talent Agents in Atlanta for Kids

Jerry-Maguire-LB-1.jpg

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times - while Atlanta is a growing market, it’s not necessarily the booming mecca for roles that actors seem to think it is. Films and TV shows still do the majority of their casting for lead roles out of Los Angeles. Atlanta actors have an uphill battle when it comes to achieving their goals, and even those in LA generally have to work a long, long time before getting their big break - if that ever even happens.

But do not despair! Life has a funny way of working itself out, if you work hard and are persistent and focused in what you want to achieve. If your kid wants to be an actor, don’t discourage his or her dreams - foster them! And they CAN get an agent that will help them land commercial and film roles. In fact, I recommend submitting their headshots as soon as possible, even if they don’t have a resume - yet.

Here are the top kids talent agencies in Atlanta:

Atlanta Models & Talent

This Atlanta-based agency starts accepting talent submissions for kids as young as 4 years old, who have had some experience with performance. Kids under 17 do not need an extensive resume to submit. I always advise the parents of the students I teach to have their kids film themselves performing a comedic and dramatic film monologue(s) as well as a comedic and dramatic film scene(s) in-house at Studio27 Talent; obviously, they’ll need a reader, but this is a good way to work around not having a reel or a lot of work on your resume. That way, you can throw those scenes and monologues together into a “reel,” and use it to submit for projects, agencies, and management companies. Studio27 rates for tapings are industry standard. And trust me - you need to have some good-looking tapings in your actors’ toolbox! They will come in handy.

AM&T has placed their talent in film and TV shows like: Atlanta (S2), Ant-Man & the Wasp, Cloak & Dagger, Black Lightning, Dynasty, I, Tonya, Insatiable, and many more!

East Coast Talent Agency

East Coast Talent is the agency of Chandler Riggs, who played Carl on The Walking Dead. Their talent can be seen on, among other films, shows, and commercials: Powers, ESPN, One Tree Hills, Eastbound and Down, Devious Maids, Golden Corral, etc. ECTA also accepts kid submissions starting at 4 years old. You do not have to have professional headshots before submitting (though I would recommend it!), but you do have to get them within three months of signing a contract with ECTA.

J Pervis Talent Agency

With branches in NYC, LA, and Atlanta, J Pervis is the recognizable name in talent in the South. It is, however, a huge agency, so if you think your child will thrive in a more boutique agency, I would look to something smaller, at least to start out, so your kid can have individualized attention.

That said, J Pervis is now only accepting submissions via industry referrals only - meaning, your kid needs to have some clout before attempting a spot with this agency.

People Store

My husband used to work in a commercial agency, and when I mentioned getting our three-year-old a potential Atlanta agent, the first words out of his mouth were, “It needs to be a legit one, like People Store.” People Store is known as one of the top agencies in Atlanta, and it’s not as big as J Pervis, so you have more of a boutique feel while still maintaining legitimacy. People Store talent have worked in: Baby Driver, Get Out, Hidden Figures, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Lore, Mindhunter, and more.

Houghton Talent

Houghton is another agency with great reviews - clients call it “an all-around stellar agency!” It also accepts baby and toddler submissions, so +1 to Houghton over the others for that alone. Additionally, Houghton represents dancers, makeup artists, musicians, families, and other entertainers. Houghton has a good reputation in Atlanta, and it’s a nice, smaller agency that can really get your kids’ feet wet in this business!

The Bell Agency

Shanon Bell and her husband are the founders and owners of this agency, which specializes in being agents for kids - however, they do have a teen and adult division as well! They’re good agents, and get their talent auditions that they wouldn’t otherwise obtain through the usual self-submission process. They also specialize in “baby wrangling” for photographers!

Who is your talent agent in Atlanta? What do you love or wish they would improve? Let us know in the comments!

The Most Well-Acted Holiday Films of All Time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! In some parts of the country, it’s snowing, while in Atlanta, it’s doing the whole today-is-freezing-tomorrow-is-tropical thing that we ATLiens are so accustomed to. To me, there’s nothing like Fall/Winter in Georgia, but no matter where you are across the great U.S., you’re likely excited that the holidays are here! And even if you’re not a big holiday participant, you’re also likely to be someone in or interested in the film industry - hence reading this blog. So why not combine your love of film and love and/or tolerance of these festive days by watching some holiday movies that are ACTUALLY pretty dang good - read on to discover your new faves!

It’s a Wonderful Life

Oh c’mon - this one is a CLASSIC, and you can’t tell me that Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed aren’t national treasures. I honestly don’t think I need to elaborate any more on this, because if you haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life right now, then I don’t know how to talk to you.

Elf

When asked by the New York Post which Saturday Night Live actors he knew he would cast the minute he saw them audition, long-time showrunner Lorne Michaels stated, “Will Ferrell,” among others like Kristen Wiig and Dana Carvey. Ferrell is an INCREDIBLE actor, and his 200% commitment to portraying Buddy the Elf as the wholesome content America needs is near-perfection. This movie is perfect for the whole family, and if you haven’t seen it yet - why haven’t you?

