HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
It's possible you're being told as an actor that a certain way of marketing is still the cool thing to do. I'm here to tell you that it's not.
I want to tell you how all of this started, though, because it happened by accident.
I went to a coffee shop with a couple of actor girlfriends of mine, and we went all out, baby, gathering marketing materials to send in the mail.
We did everything that has been considered a best practice in the past.
We printed headshots, resumes, postcards...
...I still have a pile of postcards btw that I thought were so cool!
I had good photos on the front and the back with white space to write a note.
I even put an arrow on the front with my name in the arrow as like a mind trick to get my recipients to turn it around and actually look at the back of it and maybe read what it said.
And guess what happened? NOTHING.
We'll address three reasons why in a minute.
In this post, I'm going to explain why mailing marketing materials is a dated practice and breakdown what you need to do instead.
The power of post cards and mail outs for actors is dead. There are new rules for following up with casting directors, directors, and producers.
My husband saw an article on LinkedIn and said, "Hey, there are a lot of top business coaches supporting this article, and it discusses what you want to teach other actors how to do."
If applicants did what was in that LinkedIn article, they were way more likely to get hired based on the stats.
Now, we use a different language as actors. We say we're getting cast or we're booking a gig, but it's the same thing. You're getting hired.
If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it's not gonna just go away. Nowadays, however, part of your marketing is about correctly nurturing relationships.
The good news is you do not need an MBA or a lot of money to implement what I'm going to teach you in this article.
THE BIG MARKETING MISTAKE ACTORS MAKE
Imagine that you have figured out how to communicate with your connections in a way that keeps you from getting lost in that pile of marketing materials.
What most actors still do is print out headshots, resumes, or postcards to send as marketing materials in the mail, and that is a huge mistake.
I think you'll agree with me when I say I need to get my face and my name out there so people remember I exist because they're seeing hundreds of other actors during the week.
So what are we supposed to do?
For starters, don't waste your money on outdated marketing techniques.
What if I told you that there is a really easy and stupid cheap way to market yourself that is also scientifically proven to boost your confidence?
We get rejected a lot more than we get accepted in this business, so we need some kind of built-in system to help us boost our confidence.
So if you're an actor that's still confused about how to best market yourself without looking desperate, without wasting money, and without getting caught up in gimmicks to get attention, then I'm about to give you the solution, but there's a formula I want you to follow.
There are a few important do's and don'ts, and I want you to come out of the gate doing this the right way.
I had a learning curve and so I want to give you the shortcut in this post.
The solution (the one mentioned in that LinkedIn article) is to start writing thank you cards to the people that have already said yes to you in this business, but let's make sure you're writing them correctly so they have the intended effect.
Disclosure: Hey Actor Boss, I have affiliate links for thank you cards in this post, which means at zero extra cost to you, I make a commission if you purchase through my link. I made the decision to add affiliate links so I can keep this blog up and running. Since you need to order cards specific to your branding, I'm not linking to cards I've personally purchased, but rather linking to Amazon's top hits with blank insides like I suggest buying.
If the only takeaway you get from this entire post is the one phrase I want you to avoid (I mean totally eliminate from your vocabulary as an actor) then this post is going to be worth your time.
I want to share something with you quickly that I shared on Instagram.
You are at a crossroads right now. You can either be an actor that says, "I should learn the business of marketing side of acting. I should do something, but I just want to be an actor."
However, this mindset will not help you build a solid foundation for success.
In this post, I'm gonna give you my tips and tricks for writing stellar thank you cards that have gotten me responses, including one from a director saying that they wanted to work with me again.
Have you had that happen to you yet? Imagine for a second how good that would feel. Validation, baby!
If you want to know how to contact casting directors nowadays, or anyone else you work with, keep reading.
WHY MAILING HEADSHOTS DOESN'T WORK NOW
Let's go back to the coffee shop scenario and why nothing came of our mailing efforts.
So in the past the idea was that you would send out your marketing materials, and even if they got thrown into the trash (and they still do), then at least they would see your face on the way to the trash.
And if you did that enough, it would just burn your image into their brains and they would have to think about you the next time they're casting, and it's worked--in the past.
I even heard a reputable casting director say she cast someone that started working as a full-time actor that she normally wouldn't have called in just because the actor's face was stuck in her mind because of the marketing materials they constantly mailed.
But nowadays one of three things is going to happen. Comment and let me know if you've experienced these.
Number One: You won't even find a mailing address. Zip. Nada.
Why? Because nowadays a lot of people work from home, and their home address and their work address are the same. They like their privacy, and we need to respect that.
Number Two: You're gonna find an address on their website, but you'll also see a big fat disclaimer that says, "Do not send us marketing materials. No unsolicited submissions. Do not send us snail mail. We do not accept snail mail."
You can't ignore that. If you do, it's either gonna look like you don't do your research, meaning you're not gonna research your auditions or gigs; or you saw the disclaimer and ignored it, so you're an actor that can't take notes.
It's super important to a casting director that you can take notes on set, so they're gonna think, "Oh, they're not gonna take notes from a director on set so never mind."
Listen, people in this business do not forget a face! So if they say don't send anything and you send something with your face plastered everywhere guess what? They know who you are. It's locked into their brains.
Number Three: Your mail will get returned with a big fat Return to Sender stamp because the addresses are either old or fake.
This was the most heartbreaking for me because I thought I had good addresses! We had addresses from a very reputable publication at the coffee shop that day. I'm just throwing that out there.
I let one of my actor friends use my P.O. Box as her return address. A handful of her mail got sent back to the box saying return to sender. Those envelopes were addressed to the people that I know you consider to be big hitters as an actor that you want to see your face.
Again, it's just another way to protect their privacy and to weed out all of the marketing materials because nowadays actor marketing materials just feel like spam.
WHY ACTOR THANK YOU CARDS FLIPPING ROCK
So what heck are we supposed to do? We gotta get our face and our name out there, right?!
Well, I'll tell you what I did. I went home. I was kind of down in the dumps about it.
I thought I was being pro. Like I was doing the thang and showing up in a way a lot of actors weren't.
I thought, "You know what? This makes me even more grateful for the people that are already supporting me and have already said yes to me, so I'm gonna write thank you cards."
People started responding to my thank you cards, and I had this epiphany.
The thank you cards are really high on the scale of awesomeness, and marketing materials are really low on the scale of awesomeness.
Thank you cards don't feel like spammy marketing--if you do them correctly like I'm gonna teach you here in just a minute.
Side note: if you know any other actors that need this training please feel free to share this post on social.
5 REASONS ACTORS MUST WRITE THANK YOU'S
I want to dig into five reasons that you must be writing thank you cards so you don't shove this idea to the side.
