It isn’t easy being green! Yet every aspiring actor has to begin somewhere – so how do you start trekking down that windy road to Hollywood without coming across as many road blocks?
The answer is as easy as 1…2…3!
Here are 3 newbie mistakes that all actors can and should avoid, shared by three gals who have been there before.
1. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF!
Shared by: Jessie Kahnweiler
Jessie Kahnweiler can’t afford therapy so she makes films. Her work has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, TMZ, People, New York Mag, Mashable, Buzzfeed, Elle, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, IndieWIRE, LA Weekly The Huffington Post, and The Independent.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes.
I learned to be really honest about what you want to do, because I was a writer and director before I got in front of the camera and I was shamed because I wasn’t a professional actor and didn’t look like the pretty skinny actors. And I felt as if I didn’t deserve to be a real actor. But once I gave myself permission to go after what I really wanted, which was to write and direct and star in my own work, only then did things happen for me.
If you really want to be an actor, we all have day jobs and need to work but you can manifest it and make it happen. Direct something on your iPhone, and you are a director. Success comes from the inside out. Nobody is going to make your dreams come true from the outside.
I feel like especially with acting, there is this old school idea that you will get discovered. And today is the best time to be an artist because you don’t have to wait. You can create your own projects and put them up online. You can get in a play and get casting directors to come see it. There are always ways to do your art instead of bitching about why people aren’t watching you.
I wanted to go to Sundance so bad. I made a bunch of work. THE SKINNY isn’t the first thing I made. You make one project, and the next one, and it never ends. There is no golden ticket where it suddenly gets easier. It is always about the work. Not the press or red carpets. That is fun. But that’s not the party.
The party is making the show.
Jessie’s latest project “The Skinny“, is a dark comedic series based on her 10 year relationship with bulimia is being Produced by Wifey.Tv. and Refinery29 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Jessie makes films to make the world feel like home. She lives in Los Angeles with her plants. www.jessiekahnweiler.com
2. TRUST YOUR GUT
Shared by: Summer Crockett Moore
Summer is an award-winning actress, voice-over artist & producer living in New York City. Recent acting awards include: 2 Best Supporting Actress Awards at IndieFest LA, and Long Island Int’l Film Expo, for her work in the feature film Junction, a New York Innovative Theatre Award for Best Featured Actress for her work in Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, and an Int’l Voicey Award Nomination for Best Female Voice.
Oh my …. how to narrow the playing field when thinking of what advice I would give to an actor who is just starting out.
The older/wiser me has so many stories that I wish the younger me could have known, but per usual, hindsight is 20-20, and part of the growth process is making mistakes and growing from them. That said, the #1 thing I would say to anyone, really, is TRUST YOUR GUT! Always trust your instincts, they are rarely wrong. It took me a very long time to learn this. I could give many examples of how, over the years, I tried to quiet the alarm bells that were going off in my mind, letting the little voice that (just like Mulder in the X-Files) so desperately “wants to believe”, guide me down the wrong path, instead of trusting what every fiber in my being was telling me – that something about a situation was “off.” Even today, while managing a successful production company, I still have moments of doubt about people/projects/situations, but I have a much better grasp on trusting my gut, and it is usually, almost always really, correct.
Now, for an example from my past, i.e. the dangers of not listening to an instinct. I was 19 (almost 20) years old. I had just completed two years of conservatory training, and had the summer off to audition and work before coming back for my last year of school. One night, while waitressing, I met a very charming man, who had made it big in the fashion industry, and had retired early (he was 40) to pursue his real dream — acting. He was taking a fancy (and expensive) acting class and working with a private coach on a scene that was going to be presented to the head of the William Morris Agency – “at special request”. He told me that his scene partner had just booked a big job in LA and had to leave, so he needed a new partner to act with in front of the big agent! (My lucky day, right?!) All I had to do was work on the scene with him and his coach for a few weeks of prep. The scene was from … wait for it … “The Rainmaker.” Yep, you got it, it was the big love scene. Well … I agreed to meet at a rehearsal studio for “the work” and sure enough, the first rehearsal was totally above board (although, warning bell #1, there was no fancy coach. Apparently he “was booked on a big film at the last minute”).