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

This film is so good - in fact, I forgot how good it was, until I started writing this post! It’s honestly one of my very favorite holiday films, and I tend to think of the 1994 version as my go-to (and Mara Wilson, is, as always, spectacular), but the 1947 version is just infinitely better - it just is. You really can’t beat classic movies, especially at this time of year. There’s just something about an old black-and-white movie that really takes me back; perhaps the nostalgia is playing too much into my opinion on the actors’ capabilities, but Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood in her first major film role, are superstars.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Is it a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? It’s an age-old debate (or, well, a 25-year-old debate, yeesh), and I would argue that it’s both. Both are good. I also realize that it’s stop-motion animation, but the VOICE ACTING in this piece is incredible. I mean, c’mon - Catherine O’Hara plays Sally - what more could you ask for? And Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman are iconic as Jack the Pumpkin King (speaking and singing voice, respectively).

What’s your favorite holiday film? What new holiday movies are you looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on November 29, 2018 .

FAQ's For Actors

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 6.22.16 PM.png

“Frequently asked questions” are oft-asked for a reason. It’s because the answers are basic knowledge that people need to know in order to make a purchase, start a new career, or chase a dream (to name but a few options!). I noticed that similar questions among actors kept popping up on forums for websites like backstage.com, so I figured the best recourse was to answer them here! Read on for answers to your most-asked questions as an actor:

What does it mean to select “monologues you’re familiar with”?

Many actors question whether or not this phrase, “familiar,” means to be off-book. The short answer is yes! Remember the ABOB’s of acting: Always. Be. Off. Book (that was a little Glengarry Glen Ross reference for the uninitiated). You will look so much more impressive as an actor if you’re off-book. You should also work with an acting coach before any big audition or callback, if you can. That said, feel free to keep your script on you “for safety,” but any casting director worth their mettle will much rather prefer you improvise, if needed, as opposed to reaching for your script. And “improvise,” doesn’t mean to go off in a wacky world that has nothing to do with the original script - it simply means that if you mix up a word or two or have to summarize parts of your monologue, that’s okay, as long as you get the point across! Unless it’s Shakespeare - then, please don’t try to improvise Shakespeare, unless that’s your bag!

What agents in Atlanta should I audition for?

Atlanta has numerous options for agents! It’s important to note which type of agency is right for you, whether it’s a more boutique agency with a smaller roster (less competition among the other actors at the agency, which is beneficial), or if you want to be a part of a well-known, national and global agency, which also has its perks. Big agencies like J Pervis are known in Los Angeles, and smaller agencies like Houghton Talent have good reps. You’ll also need to make sure that these agencies are accepting new talent.

How do I start acting in America, if I’m from another country?

If you moved to the good ol’ U.S. of A and want to be an actor, you’ll need to obtain an O-1 Visa (also known as a work visa) or Green Card. The Green Card actually seems easier to get, as with the O-1 Visa, an individual has to possess “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.” The O-1 Visa process seems to be a lengthy one, but so is the Green Card process. In any case, you may be able to get paid “under the table” on student films or you could always work for free to gain experience! Auditioning for SAG work doesn’t hurt, either, and can help speed along the process for a work visa.

How do I get started as an actor?

Start off by taking classes! Whether it’s on-camera acting, improv, or scene study, acting classes are a safe space where you can fail - you couldn’t ask for a better start in acting! Atlanta is a growing hub for production, so there are a plethora of classes you can take and coaches you can hire, but of course, we recommend our own, since, you know, we’ve trained in schools like Juilliard, The Groundlings, and Dad’s Garage among others.

What frequently-asked questions do you have, either as a new actor or seasoned performer? Let us know in the comments

Posted on November 18, 2018 .

10 Quick Insider Tips To Nail Your Audition

auditions.jpg

We recently did a marketing survey for our current students and parents of students here at Studio 27, and boy, were the results insightful! One of the main interests of our students’ and their families was that they would like more insider tips on how to book those gigs. The truth is, we can’t wave a magic wand over this blog post whereupon reading it, you’ll magically start booking out - BUT, as someone who has worked in film in nearly every capacity for almost 9 years and in theatre for almost 17 years, I can tell you what the other side of the table IS looking for!

Here are our quick-and-dirty insider audition tips to [hopefully] land you your next gig!:

  1. Dress to impress. In LA, actors wear audition outfits that reflect the character they’re reading for. You may have to read for multiple characters, but come dressed as the OG characters you’re reading for, and the auditors will be super impressed!

  2. Be polite. Respect your auditors time - they have hundreds if not thousands of other actors to review! And they’re in charge of whether or not you book, not you. Don’t act like you’re above the audition, even if it’s low-budget or not SAG. Thank the auditors when you’re finished.