Reason 1: Your mail is way more likely to get opened and seen.
Again, I already had a working relationship with the director that got back to me that I mentioned earlier.
Let's say they have a big pile of marketing materials on their desk versus a card that makes them think, "Oh, this is from Spurgeon. We just worked together. What is this?"
Now think about your own habits when you're opening mail. How do you feel when you get spammy flyers that you just can't figure out how to get off the mailing list for?
Now how do you feel when you get a card from somebody whose name you recognize. You're probably gonna open that card, yeah?
Thank you cards don't feel like spam. They're more likely to get opened.
I had a legitimate address to send that thank you card to because I'd been to a location. I had a call sheet. I had good addresses, but I know what you're thinking!
"Doesn't that mean I can send my marketing materials?" No! I want you to nurture the relationship.
This is gonna be part of what sets you apart from other actors that are just always constantly self-promoting. I'm not saying you should never self-promote. I'm saying there's a time and a place.
I want you to nurture that relationship first and foremost.
I don't want you to be an actor that abuses the knowledge of having a really legitimate address.
Reason 2: You will never be too famous to write thank you cards.
This is a practice that you can learn and keep with you throughout the remainder of your career. You'll never even be too famous to write a thank you letter to your talent agent.
If for some reason you are famous and reading this, even if you're giving people gifts but not writing really personalized thank you cards the way that I'm about to teach you, you need this training. Just straight up. I said it, ok?! What?!
Reason 3: It's scientifically proven to boost your confidence.
This is something that actors struggle with a lot because we're in a constant cycle of rejection. I used to think this was really "woo woo," but the science has spoken.
It just seems like it's too easy to work. I think that's why I thought that, but go do the research on this.
The chemical reactions in our brains when we express gratitude prevent us from simultaneously being insecure or upset.
So why not at the same time boost somebody else's confidence? I'm gonna show you how here in just a minute.
Reason 4: It is easier to get booked again-and-again by the same people than to convince someone to say yes to you for the first time.
We see this a lot in acting. If I say Tim Burton, what actor do you think of? Johnny Depp. If I say Martin Scorsese, what actor do you think of? Leonardo DiCaprio.
It's not that they exclusively work together, they just already liked working together and continue to do so.
When you finally get those connections that you want to have, but you don't already have this as a habit, you're not gonna magically start writing thank you cards. Start doing it now.
Nurture the relationships of the people that you have already worked with.
Reason 5: People in this business are just straight-up gonna like you and appreciate you a lot more if you're an actor that shows appreciation.
I want you to imagine with me for a second that you are somebody, anybody, on the other side of the camera in this business that constantly has hundreds of actors coming at them saying, "Me me me me me! Cast me cast me cast me!"
You know that friend that you have that only talks about themselves, and they never ask you questions? No, you don't because you quit hanging out with them because that crap is annoying.
I don't want you to be that actor.
This is a great way to help you break that cycle.
I want you to be comfortable with the idea of being an actor that is interested and not always trying to be interesting.
I want you to be an actor that gives and doesn't always take.
Even if people you work with don't go out to drinks or coffee with you, you want them to feel like they could.
Cuz set days are long hours, and there is an aspect of actors working when they're easy to work with. So I want that to be you.
Bonus Reason: It's stupid cheap, y'all!
So I just heard a statistic that I think all-in a thank you card is like 70 cents on average.
I got a six-pack of cards and envelopes for $1.00 in the front bins at Target!
They're not always there, but sometimes they are. Plus, because they're small cards, you just need a regular postage stamp.
I know for fact they're 50 cents at the Dollar Tree, y'all! And the envelope's included.
ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TIPS AND TRICKS
Let's talk about tips and tricks.
Tip 1: I want you to type out a draft of your thank you card in your phone before you actually write in the card.
Again, we're not trying to waste money. I cannot tell you how many thank you cards I threw away before I was like, "Oh, duh I can just do a draft first elsewhere and then transfer it to the card," because you need to be writing these in pen.
My husband actually just got an erasable pen that is really cool, so I mean that could work, but you want it to look as clean as possible.
Since you have your phone with you all the time, pull up the Notes app or something similar, and just type out a draft based on my templates that we'll talk about in a minute.
Then once you get it all finalized and edited, you can transfer it over to the card now that you've made sure it's the best possible edit.
Tip 2: Read the card out loud before you transfer your final draft into the card.
This will help you catch grammatical errors that maybe you just glazed over after reading the draft so many times, and you're also going to hear if it sounds like your voice or not.
Ask yourself, "If I were standing in front of this person saying these words to them, does it sound like me?" That's hugely important for branding your card and building a connection because it needs to be in your voice.
Tip 3: Handwritten cards are always, always best.
I know for a fact that pro actors that are booking aren't doing this. How? Because one of them told me.
I've sent an email thank you before, and I regretted it.
If you email a thank you, it kinda feels like you're being lazy.
Also, think about your own habits. When you're going through your email and somebody just shoots you a quick thanks, you're not responding to that. You're gonna delete it. It's not ever gonna get hung on a cork board, either.
Sometimes you can't find an address like we discussed. I get that. I've had a situation where, even though I booked with someone and already emailed back and forth with them, I could not find an address to save my life.
I did all the smart little tricks trying to find it on the corporate site, etc. Could not find an address. So sometimes it is okay to shoot an email. I actually didn't, and I should have in that scenario.
But even if you're forced to send an email thank you, I still want you to use the same template you would use for a handwritten card.
Handwritten is best, even if you have chicken scratch writing. Do not let that stop you.
I still want you to buckle down for one card at a time, and make it as legible as possible. I'm telling you, it is gonna make it feel a lot more personal, and that's what you want.
Tip 4: Keep cards in your car to write on-the-go.
I need to work on this, so we're gonna do it together because if you're like me, even though I'm extroverted and get energy from being around people, I am pooped when I leave a shoot!
I just want to stop somewhere to get a little treat or some dinner and recalibrate before I get home to my hubby. Then when I get home, I want to just veg out on the couch, especially if I have a commute because driving is also exhausting if you have a long way to go.
I want you to sit in your car if you're in a safe place. Keep your head on a swivel, okay? I don't want anybody sneaking up on you, especially if you're a woman.
You can also stop somewhere and type out that draft in your phone at a minimum, then put a reminder in your phone to finish that card the next day--the very next day.
Because let me tell you something, if you leave set and like two days later your thank you card is there, you are gonna look so pro!
Again, I told you I need to work on this.
If you wait too long, it feels like an afterthought, but you can follow up with your thank you card once the project releases. That's another time when it's fresh on everyone's mind and it makes sense to send one.
Tip 5: Brand your card.
