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.
(continue reading below break)
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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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I know that you're always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, actor friend, and special skills are a great way to do that.
What special skills do you have listed on your resume? Comment below and share. I'd love to hear! Mine are currently fitness instruction (kickboxing/weightlifting), handguns, and karaoke queen. No, I cannot sing, but I can perform the crap out of a song.
It's ok to have one fun thing, such as karaoke queen, as long as you can actually follow through on it. However, do not list anything that you can't perform in front of a camera such as fashion or travel.
In this post, I'll discuss the one special skill that you should be working on this year. I found it mentioned over-and-over again by casting directors when I researched the most in-demand skills.
I'll also share my favorite free tool to help you learn how to do it.
THE USEFUL SKILL
Don't dismiss the rest of this post if you already have this skill.
The one special skill that you should learn this year is a foreign language. This is the one skill that I saw casting directors consistently list when asked which special skills they love to see. Don't forget to include sign language in this category, which was used in multiple hit films this year.
Do you already know a foreign language? Comment to let me know what languages you speak. Why not learn another one, especially one that's similar?
How do you know which foreign language is best for you? I'm personally learning French right now because I took two years of classes in both high school and college. You'll be surprised at how much you remember! I could easily be cast as European, so most languages from that region suit my look.
Consider these criteria when choosing a foreign language:
You can also use your newfound foreign language skills to make freelance income as a translator or tutor. The average salary is $20 an hour. Translators are often hired by hospitals or government officials to help with cases, and there are a number of online tutoring services that allow you to work from home.
THE FREE TOOL
Learning a foreign language is easier than ever.
I highly recommend the free version of Dulingo. The smartphone app is very user-friendly, and the desktop version has grammar lessons attached to each module. You can pay to eliminate ads, or you can watch the ads to earn gems to make "purchases."
Duolingo has made learning a foreign language feel like a game. In the free version, you can only miss five answers before you lose all of your health. However, you can use your earned gems to purchase more. Trying to keep all of your health is a fun challenge, though.
They also offer cool badges that encourage you to learn. My next goal, for example, is to earn 100XP in one day, which requires me to complete ten lessons in a day versus my typical three. You decide how many lessons you want to do each day, and Duolingo sends you reminders. It's stupid easy.
THE BEST STUDY METHOD
I want to suggest a few effective study methods to help you quickly learn your language. These include using Duolingo, a method called Deep Work, and speaking with a native.
The trick to using Duolingo is to finish multiple lessons each day from various categories. For example, I currently take one lesson per day in Food, Animals, and Weather as opposed to three lessons in just Food. That forces my brain to actually learn the words as opposed to just memorizing. I'm always surprised at how much I've retained.
I highly recommend that you read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's the best way to quickly add any special skill to your resume in my opinion. Essentially, you'll need to block out a chunk of time, say four hours, and lock yourself in a room with zero distractions. That means no technology, which means no Duolingo, so you'll need to go old school and buy an actual foreign language workbook. The only other option is to use Duolingo in conjunction with an app that shuts down the other functions on your phone or desktop.
The best and only way to know if you're accurately speaking a language is to talk with a native speaker. Hire a tutor, search for a free meetup, or use the bots option on Duolingo. Better yet, try all three! You do not want to show up to an audition and be embarrassed if there's a native speaker in the room to test your skills.
What if your big break happens because of this newfound skill? Comment and let me know which foreign language you want to learn.
Download the free Duolingo app today and browse through the language options. Pick a language and try the very first lesson. You'll be hooked! You can also find friends to follow or compete with.
If you want another way to stand out from the crowd, then you need to start writing personalized thank you cards. Don't send the first one without learning these tips.
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Aren't you curious about what casting directors think of you?
We audition way more than we actually book jobs, which means a large percentage of our auditions are met with rejection.
Those rejections can leaving you wondering a million questions, all of which you want answers to, but how can you get them?
In this post, I'll tell you exactly how I've gotten great feedback multiple times without looking or feeling desperate.
TO ASK OR NOT TO ASK
Most actors think they should ask for feedback. I disagree.
