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Everyone has heard of the story of Cinderella- it’s a major part of our culture. And it’s a fairy tale. Most little girls grow up in our society thinking that one day “their prince will come…” to rescue them from the mean stepmother, the rotten childhood, the misunderstanding parents -and take them away from the pain, misery and lack of control of their lives. Then, they can then “get married and live happily ever after.” The glass slipper fitting ONLY Cinderella’s foot is a nice touch.

The Fairytale: A lot of young actors ( Cinderellas) believe that if they can just get that perfect agent/casting director/director/producer who “believes in them” (the prince) – I hear this expression ALOT – they can be rescued from a difficult career, be successful and live happily ever after. So the concept has been to seek that perfect agent who is just waiting for that exceptional someone, YOU to fit the glass slipper!

Then, that agent will-

Right? WRONG. It doesn’t work that way.

“Waiting for your prince to come” and rescue you is a misguided concept among most actors I meet.  It’s based on fear and a sense of being powerless – that you can’t do this, an acting career, on your own. Guess what? YOU CANT! But you can change your concept and your approach as well as build a network of professionals who will help you succeed.

The REALITY: Most agents aren’t willing or economically able to represent you for nothing (20% of nothing is nothing if you aren’t already booking high paying jobs in TV or Film… or any jobs at all!). Since it takes the average actor from 3-5 years to get established, 10 years for a major top slot in the industry, who would work for nothing for 5-10 years? Would you? So, you should be more concerned about building your resume with credits, getting more experience and developing your network of industry contacts.

When you have a stronger presentation, you’ll get representation!

Here is a better Concept and a Workable Strategy

Assuming you have talent, have training because you attend acting classes and a steely resolve to succeed, believe that you are totally in control. Rather than waiting eternally to be rescued, make yourself highly “marketable” and attract as many princes as you want! Here are the steps:  Get the best marketing tools possible, a Marketing Coach/mentor and Make a Plan.This is what you need:

AHead shots or Lifestyle Photos

Did you know that agents receive hundreds of actors just like you who are interested in acting and directors get 1,000 of pictures sent to them from actors who are responding to online casting calls.  2% of the photos received are accepted as “up-to-speed”. Do not think that a mediocre photographer who does cheap “actor head shots”, a friend with a camera OR the “guy everyone goes to” is going to work for you. Go to the best. Spend the money. Bite the bullet. This is your life. You may not need a glass slipper but you definitely do NOT need a muddy sneaker. BTW- “Lifestyle” wins any day over just head shots.

“Lifestyle photos are about your personality and uniqueness. They are shot indoors, outdoors and include: a commercial “head shot”, plus 1/2 length, 3/4 length all shot in appropriate wardrobe for your 4 main “types”- the roles in which you will be cast! The difference between Lifestyle photos and just head shots is that you are showing your specific marketability  and personality to CD’s and Agents so you get a larger response. If they know HOW to work with you, they work with you…so,  you get WORK!”

B- Demo/show (SIZZLE) Reel If all you have is: nothing, a clip from a bad student film- horror, sci-fi or a video from an on- camera scene class… all the above – EEEKKK! Go to a company who can produce (write, direct, shoot, edit) original material for you. When agents and casting directors warn you about NOT hiring someone to shoot film clips for you,  they mean NOT poor quality student films…but if you go to a professional, you’ll get professional quality. No one cares where it came from if it’s GOOD.

C. Website
Have at least 3, 4, 5+ pages with a video page and a lifestyle photo page to show your range, your talent and how you will be cast. Include a Welcome page possibly with a short video talking about yourself and your personal interests.Use Use a full page for your resume and bio and a personal photo page for photos about your travel and special interests. This is your STORE and represents you when you aren’t there in person.

D. A Marketing Expert/PR/Manager
A Marketing Expert is someone who goes beyond a life coach or what you would learn in a “biz of the biz” class. He/She helps you create and implement your personal marketing plan. A ME teaches you how to communicate with the industry and develop those valuable relationships promoting YOU as you keep working! And a ME refers you to top Agents and directors.

E. A Marketing Plan
1- Meet as many Casting Directors as possible

2- Build a network of people who know you, like you, trust you- actors, playwrights, directors, filmmakers, producers, ANYONE who likes you and knows your work.

3- Audition for everything in which you know you can do well. Invite everyone in the biz you know. Keep auditioning, booking, performing, inviting-it’s a process!

4- JOIN organizations. Offer to do readings of new plays and films. Offer to be a “reader” with CD’s so they get to know you. Network, network, network!

5- Put all the info in a database (Constant Contact, I Contact, Mad Mimi, Mail Chimp).

6- Create email campaigns and communicate with your growing network. The more people who know you, the more auditions and jobs you’ll get.

Then, Audition as much as possible to master the technique of auditioning AND booking! Focus on your special skills or talent preferably in ONE MEDIA and be aggressive building your resume.  Use the referrals you can obtain and meet agents. Begin the process of developing the relationship with several. As you keep working and refining your talent they will see what your potential is. Agents do not ignore an actor who works ALL THE TIME. When you are working regularly and making money – the agents come out of the woodwork. You’ll have a handful of “princes” pursuing YOU. Those you were developing and getting to know offer representation. And then, you can go to the ball… you’re IN!

And that’s how the Entertainment Industry works and how actors get established. Trying to get an agent before you’re ready is like, well… the proverbial cart before the horse.

Find your own glass slipper and walk into your new agent’s office! But watch out for Pumpkins!

Successful Marketing,

By Gwyn Gillis.

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