The outside of the card really needs to be reflective of you, your personality, and who you are, but the inside of the card is all about the recipient.
Since you're trying to build a connection and you don't want it to feel generic, then I want you to find designs on cards that "feel" like you.
For example, I'm probably not gonna buy any cards with pink on them. I also really like bright, bold colors and designs. I'm probably not gonna buy a card that's super minimalist.
If you are the person whose tie is always tight and uses professional language, get a card that feels like that feels like a suit and tie.
Now, it doesn't actually need to say thank you on the front as long as it doesn't say something random like happy birthday or happy anniversary that doesn't make sense.
I'm gonna show you how to correctly say thank you on the inside of the card, but it's more intriguing to see the front of a card and wonder, "Who is this from? What's in here?"
That makes someone open a card. It's called curiosity marketing.
FOLLOW UP MISTAKE ACTORS SHOULD AVOID
Now let's get to the last two tips on mistakes to avoid.
Tip 6: Absolutely NO photos of you allowed.
I just told you that the card needs to be reflective of who you are, but they should not look like you. Nooooo!
Don't do it! Why?
Because it's going to feel like marketing as soon as they see your face on the card, and it's going in the trash.
I read a Facebook post from a casting director recently that said that he straight-up trains his casting assistants to trash all marketing materials so that he can get to the mail he actually needs.
So if they're going through mail and they see a little card with your face, or they can even see your face through the card, they'll think, "Marketing, marketing, marketing."
Now part of what's happening in your brain right now is you're thinking, "What if they don't know what I look like?! I've gotta include a photo!"
For starters, you have a working relationship with them. I told you before, and I hear this all the time, people in this business do not forget a face.
They might forget your name, but they ain't gonna forget your face.
You've worked together, and you should be writing these in a timely manner so they're gonna remember you.
Now here's the beauty of what happens if they don't. Think about what you would do.
You get a card in the mail. The name looks familiar, and it's this really nice well-written thank you card and you think, "Who is Spurgeon Perkins?"
What are you gonna do?
You're gonna go type that name into a search bar and look up who it is.
Now hopefully you have amazing things that pop up when people search for your name. Have you checked? Do that.
But that means you have effectively gone from being someone lost in marketing materials to an actor that someone is searching for online. That is really gonna leave a stamp in their brains about you, but it's probably not gonna happen.
They're gonna recognize your name, so resist the temptation to put your face on the card, on the envelope, in the card, in the envelope, any of that. Stop. It will feel like marketing.
Now a while back I did a search "thank you cards for actors" and a lot of my images from my blog about thank you cards popped up in the top hits. Guess what the two hits were that beat me?
They were templates for thank you cards for actors with a little space for a headshot. No! I am telling you resist, resist, resist because I want your card to get read, so you must keep it from feeling like marketing.
Tip 7: Never use the phrase, "I really hope we work together again."
This is the phrase I desperately want you to avoid. It seems innocent. It's not.
You're passively asking for something.
It feels to the recipient like, "Oh, I got this wonderful c--oh they just want me to cast them again."
It's okay if other people in this business say that you as an actor, and if they do I want you to say, "Thanks so much. I really appreciate that. Me, too." Then change the subject or say bye. Move along. Don't dwell on it.
We don't really necessarily have anything to offer the people we're writing these to, but they have something to offer us, so this phrase will always feel very one-sided.
So especially if it is in terms of you writing a card for a booking, then please avoid this phrase.
If for some reason you're on set talking to an actor that's more known than you, I don't want you to say it to them either because what you're really saying is, "Hey I really hope you refer me so I get cast again. This is really about me. Hahahahaha!"
We want to avoid making requests in the card.
Even if you've said this phrase in the past, just move forward at this point. Don't say anything else about it. Don't bring it up. Don't apologize for it. Just from this point forward don't use it anymore.
PROVEN ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TEMPLATES
When I first started doing this I told you I had a learning curve. I would just write, "Hey. Thanks. Bye."
So that brings us to the question, "What the heck are we supposed to say?"
You don't want to fall into the trap of your cards feeling too generic as if any actor could've written them.
Let me tell you something about my personality that works against me when it comes to writing cards in case you can relate.
If you've ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, I'm an ENTJ which is called "The Field Marshall." So my results always say. "You're great at setting goals and crushing them. You love results." That's true.
My DISC, if you've ever taken that one, is like all D for Dominance. The D is pushing out of the top of the chart. There's a C kind of on the midline, but the D is trying to push it down below the midline.
The results alway say, "You love results, but don't forget people have feelings."
Oh, dang! This kind of sucks for me writing a card because that means I don't translate very well via text. If you can't see me or hear me sometimes my tone feels too direct or accidentally harsh.
I don't want you to feel overwhelmed about not knowing what to write or how you're gonna translate via text because if I've gotten good feedback even with my personality type, that means it will work for anybody.
My husband's love language is Words of Affirmation, and when we got married I was like, "What the crap is words of affirmation?"
I thought I could just say, "I love you," and that would be enough, but he would say, "It's just too generic. It's something anybody can say to me, but it doesn't really have meaning if you don't explain why. I need it to be more personal."
So I realized while I was learning words of affirmation how that could translate to personalizing my professional thank you cards.
You want your thank you cards to build trust, personal connection, and have a long-term positive impact on the recipient, so I want to invite you to download Actor Boss Thank You Cards below to access my templates and writing prompts.
The download has been officially copyrighted. It's legit!
I quickly want to break down for you what that download looks like so that you can know if it's a good fit for you.
It was originally written as a five day challenge which means you can do one section a day for five days, or if you just sit down and read through it, it's maybe gonna take you 15 minutes.
Day 1: How Can Actors Personally Brand a Thank You Card?
The first day goes over everything you need to know about buying cards that are branded to you, and there's maybe only one additional tip that I have not covered in this training because I wanted this training to be super actionable for you whether you get the download or not.
Day 2: To Whom Are Actors Writing Follow Up Thank You Cards?
The second day is going to talk about who you should write to so that you don't leave anyone hanging because there are key people that you should be writing thank you cards to throughout the year. You need more than just a sample thank you note to casting directors.
Day 3: When Should Actors Write Thank You Cards?
The third day is gonna break down when you should write thank you cards because it can turn into overkill even with thank you cards. There's a formula for not looking desperate, but also not making them look like an afterthought. If you're searching for a sample follow up email after an audition, you're on the wrong track.
Day 4: What Should Actors Write in Their Thank You Cards?
The fourth day is really the secret sauce, baby! This is when you get the templates and the prompts you need to write these cards word-for-word, except for the prompts which will instead prompt you to write in a way that only you can.
Day 5: When Is It Appropriate for Actors to Send a Gift?
