Posts tagged #actor

Happy 40th Birthday, Heath Ledger!

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger

April 4, 2019 would have been actor Heath Ledger’s 40th birthday. His tragic death left a huge scar on the film industry, and many were left wondering just how career would have progressed had things been different. Ledger was just becoming recognized for his talents in a significant way: his performance as 'The Joker in The Dark Night was all the buzz in Hollywood in the months leading up to his death, and the Aussie heartthrob even earned a posthumous Oscar as Best Supporting Actor that year.

But while we may never know what could have been, we can still take a look back on a few most memorable films that earned him such a place in all our hearts and celebrate the man who went from teen idol to a major source of inspo for many actors.

10 Things I Hate About You

Oh, Patrick Verona. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and Ledger’s first real breakout role. His bad boy charm won over hearts everywhere, and tweens and teens taped-up poster inserts from Seventeen magazine all over their rooms just to catch a glimpse of that perfect smile whenever they wanted.

The Patriot

Ledger plays a defiant son who just wants to fight in the American War of Independence. He and his father, played by Mel Gibson, eventually team up as rebels in this epic film that had entire audiences sobbing in their seats. It was the first time Ledger had showed us what he could do when cast in a more serious role.

Lords of Dogtown

In Lords of Dogtown, Ledger plays Skip Engblom, a mentor to a group of young and rebellious Santa Monica skater bros. After his death, a journalist wrote of Ledger’s performance:  “He’s almost eerie in how precisely he nailed not only the mannerisms, cadence and physical presence of Skip, but also how he raises Skip’s spirit.”

The Dark Knight

2008 brought us the highly-anticipated blockbuster The Dark Knight, a film for which truly no one was prepared. Ledger went above and beyond preparing for that role, blurring the lines between himself and the character of the Joker a little too closely perhaps. Whatever he did, it worked, and earned him an Oscar even after he’d left us.

It speaks to the type of actor he was— the type of person, father, and human being we grew to know — that we still rave about him to this day, eleven years later. It seemed he made an impact on everyone he worked with, and I think we can all be in agreement that had he never passed away, we’d still be watching him on the big screen and applauding when he won awards.

So once again, Happy Birthday, Heath Ledger. We were lucky as heck to have you in our lives as long as we did.

So, You Wanna Be A Member Of SAG?

A SAG award.

A SAG award.

Becoming a member of SAG is a major goal for many professional film actors - outside of winning a fancy award and crying onstage about how much everyone really likes you, of course. Potential bragging rights aside, the benefits of being a member are pretty crucial: health and pension, workshops, endless resources, and, of course, SAG Awards voting privileges, among many other valuable perks.

Whether you're actively seeking membership or you’re just curious as to what it all looks like (and costs), here’s what you should know about the process:

To be a member of SAG, you must qualify to be a member of SAG.

So, no, you can’t just be an actor with a checkbook and a dream. Don’t get me wrong — those are lovely things to have. But in order to make the cut, you’ll have to provide proof you’ve completed at least three days of work as a background actor under a SAG-AFTRA agreement or have been an active member of another union, such as ACTRA, for minimum one year.

What does said proof look like? Glad you asked, my friend. Proof can come in the form of pay stubs or proof of employment printed out from the payroll company responsible for whatever project(s) you worked on that states your name, social security number, the name of the production company, the title of the production, the salary paid in dollar amount, and the specific date(s) worked. Mail it all to the address listed on their site, and wait for them to say you’re good to go.

And don’t you dare stretch the truth, Lie-sa Minnelli

It’s going to be tempting to do whatever you can to into SAG so you can go after all those parts you want right away. But you might want to read this little bit of info on SAG’s site before making any bold moves: “While it is your responsibility to ascertain the validity of your qualifying employment, the Union will be the sole arbiter in determining whether the employer was legitimate or bogus, and whether the qualifying employment which you performed was actual production work ,or work created solely to enable you to gain Union membership. Please be aware that false representation or deception on your part will jeopardize your chances to join SAG-AFTRA.”

So, as with any audition, you must do your due diligence first. And if that doesn’t scare you off, great! This next part hopefully won’t, either…

Pay up or hush up

You can’t become a member of SAG without dropping some serious cash: a whopping $3K of your hard-earned dollars, to be exact. You’ll need to be able to cover the initiation fee plus the first semi-annual basic dues. These fees may be lower depending on what area you live in, and the annual base dues are $201.96, along with the work dues which are a percentage (1.575%) of what you earn.

