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Dear Actor... It's time for some tough love

So... Valentine's Day is here... woohoo... you survived last year.. and the holidays... look at you... good on ya!

Lets recap last year... and a little strategizing for this one... ready?

Your tools are all up are up to date right? most updated photos.. that actually look like you? If i am looking at your Actors Access and I see the most recent photo was from a few years ago... that is not going to work. I know.. you think you look the same... I got it... but guess what... you really don't.... and it is always good to have fresh stuff... and I can tell you what i don't want to hear... well.... I need to lose 5 (or 10)pounds. take the damn picture... and if you are going to lose weight (and my guess is you really don't have to....only if you want to). then take them again... this is not brain surgery.... also....don't get so made up... be you (I know... it sounds simple). but really this is not glamour shots.... be you... be accessible...and treat it like an acting job.

Since the pandemic I'm seeing more and more folks who are starting their own career coaching and acting classes. Good for them... I am all about capitalism... But please... do your homework before you give you money to someone. I am seeing a lot of folks who are saying things like they have been in this business as an actor for 10 or 15 or 20 years. I go to their IMDbpro accounts and there is nothing... or 1 thing from 10 years ago (and it was a co-star). They say they have done a lot of theater.... and i have no doubt they have.... but again...i would be careful about that as well. This is not to say don't do it... i am just telling you do your homework. Understand what you are getting. Is this the person who has really has a lot of experience... Do they really understand the ins and outs of this business. (at least the business of the current years). There are a lot of great folks out there... don't settle just because of a good sales pitch!

Ok... here is something simple….(and truly… will seem like a well duh… moment). If you have an audition… and you are REALLY not and really can not be…) available for the filming…. DO NOT AUDITION. That is not fair to casting or production. It is ok to pass. There will be other opportunities (I promise). But nothing gets me angrier when i hear an actor say… well… I am not available but I have never read for this casting director… great… now you want to make them an enemy. Lets say you do an audition… and holy smoke you knocked it out of the park…. And casting and production want to hire you… and…. You are not available… and can’t be…. They’re not changing the filming for you…. (Especially TV). And now… you have to say… aw.. man… sorry I can’t do it… yeah…. This will definitely endear you to everyone. Opportunities are out there…. Be patient….

Also…. If you are going to pass… don’t complicate it… don’t come up with a lot of excuses. Just pass. If they ask why (and yes sometimes they do). Be honest…. If you did not resonate with the material… that is ok… if you are not available… that is ok. Keep It Simple…. (Yeah you know the rest)

Do you know that a lot of stuff films out of the country… I mean a lot…..and if you don’t have a passport (or an updated passport) you are missing out on all of it. For those of you who are saying to yourself well if i book it I will go get an emergency passport…. I can tell you (from very recent) experience… this is not as simple as it use to be. Before casting will book you they are going to want to know you have a passport….places outside the US require work visas and you can't get those unless you have a valid passport. And with the backlogged mess at the passport offices getting one same day or in the next couple is hard… and expensive… just happened to one of my clients and they had to shell out over 2k to get it renewed… directly with the passport office. Take care of it now… you have the time…. Be smart… if it is within 6 months of expiring do it NOW (you can’t always get a work visa if it is less than.6 months). If you don’t have one… do it NOW….this is not rocket science.

If you have a manager and you get an agent without discussing it first with the manager the it is a recipe for disaster. Most managers have relationships and this is a good thing for you to do together. Also… if you have an agent…let them know you are looking for management…they will have their own relationships as well. Doing this as a team will strengthen your relationships…. Throwing it out there without discussing it can lead to messy work relationships. If you have an agent and you want a manager….ask yourself why. Is it to just get more appointments… that is NOT the reason to get one. If you are looking to add a member of the team so everyone can work in tandem then it makes sense. But only you can make that decision…it is a very personal one and no one should tell you that you can’t or should not do it. And i know a lot of you like to have agents in every territory…. Stop…. Be smart about that. Casting is not as territorial as it use to be and that can become a sticky wicket. And not everyone likes to share. So be smart. Having a lot of agents does not always make you look like you have a lot going on… sometimes it just makes you look desperate.

Here is something I never thought I would hear myself say… pay your commissions. If you are working with a manager or an agent….and you work… don’t make anyone chase you for that money….

If you are signing with someone and they send you a contract READ IT. Sometimes they can change… sometimes they can’t… but know what you are signing and be willing to ask for changes… and if the answer is no… Then decide if the relationship is worth it…. Don’t be silly about your asks… but you don’t know unless you do ask.

As last year wrapped up and you start to go into a panic that you did not work a lot this past year….and you really need to get it together before pilot season…. Let's put everything into perspective…. Take stock about all the things you did accomplish this year…. You took some great classes… right… you got new photos that look like you…and not like a sears portrait from 1986. You put all your tools together. Great… keep all that up and things will happen… so… with pilot season around the corner…. The most important thing now for you to do… STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT. Pilot season happens all year long…. The network pilot season (the one you are thinking of)….is first and foremost about lists… and if you are asking if you are on the lists… then no.. .you are not… and that is ok…tv is still happening there are hundreds of channels and they all have content…. Films are still happening…. Stop worrying about how your pilot season is going to go… chances are.. it’s not… so move on... focus on all the things you can do to continue your dreams.

Susan Ferris


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