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Director Kevin Emmons on How Actors can improve their auditions

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Director Kevin Emmons to discuss his unique insight on auditioning actors. The full exchange is in my new book, "I Booked it", but this info was too good not to share online too! Enjoy!

Judy: What can actors do to improve their auditions?

Kevin: Look, feel, and dress the part, from the moment you walk into the room with your head space in the part. The agency people are watching. If it is comedic, then by all means be funny. Who are the people that stand out? The ones that make eye contact and make a connection as a human to human. Ultimately, you are not only auditioning, but you are showing who you are as a person.

My number two pet peeve is when actors rush through the slate and profile, and they don’t smile. We want to see you, whether or not you're out of shape. Sometimes that is why you get picked. Embrace who you are . . . all your quirks. It is not about being perfect. We often look for the quirky. Present yourself. Take your time in the slate, in the understanding of the role. And if it is a scripted part, take the time to know it. Not in a memorized robotic fashion, because we don’t want to see a reading, either. But understand the script and know the content. When someone blows us away in a casting, it is because they took the time to become familiar with the material. That is your homework. Everybody has some kind of homework in life. The actor is usually a very undisciplined person. I see actors who book all the time, and it is because they are working hard.

Don’t worry about the run of the spot. You are making connections. Do the work and the rest of it will fall into place. I think the most frustrating parts of the process of selecting and finding talent are:

  • How often actors are unprepared. Someone who does a lot of commercial work gets better and better at it.
  • How they don’t understand the role they are seeking. What does it say? The agency and the director come up with specs for the casting office, so they will write the description of the character. Pay attention.
  • How they don’t dress for the part. Come to the casting appropriately dressed; you would be surprised how often people come dressed inappropriately. Do you know what a hipster looks like? He’s not a conservative 60-year-old in pinstripes.
  • Callbacks! Let’s say 100 people auditioned, I have six favorites and the agency has eight favorites. Sometimes they overlap and you have commonality. Now, if they have eight chosen for callback, and I have eight, and they are completely different, I get concerned that their vision of the commercial is different than mine. Still, if 16 people come to the callback and you end up with a great actor, it’s excellent!

This is an excerpt from Judy Kain's book "I Booked it" - now available online or at Keep it Real Acting.

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Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family,The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends,and The Drew Carey Showjust to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LAin 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

Kevin Emmons

Kevin Emmons

Kevin Emmons is a Director & Cinematographer who has shot everything from documentaries in China, Russia & Tibet,  to the advertising world of autos,  fashion, sports, athletes, celebrities, effects and lifestyle spots.

One of the few commercial DPs inducted into the prestigious Society of Operating Cameramen (SOC) and working with an extensive list of top directors, Kevin has been cinematographer on well over 1500 national television commercials for such diverse clients as Reebok, Ford, Kraft, Coke, McDonald's and Budweiser - with spots that have made it on air during the coveted Super Bowl. His images have won awards at local and national levels including Addys, Tellys and Clios. He has written articles for several industry publications, is a Director of Photography in the local 600, and is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

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1 Thing that Teen Actors Need in order to Succeed

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Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

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I Booked it - The Commercial Actor's Handbook!

Judy Kain

Judy Kain

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

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I Booked it- Chapter 1

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Chapter 1  Commercial Acting — Training is Essential

Use what you know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. 

—Michael Shurtleff, playwright, casting director, and author

Maybe your friends tell you, “You’re so attractive, you should be in commercials!” Or perhaps you’ve been approached at the mall by a talent agent who says your child is a natural and it’ll be easy to get her into commercials. 

Acting in commercials has the lure of seeming to be a simple profession. Everyone believes it’s easy to get into, easy to achieve quick success, and of course you will make piles of money! 

But as commercial director Kevin Emmons says about a British actor: “I was working with this actor on a shoot. He was classically trained and brilliant, and he is now suddenly in front of a teleprompter with all these lines, and he has to do this specific action while walking and talking . . . and by the third take he was overwhelmed. He said he acted his whole life and this [commercial stuff] is hard!” 

Good actors make commercial acting look easy. However, saying words that are product-driven with little- to-no time to practice or rehearse, getting virtually no background explanation whatsoever, making it look like you’re having an everyday conversation with a friend in front of complete strangers while the camera is rolling—it is all a lot more challenging than it looks. 

A student in his late 50s took my 6-week A-Z commercial class. He was a successful ear/nose/throat surgeon, and typically impatient. After the final class he asked, “How long does it take to get a job?” 