  3. Be off-book. You can have your script for “safety,” but as off-book as you can be.

  4. Don’t shake hands. It’s cold and flu season - yuck! Don’t spread germs by shaking hands, unless the casting directors initiate a handshake.

  5. Be nice. You can chat with the other actors in the holding area. No need to be snobby - you never know who’s going to make it big!

  6. Be humble. Be direct about your experience, but no need to name-drop.

  7. Be prepared. Bring AT LEAST two copies of your headshot and resume - bring a commercial AND theatrical headshot, if it makes sense for the role. Make sure resumes are stapled to the back of your headshots.

  8. Turn your phone off. Seriously. No one is going to appreciated a ringtone or buzz during your audition.

  9. Listen (and take) direction! If you get direction after a read, it’s a good thing. Trust us.

  10. Do your research. Do your character work before you walk in. Come prepared with smart questions. Learn all you can about the auditors/casting directors and the production company.

BONUS tip: Relax. No one wants you to be nervous - you’re there to interview them for this job, too! And have a BLAST!

Posted on November 7, 2018 and filed under Audition.

Interview: Actor/Writer Swift Rice

Photo by Fare Game

Photo by Fare Game

Here at Studio 27, we pride ourselves on fostering talent and highlighting artists doing cool work in the community. Their successes are our successes, especially when they’re local to Atlanta! We interviewed actor/writer/comedian Swift Rice and chatted about acting, comedy, and making a living from art.

Studio 27: Hi Swift! Thank you for allowing us to interview you!

Swift Rice: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be interviewed. A friend told me “it is better to be seen than viewed”...sorry, that was random.

S27: Ha, no worries, we love it! Tell us a bit about who you are, and what you do.

SR: I’m a improvisor/comedian/actor. I enjoy teaching at my afterschool program. We teach acting and improv to kids ages 10-15. I consider myself a “hustling artist.” I’m blessed to be able to make a living from my gifts.

S27: What made you want to get into acting and writing?

SR:I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. I was an only child for many years, so I created and mimicked a lot of characters. My mom took me to a lot of plays in NYC. She also kept me involved in activities that sparked my creativity. I think when I performed at Madison Square Garden was when I really wanted to be in the business.

S27: That’s amazing - I didn’t know that about you! And you and I have gotten to perform a few times together at Dad’s Garage in Atlanta. You’re an awesome improvist - how did you get started with improv, and how does it play into your acting work?

SR: I love performing with you - your choices are so complementary to  whomever is in the scene with you. I started in stand-up, because I thought it was the fast track to acting. That’s when I met Tommy Futch. He had the idea of turning 9 urban and blue comedians into “clean” improvisers. [That’s how] The Blacktop Circus was born. It was one of maybe three all-black improv groups in the country. That was all of 20 years ago - it’s a lot more now.

I [also] use improv for my auditions and helping me to create better choices.

S27: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received as an actor?

SR: Be honest in your scenes and keep perfecting your craft.

S27: What are you currently working on?

SR: I just filmed Boomerang, which is a TV show that picks up from the 90’s movie of the same name. I will be filming a movie in Savannah next week which I can’t name at this moment, and [am] filming a TV show called ‘Doom Patrol’ that I shoot next week as well. Also, I have a project that I wrote called, ‘Black Magic’ that will also feature [Atlanta actor] Hannah Aslesen.

S27: What future projects are you most excited about?

SR: [That] project that I can’t tell you about! And Black Magic.

S27: We can’t wait to hear more when you’re able to share it! Finally, what advice would YOU give a young, aspiring actor?

SR: Being an actor is a journey of self-discovery. Be true to yourself and be true to the scene. Oh and don’t do drugs.

Posted on October 31, 2018 .

Do You Need a Talent Manager?

Definitely not a talent manager - Jeremy Piven in  Entourage .

Definitely not a talent manager - Jeremy Piven in Entourage.

Hi, I’m Anna, and I have a talent manager. I am an actor, writer, and producer. I am not SAG. The scripts I get paid to write are internal corporate video scripts for Delta or spec scripts for UNIQLO and private clients. I have two agents as well - one in Los Angeles, one in Atlanta. If you’re a seasoned actor reading this, you probably think I’m nuts, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong! Read on to find out why I like (and dislike) having both (both is good), and read this Backstage.com article for a second opinion!

To Live and Act in LA

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I thought I needed all the representation that I could get. I had gotten a list of agent and manager names and email addresses from a friend in the industry who had already been living and acting in LA for quite a while, and I reached out to all of those names on that list. I had done one independent feature film as the female lead, and had a few other short films under my belt. But film-industry-wise, I hadn’t done a whole lot. I had a theatre background, which to reps in LA means I take acting seriously - but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m any good at acting for film. I think that out of the list of 20+ names, I got 3 - 4 meetings. And from those meetings, I got my management company.

