Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. They have booked TV shows including “Modern Family,” “Blackish,” “Extant,” “The Colony,” “Animal Kingdom,” “My Haunted House,” "Walk The Prank," “Henry Danger,” "Murder Among Friends," "Night Shift," as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Justice, Walmart, Little Tykes, Foot Locker, Hot Wheels, Home Goods, Universal Studios, and many more. Prior to being a manager and a talent agent at Burn Down Entertainment, Wright assisted many high profile managers, agents, and publicists. For 20 years she was a recording artist, actor, and music producer, and is now the author of seven books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina. For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Wendy is also a Recording Artist, Actress, Author and Music Producer all giving her a 360-degree perspective of the industry.
HOW TO BE AN ACTOR ON TV - REAL TALK -
FROM A TALENT MANAGER IN HOLLYWOOD
If you are coming to LA for pilot season you need to read this.
First, your training is CRITICAL. Going to regional local schools to learn acting is a great START. Take Scene Study classes, On-Camera Acting, and Improvisation for sure. You should be in acting class 1-2 times a week and practicing your acting every day.
To move your training to the NEXT LEVEL I highly suggest you supplement your local training with LA level training from teachers in the LA market.
If you're close enough to be in LA - drive-in EVERY week and train. Train with John D'Aquino, Zak Barnett, Dana Gergely, Andrew Magarian, Diane Christiansen Lisa Picotte, Amy Lyndon to start for the next 3 years.
If you can't get to LA every week in person, do the NEXT BEST THING, see which of them offer Skype classes from their LA schools - then you can attend classes in person at your local school AND train on Skype every month. Without adding LA level training - you may have the "look" to get a big audition - but you'll RARELY book those Series Regular parts.
99% of major roles are booked in the room by LA actors with outstanding training and experience. Some newer actors may get close, but the actual role will go to the person who is BEST suited for the job. There is too much money riding on television shows and movies to give main roles to amateurs. That is why it takes years of training and getting lower-level experience in student films, short films, web-series, theater and local commercials to lose the "green status." Your acting skills are the final determiner.
Actors with stronger skills will ALWAYS beat you for a role. So you need to make your training a PRIORITY.
Amy Lyndon, John D'Aquino, Andrew Magarian, Dana Gergely Bowling, Diane Christiansen, Groundlings, UCB, Zak Barnett, Howard Fine, Margie Haber, Diane Christiansen, Gary Spatz, Terry Berland, Judy Kain and Lisa Picotte. Training in various classes 3-5 days a week. Working actors practice DAILY.
If they don't live in LA they are Skype 2-3 times a week with LA trainers. They have to. I want my clients to BOOK. And I know competition is FIERCE. Casting sees 2,000 - 3,000 pictures for ever role. Mediocre is not good enough. And good enough is not GREAT.
You WANT to train with John D'Aquino because he has been in 75 Television shows and Films. He can teach it because he has done it. Check out his IMDB credits HERE.
Or Amy Lyndon because she has been in 101 Television Shows and Films and 41 actors from her class have become Series Regulars. Check out her IMDB credits HERE.
The Lyndon Technique
Take this seriously! If you are in a regional market and can't train in Los Angeles. Find the best acting training you can in the biggest city in your state, supplement with online caching from LA trainers. Then when you come to LA for 2 to 3 months during pilot season - during the summer - or episodic season - TRAIN with some of the trainers above to continue advancing your skills to the NEXT level.
HOW DOES CASTING WORK?
When a Producer has a project they send the script to several Casting Directors who read through the script, think about all of of the actors they know and present a list of the actors -or types of actors they would choose - if they were casting the project. The Producers select which Casting Director is closest to their ideas and that is the Casting Director who gets the job.
The Casting Director now is in charge of bring people to Producers who may be right for the roles.
Let's break town the types of auditions.
- Audition. (also called a Pre-Read)
- The Producer Session
- The Chemistry Read
- The Mix and Match Session
- Screen Test Session
- The Network Test Session
- Direct Offer
THE 1st STEP when a Project being cast is the Casting Directors send out DIRECT OFFERS to actors they KNOW they want to hire for certain roles. If those actors is interested in the part, and are available, not working on another project at that same time, and the money can be agreed on - the role will go to an actor who receives a Direct Offer.
The roles that are not cast by Direct Offer will be going through various stages of the audition process. Some actors will go straight to Producers, some will go straight to Callbacks. That is because the Casting Director already knows the actor and TRUSTS their acting skills enough to skip the regular audition, also known as a PRE-READ and send them to Producers. Why does an actor go directly to producers? Casting may have already hired that actor for a previous job, seen their work in another project, loved their audition tape (which is also a pre-read) or have had them in to audition so many times that they are now familiar with their skill level. Being IN LA helps with all of this
If a Casting Director does NOT know an actor, or does not trust the actor's skills enough to bring them straight to to the PRODUCER or CALLBACK SESSION the actor will have a regular audition(pre-read) to determine if they should be seen by producers.
