Nov 4

A 'new-era conversation' with actorpreneurs

The Actorpreneur seminar was one of the deepest conversations I have had with actors in a good long while. Jennifer Simmons, Michael Crowley, Robin Magdalen, Miki Murray, Makenna DeCaro, Sarah Elizabeth Ranklin, Sheryl Lewis Wohl, Todd Rattray, Saga Jacupcak and Callan Spafford were the participants. As well as looking at their online profiles, we listened to their dreams and explored their on-camera career goals for 2024.

The seminar invited each person to take a close look at themselves in terms of their strengths and weaknesses as actors, in an industry that also requires them to understand the business side of things.

We got honest in a quiet, grounded way and asked simple questions like: “what are your avoidance techniques?”, or, “do you realize you say you want X but you persist in doing Y, which sabotages X?”  Many actors were able to recognise, in practical ways, how their profiles are working for them or not, in this age of mass agent submissions for each project.

The question I used to ask was: "how does your online profile stand out from hundreds of other agent submissions?".  After  reflecting on the 9,125 submissions for my current project, the questions today are quite different, along with the realities of casting.

We have entered into a new era of casting.

I have spent the last two months letting go of the way casting used to be, the way interacting with agents used to be, the way casting actors used to be, and I have come to accept and fully embrace the new way of doing things as a casting director.

And what is this new era that has so resolutely brought the Patron Saint of Actors to a new path in her seventeen year casting odyssey? It is an era dominated by electronic submissions, live online, or as self-tapes. It is an era that is beginning to value lived experiences over formal educational training in the craft, eg: a BFA/MFA. An era in which real people are actors in their own stories and actors are, in some instances, left wanting for those same roles. An era  in which age, aging, elders and eldership is finding more space and more positive recognition, especially in western cultures, be it as a cover model for Vogue, or the big screen. 

And so, in our seminar we pondered the following:

what does owning an acting business (or being an on-screen actor) actually look like now?

How do actors make the cut, or simply get noticed? How does any actor get noticed when directors and producers can request and receive self-tapes from anywhere in the US and when self-submission sites are flourishing and anyone can ‘have a go’?

How do "conventional actors" get noticed when producers and directors clamour for  "tik-tok famous" or "IG-famous" influencers who don't have online profiles, don’t have credits on imdb, yet boast a bigger following and an even bigger bank balance then 90% of actors hoping for an audition for a day-player role?

We made wonderful progress. I offered simple tools, simple coaching, simple ways of re-framing and invited them to be accountable for themselves and  their businesses.The actors were amazing in their commitment to self-study and being vulnerable in their personal explorations and sharing. I’m not sure if they appreciated how much of an impact they made with their individual contributions.

Business! We asked what we mean by 'the business'. Incisive questions led to illuminating answers. I listened to them ponder the ways in which they needed to make their acting career meet the times and meet the market ('the business'). From time-management and 'chunking' (very helpful for those who get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of daily tasks), to understanding what marketing actually is.

Marketing is consistency of messaging or branding across all media.

We  looked at many different actor aspirations and realities including, being an actor in the Pacific Northwest, being an actor in the Pacific Northwest who is aspiring to work in other markets. Re-inventing oneself after retiring from a life time of work. Re-setting and refreshing one's mindset and attitude towards the film industry in order to align with the new norms.

Below are some of the questions from the seminar, along with others that I have added to guide you as you consider your own actorpreneur goals for 2024.

For those actors who respond more fully to a fluid, spatial, non-linear or spiritual way into business spaces, I have also included a very simple emotional-spiritual approach to guide you as you consider your dreams and goals for 2024.  
Reflect and journal….


For days on end I gazed at the stunning image of the indigenous Filipino tattoo artist, aged 106, wondering what goals, dreams she had even 40 years ago when she was in her 60s.  Did she think "Hmmm I really want to be on the cover of American Vogue when I am 106 years old". Maybe! Maybe she said to herself at 80 years old: "Cover girl! The new me! No make up, nothing, just me and my ink". 