Making It

When I signed with my manager, I truly felt like I had made it. But having a manager, especially one like mine who also submits you for roles on LA Casting and the other casting networks, is somewhat of a fine art. I’m Facebook friends with my manager, and I’ve taken coffee meetings with him a couple of times - but he’s a busy guy with a lengthy roster, and now that I live in Atlanta, he can’t really submit me for roles down here, unless they’re casting out of LA, and I work as a local hire in Atlanta. The A is out of his network. My management team takes 15 - 20% out of any job that I book through them - that adds up to a lot of moola! And then, if my agent jumps in to send a few emails and help me out with negotiations, I have to pay her ANOTHER 15 - 20%. All told, my paycheck could only end up being 60% of what it was originally quoted, especially if the project rate isn’t less agency fee, meaning that the studio would pay the agents separately.

So, you tell me - is having a manager worth it? I think signing on with a management company is an individual decision. I like my team, and I know they like me. I like having double the options for auditions - if my agent misses something, my management team may pick up on it. I don’t like having a smaller paycheck, but I primarily now work as a writer versus an actor, so the point is somewhat moot. But I’ll leave you with this: if you are not a celebrity, and there’s nothing to really manage, why hire a management team?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

The Three Types of Actors You'll Meet at Auditions

auditions.jpeg

It’s Fri-YAY and finally feeling like fall in the A, so why not have a little fun with our weekly blog post? As an actor with over 16 years of experience, I’ve auditioned all over the country for theatre, film, and schools, so I’ve seen my fair share of actor “types” in said auditions. Here are the top three types of actors you’ll meet in the waiting room, no matter what gig you’re auditioning for:

The Eager Beaver

eagerbeaver.jpeg

Also known as the Big Fish From a Small Pond, this person is trying EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to book the part. They typically come from a smaller market and are trying to make it in the big city - which is really what we’re ALL trying to do, but the Eager Beaver thinks that this fact makes THEM unique. They are either overly friendly with you, sizing you up as competition, or overtly cold…also because they’re sizing you up as competition. Hot tip: even if the Eager Beaver is rude to you, don’t be rude back! I guarantee you the auditors are watching, even if you don’t think that they are.

The Model

In the words of the cult classic Mean Girls, “She doesn’t even go here!” - as in, sometimes non-actors will show up for auditions that are very tall and very, very attractive. These are models who are trying to broaden their resumes and maybe break into acting. Some models actually DO have pretty good acting chops, but some are just there to, for lack of a better term, diversify their portfolio. Basically, they’re your really, really ridiculously-good-looking competition.

The Newbie

newbie.jpg

The “newbie” is the actor that’s just starting out, natch. They’re probably pretty nervous, and looking for advice - which means that if you sit next to them, you’re gonna be sitting next to a real Chatty Cathy, more than likely. Again, niceness is always the best policy in my book - not only do you never know who’s watching, you also never know who’s gonna make it in the “biz.” Give advice as much as you can, but also, focus on your character portrayal and lines. You do you, boo!

Posted on October 12, 2018 and filed under Actors.

Interview with Actor Mike Beach

Actor Mike Beach.

Actor Mike Beach.

I first worked with longtime working actor (and my own personal favorite celebrity!) Michael Beach on the set of a small independent feature called Scrapper. Scrapper was my first foray with Grinning Man Media Group’s Ed Dougherty, and my first time working with real, professional actors. By “real,” I mean actors that are consistently working, like Beach and Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen.

Beach has been around the block several times in terms of work - notable roles (besides films with moi in it!) include: Soul Food, Waiting to Exhale, Aquaman, Dynasty, Sons of Anarchy, The 100, Crisis, Third Watch, and countless others. Studio27 Talent recently sat down with beach to discuss training, what makes an actor successful, and what he’s learned since graduating from Juilliard.

Three Quick Ways to Uniquely Brand Yourself As an Actor

Actor and Super-Good-At-Social-Media-Guy, Ryan Reynolds

Actor and Super-Good-At-Social-Media-Guy, Ryan Reynolds

We have talked about branding yourself as an actor quite a bit on this blog, and there’s a reason for it: times have changed. Gone (mostly) are the days when actors simply audition for a role and get cast. While that may still be the case in the theatrical world, in the entertainment industry, casting directors are looking more and more closely at an actor’s social presence - meaning, they’re literally Facebook-stalking you.

So, how do you combat this admittedly aggravating tendency of CDs to view your life online? Well, you can’t, unless you go completely off the grid, which is ill-advised. Instead, you can manage your social media presence professionally without losing your personality - here’s how:

Remember Who You Are

Okay, yes, you are a brand, and you are “selling yourself” as an actor - but that doesn’t make you a sell out. Figure out what your niche is and your brand, and clearly define yourself as such. Do you play a lot of “mom” roles? Are you a hipster? A jock? Whatever it is, make sure your website, headshots, and reel reflect your ability to carry those roles. Now, if you typically play a jock, but you’re a real-life bookworm - all the better! Casting directors are looking for unique takes on characters - and who doesn’t love a classic, all-American-good-looking-jock-who-turns-out-to-be-a-smarty-pants love story? I know I do - I watched Sierra Burgess is a Loser and To All the Boys I Loved Before (both on Netflix) in a weekend!

