How to Market Yourself as a Professional Actor

These days, being a professional actor doesn’t necessarily mean fancy credits on your resume and paparazzi following you around town. As Hollywood expands past Los Angeles with the use of the internet and other modern technologies, anyone can be the actor they want to be. It often comes down to attitude, confidence and perseverance. The ability to market yourself as an actor is much easier than it used to be, and a lot cheaper. If you’re not getting the auditions you’d like, and you eventually DO want to see your name in lights, take your career into your own hands–within limits, of course. Here are some tips on how to market yourself as a professional actor without being Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie and having a publicist/agent/manager do it for you:

1. Have strong materials. It’s important to remember that your headshot, resume, and demo reel are an actor’s version of a business card and interview. These things get you into the room; they’re the first thing casting directors see, and they’re the thing they will remember the most (until you audition, of course!). Make sure your headshot is professional and shows your true colors and personality. Don’t dress over the top, provocatively, or necessarily like a character you feel you should portray (e.g., a cowboy, a vampire, etc.). The best headshots are portraits of your personality and show off your confidence in your smile or in a simple glance. Resumes, on the other hand, should be neat, formatted correctly, and hold your details (full name, contact information, agent/manager information). Keep your resume up to date (a commercial you did when you were a kid shouldn’t be on there) and don’t lie! Casting directors know you weren’t a lead in Transformers (when you were really Guy #2). Finally, demo reels are often your first selling point if a casting director doesn’t know you and your agent is trying to get you in the room, so it should be fairly short, and it should showcase your best work. Also, just like the resume, it should be kept fairly up to date. No fancy editing is needed, and there is no reason for a soundtrack overlaying the clips. Professional is the key.

2. Present yourself as you’d like to be remembered. Just last week we went over respect and why it’s key to being a working actor, and it’s important to reiterate that respect and professionalism is part of what makes you memorable. Be on time. Go to your auditions unless it’s an emergency or you absolutely can’t. Treat all casting directors, agents, managers, producers, directors, assistants, and even interns like you’d want to be treated. Remember that being a genuinely nice person endears you whoever you’re meeting; it makes others want to help you out and want to see you succeed. Work hard. Prepare for every audition thoroughly, regardless of its “importance”. Don’t dismiss some projects and/or people as if they’re not as important (you never know who will open doors for you in the future). No one likes a diva, and don’t act like you’re better than anyone else in the waiting room. Confidence does not equal arrogance. Know what you’re capable of, but don’t think your skills and talent makes you better than anyone else who’s trying to climb the ladder.

3. Think outside the box. You may or may not have an agent–either way, you need to work for yourself. Having a team is nice, but just because you may have a manager and agent it doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue things on your own. Use your positive attitude and friendliness to meet as many people as you can. Network, and don’t be afraid of other actors. Use Cast It to find open calls and opportunities to put yourself on tape on your own. Create your own work, and use the internet to distribute it. Even if it’s not particularly a strong suit for you, write–you never know what ideas you can come up with that you could possibly reach out to others to collaborate on. Make theater, viral videos, spoofs of celebrities, music videos, short films, feature films, comedy skits–whatever you can. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

If you learn anything about being an actor, you should learn that being an actor means vulnerability. It means confidence. It means taking a leap and creating characters and alternate personalities and art with your physical body and the written word. You need to have the confidence and professionalism of a professional actor to BE a professional actor. Treat yourself and your craft with respect; if you believe and consider yourself a professional, you are. Be proud of your work and what you’ve accomplished, even if it’s only a co-star here or there. Know that with every character your create and put in front of some sort of audience (whether it be on television, film, or a twenty-seat audience in a black box theater), you are impacting and changing someone’s perspective in one way or another. Being an actor is not really about credits; it’s about control and talent and the want to be an actor. If you work towards your goals fully and believe in yourself, a “professional actor” is what you’ll be.

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tara McGrath started her career in entertainment mainly because she couldn't see a life where she wasn't surrounded and inspired by actors in some way or another. After graduating from SUNY Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film with a degree in Screenwriting, she worked for a year at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Interning under their casting department with casting directors Carrie Gardner and Jim Carnahan, she assisted in casting such productions as Spring Awakening, American Idiot and Fox's hit show, Glee. From there she moved 3,000 miles to Los Angeles and for the last year has been working for a well-known boutique talent agency in West Hollywood. She has also worked as a reader and marketing assistant for the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition and has worked on independent features as both producer's assistant and P.A.

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