I do NOT recommend directly asking casting for feedback about your auditions.
Because casting directors are freaking busy! They do not have time to answer every request for feedback they receive.
If they want to give you feedback, they'll most likely do it in the audition room. I have never once asked for it, and I think that's a big reason why I've actually gotten it.
If they really loved an audition, or select only a very small pool of talent for a project, then they may email you feedback after the project is cast.
I had a CD email me via my agent, which means my agent saw their positive review as well. Score!
Additionally, I do not recommend that you email your agent asking them to get feedback for you. CD's will most likely email feedback about you to your agent, and then your agent will forward it to you. I know this from personal experience.
Just keep doing your thang! Let the feedback come naturally.
DO YOUR JOB
Remember what I just told you about casting giving you feedback in the room? This happened to me recently.
A casting director told me how thankful they were for me because I made them look good to their clients. Why? Because I show up prepared.
I know my lines. I try to dress appropriately for the audition without going overboard. I know my lines. I do my best to take casting's notes. I know my lines. I've learned to prepare at least four different takes. Did I mention that I know my freaking lines?
Casting offices need dependable talent to show to their clients. Note that I didn't say talented. I said dependable. Talented is a bonus.
We must remember that the casting office was hired by the client. They work for the client. Casting is not there to cater to us, but rather we are there to help casting meet a client's needs.
I cannot express to you how important it is to be likable.
Here are a few pure gold likability tips:
I've seen actors show their butts, make excuses, and not know their lines in a casting office. I've also felt the tension in the room when they left. I can just about guarantee you that they're hardly ever invited back, short of a misunderstanding and very well written apology.
Being likable gets you invited back multiple times, which allows casting to get familiar with you opening up the door for them to give you feedback.
Be likable. Get feedback.
Based on what you've read here today, what do you need to change? Comment to let me know.
Screenshot that likability list so you have it on hand at your next audition.
Be sure to sign up for these weekly trainings to have them sent straight to your inbox each week. Click here.
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Let's say you finally get in the room for a live audition in today's self-taping world.
You're killing it. You've memorized your lines, broken down your script like a boss, and took direction like a champ.
Then casting asks, "Do you have a monologue prepared? We'd like to see you do something different to get a feel for your range."
"Uh....no. I've never really needed one since I'm not a stage actor. I thought I was just doing this material. I didn't see a note about having a monologue ready in the breakdown. Here's another excuse, and another, and another."
"Oh. Ok well thank you!"
You just lost yourself a job, actor friend.
We film actors still need to have monologues prepared for auditions.
Since we don't perform monologues as often as stage actors, it's not as crucial for us to to have multiple or rotate them as often.
However, we don't want to be caught off guard if someone randomly asks us to perform a monologue at a callback.
In this post, we'll discuss five practical monologue rules for film actors so you're always prepared for an on-camera audition with the best possible material.
We want to give casting every reason to say yes to us, so you'll give yourself an edge by implementing these five rules.
1. YOU ONLY NEED TWO
Again, we're not stage actors, so don't get too overwhelmed with finding a million monologues from various time periods.
Just pick one comedic and one dramatic piece that will show your range if you do them back-to-back. Do not freak out about contemporary or classical.
Find material that you like and go for it.
Theatre kids typically need four or five monologues with a mix of genres and time periods: comedic contemporary, dramatic contemporary, comedic classical, dramatic classical, and one wild card.
Film actors aren't asked to perform monologues as often as stage actors because most of our auditions start with self-tapes, which means way more submissions for the casting office.
They only have time to see how well we deal with the client's material in that initial phase, and a bulk of our auditions will only consist of those initial rounds.
However, if you are asked to perform a monologue in an audition, then either replace it or prepare a different one of that same genre in case you audition for that same casting director again.
If you're a film actor that's constantly getting asked to do monologues for some reason, then go memorization crazy. But if you're like the rest of us that rarely get asked, then having two different monologues ready will make you look way more prepared than most.
2. EDIT THE OBVIOUS
It's hard to find film monologues because they're either too iconic or the scripts are dialogue heavy.