The fifth day could be a download in and of itself. It has everything you need to know about giving gifts with your cards, all the do's and don'ts. There are times when that's appropriate, and there are times when it is not.
They also don't need to be expensive. In fact, I break down free options in the download as well. That needs to be done correctly, and it needs to be done at the right time and to the right people. I don't you know miss this section because it can really enhance your thank you card if you want it to, or it can detract from it.
ACTOR BOSS THANK YOU CARD TEMPLATE FAQ'S
Let's dig into some of commonly asked questions about the download.
Question 1: Do I need an E-reader?
Nope! It's a really visual PDF download, so you can view it on any device that can read a PDF, which is almost all of them. You can view it on mobile, but you'll also get an email so you can download it on your laptop or desktop.
Question 2: How will my card be personalized if you're giving me a template?
I'm gonna give you word-for-word what the body of the card should say, but then you're gonna see a set of parentheses with a prompt to cue you on what personalized information to write in that space. You'll have word-for-word what I tell you to write in the body, and then you're gonna add your two cents to the prompt. (Just to clarify, you're gonna lose the parentheses when you write the card.)
Remember when I told you to read your draft out loud? When you read it out loud you're gonna realize, "I usually say this word, or I have an urge to use this phrase because that's what I say when I'm talking, especially if I'm talking to this person." Adding those words or phrases will make the card sound like it's "in your voice."
Question 3: Why are there multiple templates? Can I use the same one for everyone?
I don't think you should because what's important to various people in this business is going to be different. Your working relationship with various people in this business is going to be different. So I breakdown the best words and prompts for those various people.
Question 4: Does the download only include the templates?
Nope! There are a lot of additional tips and tricks included that I haven't published anywhere else. The big fat huge bonus section covers really important do's and don'ts on giving gifts, and I really don't want you to miss that.
Question 5: Will I need to buy new templates after I use these?
The templates and prompts are written so that you can use the same ones over-and-over again because the same prompts should inspire you to write something different each time based on the situation. If I update it for any reason, you'll get the new download at no extra charge.
Question 6: How do I know if this download is a good fit for me?
Let's talk about who this download is not for. It is not for everyone who identifies as a performer. So if you're a musician, a dancer, voice-over artist, or a theater/stage actor, you need to know that I'm writing this for actors like me that primarily identify as on-camera talent for film, television, and commercials.
I also don't suggest writing these for extras roles unless something cool happens like you get bumped to a line because that's similar to you getting booked.
Question 7: What if I buy the download, but realize it's not a good fit?
I have a 7-day no questions asked return policy. Simply submit your return request via your payment platform for approval.
I know saving money is a priority for you as an up-and-coming actor.
You could easily spend $100 just printing headshots if you try to mail headshots and resumes--only to find out they're not going anywhere anyway--or you can get my Actor Boss Thank You Cards download today for a fraction of the cost (below).
I cannot wait for you to start using these templates!
I know from the reactions I've gotten that these cards will set you apart as an actor that's a team player.
Remember that LinkedIn article that I mentioned at the beginning? Writing thank you cards is a best business practice, and you are a business.
How much do you value not getting lost in the marketing piles this year?
If I didn't answer your question, please leave one in the comments.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Actor Boss Thank You Cards.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
First, I want to explain the difference between poor communication and an unhealthy actor-agent relationship to make sure that's not your issue, then we'll dive into communication tips.
An actor friend of mine got in touch with me a while back to tell me about a strange interaction she had with her agent.
She'd only been signed with her for a few months.
She said, "I think this is weird. I'm not sure if this is right."
When I heard and read the really negative comments being made to my friend, that I knew were not true about her, I was shocked.
I said, "Look, you need to be done with this particular agency. You need to write your 30-day written notice. This is not just an issue of poor communication. This is straight up unhealthy."
So when you have a negative feeling, or you feel like there's a red flag that goes beyond poor communication, ask other people in this business that you trust for their opinion.
You may need to make the hard decision to step away from your agency.
If you're wondering, "Should I change my acting agent?" then ask yourself, "Is this interaction good for me?"
I want you to listen to that warning if you have it because that shouldn't be the case.
Communication is one of the key components of an actor-agent relationship.
After hearing about my friend's issue, I immediately wrote my agency a quick email saying, "Hey, thanks so much for always looking for the silver lining and trying to stay positive. I really appreciate that. Here's what I just heard from another friend, and I'm glad that's not true for us."
That type of negative interaction is not anything I would ever expect my agency to do. so I let them know I was thankful.
I shot them an email instead of writing them a card (video) like I do for booked gigs.
Healthy communication can be that simple. If you're thankful for something, tell your agent! They're humans that need encouragement, too.
If you are in a good situation, and I hope you are like I am, then I want you to be proactive. We're gonna break down tips and tricks that I've personally used in this post.
Hey if you don't have an agent yet, actor friend, that's okay. You're gonna get one one day.
So stick with me because there's really a lot of trial and error in this business for figuring out what works and what doesn't.
I mean outside of learning your craft and getting coaching on your talent it's like, "Where's the manual? Someone tell me!"
So I want you to hear these tips and tricks about what the actor-agent relationship should look like in case you're asking yourself, "I have an acting agent--now what?"
HOW OFTEN TO EMAIL
Sometimes I hear actors talk about how often they contact their agents, and my stomach hurts because I always want actors to communicate from a place of confidence.
Initiating conversation from a place of confidence is a good way to keep the actor-agent relationship healthy.
I, too, have written an email that I regretted because it sounded insecure in hindsight since it was so wordy.
Communicating from a place of power is also dependent on how often you communicate. The first tip is that I want you to send out an email to your agent maybe once a quarter.
I don't even do it that often if I know I haven't provided them with what they asked for in a prior communication.
For example, I know my agent needs more film footage from me since I have a lot of commercial clips.
I sent them a couple of film clips after that request, only one of which they liked enough to use.
I also recently uploaded new headshots.
So if I were to contact them with the same question right now, what do you think they would say?
The same dang thing. They need more film footage!
Ergo, there's no need for me to ask them again if everything is up-to-date except for what they've already requested.
When you are ready to check in with them, keep it simple. Say, "Hey what do you need from me right now?"
You may get feedback you didn't realize was an issue.
What if they need a certain look or type of footage that you thought you'd already uploaded but isn't translating the way you hoped? You won't know unless you ask.
If you're not bombarding them a million times a week with emails, it's more likely you'll get a detailed response.
They see things differently on that end of the submission table, and good agents are aware of current casting trends that you may not recognize.
Be proactive. Don't wait on them to get in touch with you. This is your career. You check in with them, just don't do it too often.
Again, I don't want you to come across as desperate or needy.