Get Over Your Hatred Of Social Media

Look, I get it - we all secretly or not-so-secretly hate social media, but as an actor, it’s pretty much a necessity nowadays. Again, it doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of who you are! Limit yourself to only 30 minutes of social media daily, if you have to - it’ll likely improve your mental health, too, to place restrictions on your usage. Go through your friends posts, like them, comment on them, do “organic outreach” - you know, the usual. And here’s a little secret: everyone buys Instagram followers these days, even those famous Jenner girls (don’t believe me? I’ve got a timeshare to sell you!). There are affordable options to buying followers, and there’s nothing illegal about it. You can also hire freelance social media managers to manage your actors’ accounts, so you don’t even have to bother with it, other than providing photos and approving posts. Figure out what you have the budget to do, and go for it!

Be Nice

It seems like a ridiculous suggestion but being likable feeds into being memorable, and it goes a long way in this industry. You won’t be rewarded for having an ego when you’re starting at the bottom; plus, it’s just good life practice to not step on people on your way to the top. You never know who’s going to get to the rich and famous part of the gig before you do!

What are some ways you’ve learned to brand yourself? Let us know in the comments!

DIY Filmmaking with Future Legend Ed Dougherty

Courtesy of @eddied4me

Courtesy of @eddied4me

In the film industry, as in any industry, it’s important to know who’s who and to take your cues from those who have gone before you, and have subsequently become successful. Ed Dougherty of Grinning Man Media Films in Los Angeles is one of those people; he’s a successful entrepreneur and filmmaker who has been around the block enough to know what works and what doesn’t in the entertainment industry, whether he’s shooting a commercial, feature film, music video, or corporate video.

Read on to get his invaluable insight on how to make in the entertainment industry, whether you’re talent or crew in LA, New York, Atlanta, Chicago - or any other city in the world!

Studio 27: Hi Ed Dougherty from Grinning Man Films (also known as Grinning Man Media Group, or GMMG)! Tell us about yourself and what GMMG does.

Ed Dougherty: Hi. I’m a writer/producer/director/editor who has [created] all kinds of content, from producing microbudget features to writing studio screenplays to directing music videos. At GMMG, we primarily produce microbudget features, make music videos, and [make] corporate/commercial content.

S27: What is the difference between narrative film and commercial?

ED: I’m not really sure I know how to answer this question. On the one hand, the differences are vast. On the other hand, things are all the same, from a producing and basic filmmaking perspective. When I first heard about how much you got paid for commercial work, I figured there was some insane trick to it that I didn’t know about. While it is hard to get your point across in 30 seconds or 15 seconds, it’s still basically the same process as making anything is. I’d say the barriers for entry to commercial work are harder than narrative.

S27: What do you look for when you cast talent for feature films?

ED: Talent, an interesting face, some kind of hard-to-define screen presence that you only know when you see it. Not a maniac. These are all obvious things. But mainly I think to myself-- will this person make my writing seem better than it is? If so, then I like them.

S27: Do you prefer to cast named talent - why or why not?

ED: Yes, of course, on a certain level. But it has to fit. It’s not the hardest thing in the world to get a named person into your film, if it is decent and you are not a maniac. But I also find it awkward when a name person shows up in a handful of scenes, all on the same set, and you know that they only had that person for a day. Also in some genres like horror, the name value of the cast pales in comparison to the concept and the feel of the film. In horror, you don’t need names, unless it’s higher budget - then you definitely do.

S27: Who has been your favorite celebrity to work with, and why?

ED: Aidan Gillen by far. Just because I feel we share some DNA. He’s an amazing storyteller and the most Irish character you can be around. Just a legendary person who is always very alive and interesting, and will bring all of himself to whatever role, even if it’s just some weird little thing you’ve come up with.

S27: What advice would you give an emerging filmmaker with little-to-no resources?

ED: Here’s something I have really come to believe in -- be prepared to rewrite your script as the situation develops. Sometimes even on a microbudget movie, you’ll have a filmmaker say “Well, in the script it’s a Learjet, so that’s what we need.” And you think, but you wrote the script. It wasn’t brought down the mountain on stone tablets by Moses. You shouldn’t think of the script as some unchangeable thing ever, but especially not with little-to-no resources. You can write yourself out of trouble cheaper than you can ever shoot or edit or FX yourself out of trouble. My other piece of advice would be that you need to face the harsh reality that not everyone is going to care on the level that you do, if there’s no money involved. Specifically when it comes to hiring editors, post people, etc. I have never had good luck paying an editor on a low budget project. You’ll often get back crap, and it will still be expensive. Learn to edit. You’ll do a better job anyway.