We should choose monologues that make a casting director ask, "What's that from?" even if it sounds familiar to them.
Sometimes names and unique details will give it away, but my acting coach gave me a tip I didn't know was allowed.
You can edit out and change the names or unique details in a monologue that make it a dead giveaway.
How freeing is that? It's not a huge copyright issue if we're using the material behind closed doors and not getting paid directly for performing it.
One caveat to that tip is to please still avoid very iconic, overdone monologues that casting directors will immediately know even if you edit the proper nouns.
Those iconic pieces still likely have famous tag lines that can't be edited. For example, there are no proper nouns to edit in the line, "You can't handle the truth!"
3. TALK TO SOMEONE
You know how sometimes you get a monologue and suddenly think it's ok to talk to the ceiling or look like you're talking to a crowd?
Yea, that's not gonna work.
We still need to treat monologues as if they're dialogue, which means we need to deliver the lines to a person--an actual person.
Here are three things to consider:
Do not run your lines in the mirror. Ever. How you feel is what matters, not how you look.
Just make sure you say your lines to an actual person at some point during your rehearsals.
4. GET COACHING
A good acting coach will ask another actor to stand in front of you so you're not delivering your lines to the wall.
I don't care how well you prepare, your material will not be at its strongest unless you have a third party professional give you notes. Perform your monologues in acting class before you perform them in an audition.
I didn't do this and I wanted to kick myself when I saw the before and after.
Arvold, a very reputable casting office in Virginia, actually requested self-taped monologues twice this year to get a pulse on new talent in the Southeast. How cool?!
I submitted my self-edited monologue in the first round, even though I knew I should wait for feedback from my acting coach. It wasn't horrible, but it hadn't been critiqued either.
I didn't have time to take it to class before the submission deadline, so I took it after that initial round.
After getting notes in class, I had a completely different performance. Guess what? Arvold released the second round of submissions, but I couldn't submit again!
If I had followed my gut and waited, I would've had a stronger submission.
Don't procrastinate because you never know if an opportunity will present itself next week!
If I had prepared my monologue sooner, I would've had a stronger piece when I needed it.
5. REHEARSE MONTHLY
I've been a slacker on this rule because I didn't schedule a reminder in my phone.
We need to schedule monologue rehearsals at least once a month so we don't forget our lines. Please don't assume you'll remember them.
Twice a month is probably better.
Commit to running your lines by the end of that day no matter what.
When you see the reminder, open the monologue on your laptop or a picture of it in your phone so you remember to do it.
How great would it be if you were ready to go the next time you saw a self-taping audition request that asks for a monologue?
What if another casting director releases a self-taped open call?
Start searching for your two monologues today, and don't close your browsers until you find them.
While you're browsing, be sure to learn these best practices for writing thank you cards that will get you noticed since sending headshots and resumes is quickly becoming outdated.
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Self-taping is something you just can't ignore anymore if you're an actor.
If you haven't yet setup your self-taping studio space, that's your next financial savings goal.
It's ultimately cheaper than paying to be taped.
If you're strapped for cash, then put this equipment on your gift wishlist. I got my lights, iPhone, and tripod for Christmas one year. Totally worth it.
But the hard truth is that if our self-tapes suck, they'll just get deleted or passed over by casting, and we'll never hear feedback on why.
Actor friends, untie!
GET FEEDBACK FROM OTHER ACTORS
Shout out to my acting buddy Jamie who asked me to look at footage from his new self-taping studio setup, which inspired this challenge.
Getting self-taping feedback from fellow actors is a great way to adjust issues with your audio and lighting that you most likely won't get from a casting office cuz they ain't got time!
HOW THE CHALLENGE WORKS
I know getting feedback can be scary, but it will make your self-tapes better!
Here's the dealio:
Commit to uploading your slate by the end of the week.
Remember, we are NOT allowed to post audition footage due to copyright violations!
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If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it won't just go away. Your personal brand is the foundation of your acting business. Start building your personal brand package today. Read my post Personal Branding Brainstorm for Actors to learn more.