Rehearsal #2 ended with us going for dinner – his treat (did I mention he was very wealthy and had a private driver? Yea. Very fancy for a young struggling actor/waitress like me). After dinner, he had his driver take me home. I felt like Cinderella. Rehearsal #3, he wanted to do in his apartment because “all the rehearsal spaces were booked” that day (another warning bell going off, but I ignored it and met him there anyway) and 20-minutes into our “rehearsal” he made his first official – and quite aggressive — pass at me, and he was very upset when I declined and immediately fled. After many calls and pages (yea, we still had pagers back then) and his driver showing up unannounced to pick me up after my waitress shift to “bring me to Mr. X”, I realized I had been a total fool. I called him and asked when the presentation was for William Morris (oh how I desperately still wanted to believe), and he gave me a date and time the following week. I told him that we could rehearse – in a professional studio with his coach – before the presentation, but that any private meetings were no longer an option. He agreed, and we planned to meet in a few days.
Now, reading this story, it is clear to me that I was far, FAR down the rabbit hole of bad judgement, but I so desperately wanted to believe that this was my big chance, and that I had been chosen, and that I was special dammit! Well, long story short, my roommate at the time talked some good sense into me, and the next day, I picked up the phone and called William Morris Agency myself. *Note, I was still rocking a fairly strong southern accent at this time in my youth*. Well, the receptionist, after speaking to me for a few moments, must have had a real “bless her heart” moment going, because she assured me that they had no appointments for a “Mr. X” on the books, but she would transfer me to Mr. Power Agent himself for official confirmation. (She must have sensed there was a deeper story here.) So, Mr. Power Agent, who I sooooo wish I could name here, because he is literally an ICON in our industry, picked up the phone to talk to little-old-me, and we spoke for over 8 minutes. I told him the full story, and after he stopped laughing, and after promising to blackball Mr. X within the agency for being such a liar and a creep, he gave me the best advice a slightly brokenhearted young lady could use. He said “darling, I am sorry this guy lied to you, and even more sorry that you believed him, but you calling here today tells me you have strong instincts, and more importantly that you believe in yourself, and you know you deserve better. Work hard, stay focused, and look me up when you graduate. In the meantime, take care of yourself and trust you gut. If it feels creepy, it probably is.”
And with that, he hung up. Honestly, it is probably some of the best – and simplest –advice anyone has ever given me. It applies to almost every area of life. It applies to what roles I consider, what partnerships I consider, what Airbnb hosts I consider when traveling, even what streets I choose to NOT walk down in certain neighborhoods in the city late at night. If something feels “off” it probably is. Listening to my instincts has never led me astray. So, to everyone out there just starting out, sure, take chances, aim big, believe that dreams can come true, and pursue your craft with wild ambition – just don’t abandon your good judgement or silence your instincts along the way.
With love, cheers and many xoxos, SCM.
3. DON’T DO IT FOR THE $$$
Shared by: Christina Jacquelyn Calph
My newbie mistake to avoid would be to value a project based on how much it pays.
My advice is to get involved in as many projects as your schedule/budget would allow whether paying or not. This allows you to meet other people in the industry; actors, writers, directors, etc… that will ultimately help further your career in the future. I have worked on the quote unquote, “horrible nightmare non-paying projects” with other actors who later became agents, casting directors, or successful actors with recurring roles on network television shows.
I even got repped by a top agency because a girl I did background work with became a junior agent in the office and remembered me. Networking is so powerful and this can happen even on those gigs you think are just a waste of time!
Christina Jacquelyn Calph can be seen in the major motion pictures Arthur and Tower Heist. She is also the creator of the sexy, comedic Youtube Channel, Bad Girl’s Ball with 13K in subscribers. Check it out at www.youtube.com/badgirlsball.
To get started in acting, while avoiding newbie mistakes, check out the latest casting notices HERE.