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making my own way

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If there’s one thing that I have learned here in LA it’s that everyone has their own opinion…

  • I once met an agent who told me that she wouldn’t know where to put me – that I would either have to chop my hair and go edgy or wear glasses and be nerdy. And then I read in An Agent Tells All that while agents will only be looking for certain types of people to fill holes in their roster at specific points in time, they are always looking for “young and beautiful” people and they can never have enough of them.
  • I have been told by agents and casting directors that it is great that I can play a teenager and that I should try to go for the youngest roles possible. And still a top network exec tells me that there are “no college age roles” so I need to go older and target the just out of college young professional area.
  • Some casting directors hate props. Others don’t mind them. One of my acting coaches said he brought in a stethoscope to an audition to give him something to do in the scene, and he booked the role. Then I was at a workshop last night, and the casting director said, “Props like cell phones and your purse are fine, but anything else, like a stethoscope, is just going to be distracting.” Okaaaay.
  • Some casting directors shake your hand. Others are germophobes.
  • Some want you to walk in the door as you and then go into character for your read. Others “want to hire people” so you are supposed to be in character from the time you walk in the door.
  • My acting coach loves my bangs. My parents – not so sure ;)

The list goes on, but you get my point. This can all get very confusing. As far as casting directors and their preferences, you just have to know who you are going in for. Thankfully between websites and acting coaches and friends, I can usually find out what certain casting directors like and dislike for the most part. But if I can’t, I believe that I should just use my own judgment and go with whatever makes me the most comfortable. After all, I have heard countless casting directors say that they want you (the actor) to get the job just as much as you do. It's your audition, so make the most of it! They just want to find the right person for the role. If it’s you it makes their job a lot easier. If they can’t find the person today, they are going to have to sit through another casting session tomorrow…

And as far as all the other people in this town with their own opinions, that’s all they are. Opinions. There are no hard and fast rules to making it in this business. Everyone has to make their own way. I have done my best to be as informed as possible –  I have read books about the business side of acting, books about agents, books on auditioning, on the art of acting, how to make it in this business, etc. I read the trades (Variety, BackStage, the Hollywood Reporter), and I have taken the advice of well respected acting coaches. But beyond that I have to do what I think it the right thing… whether it’s something small like deciding to cut bangs or something more signifiant like turning down an audition or a role because I am not comfortable with the content.

I have always loved Reese Witherspoon, and I really appreciated her recent acceptance speech at the MTV Movie Awards. She said that you don't have to have a reality show (or make scandalous videos) to make it in Hollywood. When I moved out here, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let LA change me, that I was going to stay true to who I am and what I believe. I am thankful I have family and friends to keep me accountable, and most of all that I can look to the Lord for guidance and discernment. I trust that I am on this path for a reason and that the Lord will lead me where He wants to take me.

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