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Friday, May 17, 2013

The # 1 Secret To Becoming A Working Actor Overnight.

Wendy A;ane Wright with Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett, Jr.

The # 1 Secret To Becoming A Working Actor Overnight.
by Wendy Alane Wright

Common in so many actors is an underlying tension that flows through them. It's so thick you can cut it with a knife. If you stand near them you can feel it. When they open their mouth you immediately hear it. It says, "How long will it take for me to make it?" "Shouldn't it have happened by now? "I mean really, how long until I am on television and I'm a famous actor?" My answer is tomorrow. You can do it by tomorrow.

Are you stunned? It's true, by tomorrow you could be a rich, famous and successful actor. You could also be a doctor, the President of the United States, a lawyer, senator, teacher, astronaut, CEO of a fortune 500 company, certified public accountant, professional basketball player, maxillofacial surgeon, coach of a major league baseball team, nuclear physicist, nobel peace prize winner, biologist, architect, pharmacist, engineer, veterinarian, cardiothoracic surgeon, orchestra conductor, pediatrician, dentist, optometrist, construction manager, IT manager, commercial airline pilot...all by tomorrow. Of course.

As a Talent Manager, I can't tell you how many "actors" come to me and want an agent in their first few months of being in LA. They also want to be on TV within their first year here. It's ridiculous and so completely unrealistic. I hear them whine "I have been here two years and still not on tv! I'm not getting enough auditions. I can't find an agent, or, my agent isn't getting me out enough." Oh Vey!

Here is the problem: these people are not even thinking about becoming great actors. They are thinking about becoming famous. Every good manager, agent, acting teacher, and casting director can tell the difference between a great actor who has intensely worked on the craft of acting to develop mastery, and the one who thinks they can waltz into an acting job, off the cuff. Guess what? The actor who has acted for years in small unknown theater productions, often unpaid, who has studied with great acting teachers and worked closely with acting coaches to master the art of acting are the ones who work. They are the ones that have succesful acting careers. And believe me, they are the ones that become the stars. Ok, I lied. You cannot become a succesful working actor by tomorrow.

When I attend acting showcases I am handed so many resumes of actors who are looking for a manager and they have taken only a handful of acting classes, or trained for only a year or two, or only have a college degree from an acting school. That's right I said that, you heard me correctly. Yes, the degree shows a consistent interest in the arts, but to industry pros, who knows what kind of training you have received there? You still are at ground zero. We will see what level of actor you really are.

There is a strange misconception about the career of acting. People think it's is different than other careers. I don't know why. Maybe because it looks easy and they see people on TV doing it all the time. But people from around the world they think they can come to LA or NY, get an agent, get an audition, land a job and become a star. Oh you think I am exaggerating? But I am not. For some reason many people believe that all you have to do to be an actor is stand in front of a camera and "be." Just be you. They think because they talk and move that is enough to be a great actor, but of course it isn't. Anymore than you or I can stand in the operating room and cut open someone's head and do brain surgery on them... just because we're, well you know, us. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but I am not far off. Ask anyone who has been in the business for awhile. Actors who come newly to LA sound like this for the first few years, that is until reality kicks in.

In order to bring the kind of performance to the screen that makes an audience really feel moved to the core by an experience an actor is having, an actor has to learn how to go deeply within themselves and bear emotion that is true to their core - without any concern for how they look, who they are, or how they feel other people are perceiving them. Most people can't get to this level. They are so hyper-conscious - especially the ones that want to be actors. Quite frankly, this kind of actor is the exception, even with training. It takes a special kind of talent and an extensive amount of trained skill to have this much command of yourself, and this level of vulnerability - which 9 out of 10 times is only accomplished through years of genuine acting training and experience. Even Stars are getting coached continually with great acting teachers. This is not a field you can waltz into and be successful in by tomorrow.

This kind of strange misunderstanding about acting is bizarre in a field that has such high levels of competition. You would think people wouldn't even put themselves into the casting room until they knew they were better actors than anyone else around. When there are 2,000 submission for 1 role, your chances of getting it are slim, like winning the lottery. So you better believe you need training, and something incredibly special about you that you can identify and sell. An average actor is not going to get the job. If you are an average actor, you better go work with an amazing acting coach until you are the best actor in your class - if you want to work - because producers, writers, directors, managers, agents, casting directors and networks are looking for the best. Not the average, not the under-trained, and not the confused.