“Well, how long did it take you before you began practicing surgery?” I asked with a smile. 

He said, “Four years of college, two years of grad school and four years in a residency.” 

“Okay, and so what makes you think you can master commercial acting in six weeks?” I said with a little glint in my eye and steel in my tone. He was speechless. 

Casting director Ross Lacy told me once, “I always laugh when someone says, ‘Omigosh, I would like to be in commercials,’ and I say, ‘Sure you would! So would every- body. That’s why these people are training and go to improv classes all night long because they make it look easy—and it’s not! And the people who think it is are mistaken!’

Ross continues, “The one thing I know is that training is imperative if you want a lasting career in commercials. Of course there are stories of the person who walked in, booked the job, and made a pile of money off one spot. This is definitely the exception. The same odds apply to winning the lottery.”

Just like my acting student/surgeon, most people wouldn’t dream of trying to start a new career in any field other than acting without getting the proper training, doing whatever it takes to make themselves competitive.

Study the Craft of Acting

Honestly, the best teacher of commercial acting is the commercial itself. Watch commercials, study them, and find yourself in them. Put the remote down and watch the stories being told in the amazing 30-second short films called commercials. There is much to be learned via this exercise, from tone and style, to how to dress for commercials, to how to wear your hair, to the nuances of an understated performance.

Find a class that can give you solid, specific, on-camera training for the art form of auditioning for commercials. For a small investment, you can find out in six to eight weeks if this is something for which you have a passion and ability. You will be able to get some insights as to what will be in store for you.

A commercial acting class should always be done on camera, or, in my opinion, it’s a waste of your time. Since every audition is done on camera, it’s completely unrealistic to study without using one. The most important things you’ll take away from your commercial class will be how to:

  • Approach commercial copy
  • Use a cue card
  • Make the camera your friend

You’ll also need to take some acting technique classes to give yourself a strong technical foundation. Acting is acting, whether it’s drama, comedy, commercials, films, on the stage, or for television. Your job is to be authentic, connected and present within the confines of the scene, whether it’s Shakespeare or a 15-second commercial. As a well-rounded acting student, you’ll become a quality actor who happens to do commercials. Evaluate available acting classes using these key criteria: 

Take a class from a working pro

Your best choice is a class taught by someone who is currently doing what they are teaching. You get firsthand experience from a professional who is active and successful in the subject being taught. A long as they still love what they do, you will be in good hands. Check out the instructor on the IMDb (Internet Movie Database), and run their name by several different sources, ideally working commercial casting directors or agents who are active in commercials. 

Take a class in a studio with professional camera and monitor

You must be able to see what you and others are doing through the eye of the camera. Since auditions for commercials are always done on camera, it is crazy to take classes without actually working in front of one. You’ll learn what works and doesn’t simply by watching the other students. Most classes should offer a recording for you to review and see your growth. 

Make sure the copy being used fits current trends

Commercial trends change quickly, and current copy is critical for you to practice for the auditions you will have. These days, most commercials don’t even mention the product in the spot. Only the voiced-over tag tells us what the product is.

Class should be minimum of 6-8 weeks long

You cannot learn everything you need to build a sustained career in a one-day seminar. You may become inspired or motivated in a day, but you won’t be trained. There are at least five different types of commercial auditions, and different techniques specifically apply to each of the five types. Building skill upon skill is critical for a confident commercial actor.

These new skills take time to develop and they are critical to know. Some techniques you will only do in an audition and nowhere else. For example, in an audition you have to motivate out towards the camera. You would never do it on the actual set, or even during a theatrical interview, but at a commercial interview, it’s vital that you motivate towards the camera so you can be seen.

Meet an industry guest

An industry person should be scheduled to come in at the end of class so you can make connections. You have heard the adage, It is who you know in this town. Unfortunately, it’s true! You want to build relationships based on your talent. So take a class, hone your skills, and then meet those who have the power to bring you in. Don’t meet them before you study—you want your first impression to be a good as well as a lasting one.

This is just the beginning of your commercial training. Start with the basics to get you going, then you will find that you need to take some improvisation to loosen you up. Improv training will add a layer of spontaneity and quick subtle responses to your acting when you do auditions.

You may find that you are not getting enough bookings and may need to take an advanced class to help you turn callbacks into bookings. Or perhaps you’ll need to spend a year or two in a theatrical technique class to learn how to access your emotions.

