So you’re a struggling actor. You’re a broke artist. You ditched a week of groceries to buy your headshots and you don’t even think about going to acting class.
There’s still hope.
I’m not sure if you heard about this little thing called, YouTube University, but class is in session 24 hours a day, the classes are not crowded, and the tuition is free. Get into this.
If you’re strapped for cash and in between classes, don’t let yourself get rusty. You never know when that next audition is around the corner. Here are a list of some of the BEST videos an actor can watch, all for the bargain price of FREE ninety-nine.
There is never an excuse to not be getting better. Save this blog and refer to it often. You’re welcome.
The Meisner Technique
Inside the Actors Studio
Tom Hanks: First Visit, Second Visit
Actor’s Access Virtual Channel Network
I’m A “Business” Man
Ok, the rent is paid. It’s time for some housekeeping.
My stylist friend, Chris Mannor (I swear I’m going to introduce y’all to him one of these days), once told me to present yourself how you want to be remembered.
This goes for the way you look on a daily basis, your Facebook profile, and for the purposes of acting, YOU as a product. Believe it or not, when you’re promoting yourself as an actor, the product you’re selling is YOU.
You need some materials, tangible marketing materials to leave with people once you leave their presence.
When CVS has a sale they send you a cute little sales paper, right? How’d you find out about that movie you saw last night? When was the last time you wanted somebody’s phone number but didn’t have time to put it in your phone? How often do you to go to a company website to grade how good their services MIGHT be?
If your answers are yes, a billboard, last night, all the time, and every day... It’s time for you to set up shop.
So… down to the housekeeping…
We already know we need headshots, those are basic. Expensive but basic. For social settings and creating legitimacy very quickly in fast-paced environments where actors thrive like L.A. and N.Y., your best bet would be to get a business card. And don’t be shy, go ahead and slap your picture on it. Add all your contact information. So when that casting director you met at Starbucks is looking for a pen in her next meeting, your pretty little face runs through her fingers. That’s the beauty of a business card with your headshot. Your face is on it, it has all your information, and they’re so cheap EVERYBODY CAN HAVE ONE!
Here’s the business card I had made. It has everything anybody ever wanted to know about Tiffany Black on it. My card doesn’t look like anybody else’s so it’s lending itself to building my brand. Every piece of material I put my name on suggests SOMETHING about Tiffany Black. Every email has my website, www.TiffanySBlack.com, in the signature. Every headshot/resume I leave at an audition. Every event I go to I’m passing out business cards. A night at the club in L.A. is never just about dancing to the music. There is opportunity at the bar and at the grocery store. Anytime is the PERFECT time to promote you!
And if you want to take it a step further, which I always do, send out postcards to your team (your agents, casting director relationships you’ve built, etc.) Make sure they know when you’ve booked a spot on Hawthorne! Let them know you’ve reached SAG status! Emails are quick and great, but they can often get lost in the shuffle if they look like spam. No one can deny this when it hits their desk…
FYI: postcards are a whopping .34 to mail!! Headshots/resumes are a dollar a pop!
And why do you think you ended up liking that stupid song you hated the first time you heard it on the radio? FREQUENCY. You liked it because you heard it so much.
And because having an online presence is just as important as matching a face to a name, I went ahead a set up a website for myself. Doesn’t every other company have a website? Well guess what… you need one too. It needs to have your reel on it, all of your upcoming projects, your resume, and everything else you didn’t get a chance to say when you met that agent while waiting in line at Ikea. Make it easy on for them! And if you can’t afford a website right now, which you probably can, your Facebook page is a good way to start, but clean it up. Make sure you have mentioned in your “info” that you’re an actor and hide those drunken party pictures from college.
Set up shop. You’re a business nooooow! Change that Karaoke style voicemail message to something entertaining, yet professional. You only need one chance to mess up a first impression. Present yourself how you want to be remembered. Remember, as an actor, you are always in a position of needing to be CHOSEN. Don’t give them any reason to choose anyone else!
In closing, (I love that this blog has turned into an essay) I’m sure you’re wondering who helped me set up shop. My business cards and postcards were done by Lifted Soul Graphics. Inquire at www.liftedsoul.com. They have a special going right now: 500 business cards for $50 (that includes the custom design AND printing). PLUS if you tell them you were referred by Tiffany Black’s blog, you get an extra $5 off. That’s right! I got your back! So get on up and punch the clock! Its business hours! It’s ALWAYS business hours!
PS: All of these materials can be written off on your taxes as expenses at the end of the year ;)
I’m going to make a bold statement and I think every actor/performer will agree with it..
There is no greater feeling than having someone you love in the audience watching your work.
It’s something about the care you get from people who already know you and love you. Believe it or not, it makes us actors perform better. Now this is an easier feat for film and television actors because they can simply call home to Greensboro, North Carolina and tell their grandmothers to turn the TV at 8pm. However, live performances are just a little different. Family and friends can’t just pick up and fly out whenever I have a performance, especially with my living in Los Angeles and their living on the East Coast.
Moreover, before we actors even get to the point of being on TV, a performance or a show, we have to book the job. Some of the best advice a casting director has ever given me was, “Be the person your friends love when you’re in the room.” In the Room meaning in the audition room. The person my friends and family knows is fun, wild, highly animated and a little crazy. To those who don’t know me well, it may seem as though I am, “always on.” While I resent that because it suggests that I am never just being myself and I’m always performing, I have to admit, I’d rather always be on than struggle to turn it on. J
Somehow, when I first started auditioning, I noticed that all that UMPH used to drain out of me once I got in front of casting directors and producers. Becoming so focused on booking the job, I was in the room nervous, shaking and stuttering and carrying on. Then I noticed why I might be coming off as cold, or stiff, or worse, incapable of conveying my talent in the room... I was leaving all my goods outside in the waiting room!