And it goes beyond your training. There is a general rule in Hollywood -- talent won't get you there, but persistence just might. With training and talent you are halfway there. Now you need luck and persistence. It's crucial that you don't give up. You need to give yourself realistic goals and time frames. It take years and years to become a working actor. Actors that can't hang in there for the long haul aren't going to be successful working actors. If you can't hang in there and be happy on this journey...that's okay. Go find something else to do. Whining about how long things are taking and beating yourself up for not being an "overnight success" is not healthy. You have to love the process, the journey and the work. If you don't, my advice is go find what you do love. You deserve to be happy.

I'm sorry if I am being to harsh, but as a Talent Manager I have to tell it like it is. Would you want less? Here's the truth, if you want to be on TV, the answer is yes, that is do-able. I will tell you exaclty how:

1) You are going to have to work really hard at becoming a great actor.
2) You will need to work for years to build connections and relationships with people in the industry such as casting directors, producers and directors. It really is who you know in this business, and more importantly, who knows you.
3) You will need to get very lucky.

Indeed, you may book a few jobs here and there, but remember only 5% of actors become successful working actors. So if you really want a career in show business, a paying one, you better get off your high horse, get your head out of the clouds and give yourself a reality check. You have a lot of work to do. No, you will not be on TV tomorrow, you likely will not be a rich and famous actor by tomorrow, not by next year, and not before 10 years. You still want to be an actor after knowing all that? Great! Then maybe you are cut out to be one. You could be in that 5% of working actors. In fact, I hope you are. There is no reason you couldn't be. After all, life is what we make it.

My professional advice is always go for your goals and dreams, temper it with reality of what you need to do to accomplish them. Know that with hard work and determination almost anything is possible. Keep a good attitude and develop the ability to enjoy your journey. That includes it's ups and downs, the acceptance and the rejection, the wins and the disappointments. If you stick with it, you will get to have extraordinary creative moments, so deeply fulfilling, challenging and rewarding. You may even get paid to do it!

Get 3 FREE chapters of my new book "How To Break Into Show Business; Secrets Of A Hollywood Talent Manager." It includes my secret list of the most important casting directors that you should meet! Just sign up below.

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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,” and “Henry Danger,” as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Hot Wheels, 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 five books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of schools including the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina and LA Acting Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why do I have to keep getting New Headshots???

What!!! I need new headshots again?

Headshots are typically your first expense when starting your new acting business. They are part of the start up costs of your business. What every actor should understand about headshots is that you have to keep taking them until you find a picture that "pops" to casting directors and gets you called in for auditions. Sometimes an actor gets lucky and gets a picture that pops from their first session. Others may have to shoot 2, 3, 4 times with different photographers until that magical picture happens. It's all part of the start up cost of your acting business. No one knows why some pictures "pop" and some don't. No one can tell you why a photographer can create a picture that "pops" for one actor, but that same photographers pictures do not pop for another actor. It's truly a mystery.

But it is a fact. And the expense is real. Recently I had a client shoot with a fantastic photographer, who has a history of his pictures popping for actors, but no one in casting is responding to her shots. Her agent wants her to shoot again with a new photographer and try someone else. I have to call my client and explain this. The thing with actors is they just don't understand how that could happen. "The shots look great, what do you mean they don't pop?"

The only thing I can compare it to is advertising commercials, because it is very similar. An advertising team will come up with a concept, create a commercial story board, get the idea approved, cast it, shoot the commercial, air it and after all that money is spent the commercial may not "pop" to audiences and bring in a substantial amount of new or repeat business. Therefore, a brand new advertising campaign must be developed. Of course when the commercial is working, or it "pops" to audiences you may see that commercial 5-10 times a day until it runs out of steam. Then a new campaign must be shot and the whole process starts all over again.

Your headshots are your advertising. They are your billboard. They are subjective and there is no way to determine if the artwork is effective until you create it. If Actors are going to be serious about this business, there is no use complaining about headshots that don't work. It's just time to re-shoot and create a new campaign. (On a side note: When it comes to kids, their looks change so quickly parents have to get new headshots for kids twice every year!)

As a talent manager I am known for telling it like it is. No sugar coating. Sorry to burst your bubble! But if your headshots aren't working, it ain't personal. Just suck it up and re-shoot. It is part of the cost of doing business. Sometimes it amazes me how actors think that running their own acting company is going to be cheap. Newsflash, it isn't. It is actually costs about $8,000 a year with headshots, classes, workshops, etc. So be a smart entrepreneur and always save your money for the multitude of endless costs that come with running a business. Headshots, well I don't think any working actor is ever done shooting them. But, the cool thing is the more successful you become as an actor, then others start picking up the tab for your photo sessions! Waahoo, don't you just love that?

Here is a word from my friend "down under" about headshots. He is spot on.