At some point, we actors often feel we no longer need to continue training. Always remember that is not the case. Classes refresh a tired performance, classes give us new perspective, and most definitely, classes rid of us of our bad habits.

Equate acting classes to gym workouts—you know what happens when we stop going there! Our muscles get weak, flab starts to appear and we lose our momentum. The same thing happens when we take a break from class. Our acting techniques become soft and out of shape.

You never know when you’ll have a chance at an audition. You want to be on the top of your game at that moment—you don’t want to be in a slump!

Do your research. Find a class that suits your needs. 

Buy the book Here

Judy Kain

Judy Kain

About the Author

A professional actress for 38 years, Judy has show- cased her skills and talents in hundreds of commercials and film and television roles as well as transformed count- less actors’ careers with her two schools.

Judy co-founded Talent To Go, a training company that won The Best Casting Director Workshop in LA award in 2009 and 2010. She continued her teaching legacy and success when she opened Keep It Real Acting in 2012, an award-winning full-service acting studio that offers commercial and theatrical classes for all levels of students. She was voted Backstage West’s Favorite On-Camera Commercial Teacher in LA in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and again in 2015. Several of her classes have also won Backstage West’s Favorite in LA awards, and the school continues to produce amazing results for her students.

Judy’s hundreds of well-known credits include a SAG- award-winning recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men as Olive Healey (Peggy’s secretary). Other favorite recurring credits include Odd Couple with Matthew Perry, Hand of God with Ron Pearlman, Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.

Judy has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Rizzoli & Isles, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show among others.

Her more than 375 commercial credits include several career highlights. Her role as judge in the famous Clairol Herbal Essence ad with Dr. Ruth was famously (and hilariously) spoofed on Saturday Night Live. She appeared in two acclaimed Super Bowl ads in 2013, Oreo’s Whisper Fight ad and Deon Sanders’ NFL promo.

The proud mother of one son, Frankie Manes, Judy resides in Los Angeles. 

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Exclusive Interviews with Backstage's 2015 Reader's Choice Award Winners

We did it!   

Keep It Real Acting is officially the 2015 BACKSTAGE READERS' CHOICE Winner for FAVORITE AUDITION TEACHER, FAVORITE IMPROV TRAINING CENTER, and FAVORITE KIDS ACTING CLASS!  Below are our exclusive interviews with our Award Winning Teachers this year, Judy Kain, Paul Hungerford, Donna Rusch, Doug Traer & Nancy Linari!  We hope these brief clips can give you a little insight as to what make these teachers so special.

Judy Kain is the owner of Keep it Real Acting and teaches the Commercial A to Z Class and the Advanced Callback Class.  Judy has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Paul Hungerford teaches the Commercial A to Z Class and Improv-a-thon at KIRA. For over 25 years, Paul has been performing on stage and in film and television productions, as well as working with The Groundlings, Acme Comedy Theater, Impro Theater, and Comedy Sportz LA.  He is currently the Director of TheatreSports at the Impro Theatre in LA, and has been seen on your TV set in over 40 commercials and a number of shows.

Doug Traer teaches the Kids Class & Commercial Wednesday Workouts at KIRA.  Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  When he is not acting, he works as a commercial casting director and session director for many Casting Directors around town. 

Donna Rusch teaches the Next Step class at KIRA. Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and films, including last year's hit, Gone Girl.

Nancy Linari teaches the Teens Class at KIRA. Nancy has been a professional actress for over 30 years. Her work can be seen and heard in both commercials and animation, on television and radio; from Bones to Modern Family, from ABC’s animated The Addams Family (the sexy Morticia Addams) to the Academy Award nominated The Social Network (the cranky secretary to the president of Harvard.)

Again, We are overflowing with gratitude, humility, and love.  Thank you so much for making KIRA a 2015, 3 Category Winner and a leading, competitive, loved acting studio in LA!

Sincerely,
Your KIRA Family

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How to Approach A Callback - with Jack McGee

The brilliant actor Jack McGee spoke at length to my Advanced Callback Class this past month. Here's just a snippet of what he had to say.

Judy Kain

Judy Kain

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show

and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

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Consider this when looking for a Commercial Rep

One of my favorite things about teaching the Advanced Callback Commercial Class is learning from all of the amazing industry guests that visit class each week to provide feedback and insight. We have a playlist on youtube where snippets from our guests are continually added, but its best to perform for and learn from our guests firsthand in class. We hope to see you there!

