Sunday, March 31, 2013

Advice from Casting Directors On How To Get More Acting Jobs.

Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager with WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared in numerous national commercials, movies, webisodes, short films, and on television networks such as ABC, NBC, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, plus many more. Previous to being a Manager and a Talent Agent at Burn Down Entertainment, she assisted many high profile Managers, Agents and Publicists in the careers of Neil Patrick Harris, Johnny Galecki, Sarah Michelle Geller, The Four Tops, The Bee Gees, Meatloaf, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Guttenberg, The Cranberries Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, and Neil Diamond. Wendy is also a Recording Artist, Actress, Author and Music Producer all  giving her a 360-degree perspective of the industry.

So you have your headshot, you have your growing resume. And you think I just need auditions. Once I get in the room and the see how great I am and how much talent I have they are going to hire me for the job. I don't need audition training, I am just going to wing it!" Yikes!!! Does that sound like you? I hope not. But the truth is, most beginning actors sound EXACTLY like that.

As a Talent Manager in Los Angeles, I feel it is my duty to tell you that is wrong! And make sure you have a change in your thinking right now, ASAP.

You studied acting in college or with a private teacher or in an acting school. Now that you have graduated it's time to put that that good acting training to use. So you move to Los Angeles or New York and are convinced people are going to hire you just because you are you. But, alas, that is not how it works. Auditioning is a very specific skill set. Unfortunately they do not teach it in college or in most acting schools. But being ignorant of the law, does not abolish the law. And the law of acting professionally means you will audition 90% of the time and act 10%. Therefore you must train extensively to become adept at auditioning. It is a skill you must master if you want to become a working actor.

When someone asks you what is your job? Your answer should be "I am a professional auditioner, who occasionally gets to act, and even more rarely, gets paid enough to pay my bills with it." (Until you are a well paid working actors that is).

So how do you become a well paid working actor? First, you have to get an audition, then you have to get a callback, and then you have to nail the call back (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 of them) and then you get into the final running for the job and have to book the job! Once you get into the audition room its ALL about your audition skills. It is not about your talent because there are talented people all over Los Angeles and the majority of them aren't booking the jobs. The actors who have a strong audition technique to go along with strong acting techniques book the jobs. The skills go hand in hand.


How may hours a week do you take On-Camera audition classes and Cold Reading class? How many hours in the last 365 days have you taken On-camera audition classes and Cold reading classes? I hope your answer is at least 1-2 classes per week and minimum of 200 hours per year.

If you are serious about becoming a working actor, then you need to get serious about becoming an expert at auditioning. Don't even think of "winging it" - that's a recipe for failure and you will likely be one of the thousands that flock back home after a failed attempt of trying to make it in Hollywood. Don't let that happen to you. You have talent, don't be ;lazy, cocky, or arrogant and think you can do it without very specific training. You can't, unless you want to be a broke actor who has to make their living from their day job.

If you a have Commercial Agent you should be taking an on-camera Commercial audition class every week with any of following expert teachers: (If it was me I would take one right after the other so in 2 years I would be 100% confident in my audition techniques, which would make my agent 100% confident in me)

Judy Kain
Carolyne Barry
Francine Selkirk
Stuart K Robinson
Scott Sedita
Terry Berland
Killian McHugh

I would read many books on auditioning, including:
"Breaking Into Commercials" by Terry Berland
"Making It In Hollywood" by Scott Sedita
"How To Get The art Without Falling Apart" by Margie Haber
"Hit The Ground Running" by Carolyne Barry
"How To Break Into Show Business; Secrets Of A Hollywood Talent Manager" by Wendy Alane Wright


If you have aspirations to work in television film (and by film I mean not student films), you need to have SERIOUS audition techniques. That's what separates the big boys from the wannabes. Novices without intensive scene study, audition technique and cold reading training fall apart along the way because they do not have solid audition skills to keep them in the game. A working actor has master of the audition room. They know who they are, what they have to sell, what is unique about them, how to break down a character quickly, how to play the opposites, how to make bold choices, not safe ones (and they know the difference between the two.) They also know the appropriate ways to interact with Casting Directors, how to dress for auditions, for the callback, when to make changes, when not to. Your audition techniques need to be as familiar and feel as natural to you as your breathing.