Liam I agree with what you said on your website about headshots! - Wendy Alane Wright, The Hollywood Talent Manager

" Why is a good headshot important?
Your headshot is your calling card as an Actor and it can make or break your reputation and be the difference between you getting seen by Casting Directors, Agents and Directors.

So many Actors and Actresses I know choose to go for the cheapest headshots around or will get their shots done by their friends or anyone with a camera. The age old adage you get what you pay for really does apply in this industry.

Anyone can take a photo that makes you look nice or attractive but only someone that really understands the industry and how to help you stand out and market your best attributes will get you a great headshot!

Your headshots are the first impression you are going to send out as an Actor and it's so important to make it a lasting one. If they aren't of the highest quality then you're just going to fade into the background and remain at an amateur level. Liam Murphy, Australia

Get 3 FREE chapters of my new book "How To Break Into Show Business; Secrets Of A Hollywood Talent Manager." It includes my secret list of the most important casting directors that you should meet! Just sign up below.

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Wendy Alane Wright Smith
(818) 203-6080

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5 Proven Ways to Start Your Singing Career

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.
When you first start performing live as a solo act or a band your goal is to try and build a following. You want to create a fan base and keep in touch with them through email, Twitter and Facebook. You are also performing live to get experience mastering the stage, mastering your own performances, and mastering making a connection with your audiences - so you keep becoming a better, and more interesting performer.

An artist grows by performing live, so you want to perform live everywhere you can. The bottom line all come down to what happens when a solo singer or band performs live. Do people get riled up and excited, or bored? Loving an artist is something organic that either happens or doesn't. You can not force it. People either show up or they don't. People either come back to listen to you again, or they don't. Of course you have to invite them back and offer them a great show, have merchandise available if you have it and giveaways like free t-shirts are always nice; but it won't make them like you or your band. Music is subjective. And when someone is feeling the music their body reacts, or it doesn't.

Here's an example, after the great comedian Chris Rock finished his stint on Saturday Night Live, he wasn't getting much work, no one would hire him. He decided to go back to Chicago to a theater and start doing standup again. He worked on routines and jokes and his performance, but no one was really coming. He continued to try new material and work on his act. Finally he started getting lines on the street for people to come see him. And over time he was sold out. He worked out his act until whatever he was doing was working.

It is the same for singers. It takes time to figure out what you do that makes people stand in line to come see you. Singers may have several bands before that happens, or it may happen with the 1st one. The reaction people have is organic and cannot be forced. They either like it or they don't. By performing live as much as possible, as artist can find their wings on stage. They learn about themselves and what they do in their own expression of their music. They learn how to connect with an audience. They learn how to speak with an audience. They learn which material speaks to an audience and which material does not. In a band they need to find the chemistry between them, which comes from time and shared experiences. They should hang out in between gigs to get to know each other so that camaraderie appears on stage. They all need to have fun on stage so it will show.

Artists need a booking agent locally, who can submit video of the band or solo artist to local venues to see if they will have them - colleges, fairs, festivals, clubs, charity events etc. So the artists can get out there and see if they can cause a stir. At every gig they should hand out a bumper sticker or postcard with the bands pic on it and contact info. Someone should be on hand at every gig to collect email addresses to enter fans into a drawing to win a Band T-Shirt. Then they take those email addresses, enter them into a contact list and stay in touch with their fans, letting them know where they will be performing next. Constant Contact or Mail Chimp is great for this.

Artists should also send a press release to local papers letting them know about their gigs. The booking agent can be a friend - or a professional. But has to be someone who can consistently make phone calls to venues/events and send emails with links to the bands video to ask for bookings.

This business is all about contacts and exposure. So singing every where you can is key. And making the most of each gig is very important. So at every gig you should be dressed the part, have business cards you can hand out so people who like your sound can see where they can buy your music, or they can follow you on Twitter or like your Fan Facebook page. Use your mailing list to keep everyone informed about where you are singing next

# 4 4 SONG CD
If you have been at this for awhile you probably already have a 4 song demo recorded. If you are just starting out you need one.

Of course you need a website with your music, cool photos of you in your regular life and on stage? A place where people can go to find ou all about you, your music, buy your music and see your upcoming gig dates. Fan want access.

Treat your career like a business. You are selling a product - YOU. You need to make sure the product always looks good, define your image, and your work either a 4 Song Demo or full length CD is easily accessible to buy on line and at shows.

Use these handy tips to get started and keep me updated on your progress!

Follow your dreams!

Get 3 FREE chapters of my new book "How To Break Into Show Business; Secrets Of A Hollywood Talent Manager.  Just sign up below.

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Wendy Alane Wright Smith
WAW Entertainment
Twitter @WAW_Wendy