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Episode 238: A Message to Drama School Grads

business tips Jun 28, 2023

Okay, now what? We graduated, and there's a fucking writer's strike, and a pending actors strike. Wait, this is not what I showed up for.  

I've been a member of SAG AFTRA for over 30 years and a working actress for over 30 years. 

And let me tell you something, I've been through a lot of strikes, and you know what the greatest thing about them is? They end.  

There is a lot you can do right now, and that's getting ready.  

The number one thing I recommend to actors getting out of drama school is learning "the Language of the Agents and the Casting Directors."

If you think you learned it in drama school, I am here to tell you that, no, you did not. Chances are that you did not learn what the industry was like from the agents and the casting director's points of view. 

Some of the things to know, though, is that yes, you are the newbies on the block, and you are fresh meat. Everybody's all excited about you, but this is the thing you need to know is there have been thousands of you beforehand, and the more you can learn to be professional, and what I mean by that is to not waste an agent and a casting director's time. 

So it is best to keep your ears open and listen to what industry professionals are saying. 

As a casting director, the number one thing I cannot stand is actors who waste my time.  

And one of the ways they waste my time is if I'm in the middle of casting and I want to audition you, I need you to already know some of the things that I talk about in that masterclass because I don't have time to train you.  

You also understand that if somebody goes out of their way to give you advice, listen to it.  

That's why when people reach out to me over social media, if they make some kind of a blunder, I actually say to them, "Hey, I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not going to take your submission seriously because you did this or that or the other thing.  

A lot of people call me Pamela. My name is Peter. A lot of people say, dear Peter and Pamela, well, you obviously haven't done your research on me. 

And if you are looking for me to hire you on a job, I would hope that you would know what to call me.  

And I know that sounds like a really silly thing, but that's just kind of that immediately tells me that you haven't even done one ounce of a bit of research on me. You've got Google, the internet, do your research. 

The other thing that I would say is that although you may have been told how special you were in drama school, you are entering a whole new realm here.  

There are lots of special people here, and there are lots of really talented actors here.  

One of the pieces of advice that I wish somebody had given me many years ago was, don't ever, ever, ever underestimate how good you need to be. 

This means keep up your training and keep doing your warmups. 

Keep practicing your voice. Keep going to dance classes, keep going to movement classes. Keep going to acting classes.  

Finally, I want to talk to you about core work. 

That's the work on yourself, and that's the hardest thing because when you are early in your career, you can be given phenomenal opportunities.  

I was given some, and I'm going, to be honest with you, I blew it. I auditioned for two films. 

I'll talk about the Jerry Lee Lewis film Great Balls of Fire with Dennis Quaid, and Winona Rider got the part I also auditioned for. For Say Anything, I auditioned for the Lily Taylor role in that. 

First of all, I should mention I was very young. I was still a minor actually, when I auditioned, and this was the thing, I didn't have the confidence. I didn't believe that I was talented enough. I didn't believe I was good enough. As even a human being, I don't even think I got a call back for that one, and that's okay. 

I wish I'd had the core work and the work on myself at even that young age because what I didn't understand was that I needed to work for me when all I was doing was working against me.  

I remember going into the audition and giving away the part to every other actress in that room. 

I remember being scared to meet this big casting director when I felt so small. There are so many things I wish I had worked on as a young actor, but more than any of them, it's core work.  

I let my ego get in the way of giving a great audition. I was so right for that part. I could have kicked some serious ass, but my focus was in the wrong place.  

Stop working against yourself. Start working for yourself. You can do this. You can do this, and although I understand you are coming to this industry in one heck of an interesting time period with AI and strikes and so much going on. 

The fact of the matter is if you work for you instead of against you, you can do it.  

Become a damn good actor. Be good at your job. That's what we, the casting director, are hiring you for.  

Know "the Language of the Agents and the Casting Directors," I can help you with that in the Working Actor Road Map.