Still confused? There’s an orientation for that.


There’s a lot of info to digest, from the benefits to the tools and the fees and beyond. SAG is aware of how confusing the process can be, and that’s why they hold optional orientations so new members can have all their questions answered and their concerns addressed. It’s never a bad idea to research what you’re getting into before dropping a ton of cash on a commitment, and that same bit of advice will serve you prior to your wedding day or your first time buying a car, too! Good luck!

A Few Famous Actors’ Strange Early Roles

Ever been watching a random show and thought to yourself, “Wait, was that…?” Maybe you hit rewind, paused, and hopped onto IMDb for a quick scroll through a famous actor’s career highlights, and then saw it. Yep! That amazing actor you love was totally that weird unnamed cameo in the background of a show you used to watch with your mom when you stayed home sick from school, or that goofy sci-fi movie you’re not sure anybody ever paid to see in the first place. Well, everyone has to start somewhere! Some of those somewheres just happen to be pretty strange. Here are a few “Huh?”’s from some of today’s box office favorites!

Jennifer Lawrence - Monk - “Mr. Monk and the Big Game" (Season 5 Episode 3, 2006)

Jennifer Lawrence in  Monk .

Jennifer Lawrence in Monk.

Before embodying her fierce characters Mystique and Katniss, JLaw’s filmography was decidedly…fluffier. I’d be lion (wink wink) if I didn’t say I was surprised to see a young Jennifer pumping up the auditorium as a school mascot in this episode of Monk with Tony Shalhoub.

Quentin Tarantino - Golden Girls - “Sophia’s Wedding Part 1” (Season 4 Episode 6, 1988)

Quentin Tarantino in  Golden Girls.

Quentin Tarantino in Golden Girls.

None of Tarantino’s signature artistic gore or carefully curated soundtrack here - just everyone’s favorite senior ladies from the lanai enjoying matriarch Sophia Petrillo’s wedding and a very familiar-faced Elvis impersonator. Thank goodness this wedding turned out better than Tarantino’s other Bride’s!

Jason Segel - Can't Hardly Wait, 1998

Jason Segel in  Can’t Hardly Wait.

Jason Segel in Can’t Hardly Wait.

Ah, the 90s, where teen flicks ruled the theaters. Can’t Hardly Wait features several young attractive teenagers vying for their chance to have the ultimate high school graduation party. It also features Jason Segel as Watermelon Guy, where we’re treated to a short scene of the now-famous actor, well, eating watermelon.


Kristen Stewart - The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, 2000

Kristen Stewart in  The Flintstones in Viva Las Vegas.

Kristen Stewart in The Flintstones in Viva Las Vegas.

Your eyes will be brontosore (get it?) squinting to catch Kristin Stewart’s tiny cameo as “Ring Toss Girl” at a carnival game in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, but you’ll be glad once you yabba dabba did!


Patrick Dempsey - The Stuff, 1985

Patricky Dempsey in  The Stuff

Patricky Dempsey in The Stuff

If you’ve ever thought a movie about ice cream would make for a great horror plot, you might need to talk to your doctor about lactose intolerance. Nevertheless, this satirical dairy disaster gave the world a gift when it cast a young Patrick Dempsey as the delightfully-named “Underground Stuff Buyer #2.” Paging Doctor McCreamy!

So there you have it! Remember next time you’re gearing up for that audition as “Man in Post Office Line #4” or “Unnamed Janitor with Mop” you may just be on the brink of superstardom, too!

Posted on March 25, 2019 and filed under Celebrities.

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!

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.

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 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!

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.

LA vs. Atlanta: Which Film Hub is Right For You?

The Los Angeles skyline.

The Los Angeles skyline.

There's a lot of talk now about how Atlanta is the "Hollywood of the South"; in fact, we now have our own nickname: ATLwood. So many big budget movies and film studios are out here now, namely: Pinewood Atlanta Studios (located right down the road from Studio 27), where films like Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were filmed; Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta (where Devious Maids was filmed for Lifetime), and EUE Screen Gems Studios, where Black PantherFlight, Insurgent, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay were all filmed. It makes sense that films are flocking to the A to not only get those tax credits, but so are talent and crew. But whether you're from Georgia or not, does it make sense to dive into the largest film market in America, i.e. Los Angeles, or should you start out small[er] in Atlanta?

Let's Go Ahead and Answer, Shall We?