So I decided, if I was going to Eeeever Ever boooook book aaaaanything anything, I was going to HAVE to get it together. Now, back in Florida, I would straight up ask my friends to come with me. Yes! I have taken friends with me to auditions! Isn’t that messy?! And they would come too! Aaaaaand I’d book the job. But something tells me they won’t be taking a 4 and ½ hour flight several times a week to come strut around Hollywood with me while I audition. When I’m with my people, I’m FEARLESS! I’m invincible. I’m never nervous or shy because I know they want to watch me. So I had to figure out a way to take them with me.
I put them in my back pocket.
My friends and family know I’m capable of entertaining the masses and I think nobody knows my talents like the people I’ve been entertaining for years. When somebody already believes in you, you don’t have to go out of your way to impress them. You have freedom to just do what you came to do. This is now my approach to auditioning. I name everybody in the room my friend. They all know my name. They all know my talent. And they all WANT me to book the job, because when I book it, they get to go home!!! And lately I even go a step further I putting my friends in my back pocket. And I stopped leaving them in the waiting room. I bring them right into the audition room with me. I’m immediately comfortable because I’m surrounded by friends and love, and I don’t have to perform because when I show up, they’re already laughing.
They don’t know it but they go everywhere with me now. On every audition, to every job I book, and they’ve met many amazing people. And every chance I get, I do my best to return the favor. I was able to see two of my good friends perform just last week.
Next time you’re going somewhere and you need that extra support from a special someone who has always held your hand, take them with you (in sprit). Eventually, I bet you’ll realize that they probably never left you anyway. J
Atlanta is not Los Angeles and it never will be so
let’s just dive right
Here’s what you need to understand about Atlanta as the new
It’s hot in Atlanta. And I’m not talking LA hot. When it’s
hot in Los Angeles, you can still blend your natural hair with your weave,
temperatures will drop at least 30 degrees by nightfall, and it never rains in
southern California. None of these events take place in Atlanta.
Los Angeles County is dedicated to healthy living, keeping the weight
off, and looking good. Finding clean food is easy. The sushi is affordable and
fresh during happy hour. And the weather is so good, that
‘summer weight loss’
effect is always on. Not in Atlanta. The people are real and are not geared for
the industry so they eat what they want. Good luck looking good on
Good indie work is hard to come by in Atlanta. In Los Angeles,
everybody is doing SOMETHING. There are no qualms about it. You can put together
a camera crew while waiting in a Starbucks line. In Atlanta, everybody
isn’t ALLLLLL about the industry and the people who are
creating projects independently don’t know you like that. I won’t dare say that Los Angeles is ‘friendly,’ but Atlanta isn’t
really full of southern hospitality either. The industry is the industry any way
you slice it.
There are things I like about Atlanta…
I was able to secure an agent very quickly. This may be because I came
with a reel and good headshots (both of which I brought from LA) but fair is
fair. AMT was excited about signing me. My agents are great and I trust them. So
there. LA agents have so much to choose from, you may never be chosen. And this
coming from someone who was jaded and never chosen. I went through a few agents
in my five years in LA.
Atlanta is a very concentrated area. I don’t care about being a big fish in a small pond. I just
glad to be IN the pond. In LA a lot of us (who are EXTREMELY talented)
weren’t in the pond. We were cutting the grass around it FOR
FREE. I personally don’t
care where a project films. It all ends up on the same TV.
Everybody is not in the industry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You throw a rock
and hit an actor in LA. In Atlanta, they just think it’s cute that you’re still dreaming. I can live with that. There are some
perpetrators out there but every city has those. It also makes it easy to have
a life outside of the work. I haven’t been in Atlanta long, but I’ve
been able to achieve an amazing sense of balance here that I could never get my
hands on in LA.
It's waaaaay cheaper to live in Atlanta!
At any rate, you decide what your experience is going to
be where ever you are. I can honestly say I gave Los Angeles every breath I had.
I also want to have a full life with a husband and children so I decided to work
smarter, not harder. Time is of the essence but to each his own. This journey
will probably lead me back to Los Angeles and I’m fine with that. But when I get back, I
won’t be on the train and doing free theatre. Take me to the
Because so many people have asked me about my transition from LA to Atlanta, I decided to comprise this book. It's due in December 2014 via Amazon.com.
Well I must say it’s been a while! If you’ve been rocking
with me, you were a fan of this blog when it was published by Essence.com. If
you’re new to the game, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself: I’m an Actor.
They Don’t Get It. This blog started as a conversation between friends, which developed into a stage play in Los Angeles
and then a column on Essence.com.
I am an actor, also known as a performance hustler. I
never stop working, looking, seeking, auditioning, and persuading somebody to
give me a chance to make them laugh, cry, or feel at any given time for any
‘They’ in ‘They Don’t Get It’ can mean anyone who does
not live in the world of performing arts or freelance work.
We’re half way through 2013 and I’ve been at this acting
professionally thing since 2005 even though I’ve wanted to live inside the TV
since before Olivia took over the Cosby Show. I gave five years to Los Angeles
before relocating to Atlanta to take advantage of this southern hustle.
In this Atlanta Edition of I’m An Actor, They Don’t Get
It, I’ll tell you the differences between acting in Atlanta and Los Angeles, why
I made the change, and even share some of my grind strategies on getting in the
door. You can also look forward to some of my old Essence posts on throwback
Thursdays and some video blogs for things better left said.
If you know of anyone looking to get into acting, don’t
give them my number. Send them to this blog! Love is love. Feel free to comment
and share. I’m human. I respond. Coming up next, I’m going to give my review of
BET’s #BeingMaryJane. Look for a new post on everyday that begins with
Looking forward to the ride!
New Posts Every Tuesday!