You also need to be prepared to follow through on whatever notes they give you, so that might mean waiting until you're financially ready to get new headshots if you know it's time to update them.
(scroll to continue reading)
ASKING FOR AUDITION FEEDBACK
I've heard a lot of different opinions on this topic, so I'll share my experience.
I do not ask for audition feedback. I've never once asked my agent to contact a casting director for me, but I've had casting directors reach out to my agent about me for positive feedback.
Typically, if a casting director wants to send you notes, they're gonna contact your talent agent, then your talent agent is gonna send that to you.
I've also had a situation where I was in an actual casting office and one of the casting directors came up to me to give me feedback face-to-face about a particular client really liking me.
She didn't need to take time out of her day to tell me that, but she did.
They will tell you! The information will get to you, okay? Casting directors love giving actors good news or helping them reach the next level when they see potential.
When you do get that golden, rare in-person audition now-a-days, I want you to pay attention to what they're saying to you while you're in the room. That's feedback!
You may notice that casting directors are giving you the same note over-and-over again. That's feedback.
You may notice that they consistently ask you to try again without moving too much. That's feedback.
The best time for you to ask casting for feedback directly is while you're in the room. You already have them as a captive audience, but make it quick and specific.
Weak Question: Do you think I'm a good actor?
Strong Question: Do you feel like I took the note you gave me, or should I go further next time?
Weak Question: Are my auditions good?
Strong Question: Are my objectives being clearly communicated?
Weak Question: Why am I not getting more callbacks?
Strong Question: How's my energy when I walk into the room?
I think this is best done when you're in a solo audition on a low-key audition day. Avoid days when the lobby is packed. Never ask for feedback at a callback in front of a client.
Notes will go through the right channels if you need it, that channel being your talent agent, if not to you directly in the room. There's no need to email your talent agent in my experience.
Go with your gut on this, but my two cents is that I haven't asked for it, and I've gotten it.
CELEBRATE YOUR ANNIVERSARY
Are you happy that you have a talent agent? Have you heard all of the actors that don't have talent agents talk about how hard it is to get one?
Actor friend, send a gift to your agent at least once per year, okay?!
If they don't celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, but you know their birthday, send something for their birthday.
I think the strongest, best option is to send something on the anniversary of your contract signing.
Do you know when that is? You should still have your contract somewhere so that you can look at it.
I kept thinking mine was in July, and for the longest time I would intro my social media videos saying, "I signed with my agent in July of 2016." It was actually in May.
And I thought, "You know what? I need to go check my contract and see."
You should know where you put that contract. You should have a date on that contract.
Find that date so that for every additional year they say yes to you, you can say thank you to them by sending a gift.
Get comfortable expressing gratitude. Your gift does not need to be super expensive.
It just needs to be thoughtful.
I have an entire bonus section on gift giving for every price range (including free) in my Actor Boss Thank You Cards download.
CONFIRM OR DECLINE EVERYTHING
I'm always surprised at how often I see audition emails or postings that need to highlight a request to confirm or decline an audition.
This is a very standard practice for our industry.
Confirm or decline every single audition no matter what.
It's super quick and simple to shoot them back an email.
Sometimes you'll be instructed to decline through the system (i.e. Actors Access), but I say send your agent an email as well letting them know you did.
I declined through the system once, and my agent didn't see it, so they reached out to me a couple of days later reminding me to submit the audition.
So play it safe if you're declining through a casting system, and email your agent letting them know you declined.
Hey Actor Boss, you do not need to give a lot of detail about why you're declining. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten was to simply put "not available." Your agent will reach out to you if they're curious as to why, but even then, keep it short and sweet.
Speaking of short and sweet, keep all of your emails to the point. If your email is a paragraph, ask yourself how you can compress it down to two sentences max.
I like to add details to my confirmation emails just to make sure we're on the same page.
So I will say, "Confirmed Tues 11/12 at (Casting Office Name) 1:00pm Thanks," because sometimes the date and times don't match so they may catch that and clarify.
Also, I made a mistake once of writing a huge long email to my talent agent without giving them a heads up it was coming.
It was in reference to information security, so I should've sent them a short email asking them if I could send them more info about the topic first.
BOOKING OUT AND REMINDERS
I recently booked out for vacation, and when I got back, there was an audition email in my inbox for a SAG commercial that I hadn't responded to!
So I'm now implementing a new system.
Spurgeon's 3-Step Booking Out Process:
First, please book out and let your agent know if you won't be available to audition, even via self-tape.
If you can't go to an in-person audition, but you can self-tape, then don't book out.
I would still send them an email letting them know that you can't do any in-person auditions, but will have access to self-taping. If they forget, just request a self-tape in lieu of the in-person.
But I personally book out when I can't attend an in-person or film a self-tape.
I let them know that I'm on vacation, and I'm not working or self-taping.
Let's park here for a second. Are you okay fully booking out and stepping away from auditions for a few days? You really need that freedom to clear your mind and get away sometimes.
Are you planning your weeks and months in advance?
Because if you're not, it's gonna be hard for you to know when those book out dates are coming up in your schedule.
I try to book out at the beginning of the month by saying, "Hey here are all of my book out dates for April."
Sometimes things will happen a little closer to the date, and I'll need to book out last minute. That's ok! Just be sure to do it.
It's so crucial to let your agent know because they need to go into your casting profile to mark those dates.
That's something only they can do, at least on Breakdown Services, that actors don't have access to on Actors Access yet.
Your agent needs to fill that audition spot with different talent if you're unavailable, which makes the casting director's life easier as well.
Include a reason for booking out if you want, but keep that short, too.
USE THE BEST WORDS
Lastly, let's talk about the words you use with your agent.
We need to be generous and affirming in our conversations.
I try to say things to my agent like, "Hey here are these five new headshot options. Which ones are your favorite? I trust your opinion."
Tell them you trust their opinion. Do you trust their opinion? Because if you don't, you might need another talent agent.
I know that my agents have been in this business a lot longer than I have, and they know what's going on over on their side of the table a lot more than I do.
Sometimes, trust in your agent will get tested, like with any relationship.
I had a piece of footage rejected and that was hard for me. I thought it was a great piece of footage but they said, "Hey this isn't right, for this reason," and they explained why to me.
I said, "Okay, I trust you with that."
Your agent should take the time to provide you with explanations or feedback if they reject your materials so that you know what to do next time.
If they do reject something, don't take it too hard. Walk it off for maybe thirty minutes, then realize they have your best interest in mind because that's also their best interest.
The more your acting income increases, the more their revenue and exposure increases. Their success is dependent on yours, so they want you to succeed.
Say nice things. Affirm them. They're humans, too.
Has this helped you better understand the secret of a happy actor-agent relationship?