S27: Finally, any advice for Atlanta actors? Should we all just up and move to LA?

ED: I don’t know enough about Atlanta to really give a good answer to this, but I do tell my filmmaker friends in NYC that they need to move to LA. There’s just so much opportunity here. And you meet people who introduce you to opportunities. I’m not the most social person in the world yet I’ve randomly met tons of people who were very valuable to my career. I think the more people like that around the better.

Y'allywood Dominates: Main Roles are No Longer Solely for LA and NYC Talent

Photo by Getty Images.

Photo by Getty Images.

Recently, backstage.com, one go-to guide for actors around the world, posted two - count 'em, TWO - articles about how local actors could actually land over-5 and guest roles in pilots now - even, dare we say it, lead roles? Yep, we said it, and we meant it! After all, if Backstage is writing about it, it must be truly a trend in the entertainment industry.

So why is it that the industry seems to be making this shift? The simplest answer, in this case, is the most logical: it's easy on the studios' pocketbooks to hire locally. And just how does it save the shows money? Local actors didn't get billing. But now, that's all changing, though, according to Georgia-based Netfilx hit Ozark's casting directors, at a "glacial pace." Series regulars that are locals are getting booked in roles, like recurring guest star roles.

However, unless you're a Barb-on-Stranger-Things sleeper hit, you're not going to want to up and move to LA with just a couple of speaking roles under your belt. In the Backstage article we linked here, titled, "Small Market Acting No Longer Means Small Market Roles," New Mexico casting director Jo Edna Boldin points to seeing actors too many times do this and end up right back in their hometowns, because they didn't give themselves enough time to saturate the local market. 

In short, be smart about where you are locally, wherever that may be. Take the time to learn your craft by taking acting classes, and getting several roles under your belt before you make any big moves. It always helps to at least be SAG-E (SAG-eligible) before moving to a bigger market. Remember, you have a ton of competition out there! Be strategic - and, most importantly, have fun!

Posted on September 9, 2018 .

So You've Booked a Commercial...Now What?

cleaning-woman-1498067629ZOl.jpg

Congrats! You've made it through getting headshots, getting an agent, auditioning, acing the callback (did we miss anything?!), etc...now, you've booked the commercial gig of your dreams! Your acting career feels like it's finally headed somewhere! What's next? A guest star role? A five-liner? A pilot?

We digress. Back to the fact that you're an awesome, incredible actor who just booked their first commercial job! So, what happens next? We're covering it all in this blog post that tells you everything you need to know before arriving on set - read on.

It Ain't About You

If this is your first commercial gig, then you're likely at the beginning stages of your acting career. It's important to remember that it isn't about you. You are there to do your job, and a lot of the time, jobs ain't glamorous - especially first acting gigs. Show up prepared, with your lines memorized (i.e., off-book) if you have any, and even if you're facing the camera and getting to say those sacred utterances, know that you are still selling a product. That is your job - so do it right!

Actors' Agency

Even if you self-submit and book a commercial gig, no matter how big or small, circle up with your agent(s) and/or management team, and let them know you booked it! They can handle the nitty gritty details. And even if they just send one email, that means they still should get their compensation (i.e., a percentage of the cost of the project, whether it's 10%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your contract with your agency). Leaving them out in the cold means you'll never work in this town again! Kidding. Sort of. Pay them fairly, and they'll work hard for you.

Stay in Character

Do not drop that mom character who just loves the newest antibacterial wipes on the market until they yell "Cut!" Even if it seems like everyone is just waiting around or not doing anything, chances are they're going to go again - and you need to be ready. The easiest way to remember this tip is to simply stay in character the whole time that camera is on you - you can't go wrong!

Be professional

We cannot stress enough how important professionalism is on a commercial set - or any set, for that matter. This is a job that you are getting paid to do - know how lucky you are in that! No everyone has your life. Plus, the length of the commercial is super important. The length of a commercial is also paid for, whether it's a 15-second spot, 30-second spot, etc. You cannot get in a few extra lines, no matter what - stick to the script, and be word-perfect.

 

Have you booked a commercial gig? What's your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on September 1, 2018 and filed under Commercial.

Interview with a Reality Show Casting Director

Photo by Austin Young

Photo by Austin Young

We were lucky enough to sit down with casting director, tv producer, victim rights' advocate, and media personality Lenora Claire (phew!) for an interview on what it takes to make it in the television industry, in reality TV - and beyond. Named one of LA Weekly's "People of the Year," Lenora has been around the block and is a fantastic source of information for aspiring, entrepreneurial actors! Read on to discover her tips and tricks for making it in Hollywood and Ya'llywood. 

Studio 27: Hi Lenora! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with Studio 27 - tell us about yourself.

