I definitely have a LOVE/HATE with living in Atlanta as a working actor.
Part of what I love about the southeast market is that it’s not so saturated.
Part of what I hate about it is that there is not a lot of work.
That’s right. I hate it and love it. I hate it because when I was in Los Angeles, I felt like I went on an audition anywhere from 3 to 10 times a week. There was always something to do to make me feel like an actor in between jobs. There were always actor friends who were creating content and wanted me to be a part of their shows. There was always a show to go to so I could stay inspired. There was a mountain to hike with other actors on it. Los Angeles is very actor friendly because the city was literally filled with us.
In Atlanta, I have to hunt to find the artist scene, where to print my headshots, who has the best classes, and landing an audition is a rare occurrence that happens (if I’m lucky) once a week. However, when it does happen in Atlanta, it’s a goooooooooood audition. It’s for a network show or a major feature film. And that’s why I came! I came to capitalize on a smaller market!
Most recently, that fruit turned gold when I was blessed enough to land a full-time stand-in position on a new show, Survivor’s Remorse. Lebron James executive produces for Starz and I’m so excited I can barely sleep about this project. If you ever get the chance to work as a stand-in, take it! You get to work side by side with the director, executive producers, writers and more. These are the people you want to know. This is also extremely important: YOU GET PAID FOR STAND-IN WORK!
However, let me caution you. Opportunity is only opportunity. You have the opportunity to succeed and the same one can cause you to fail. When you’re working as a stand-in, it’s extremely important to be punctual. Arrive an hour early to base camp and don’t complain about not getting paid for it. Be present and prepared when the director is working with the “first team,” also known as the cast. Stand-ins are the “second team.” The second team needs to watch the first team to know the blocking during lighting and rehearsals. It’s crucial to be punctual, aware, and attentive or this position can do more harm to your career than good.
I have worked as a stand-in before and I really love it because it’s just one step away from being on the first team. You get to see everything. And unlike background actors, they learn your name and treat you like family on set. Casting directors usually recommend stand-ins to production staffs, but they only recommend people they can trust.
Keep working out there dreamers! Hit me up if there is anything I can help with and don’t be afraid to send me an email!
I’ve had this conversation with many actors and the opinion is always different: Some people feel like once you know how to act, you just know and you don’t need to be in class. Some people feel like you should always be in class to stay sharp. I fall somewhere in the middle: I will be in class as often as I can afford it.
For me, class has always been a way to stay hot in between gigs. I can’t just be immobile. Life and this craft is a continuum. We never stay still. We are either progressing or falling behind. Progression will always be at the top of my list. If you want to get creative about ways to stay sharp when you’re not in class, here are a few things I do:
1. Take an Intensive. We’re actors and we have bills. Committing to an on-going scene study class can seem daunting once you’ve been gone so long. Ease back into the game with an intensive. These generally last 3-6 days. Get your feet wet. Get inspired. Jump all in when you can spare the time.
2. Read books on acting. Someone wise said that if you read three books on the same subject, it makes you an expert. Well become an expert in your technique of choice. How many books can we find on Meisner? Reading is cheap and mobile.
3. Watch Virtual Channel Network on ActorsAccess.com. Industry professionals give priceless advice. For free. Get educated.
4. Create a project. Booking can be tough but writing a scene and putting it up on its feet can be done in a day. Grab some actors and make the most of the time. You never know what it could lead to. Ever heard of King Bach or Issa Rae?
5. Memorize monologues and record yourself on your phone. Play them back and critique your own work. You probably know by now what works and doesn’t work, but you may not know what you’re giving when you audition. Do a little self-study. It’s harmless.
I should take my own advice with some of these. My default is creating my own material. I guess that’s just the writer in me. I hope this helps you along the way! Stay inspired.
Be where you are.
By now we all know that I relocated to Atlanta from Los Angeles. Recently I encountered an actress (one I have grown to truly respect), who heavily encouraged actors in Atlanta to project their energies towards bigger markets, such as New York and Los Angeles.
Because I’m from the streets and I know what it looks like, I can completely understand why she wants to prepare her students for the “real world.” However, I think it’s valuable to also find the significance where you are present. I won’t ever claim that Atlanta will be equivalent to LA or NY, but this city/region definitely has opportunities for performers. We do have to work harder at finding these fabulous opportunities, but that can be true for any city.
Actors in Atlanta aren’t competing with big name stars. New Orleans actors aren’t up against A-listers. Productions will always need actors for smaller roles. When you live in a smaller city, you get a better chance at booking these jobs. They aren’t going to fly in a SAG actor for an under-5. They will cast someone locally. Also, when you’re in NY or LA, you have be SAG to book these roles. Georgia is a work for hire state. I’m not suggesting you don’t pay your SAG dues, but if you can’t pay them, you still get to work SAG scale and get paid like a SAG actor. THIS IS A BENEFIT LA ACTORS DO NOT GET!!!!
The bottom line is this: Location will never be enough to make it in this industry. And fortunately, your hustle is a transferrable skill. Don’t wait to exert yourself in a new city. Be present where you are and make the most of what God has already blessed you with. Get involved in local theatre. Do some independent projects. When you make it to the big apple or the city of angels, you’ll be ready.
Lastly, I promise you, the big cities aren’t going anywhere.
Finding jobs for acting in Atlanta is not as easily done like it is in Los Angeles and New York. In LA and NYC, you can throw a rock and hit an actor. In Atlanta, you can throw a rock and hit a beautician or real estate agent. Since moving here to pursue acting six months ago, I still struggle to find actors that want to network and filmmakers creating their own work. And while I’m grateful to be signed to a reputable talent agency, I know that I still have to find my own acting auditions and acting jobs in Atlanta, just like I did in Los Angeles.
The general consensus is, folks in Atlanta just aren’t cranking out as much work as those in LA. This could be a variation of lack of resources and access to talent. Despite these trials, there are some people acting in Atlanta. You just have to get creative!
This weekend I was blessed to be invited to the Atlanta Pitch Summit. Lucky for me I’m a writer and an actor in Atlanta, so I have the advantage of knowing how to think like a hustler. To me it made perfect sense to bring my actor business cards to a writer’s event.
Duh!!! A slew of writers will be there pitching their shows to television executives??? They’re going to need a cast when the show gets picked up. I exchanged cards with everyone I saw. They all left with a shiny picture of my face and website. And they all received a cute email from me and links to my work. They don’t call us actors for nothing! We have to be creative when it comes to networking and finding work. Opportunities won’t just come falling in our laps.
All in all, the event was fantastic. I learned a lot from the workshops, met some amazing people, and I ended up pitching one of my show ideas to a couple of TV executives. Some passed but one said, yes! All we really need is one YES!
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