Comment to let me know which points caught your attention.
I'd also love to hear any additional advice you have about interacting with your agent.
If you know any actors that need to see this post, feel free to share it on social.
Do you currently have a talent agent? How long have you been with them?
The next post will be all about the one thing that is no longer a best marketing practice for actors and what you should do instead.
I'll explain why and give you lots of really good tips and tricks that you can start applying ASAP.
I'm gonna bet it's something you're not doing yet, but it will make a huge difference in your working relationships if you do.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I went to an audition one day, and this particular casting office is always very organized, very professional.
Something happened that day that put them behind schedule. I'm not sure what.
I knew that was abnormal for them.
My audition time was at 12:00PM or 12:30PM, and I didn't leave until 6:00PM that night.
Luckily my schedule was clear so I could just relax, talk to some other actor friends that came by, and get some brownie points with that casting office.
I thought, "They're already stressed out about something. I don't want to add to that stress. I can chill out today, so I'm gonna do that."
However, there was a teenage girl there that was not happy about the situation.
There was another (established) actor volunteering as a casting assistant that day. I know for a fact they have worked with at least one A-list celebrity on a movie.
This teenage girl was waiting to audition, and she went off the deep end on the casting assistant. Literally snapped them over.
She didn't get up and go speak to them quietly or privately.
She started loudly saying in front of everyone in the casting office things like, "This is totally unprofessional," which is not true about that casting office.
"I feel so disrespected."
She was like 15 by the way.
"Who do I need to talk to about this? You need to get me into that next audition."
This girl had a commute. She was coming from a different city and needed to get back, which she made very clear to everyone in the lobby.
Well, they handled it very well. The casting assistant/actor went into the audition room privately.
I don't know what was said, but they came out and just really nicely replied, "You're gonna be in the next one. Sorry about that."
So she went in, did her audition, came out, and I went in next.
Well my group ended up being the last group.
She literally could have just waited one more slot without showing her butt, and it wouldn't have been a big deal issue.
She wouldn't have shot herself in the foot.
In this post we're gonna talk about casting office do's and don'ts, including how to properly handle this same situation, so you know what to expect at an audition.
WHAT TO DO IF THEY'RE BEHIND SCHEDULE
First, I wanna tell you how another actor friend of mine handled this situation because he did it correctly.
This is the primary casting office etiquette that I want you to learn, but we have a few more after this.
When my actor friend arrived I said, "FYI I've been here for like an hour. I think something's happening. I'm not really sure what, but they're running behind just so you know."
He had to be at work, and had a little bit of a commute.
This actor did the appropriate thing--which is what I want you to do in the future if this ever happens--and called his agent.
You can simply say, "They're running a little behind today. I really need to get to work. Can you get me into my original time slot?"
His agent called and got him into the next audition slot.
That was the appropriate way to handle that situation.
So please, especially if you're a new actor and you haven't been in a casting office that much, just know that is what you need to do.
The other thing I want to point out is that I did not recognize this girl that showed out in the casting office.
She's not somebody that's really been in anything from what I could tell.
Even if she was a known actor, I mean...I'm doubting that would even be...it's not good etiquette!
That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Alright, so let's dig into some other tips.
I've gotten good feedback from casting, so I want you guys to hear these.
If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "What should I expect when I go to the casting office?" then this post is for you.
Nobody really told me when I first started.
Actually, I did an audition boot camp that let me know what to do in the audition,
but there's etiquette for the actual casting office so let's look at these tips.
WHAT TIME TO ARRIVE
This one's pretty obvious, especially if you're a theater kid, but just in case.
On time is late. Ten minutes early is on time.
Anything earlier than 10 minutes is a little bit of a nuisance, especially if they have large groups of people coming in for a casting call that day.
So try to be 10 minutes early.
If you know you're gonna go to the bathroom, maybe go in just a little bit before the ten-minute mark to use the bathroom first.
Do whatever primping and potty time you need to do before you sign in on the sheet.
Let the casting assistant know at the front, "Hey I need to run in the bathroom before I sign in. I'll be right back."
You don't want someone to call for you only to find out you're in the bathroom and not actually ready.
But you should have a little time if you get there early.
I challenge you to try these weekly emails for just one month. If you haven't learned anything, you can easily unsubscribe. Stick with me, though, and you'll be an Actor Boss in no time.
HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE FRONT DESK
I want you to start thinking of yourself as a business.
Don't you feel special when your favorite business knows you? Recognizes you? Learns your name?
Next, I want you to learn the casting assistant's name.
They already know your name so it feels kind of weird, but you guys haven't officially been introduced yet.
So I just want you to say--it's gonna feel awkward, it's okay--while you're signing in, "Hey we haven't met yet. I'm Spurgeon," and they'll say, "I'm Stacy."
You can also just straight up say, "Hey I'm Spurgeon. We haven't met yet. What's your name?"
They'll tell you. It's human nature.
(If for some reason they don't tell you and give you the cold shoulder, don't take it personally. Just go with the flow. Smile and walk away.)
Then I want you to repeat their name. "Hey Stacy. Nice to meet you."
That's gonna help you get it locked into your brain.
I want you to say it again when you leave. "Bye Stacy. Have a good day."
Now the next time you see them at an audition, say hello to them by name. Don't wait until the third time you see them to ask about their name again.
So at your very next audition with them say, "Hey, it's Stacy right?"
They know that you guys only met once. You can remind them of your name, too.
They probably know who you are coming in based on the roster, but you can always say, "Hey it's Stacy, right? We met last time. I'm Spurgeon."
As you start to know them better, ask questions.
Make simple small talk. (Whisper in the lobby. That's another big thing.)
Maybe there's construction going nearby, so you could ask, "Hey do you know what's up with this construction over here?"
Just some simple chitchat.
You may start learning things about them that you can follow up on when you go into the office in the future.
Basically, be nice to your casting assistants. Learn their names. Learn things about them.
You don't have to ask 20 questions. Just chitchat a little bit if the lobby isn't slammed that day.
USE CONFIDENT LANGUAGE
This one's really good, but I can't remember the first person that gave me this idea.
I read in an article somewhere I think. If you're that person, please let me know so I can credit you.
Say "thank you" instead of "sorry."
Let me explain.
I always leave really early and just float around the area for my auditions so that I'm not late because I have a commute.
I'm not in the habit of being late, but one day I got caught by a train.
Actually, I got caught in traffic behind a wreck that had me running behind even though I left an hour early, then I got caught by a train.
So I let my agent know, "Hey I'm coming in hot to my three o'clock at this casting office."
(Be sure to contact your agent and let them know specifics if you're running late btw.)