Judy Kain

Judy Kain

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family,The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends,and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

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What makes some Actors so Hireable

Once, while attending a holiday party , I was cornered by an actor who had auditioned for me earlier that year. He was relatively new to the business and wanted to know the secret to booking commercials.

At first, I told him that if he figured it out, please let me know. No one knows of one thing or combination of things that will always get you booked.

But, he said, there are actors who consistently book commercials and work more than others. What do they do that makes them so hireable?

I had to think about that one.

It’s true, I know a handful of actors of different descriptions who book a lot of commercials and they have some traits in common.

1. They are a “type.” Americans relate to people they can recognize and categorize in their minds. We call them “types.” By their looks and what we see on TV, we expect a certain behavior from them. For instance, blue collar types are usually lovable, not that smart, hardworking and honest. You’ll see them in family restaurant and truck commercials. Slacker types are unshaven, often college students or stoners, have messy hair and clothes, and are generally irresponsible. They populate nearly every beer commercial and some computer as well as fast food spots. Because commercials are only 30 seconds long, types must be instantly recognizable. These actors have that quality.

2. They are good actors. Yes, commercials generally aren’t as demanding of acting skills as theatrical productions. But good acting is good acting, and just as if I were going to have minor surgery somewhere, I would want an overqualified surgeon to perform it, directors want an actor who is capable of much more than just the role you’ve hired them for.

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3. They are professional and prepared. They’ve done their homework. They know all about the spot, the copy, look and wardrobe and they’re ready to work as soon as they arrive for the audition.

4. They are not thrown by change. They can roll with whatever changes are made, and shift gears without batting an eye. Often in callbacks, I see directors ask for a different interpretation of a script. Not because they think it will be shot that way, but just to see if the actor can do it. Usually these actors have a background in improv.

5. They are confident. They know they can do they job and they project that confidence to the agency and production company. They are not intimidated by the process. Think about it. If I were going to have the above mentioned surgery, do I want a surgeon who behaves as if they’re not really sure this is a good idea or can be done? Or do I want someone who is on board with the diagnosis and makes me believe that it’s a piece of cake?

6. They get it. Oftentimes I see actors come in and give an audition without understanding the spot. If it’s comedy, they don’t know why it’s funny. Actors who book get it. They watch commercials and know the tone of the advertiser and commercials in general. And if they don’t understand, they ask to have it explained.

7. They are consistent. If you call them in, they will consistently give a good, believable performance. And they tend to be level headed, neither blinded by success nor defeated by failure. They know the game and they know how to play it.

Most of the things I’ve described come from training and experience. Okay, that’s not true of your looks, sex or ethnicity, but training and experience should dictate the audition choices you make. You can learn a lot taking classes and just watching commercials. Watch the performances. Note the economy of words and images. Watch how they’re edited. See how different companies have their own style or message regardless of the spot. Then remember that when you audition for their ads.

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Doug Traer Commercial Wednesday Workout, Kids Commercial Class
Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  His film credits include Robert Miller’s Brenda Starr, the critically acclaimed Speak of the Devil and the black comedy Dead Giveaway.  He has had multiple roles on General Hospital, appeared in America’s Most Wanted and Saved by the Bell, among others.

He has made a number of national TV commercials for products such as Mercedes-Benz, Sony Playstation, Sprint, Blue Cross Insurance, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Hardee’s Restaurants.

In addition to his acting gigs, he works as a commercial casting director and session director as well as teaching and providing career guidance to young actors or those just getting into the business.  He also directs theatrical and industrial video productions through his own independent production company.

Doug studied acting with master teacher Cliff Osmond for 15 years and improv with the LA Connection. He began teaching commercial classes 12 years ago and theatrical classes in 2003.  He has also taught in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Phoenix and Santa Barbara and recently returned from Tokyo where he taught American acting to Japanese students.

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Creating Your Team: 4 Things for Actors to Remember

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Often, we as actors feel very alone in the entertainment industry.  You didn't get the part, forgot your  lines or you feel duped because the wrong people scammed you for money.  These things and more weigh on our artistic minds more often than not.  How do I make sure I am slating properly, or making the right decisions for a cold read?  Are my head shots working for me?  How do I find the right instructors, agents, managers, etc?   Help is right under your nose.  There are so many assets out there, utilize them!  The entertainment business works when you surround yourself with a “team” you can trust, that will help make your career flourish. 

Coaching and practice.  A good actor can make incredible moments created by the tiniest emotional nuances look easy.  But these moments are executed by actors who have honed their craft.  They utilize the tools they have studied for years to give the “performance of a lifetime.”  And, although an actor might be by themselves in a scene, it’s important to ask: how did they get there?