Lenora Claire: Hello Anna and everyone at Studio 27! I always get overwhelmed with this question, but I will try to  narrow it down. I’m a former journalist and art curator turned reality tv casting director, producer, media personality, event promoter, and victims rights advocate. I just got engaged, and it’s so new I keep calling him my “Beyonce” because I start to say boyfriend and remember he got upgraded to fiance. I’m also very obsessed with my dog.

S27: Adorable. How do you become a casting director?

LC: I had gotten a lot of press and was named one of the “People of the Year” by the LA Weekly after opening one of my art galleries in 2011. My mentor, Doron Ofir, who is a legend in the reality TV world for having cast shows like Jersey Shore, saw me in all the papers and sent me a tweet that said “I want to make you famous." I thought he was a creep hitting on me until I scrolled through his Twitter and saw that he was a casting director and gay (phew!) and replied. He then asked me to audition for a pilot for MTV and the rest is history. After meeting, he had discovered I had led a pretty interesting life and since print media was dying and I wasn’t finding much writing work, and even though the gallery I had opened was getting me press, the art world wasn’t exactly stable either. He thought my experience as a journalist would make me an excellent casting director, and now almost a decade later, I can say he was right!

S27: That's quite a story! Moving onto the talent portion: what are three things you wish actors would know/understand before walking into a casting room?

LC: Well, I don’t work in scripted, so I would call them more “talent” than actors, but I wish I could tell everyone that sometimes the strangest, most random things influence if someone is cast or not, and that sometimes it’s just as much about luck as it is talent and not to give up if they aren’t booking things right away. I would tell them to be kind to their casting director and make an impression, because I can’t tell you how many times I auditioned people who weren’t right for the current project and remembered them for something else later. I would also stress that if we send out a casting for something specific, please respect whatever it is we asked for and not submit yourself if you’re the opposite of what has clearly been requested. You’re just wasting both of our time[s].

S27: I love that. What about celebs? Do they still have to audition?

LC: I’ve absolutely auditioned celebrities for things. It depends on the project, and I suppose how big they are, though.

S27: What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen actors make in the audition room?

LC: In reality TV, the biggest mistake I have seen is someone saying what they think you want to hear about themselves that isn’t true, because they think it will get them booked. Remember, you have to live with whatever you do or say on reality tv. Please don’t sell yourself as anything other than what you are. Most casting directors can see through it anyway.

S27: Thoughts on Atlanta being the “Hollywood of the South”?

LC: Absolutely! I just cast a reality show for Lifetime out of Atlanta and two other shows in the office were being cast there and one currently is filmed there. I love the diversity and big personalities!

S27: What are the best things an actor can do to prepare for an audition or a big role?

LC: With reality, the best thing one can do is to be energetic and speak in sound bites. Nobody wants to hear your long winded story that goes nowhere. Think of some funny anecdotes or interesting bullet points about your life and deliver them with some genuine enthusiasm.

S27: What advice would you give to an Atlanta actor looking to move to LA or New York?


LC: Rent is REALLY expensive, so come here with at least three months of savings. And if you want sweet tea in LA, go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Also, don’t say “ma’am" to everyone here - say “miss” or else they will think you’re calling them old. Good luck!

Posted on August 26, 2018 .

5 Actors Who Came From Nothing

One of the most discouraging Hollywood tropes is that you have to know someone to get somewhere. As you grow and develop your skills as an actor, you will likely often hear the phrase, "It's all about who you know," or hear that dreaded yet necessary-in-this-industry word: "networking." What that phrase and that word means is that you have to put yourself out there - and no matter how many classes or workshops you take or networking events you attend, you may not advance in your acting career. Sometimes, it really is all about who you know

That's not to say it's impossible to make it in this industry as a "nobody" - quite the opposite, in fact! Don't believe us? Read on to discover this list of celebs that came from nothing to join the A-list (or, close to A-list) ranks in Hollywood.

Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester.jpg

Before this Gossip Girl made it big with the hit CW show in 2007, she was dealing with the least ideal circumstances - Meester was actually born in a hospital in Texas, with her mother going to jail shortly thereafter. As a newborn, she was allowed to spend 12 weeks in a halfway house with her mother before moving in with her grandmother in Florida until her mother was released 16 months later. Now, the star is worth an estimated $5 million.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah.jpg

Oprah - yes, the Oprah - was raised by her grandmother in middle-of-nowhere Mississippi. Born into poverty, Winfrey had a pretty hard life, losing a baby at the age of 14. Once she was sent to live with her dad in Tennessee, she started working in news journalism at age 19, and went on to be fired from her first reporting job at 23. But that led to her having her first talk show, and today, Winfrey is worth $2.8 billion.

Sarah Jessica Parker

SJP.jpg

Parker was the youngest of four kids, until her parents divorced, and her mother remarried, subsequently having four more kids. Parker was born in Ohio in a "coal-mining town" and grew up poor, her mother being a housewife and her stepfather being a truck driver.