Let them know the time that you're supposed to audition and where that is so they can contact casting because otherwise if you're like, "I'm running late," they're gonna be like, "To what?"
They've got other stuff happening, so give them the specifics they need so they can let casting know.
When I got to the casting office I wasn't like, "So sorry I'm late yada yada! Excuses excuses!" I just walked in and said, "I got caught by a train. Thanks for waiting on me."
Apology verses saying thank you.
This type of language really puts you in a stronger position.
Let's look at an example during an audition.
Maybe you drop a line. Instead of saying, "Sorry," I want you to say, "I'm dropping the lines. I would like to start over. Thanks for being patient."
You are gonna look like a pro and really confident and like you have control of the room which they want you to have.
Nobody wants to babysit you, so take control of the room. If you do it by saying thank you, that's gonna make everyone feel more at ease.
You knew when you decided to be an actor that meant learning lines, right?
It's like a thing we do.
This seems obvious, but for the love of God know your lines.
Sometimes you can hear other auditions happening, and people don't know their lines...
We need to know lines, and be comfortable learning them on the fly!
Let me tell you about my first professional job.
My first gig was an industrial for a friend who really needed a favor because she cast another friend that did not show.
They needed somebody else to come in last minute. She knew I had a theatre degree so she said, "Hey I know she can learn lines. Let's just throw her on camera."
I showed up nervous because I needed to make her look good, and I had never done an industrial before this.
You know those industrials have really crazy words that you don't say in normal life, and you need to say them word-for-word because of legal issues!
The guy that owned the production company was supervising.
Sometimes we would get the note, "Hey you two just totally swap those two parts," and they were like full paragraphs.
Sometimes they were two or three paragraphs full of lines--for an industrial! No teleprompter!
I know you feel my pain if you've done one.
I was so nervous because this was my first professional booking, I didn't want to embarrass myself, I wanted to get booked again, and I really didn't want to embarrass my friend.
I just thought, "Oh God help me."
I went over to the side, ignored everyone, and I just started saying the lines out loud over-and-over again until they called me to set.
I thought, "Alright let's find out. We'll see what happens," and then I'd say all the lines and smile.
Then I would ask, "What'd I just say?" And they replied, "Word-for-word. Sweet. Let's move on to the next one."
Let me tell you something.
I have way more confidence that I can handle it if I get lines last minute or if a script gets changed on me, which is probably going to happen to you at some point, so I want you to feel that confidence.
I feel really confident if that's a dialogue where I can work off of somebody else because I've now had to do it straight to camera with a bunch of abnormal lines without chit-chatting with anyone.
Please, please get into the habit of memorizing lines. Please, please don't make excuses when you need to learn lines in the casting office.
If you need to do this as a daily habit, which is something I suggest as a daily habit for actors, then just start learning random lines or paragraphs from books or non-fiction publications.
Then test yourself by delivering those lines to the camera. Just use your phone. No one will see it.
Make sure you know your lines, and do whatever you need to make that process easier on yourself.
Get confident at doing that because let me tell you something if you show up and you're like, "Oh I just got this last minute. I don't my lines," and some other actor busts up in there like, "Give me those lines!" they will get all of the good attention.
I want you to be the actor that gets good attention.
I'm telling you some other actor's gonna come in behind you, not make any excuses, and just be on it!
So decide today that you'll be that actor.
HOW TO EXIT THE ROOM
There's always this little bit of weird silence when you leave a casting that's in-between them saying thank you and you leaving.
Don't be weird when you exit.
Sometimes the silence is gonna be there. That's okay.
Be prepared to say, "Okay thanks guys. I appreciate it. Have a good day."
I seriously want you to practice this.
Open the door. Leave. Just don't look back. Don't linger.
Say something normal like, "Ok bye thanks have a good day." Great. Done.
WHAT TO SAY ABOUT YOURSELF
Lastly, if you're asked about yourself, you want to have something solid to say.
If you are part of an MLM, don't say anything about that. You're not a such-and-such representative, okay?
We're not getting into that.
I want you to answer in a way that is going to move the conversation forward and make you look cool to the director.
If you look cool to the director, you will look cool to the casting director, and it makes casting look good as if they have cool actors that will be cool on set.
Talk about something you like to do or a place you like to go.
I'll share an example that I still need to use.
My husband and I did an escape room as a date night recently, and it was freaking awesome.
We loved it. I loved it. I mean he liked it, too, but I really loved it. So now I'm a little obsessed.
Director: "What's something you like to do for fun?"
Me: Escape rooms.
Director: What do you like about them?
Me: "I was involved with this competition in high school called Future Problem Solving. Escape rooms are kind of like a live-action version of Future Problem Solving."
Director: "What is Future Problem Solving?"
Me: "It's a booklet competition where a team gets presented with futuristic problems that could potentially happen in the world, so we had to brainstorm the toughest challenge and then come up with the best solution."
That's a pretty cool thing. Like the more I think about it, I wish we had grown-up Future Problem Solving teams.
But it's not something most people know about me, and it's something very different that I'm doubting they've heard every other actor say that day.
When they ask you questions that aren't acting related, they want to know things about you that aren't acting related.
So what is that for you?
I'm telling you, I know that I got put on the right of first refusal just from talking to a director about the fact that my husband and I flipped a house on a farm.
He was very intrigued, and it somewhat related to the audition because it was for an outdoorsy tourist commercial, and we had to do work outdoors because we had acreage.
Try to relate your answers to whatever the audition is about if you can.
Seriously, sit down and brainstorm a list of hobbies and favorite places in your phone so you can scan that list before you go into an audition in case you get asked about yourself.
HOW TO MAKE CASTING LOOK GOOD
I wanted to share these with you because I've gotten good feedback from casting, and I want you to get good feedback.
We need to remember that the casting director works for the client--the company or the studio that hired them to find actors--meaning they need to look professional to that client.
I left an audition one day, and the casting director stopped me and said, "Spurgeon I just want you to know we are very thankful for you because we know you're gonna show up, you're gonna be prepared, and you make us look good."
That means if you're an actor that shows up as a professional, then casting will be more likely to call you in for auditions because they know they're gonna have an actor that has their crap together, and I want that actor to be you.
Just do these very simple things that actually have nothing to do with how talented you are so you can build a good reputation for yourself.
This is a business. If you run yourself as a business, production companies will be more inclined to do business with you.
Did one of these tips catch your attention more than the others? Please comment to let me know if you learned something. I love the feedback!
Listen, it's easy to know this info, it's another to actually do it. It just takes time. I still leave auditions realizing I haven't applied one of these tips, so give yourself some grace.
Next time we're gonna talk about how you can be an actor that your talent agent freaking loves and how to interact with your agency.
I hear a lot of actors get upset about a lack of communication from their agent, so let's make sure you're communicating at your best.