I imagine even if that is what she was thinking, she also carried a deeper knowing and more expansive yearning.  In my lived experience of indigenous African tribes and tribalism, we aren't always hankering after Western ideals, first and foremost. Sometimes our cosmic, spiritual lives are blended into material goals or hopes.  Other times our mystical, tribal, indigenous imaginings take us out of the realm of the everyday into other spaces, different dimensions. It doesn't have to be a mutually exclusive, or polarised experience, but it is an add-on, (if you will), that might lead us to the most unimagined of possibilities as we pursue our art, craft and daily lives.

And now you ...

What cosmic, mystical hankering lives within you that might lead you, in another 30-40-50 years to previously unimagined possibilities, in terms of your art?  Try to let your mind wander beyond the limitations of chronology or linearity. Simply day-dream, imagine. I invite you. 

The questions below are intended to support you to think about your work and career/hobby as an actor. You don't have to answer them all. If you prefer, you can see which ones jump out at you, which ones seem to demand your attention, or which you would like to avoid.  

  • Do you incorporate Dedicated Actor’s Time (DAT)  into your daily or weekly routines?
  • If you practice DAT what are some of the core features of DAT that support you in your work as an actor?
  • Do you know the types of roles that you can play; is this reflected in your headshot?
  • When you have to think of your acting as a “business”, do you become disinterested or worried?
  • Is acting a profession or a hobby for you? How do you discern the difference?
  • Apart from getting “the lead role” in a TV series or film, what other dream/wish do you often imagine for your acting career? 
  • Increasingly lived experiences and a person's skillset are  more valued than an acting degree. What are the lived experiences and skills that you bring to the camera?  
  • Are your experiences reflected in your resume?
  • If you could have any other role in the film industry what would it be? (Eg: screenwriter, Make Up artist) Why?
  • How many online actor profiles do you have? Are they consistent with each other?
  • When was the last time you spent a good amount of time doing ‘office admin’ on your profile(s)?
  • Is your profile over-crowded? Eg: if I click on it, does it look like a hodge-podge of links and headshots dating back 20 years?
  • What practice or habit can you release that does not serve you as an actor?
  • What  does your audition process entail for a guest star/bigger role?
  • What is your audition process for a commercial or a very small role.  Are there any differences?
  • Do you have more photographs/self-style candid shots than professional headshots in your acting portfolio?
  • What ritual preparations do you have for yourself as an actor?
  • Do you have regular self-care routines?
  • Do you have a specific self-care routine for big events? Eg: When a show/film wraps, or after a major audition?
  • What are your artistic goals/hopes/wishes for your acting in 2024 ? 
  • Do you have a clear path forward for how to achieve them? What does that path look like?
  • How emotionally resilient are you as an actor?
  • Which part of the craft do you need to integrate as opposed to reject/ignore?
  • Is there a part of yourself that you feel needs to be integrated (accepted) into the whole of you?
  • How do you plan to do that in 2024?
  • If you were to be really honest what would you say keeps you going in the industry? 
  • What does success as a screen actor look like to you?
  • Are you open and available for roles in other markets?
  • How often have you visited or seen your agent from those markets?
  • Consider your online profile as though it is a store-front.  Is the ‘window dressing’ or display image (your headshot) compelling or ‘blah’?
  • Do you ever just browse your online profile as obsessively and consistently as you browse social media? Why is that?
  • Is your resume up to date? Training, commercials, tv/film/interests elements of diversity/about section (if you wish to add that) sizes listed?
  • Do you have a healthy film/acting community that you feel you are a part of? What do you enjoy about that community?
  • How is your time budgeted for study or continuous eduction?
  • Do you have a a budget for your business as an actor?
  • How much did you earn last year as an actor?
  • How much would you like to earn this year and how do you intend to reach your goal?
  • Do you feel comfortable uploading self-tapes to the required platforms?
  • Do you have social media accounts that are specific to your business as an actor.
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