5 Things Every Actor Should Invest In

iStock_000017238986_SmallBelieve me, I get it. As an actor, funds tend to be not so much tight as barely existent. The unfortunate thing is, acting is an expensive business, and unless you have some sort of Victorian benefactor, it’s up to each of us to fund our own ventures. With an endless influx of advice on things and services you have to buy to be a successful actor, it can start to feel like a millionaire’s clubhouse.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips on how to prioritize your spending and invest in your acting career.

    1. Headshots. Sigh. Yes, these are as important as everyone says. Especially for film and TV. I would recommend biting the bullet and investing on this one. Which does not by any means mean that you should shoot for the highest price point. Do your research, send examples of their work to your agent for approval, and find a headshot photographer that will truly showcase you. And then get them professionally printed.
    2. Classes. Again, research what’s right for you (and when), but keeping your skills sharp is definitely a worthwhile investment. Don’t pour money into classes that aren’t doing anything for you. Make sure they are helping to improve essential skills, like auditioning and on-camera technique. If you need to be thrifty, choose times in your life where you need the extra instruction: during a slump, right before pilot season, when there’s a specific weak spot in your technique, etc.
    3. Self Taping Equipment (MAYBE). If you truly have the space to set up a high quality in home taping studio, proper equipment can be a huge saver of time and money. Investing in good lights, a decent camera (and tripod), mic, etc. is worthwhile. Again, you don’t have to go top of the line. As long as your self-tape looks professional, brand names aren’t going to matter. Have your agent or a professional you trust tell you whose self-tapes look the best, then ask what equipment they use. Research to find what will produce similar results.
    4. Editing. If you’re editing your tapes yourself (and it is not for everyone), having a reliable device such as a laptop where you can edit properly is a great asset. Nobody wants to wait thirty minutes for their ancient device to wheeze it’s way through uploading crucial auditions (which, let’s face it, are probably skating in just under deadline). If you don’t have the means to invest in your own self-taping and editing equipment right now, keep a self-tape fund going so you can book sessions at quality studios.
    5. Transportation. As actors, our office can basically span large cities, regions, the nation, event the globe. Investing in transportation is smart. If you live in a walkable city, that could mean keeping a well-padded public transit fund. In cities that lack good public transit, investing in a working car is a huge advantage. You don’t want transportation to become the most stressful part of auditioning.
    6. BONUS: Mental Health. I ignored this one for a long time. It always seemed to get shuffled to the bottom of the priority pile. But the more experienced I get, the more I realize how crucial this is to producing good, bookable work. See a therapist, join a gym, take your meds, and take days off. Whatever it takes. You are the product so you must invest in yourself.

 

 

 

 

Throughout your career, you’ll have to make many decisions regarding how to best invest in your career. Think of this as a starter kit. It may take time to assemble to your liking, but it will help you keep the basics strong. If you can only knock one or two off this list, you’re not out of the game. Actors are masters of survival adaptation. You’ll find a way. But the more specific you get about prioritizing and aiming for top level quality, the better your tactics will become, and the stronger your output will be.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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