However, Parker landed her first Broadway role at age 11, and got her first TV role at age 16 in "Square Pegs". Now, Parker is worth $100 million.

Leonardo DiCaprio

LeoD.jpg

DiCaprio didn't always live the life of glamour and fame that we know he lives today, what with the pap shots of him partying with supermodels on yachts; no, DiCaprio actually grew up pretty disadvantaged. He grew up in a very poor, rundown Los Angeles neighborhood, where drugs and prostitution ran rampant - in fact, the actor claims that seeing what drugs did to people made him never touch them as he grew up. He was also bullied in public school, but had a strong mother who supported his dreams and put him in acting classes - the rest is history. DiCaprio is now worth $245 million.

Jennifer Lopez

JLO2.jpg

This woman has done it all: fashion, perfume, clothing, singing, acting, dancing, and so much more. Lopez's looks defy time, and so does her seemingly endless energy. With the singer/actress now worth an estimated $380 million dollars, it's hard to be envious when you know her backstory. Lopez had it tough in the beginning, having disagreements with her mother about her career path (Lopez chose a career as a dancer over going to college), and became homeless at 18, sleeping on a coat in a dance studio. A year later, she got her first major job, but she didn't get her first big break until she was 28 years old, landing the titular role in the major motion picture Selena in 1997.

Sometimes, all it takes is hearing about the thespians, singers, models, and stars that came before you to encourage you to keep on keepin' on with your dreams! Which celeb has your favorite rags-to-riches tale? Let us know in the comments!

The Best Side Hustles for New Actors

desk-white-number-cup-sign-black-1392517-pxhere.com.jpg

When you are trying to make it as an actor in a big city like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles, it's important to not squash your own dreams by being a Negative Nancy to yourself, but it's also imperative that you have a plan in place before spending your best years under the harsh city lights - whether that means living with family for free, saving up a ton of money while you look for work as an actor, or have a few side hustles (aka, "survival jobs") going that are flexible with your acting schedule - or all of the above - you need to have some idea of what your life beyond your school years and/or living at home will look like. Knowing this will take an enormous amount of stress off you, which will only help you focus further on your acting career!

If you're not financially blessed like most of us, never fear - there are some pretty great "side hustle" opportunities to help you carpe diem that acting career of yours without only eating ramen noodles three times per day - read on to discover our top suggestions:

Work From Home Gigs

These are, of course, the best types of side hustles you can possibly get, though with freelance work, it's usually either feast or famine, unless you're highly qualified in a specialized area, like graphic design. If you're a writer, like me, it may be a bit tougher to make a living, so, as with everything career-wise, it's important to know and understand your niche. If you're a writer, are you a copywriter? Blog writer? Fashion writer? Tech writer? Whatever it is that you know how to write about, sell it!

You can also work from home as an admin assistant. Websites like Fancy Hands and People Per Hour are great resources for virtual administrative assistants. Tasks like data entry, performing SEO and digital marketing - even designing business cards - are abundant and legitimate!

Service Industry Jobs

I know, I know - I hated even typing "service industry," but the fact of the matter is, they can be pretty flexible when it comes to acting careers, depending on the type of service industry work that you're doing. If you're working for a more corporate company, it may be tougher to request time off. If you work for a mom-and-pop shop, then it may be a tad easier to have said shop work around your schedule. It's fair to let employers know prior to hiring that you're an actor, but be forewarned - it may turn some of them off to hiring you. Use caution and do what you have to do! I worked at a high-end gym for several months when I lived in LA, and I worked the 5 a.m. - 9 a.m. shift, then would go to my SECOND job as a fashion assistant every other day, and audition in-between. I got a free gym membership AND free designer clothes - win-win!

Speaking of gyms, you could also work as a personal trainer or yoga instructor - you would have to be trained in these fields and certified, of course, but there's no shortage of needing a trainer or yoga instructor in a place like LA! Plus, you can make your own hours and charge premium rates, once your business really gets cranking.

Temp work

Like freelancing, temp work is another great way to make some extra dough without committing to a job full-time. You can sign up for temp agencies like 24|seven Talent or Creative Circle, which often work with entertainers, so they're used to your abnormal grind. I've always had pretty great experience when I've worked with these two agencies in the past (both in LA and Atlanta), and they've gotten me in the door of companies I wouldn't have otherwise worked for.

As a temp employee, keep in mind that you may be taxed as either an employee (W-2), or as a 1099 contract employee. If you're "1099'ed," then you will be responsible for paying your own taxes.

The good news is, as with any of these gigs essentially, you can start your own business, which is a fantastic venture, especially if you're a egregious actor! Having a backup plan is never a bad idea, and it doesn't mean that you aren't invested in your dreams - it just means that you're smart as heck, and way ahead of your acting peers!