During the pre-read Casting is eliminating every actor who is not right for the role, does not have the skills to move to the next level, who had a good look but is boring or unbelievable, or can not take direction from the casting director when they offer other ways to play the role. Once 95% of those people are eliminated the handful of remaining actors will join the Callback Sessions already in progress and filled with the actors Casting already knows.
When casting directors really know your acting skill level, they send actors STRAIGHT TO CALLBACKS, which means you SKIP the initial audition. Many actors go straight to the callback session. In the callback session they will be auditioning the actors who may have skills that could work for that job and who have the right look and feel for the part. They are comparing all the actors they see to see who is most believable, who has really brought the character to LIFE, who can take the best direction and re-direction from the casting director. (If you are brought to callbacks from a pre-read do exactly what you did in the pre-read. Don't change your audition unless casting has specifically told you to. Casting wants to show other people what you did for them in the pre-read. Even wear the same clothes)
As you can see there are MANY LEVELS ABOVE the initial pre-read basic auditions that beginners have. I have clients that get DIRECT OFFERS for roles. Some of my working Actors over the years have been very well trained and skilled - so they've SKIPPED the initial auditions and go STRAIGHT to Producers. Some go STRAIGHT to test. And when they're GREAT - they skip ALL of that and get a DIRECT OFFER for the role like my client Maddux Berry.
From the callback session, and there may be several callbacks, a handful of actors will advance to the next level which is the Producer's Session. In the Producer's Session there may be many additional people in the room Producers, Writers or the Director who wants to see what you can do with the character. They want to see how you have brought their character to life. Great training is how you learn how to do this.
MIX AND MATCH
If the Producers and Writers like what they see, and feel you can take their direction, they may bring you to the next level of auditions called the Mix and Match session which allows them to see how certain actors fit and work together.
They may choose to put some of these actors on tape in a Screen Test to see how they appear and fit on camera together. There may be props and a set will be used. The people at this level are the only ones in consideration for the job. To get to this level your acting skills and training is CRITICAL. They are deciding who can carry a show and the millions of dollars that are involved in this show. Amateurs do not get these roles.
SO WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO REALLY GET THE JOB ON TV? WHO WILL THEY CHOOSE?
- They will choose well trained, experienced actors.
- Actors who know how to break down a script even if they hand them a new one and ask to see it in 10 minutes.
- Actors who can go all out emotionally and not hold back.
- Actors who are 100% confident in the choices they are making for that character without hesitation.
- Actors who are professional, humble and committed to the overall success of the project.
- Actors whose nerves don't show. (You may have them, but they don't show)
- Actors who have left their egos and fears at the door. (You may have them but they are in check!)
- Actors who are easy to work with and get along with. (Shows can run for years, they want people they like)
- Actors who know how to work as a team and realize the project is not all about them.
- Sometimes the Producer or Director's brother. (It's called nepotism - the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.)
Once they have narrowed it down to 2-3 people for EACH role that have already tested and been approved of by Producers and everyone else involved with the project- they will present these choices to the Network who will make the final decisions on who gets these roles. (There is more after this, but I won't go into for this article. It all becomes very political regarding which shows actually get made)
WHAT YOU NEED TO FOCUS ON TO MOVE UP THE RANKS IN THIS BUSINESS:
- Get educated about how the business works. My book gives you step-by-step easy to follow instructions to build your acting career. You can INSTANTLY download the 100+ page e-book here and get started today!
- If you're just starting out - your training should be the #1 number one most important thing you focus on.
- Getting acting experience in projects you SELF SUBMIT for including LOCAL student films, short films, music videos, and web series. And...Get a local agent to get you auditions for local commercials and local films. Some of these may give you good footage that your LA agent could actually use to submit you for bigger projects. Learn more about that HERE.
- Be patient. This business takes YEARS to break into. Smaller local parts are easier to get - but the big leagues takes REAL training and many years of classes and auditions. Did you know Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk in the Marvel Series had 600 auditions before he booked his first MAJOR role?
- Relax. Build your other skills along the way and enjoy the ride!
- Realize that Casting Directors keep you in mind for a very long time. Every time they see you, even when you don't get the part, they will be considering you for future parts down the road. They cast many projects and they always need actors for them. Just go in to your audition and do the BEST job you have been trained to do and let it go. You likely will never hear about that audition. That's OK. Just move on to the next audition and the next one! Believe in your self and work over time up to the status of being called Directly to Callbacks, Producers and Direct Offers. Everyone starts from scratch. You can do it!
AND KNOW.... THE BEST IS YET TO COME! -----------------------------------------------------------
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See You On The Red Carpet,
Wendy Alane Wright
Talent Manager, WAW Entertainment
Acting Career Coach
Secrets Of A Hollywood Talent Manager