The answer is simple, really, and it all comes down to personality type. LA is cutthroat - there is no way around it. At the same time, it's full of some of the nicest people I've ever met. Atlanta is still growing and finding its voice. LA is full of opportunity, whether it's big budget features, independent films, short films, television, or reality shows; Atlanta may have Marvel, but the fact is, casting directors still (generally) cast out of LA for speaking parts, i.e., guest star roles, co-star credits, even just under-5's. It is difficult, at times, to even get work as an extra in Atlanta - not so in LA. There are PLENTY of roles to go around out West, even if you're just looking to start out small, like working with a student film (which, many of those DO pay!). Atlanta has some student films that pay, too, namely at SCAD; Georgia State MAY have some paying films, though I haven't seen many. Atlanta can be a great place to build credits, especially if you're looking to break into the commercial market. There are PLENTY of commercials that film in ATL (LA, too, of course!). And, though prices are steadily rising with the film industry growth in Atlanta, it is still cheaper to live here than in LA - more or less.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia

This is, to be honest, a difficult blog post to write - namely because, sure, you can live in LA, spend less money than living in Atlanta, and get more roles or jobs as a crew member. The same can also be true for Atlanta, which is why I started out by saying that it truly does come down to a personality type. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool Southerner, then sticking with what you know may work out best for you. If you're adventurous and a risk-taker, than by all means, move to LA! You never know what'll happen.

[More] Advice!

My biggest piece of advice, however, if you DO move to California, is to know that it's going to be really hard, at least for the first year - you can't give up, especially if you're a big fish moving from Atlanta to LA. Guess what? LA doesn't care how big you are. LA cares about LA. Be prepared to have your ego checked - immediately. One of the best lessons you can learn is how to act while on a set - which is why it's sometimes good to take on background work as an actor. That way, you have the experience of being on a REAL set and knowing that having a "diva-like" attitude can get you fired. You are, unfortunately, replaceable - but that doesn't mean that you don't have something special! Tackle your roles and auditions with humility and passion, and you'll be sure to nail them - everytime.

Bills, Bills, Bills

Lastly, wherever you move, save up money! Both cities are ridiculously expensive now, and you'll need to have a plan in place. Are you living with your parents? With roommates, if you're over 18? Do you have a "side hustle" to pay the bills while getting your acting career off of the ground? You're going to have to make sacrifices, no matter how you decide to live in two of the more expensive U.S. cities.

 

Have you made the leap and moved to Atlanta or LA? What about New York City or Chicago? Let us know - we love hearing from you!

How to Kill It at Your Next Audition

audition.jpg

You landed an audition - congrats! You have already won half the battle - trust me. This is coming from someone who has been on both sides of the casting table, and who has worked with many, many people in casting; if you get an audition, you've booked that audition against hundreds, if not thousands of people. 

But what are the next steps to actually booking the job? This is probably the #1 question on any actor's mind, no matter how long they have been in the industry - you could have started as a kid, and you would STILL wonder why some actors book, and others don't! The good news is, there are ways to kill an audition - in a good way! Meaning, you can walk out of the room or turn off the camera knowing that you did a great job, no matter what the casting director decides. Read on to discover our best tips and tricks for nailing that audition.

Make an Entrance

If you're auditioning for a theatrical show or film/TV production in-person, enter the room with a BANG! What that doesn't mean is slamming the door open and announcing yourself; no, we're talking about walking into the room in a semi-circle. It's much easier shown than stated, but try this at home: create your own marker on the floor, whether with painter's tape or an object. Enter the room, and make a C-shape curve with your walk over to your mark. In an actual audition room, the camera would be in front of you, usually with a table of people behind it - these are usually the casting directors, producers, and perhaps the writers or director themselves. Basically, you're drawing attention to yourself and making an entrance without being overly dramatic. Walking in this way creates an interesting eyeline for your CD's, and it may perk them up after a long day of auditioning hundreds of other folks who look just like you! Remember - keep it interesting, keep it fun!

If you're self-taping, making an entrance isn't really possible, since the first thing the CD's will see is you, on-camera. However, you can still "make an entrance" without actually entering! Whether your slate is at the beginning or the end, keep it positive and upbeat - remember, you're not only selling the character, but selling yourself. The auditors want to see that you are going to be a fun, cheerful person to be around on-set - they do not want to deal with a drama queen (or king). Also, start off your scene in an unexpected way - the point of you reading for this character is to put yourself into the character, not do what you think the CD's want to see or hear. Bring your own essence to the audition, and it's bound to be uniquely you - THAT'S what CD's always want to see.