Reading your lines in front of a mirror does not make you a great actor.  You must learn from a mentor or coach.  Throughout the history of acting, instructors like Stella Adler or Lee Strasburg crafted the art by the actors workinh in front of an audience.  Whether it is a peer, friend or mentor it is important that we speak our lines out loud.  So many actors in class or, God forbid at an audition, do the silent read.  If it is a cold read and you don’t have someone to read lines with, don’t stay silent.   Find a space in the hallway or outside and talk your lines in the voice you plan to use.  You will be surprised how different your choices and decisions for the part will come to fruition when reading in front of someone.  This is the beginning of your team creation.

Research. Putting the proper team together can be as simple as starting with your instructor, and as hard as picking the right accountant.  In the beginning, you should be focused on the right teacher or mentor.  Research is the key.  As an actor, researching a role is part of the job.  You don't buy a car without a test drive, or learn to ride a bike without Dad holding the handle bars while you gain your balance.  So, why would you create your team without proper knowledge of the people who can help make or break your career? 

Rules to live by.  It is important to have a good rapport with your instructor, manager, agent and even your photographer.  If your instructor is demeaning or makes you uncomfortable, get away from them!  Most acting teachers offer an audit of their class. This lets you see for yourself how the class is taught and if it is a proper fit.  Agents and managers work much the same way; you are interviewing them for the best representation.  Remember, it is a business and your success is their success.

As your career begins to blossom, the team becomes bigger and the stakes get higher. You will need a lawyer, an accountant and probably a personal assistant because the business moves fast and you must be prepared.  Are all these people necessary?  Can't I take care of things on my own?  Not likely, as you grow and opportunities continue to rise, going it alone is not advised.  Talk to your peers, be inquisitive about how others have built their teams.  At whatever level you find yourself now, it is important to start practicing good team building.  These essential skills will follow you throughout your career as you find your puzzle pieces starting to fall into place.



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Wayne Frazier (“Transparent,” “Kroll Show”) is an actor, writer,producer and host. Wayne currently hosts Hollywood Close-Up with Natalie Lipka (“Criminal Minds,” “Kroll Show”), an audio podcast that focuses on creating your own career in the entertainment industry. On the show, we discuss the latest in the entertainment world and trending topics in social media, and provide insight to those pursuing a career in “the biz.” Each episode includes a close-up interview with one of Hollywood’s finest working actors, directors, producers, writers and other industry professionals.


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No matter what age, you DO have something to put on your child's resume

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As a Children’s Acting Instructor and Coach, I often work with kids who don’t have any “credits” yet in the business.  For this reason, parents have not put anything but their child’s name, age and contact information on the back of their child’s headshot or picture.  This doesn’t give a potential Agent, Manager or Casting Director much to go on when considering whether to see your child.   With all of the competition out there, there are things you can put on your child’s resume to give them every advantage.

First, if your child does not have traditional credits, that’s ok.  Everyone begins somewhere. You want the person looking at your child’s resume to learn something about your child. What does your child like to do outside of acting? For very young children, this can be simple things such as loves to swing, rides  a tricycle, scooter, swims with floaties (or without), loves to sing children’s songs, likes to do somersaults. Don’t forget unique characteristics such as has a cute belly laugh, dances in a funny way to music, or has a cute lisp that’s still understandable.

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For school aged children, it can be any school performances in which they’ve performed, music lessons, karate, gymnastics,  sports teams, skateboarding, choir, expert at video games, competes in Science Fairs, loves to run, Scouting, dirt biking, water skis, snorkels, etc…  And for all ages, list ANY acting classes they have taken, including the instructor’s name and the studio’s name if applicable.

The more a person can get to know your child, the better your chances are that they may get called in for an audition or Agent meeting.  The most important thing is to make sure your kids are having fun at whatever they do.



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Donna Rusch Kids Classes

Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and Industrial films, most recently for clients such as Sara Lee, Suave, Curves, Farmers and Merchants Bank of California and Reliant Energy.  Donna can be seen in the Ben Affleck thriller Gone Girl” and has a lead role in “The Periphery” now winning awards at film festivals.  Recent television credits include Criminal Minds, Revenge and the new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder”

Donna has extensive experience working as an acting coach for kids and teens.  She says “I so enjoy my career and find it both a thrill and privilege to mentor the next generation as they reach for their dreams. “

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