If you know any other actors that need this information please feel free to share this post on social.
I'd also love to hear your suggestions for blog topics. Let me know!
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I was on set recently chatting with another actor and we had this rare opportunity where the director was hanging out with us.
They're usually really busy on a shoot.
Instead of utilizing this moment, guess what happened?
I noticed she was shifting her weight and looking around as if she needed someone else to talk to. Yikes.
We weren't including her in the conversation! We were just talking about actor things.
What most actors do (and we're all guilty of it) is we somehow shift the conversation to talking about ourselves and all of our booked gigs.
There's a reason our brains move in that direction.
We're validating that we're actors, that we've booked, and we almost need to hear ourselves say our bookings out loud to remind ourselves of this truth.
Instead, I want you to be an actor that asks questions.
This is the first step in becoming an actor everyone loves on set.
Good news! Asking thoughtful questions has nothing to do with how talented you are.
Talent and professionalism are an expectation: we show up, know our lines, make strong choices, and are able to swap those choices out when asked.
I'm gonna give you three questions to help you kickstart conversations in this post and explain why they're important.
You can ask these questions regardless of who you're interacting with on set to get a conversation rolling.
WHY ASK QUESTIONS?
If you think constantly self-promoting is the answer, think again.
I was so excited to work with an actor on a shoot this year that I have admired from afar for some time now.
We were on set all day together.
He was fantastic at just asking people questions.
I'm talking all day. I'm talking a 12 hour plus a day. It was crazy.
And he has a very established resume with TV shows that I know you watch that are very popular shows.
Still, he was great at being interested and not just trying to be interesting.
He books, and I'm telling you there's a correlation.
Let's look at another reason you should ask questions.
Sometimes it just so happens that you do end up interacting with the director when you're on a break.
I was on lunch break once, and the director came and sat at my table. Oh snap.
If that happens to you, I want you to be prepared to ask normal questions that take the focus away from you and put it onto the other person.
Hey, that sounds just like a scene! See? You're already good at this.
Let's start with an easy icebreaker question.
First ask, "Are you from here?" If it's obvious they're not then ask, "Hey where are you from?"
You're gonna get some backstory about how they ended up there or if they're from the area.
Why does this matter?
You never know if you guys share a similar story, city, or acquaintance. There's nothing that bonds people more than commonality in my opinion.
Yale cites a study by Avner Ben-Ner and Amit Kramer entitled Do We Prefer People Who Are Similar to Us? Experimental Evidence on Giving and Work Behaviors (pdf link) completed at the University of Minnesota:
"Our findings indicate that people are more willing to give to, share an office with, commute with, and work on a critical project critical to their advancement with individuals who are similar to themselves (Self) along a particular identity dimension than with individuals who are dissimilar (Other). However, the magnitudes of these differences depend on the particular identity category."
I think this means we're constantly searching for some basis of commonality to relate to in other people, however small.
I want to interject here that I'm all for diversity and hanging out with people that don't look, think, sound, or believe the same as me. It challenges my thinking and forces me to grow as a person.
Even still, human nature compels us to find something in common with people that are seemingly different than us so we can find an avenue to understand each other better.
Think about your own behaviors.
Don't you get excited when you find out you're from the same city as someone else? What about the same suburb?
Your voice changes in the very next sentence, typically going higher while you smile saying, "Oh yeah?!"
You know what I'm talking about, actor friend.
What if you had that type of connection with a more established actor, director, or producer on set?
You won't--unless you break the ice.
Asking questions requires you to be curious.
Everyone has a reason for being in this crazy business instead of "getting real jobs" like most people tell us to do.
Hmph. At least until someone becomes a celebrity and makes millions. What do you think they were doing before that payday?! I digress.
Doesn't that make you curious as to why the people you're working with decided to take the crazy route like you?
Maybe it's the same reason you did (commonality and bonding to ensue!) or maybe it's random, which will prompt you to ask more questions.
Now that the ice is broken, your second question is, "So what got you interested in (fill-in-the-blank)?"...acting, directing, producing, just depending on who you're talking to.
Again, you're gonna get backstory and insight into that person's goals, dreams, and aspirations.
I also think that hearing how different everyone's story is will remind you that there's no one way to make it in this business.
You'll not only help build that person's confidence by allowing them to practice self-expression, you'll also benefit from being an active listener.
Listening to their story may spark an idea in you about how to pursue your career in a way you haven't thought of yet.
Check out these tips from The Law of Attraction on how to be an active listener (see Tip 4!):
Being an active listener will have a number of benefits for you as an actor since you need to network to survive.
Read this Inc.com article on five benefits of listening well at work, or in our case, on set:
Let's look to the future.
Follow up with a third question, "Okay then what is your ultimate dream job, or are you already doing it?"
You'll get more insight and understanding about their goals.
That's really gonna help you in your future interactions with them so you can follow up on those answers.
Maybe they're doing a lot of commercials jobs right now, but they want to get into the indie circuit.
The next time you see them you can ask, "Hey, have you been able to work on any indie flicks?"
Being supportive of others' dreams is a great way to stand out from the crowd because so many people are only focused on their own success.
I mean how do you feel when someone remembers something important to you from a random conversation you had?
I, for one, have never seen anyone get upset with me over this--only impressed that I remembered.
So that means you need to remember what it was that you guys talked about.
If you need to take notes to remember, do it.
You should have a spreadsheet for your booked gigs anyway.
In the notes section, put who you chatted with and what you guys chatted about so you can follow up on that information the next time you work with them.
That is gonna make you look like an Actor Boss for sure.
By asking this third question, you're giving someone the freedom and opportunity to share their goals (if they want to), which gives you the chance to encourage them.
This NCBI study concludes that encouragement does actually have an impact on the brain (pdf link).
All of this leads to you being someone who is interested in others, supports their ambitions, and makes their brains feel positive emotions.
WHY ASKING QUESTIONS WORKS
People like to talk about themselves. A lot.
Time Magazine discusses a Harvard Study that led to this conclusion while watching people's brains: "humans get a biochemical buzz from self-disclosure."
Why not be the source of that buzz?
This means you need to be ok with the fact that you may not get asked questions about yourself.
However, if you're genuinely interested in other people's stories and how you can learn from them, you won't have any hard feelings when you walk away from the conversation.
We can't discuss this topic without citing author Dale Carnegie who said, "Talk to someone about themselves and they'll listen for hours."
HubSpot did an amazing job of summarizing Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The original page has an easier to read graphic.
If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it won't just go away. Your personal brand is more important than ever in a world where producers, brands, and fans demand transparency and consistency. Start building your personal brand package today. Get your free Actor Boss Branding download here.