Here are some of the most common complaints Casting Directors have about actors in the audition room. Quotes are from the book: "Getting The Part" 33 Professional Casting Director Tell You How To Get Work in Theater, Films, Commercials and TV" by Judith Searle

"The biggest mistake actors make sometimes is stating anything negative before they have begun. I have found that no matter what you say thereafter to try and win back favor, the director has formed an impression and most of the time you can not get him (or her) to think differently. And it doesn't mean the person in not a good actor. But half of it is the acting, and half of it is the way the other person feels." - Pam Dixon, Casting Director

It's terrible when actors come in unprepared. Actors don't read the scripts when they are available. "They do not bother to take responsibility. You can make excuses, but you hinder yourself when you do things like that. You're not taking advantage of the things that are presented to you." Al Oronato, Casting Director

"I hate when actors come in for an audition loaded with props." - Barbara Claman, Casting Director

A lot of people are disturbed when actors come in and say, 'do you mind if I have two minutes to prepare for this?' Don't do that. Come in prepared to do it. People are looking at two things in auditions, They're not only looking at your talent, they're looking to see whether or not you're going to make problems." - Stanley Soble, Casting Director

Not being genuine. "The slate needs to be simple. I wouldn't pitch myself, like in music, more than a half step above how happy I feel on that particular day. You know what I am saying? Sometimes people come in and go "hiiiiii!" (With yards and yards of teeth.) You know they don't mean it; you know they're not feeling it. Some directors are so cruel - they just fast-forward from the slate. They don't look at the performance. So you could have given the greatest performance of your life on tape, but if they hated your slate you're gone. -Danny Goldman, Casting Director.

"Don't hang out too long. It's a business. Everybody's got a limited amount of time. Get in, do your thing, get out. Present yourself the best way possible: make sure your clothes are fresh, make sure you have a fresh face on, you are well mannered, you are polite to everybody - and just do your thing. I find it terribly disarming when an actor comes in - in character, because you don't know what that person's like and the camera is not always rolling. And if this person is in character, you have no idea who they are. So I like to see a line of demarcation between the person who comes in and the performance. Probably the biggest mistake actors make is when they start off on a scene, find themselves floundering because they've lost concentration, and keep going because they are afraid to stop. You have to stop yourself and say, "I'm sorry. I want to start again." - Pamela Basker, Casting Director

"They talk too much. I think it's nervous talk. There's never anything wrong with an actor asking a question that is pertinent to the material before them, discussing an approach to the material - making it concise and moving along. But a lot of times actors are too chatty. They are trying to ingratiate themselves and for that purpose, for the audition purpose, believing that saying the words effectively is what is going to get them the job. Seventy-five percent of the time the reason an actor is not chosen for a job has nothing to do with their skills. So most of the time I think your concentration should be on preparing and looking at an audition as an opportunity to act, an opportunity to show (us) that you belong in the business because we do so many projects that if you want it and you're working in the right way at it, it will happen." - Eugene Blythe

Lateness. Never - I repeat, never - be late to read for a casting director in a studio, for producers or writers, because if you keep them waiting they're not going to be in a good mood when you are seeing them. - Robin Nassif, Former Head Of Comedy Casting at ABC, Talent Agent

"I think the biggest mistake actors make is not respecting themselves enough. And that includes trying to do what you think is wanted rather than what your instincts are telling you to do. Caring too much about getting the job has a tendency to undermine your work. I think if you are good your work will ultimately be recognized. I think actors who get into a comfortable place with that in themselves bring that into an audition. They are not apologetic, they are not overly solicitous, they're not angry. They're just good and they know it." - Lacy Bishop, Casting Director

"Not taking enough time to prepare and being late...and being harried and having their minds somewhere else - on the next audition, or the fact they're going to get a ticket, or the fight they just had with their girlfriend. The inability to concentrate on the job at hand - the audition, that moment. When you're dealing with this kind of money, you can't let the fact that you didn't get any sleep the night before or somebody flushed your cat down the toilet or your car is totaled get in the way. Your job is to make these people (in the audition room) feel comfortable. They want you to be good. - Beverly Long, Casting Director

The biggest mistake is not understanding what an audition is. The audition really is about only the part at the moment, and performing at a level that can convince the director you are the person for that role. Auditions can't be attempts. They have to be choices carried out, and you have to give the impression that you can deliver. People who are not known (by casting) have to gain that assurance, that trust." - Jay Binder, Casting Director

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Wendy Alane Wright Smith
The Hollywood Talent Manager

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