NERVOUS NEWCOMER or SEASONED ACTOR?

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Which are you? A nervous newcomer, a seasoned actor or somewhere in between?

Agents and Casting Directors can tell right away which one you are before you even speak. Heck, they can tell even before they read your resume!

Here’s a true story (as if I’d tell something not true <whistling and looking up in the air>) …

One day I was in the city at the SAG-AFTRA office while the Open Door Program was taking place. (If you’re unfamiliar with Open Door, it’s a program which offers members one-on-one appointments with agents and casting directors. More on Open Door below.)

There were three people sitting in the waiting room:

a) A big, bearded, tattooed dude in ripped jeans and boots. The kind of guy that makes you involuntarily cross the street if you see him coming toward you. A thug. A scary thug.

b) A thin pipsqueak of a guy in his best suit, briefcase and all, sitting right in the center chair, staring straight ahead yet very alert.

c) A 20-something year-old woman dressed in a casual outfit with her legs crossed and her bag plopped in front of her on the floor.

Now, which one of the above three do you think I couldn’t take my eyes off of? Correct! The thug. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore (plus he caught me staring at him) so I gulped and said to him, “Dude, you’re scary.”

He smiled at me and said, “I get that a lot.” But it’s the thing he said AFTER that which is what I want you to know. He said that originally, he had a really nice, calm and clean headshot and he wasn’t getting any work. One of his friends told him to dress like a ‘bad guy’ and send those shots out instead. So he was like, “Sure, why not?” – it couldn’t hurt since he wasn’t getting calls anyway.

He told me that as soon as he changed his picture, he started getting calls left and right and was even in an Angelina Jolie movie. (And then he told me he had a twin brother, in case he’s reading this, he’ll know I’m talking about him.)

Then he was called for his Open Door audition and he disappeared. A few moments went by and the thin pipsqueak said out loud — to no one in particular even though the 20-something woman and I were the only people in the room – “I can’t believe the way he is dressed. He’s not taking Open Door seriously. It should be treated like a job interview.”

That shocked me. I let a beat go by and I turned my head and said to the pipsqueak, “He IS treating this seriously. He totally dressed the part for how people see him.”

20-something woman was listening intently but kept quiet. After pipsqueak was called in for his audition, 20-something told me she’s a quadruplet and started getting her picture and resume out because it was her turn next.

Readers – from the true story I just told you up there, can YOU guess who is the nervous newcomer, the seasoned actor or the actor somewhere in between? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

We never really know what agents and casting directors are looking for, but you should embrace yourself for who you are and what type of character you fit best when searching for an agent or at an audition.

How many times have you heard, “What’s your type?” How many times were you able to answer?

By the way, if you are unsure of your “type” just ask your friends and believe me, they’ll tell you right away if your type is “annoying next door neighbor”, “pig-headed best friend”, “boring lead actor”, – you get the point.

ABOUT THE SAG-AFTRA OPEN DOOR PROGRAM

In a nutshell, agents are constantly searching for a type that they don’t currently have in their roster. Their roster is currently changing, what with people leaving the business or with the agent letting them go because they’re not booking jobs. Only they know what they’re looking for, so it’s pot luck for you.

Open Door connects actors of all stages in their lives with agents and sometimes CD’s. It’s run like a lottery so you must make yourself available for two-three designated days because you basically pick your timeslot out of a hat. You get a few minutes with that agent and if you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll get signed!

If you DON’T get signed, and keep in mind that most people do NOT get signed, don’t be disappointed. Think of it like an audition; it’s good practice!

Please follow me on Twitter: @LizardLadyNJ and also remember to follow @NYCastings for the latest New York casting notices, contests and blogs! You can email me at ilanarapp@gmail.com with any questions or ideas you’d like to see in future articles.

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