The business of acting. Your team and your decision.

By Dr Art Lynch


Our job as actors is to be a full and complete human being in our role.

It is vital you live life, do other things, volunteer if not working, help others, study all walks of life, understand the entire world, not just LA or New York.

So how to you put that into practice as an actor?

Remember as much as others will tell you otherwise, being an actor is a calling, a talent, a profession and hard work. Lots of hard work. Special skills like any profession need to put to use and mastered. Studying people, knowledge of what life is like for people who are very different in their life experience than you. Acting class skills including, but not limited to, cold reading, character breakdown, character development, scene study, movement, the thought process, memorizing as the character, being open to change and direction, leave any entitlement attitude or ego at the door...

Study, work scene and character studies, use the method that works for you to fully know and be the character.

Family and the public will assume you get all this money flowing in, that you are or will be rich.

This is far form the truth. Even stars are nowhere as wealthy as the public thinks they are. Management and services will run you ten percent for your agent up to, for celebrities, 60% of what you earn. Agents, managers, publicists, financial management (CPA, Business Manager), security, legal...Figure 25% of your income will be yours.

Run your career as a business, not a hobby. If you shift to that attitude many of your bad habits, resentments, crying in your soup will disappear. But be sure to love what you do, because once you do not, you are no longer an artist and an actor. Don't go out and buy cars, homes, things you may not need, instead invest in your future. When cash rains on you, remember that that money is a shower and will end and dry up.

Be prepared to distribute the income, deal with taxes, services you need, living expenses, networking, classes, finding the right team and the right mix. Audition and hire your agent, not the other way around. They work for you. Find out from other actors and the union about that agent, the agency they are affiliated with. Find legal advice and financial management, through and even stricter referral and interview process then with your agent.

Agents are often less than half an agent in what they do compared to what they should do. Do they negotiate your rate up, have legal look over your contract, make calls and actively network for you? Or do they hit the same buttons you can and submit to electronic cattle calls? Or do they stay ahead of the curve before it hits mainstream media press, and get you in the door early in the casting process? Know what it cost for you to live? What does your career cost? How will you deal with money when you get it? Avoid bankruptcy, poor credit scores, negatives on social networks.

Casting and industry professionals do look at these and use them in final screening process.

Why risk on an actor who may have a drug problem, who is always worried about money?

Set up a limited corporation that is you and your career. Keep the money separate and build a team that will be your company. New Media, shorter advertising cycles with faster turnover of campaigns are all real. Movies at Indy rates, or minimum even for "working actors", major Internet, cable, on demand and Netflix's are causing product glut and potential income decrease. A strong team, strong representation, a strong union all work in your favor.

Auditions for advertising see 40 to 80 actors a day per role, often in multiple cities and even then may go back to the drawing board or bring in a ringer.

Films see 8 to 80, and sometimes-large cattle calls per role, and that is non-union oat union scale. You are an actor. Your chance is to audition and make it your performance time. You should learn to enjoy and celebrate the audition as more a chance to apply your craft then as a job interview. Study, practice, and make sure you are sure enough in your talents, skills, and abilities to be ready to enjoy rather then sweat your auditions.

Today if you have not been cast and are under consideration or just filling a seat, table reads and being a reader at casting sessions are well worth your time. Many times the network and others who can impact your career are at or will hear your work in the session. Think of it as an audition and networking. Become friend with actors on the set. In one case some actors were paid as extras when they should be a principal (this term refers to a speaking role, without getting too specific about how central the actor's character is to the story.

It has also been used to denote non-contract players who have five or more lines. Supporting: The actor fills a principal role and appears in one or more scenes.) IT was a Superbowl spot, so literally tens of thousands of dollars were at stake. Contact the union immediately if you feel there may be a pay problem. Do other work, unless contractually limited from doing so.

Bartenders, writers, video camera operators, self home based business, stand up comedy, night club singing, anything you can easily get out of for an audition or take off from and not lose the job, when you are working as an actor.

Any flexible income will help you be less stressed when you audition or work.

Do not be stressed in the audition room. Do not quit your day job until you are forced to, and even then find something you can do on the side. Do theater or anything else you can to get out in front of audiences, potential employers, or to keep your creative juices flowing.

Stay on top of your game, in every way you can. And remember to be a real, complete character, that is a version of real life (comedy is real life with energy level changes and good writing).

Be the best you can be, remove the stress, be a professional, be a business, and make it successful! SAG-AFTRA and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation offer classes and videos to help in the business aspect of your career. Both are .org’s.