No Touching

This generally goes without saying, but - no touching! Don't shake hands when you walk into the room, as it's viewed as an audition no-no. This is because we don't know where each other's hands have been, and hands are a germs festering ground. You may view it as polite, but 9 times out of 10, CD's will view it as an amateur error. So - no touching, unless the CD's reach out to shake your hand! In that case, shake away!

Remember, you can still be polite without touching anyone. Make your entrance, and be confident, polite, and calm. Greet the auditors, and act excited to be there - think of it as you're there to meet new friends who have your best interests at heart. After your audition, always make sure to thank your auditors - again, with the politeness! You can't go wrong.

An Actor Prepares

Even if it's not required, if you have the time, come in with your sides memorized (unless, of course, it's a cold read). BUT don't let the fact that you're off-book (or, fully memorized) take away from the fact that you are AWESOME at taking direction! And don't let it throw you if the auditor asks you to read in a different way, or asks you to improv. That's actually a good thing! It means that they think you're interesting, and want to see more.

Additionally, don't feel discouraged and walk away grumpily if they dismiss you after one read - remember, take everything that happens during an audition with a grain of salt. This is a job interview - there is no risk involved. It's only practice. And no one wants to see you walk away defeated! While this could be your next big gig, neediness or desperation is not attractive on anyone. Again, be confident - if this one doesn't work out, it's just onto the next one! Plus, sometimes one read is all the auditors need to see to know that they want you - it's rare, but it's happened to me, i.e., I've gotten cast after one reading. Take heart, and keep going!

 

Tell us in the comments some of your best (and worst) audition tales!

Hobnobbing With Atlanta's Film Sharks at The Ivy Buckhead - a Studio 27 Experience

Ritz Group Entertainment logo

Ritz Group Entertainment logo

 

On Thursday, June 21, 2018, I had the privilege of attending Ritz Group Entertainment's 2018 Shark Attack event with Cheryl Harris, owner of Studio 27 Talent Development. Shark Attack is a film industry networking and pitching event, designed for filmmakers, theatrical groups, and other industry pros to pitch their film, television, and other ideas for funding.

The "sharks" included: Erin Bethea of Fireproof fame; John Adcox, President of Gramarye Media; Stan Shklinyl; and Chris Helton.

This was an invaluable learning opportunity that taught me a lot about how to pitch my future film and TV show ideas to investors - namely, the below:

It's all about story and money.

Pitch your story first, then talk about how that story is going to make your investors money, and what kind of ROI (Return On Investment) they can expect if they provide funding for your project. Even if the folks in attendance at your pitch meeting are solely money guys (and gals), they're going to want to hear your story, why it matters, and why people will want to see it and spend money on it. The short version of all this information is, "How can this film/TV show/theatrical production monetize?" 

Shark quote: "Lead with your story, not numbers. The film market is shot right now - don't focus on variables. What sells now? Why are you asking for it, and how are you gonna make the money back?"

Pitch decks.

Make your pitch deck as visual as possible. If you're pitching to a roomful of investors, have a laptop, playing your visuals in the background while you're speaking. Naming your talent and crew always helps - what are the people on your team doing? What have they done? Investors need to feel confident in their investment, and names help with that. On that note, if you're looking to hire named talent, you can bet that you'll likely need over $5 million for your film.

Be sure to also flesh out fully dimensional characters. What is/are your character(s)' arc(s)? How does the character change? Again, it all links back to story. We're all human - even investors! - and we all want to hear a good story. 

Shark quote: "Too many moving parts are not appealing." 

Think international.

One of the sharks kept talking about international sales, i.e., what kind of ROI will you get on this film or show domestically and overseas? He also noted that he would like to know who would represent the film that is being pitched, and that it's important to know that films based on certain cultures are hard to sell overseas. So, make your film or show accessible! 

Shark quote: "For international sales, a [film] needs to be 80 - 90 minutes long."

The money stuff.

There were a lot of phrases being thrown around during the pitch process, like "ROI," "tax credits," "soft and hard money," "GAP financing," "equity," - and more. Do, do, DO your research before heading into a meeting like this - if you can't talk money, you simply should not be pitching. You have to speak the same language as your potential investors, even if you're not a numbers person. Google is free! And we've already done quite a bit of the legwork for you by simply writing this blog post, wink

Have you financed your own film or sought money from investors or sponsorships? Let us know what worked and what didn't! 

Click through the slideshow below to see photos from the event, taken by yours truly!