Featured Artist Series: Ted Ferguson

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.11.43 AMActors often believe that working as an actor is a function of luck.  If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, with the right hair color, the right relationship, the right look, then you can’t help but succeed.  Working as an actor, then is dependent on others: casting, producers, directors, always someone else.  ON the one hand that can be frustrating.  You want to act so badly but no one has hired you.  On the other hand, it can paralyze actors into inaction.  Because everything is out of your hands, the thinking goes, then you are fully justified to wait by the phone, or in a class, or in a job you never liked, or waiting tables, etc. etc.

But what if you could change your “luck” through smarts and creativity, and sheer hard work?  What if working as an actor IS in your hands.  We at Cast It Talent believe that you CAN make a career in acting by using the that hard work and creativity as well as the tools that exist today that never did before.  You can create your own content and then distribute it online.  You can submit to things you never could before from anywhere in the world.

We’d like to share with you the story of an actor who began his career long after most actors have given up waiting for luck.  And Ted Ferguson, through smarts and hard work and creativity has fashioned a major career not only later in life but also from a city that isn’t known as one of the  top production centers.

So, read Ted’s story and then evaluate whether you want to be actor badly enough to do the kinds of things and have the kind of career that Ted has been able to create for himself.


Cast It: So to begin with, I see that you spent a full 40 years in broadcasting before retiring, and then launching your acting career. Was acting always part of your bigger plan, or was it a decision you made sometime along the way? How did it all come about?

TF: Well the first time I retired, I retired in 1999 and I didn’t really have a particular plan, so I wound up doing the lawn a lot, and that kind of stuff… I basically just got bored and didn’t have anything to do. So I decided to go ahead and go back to work, and I became a market manager for Clear Channel Radio in Amarillo. So I did that for about three years, and then I retired again. And then I had a plan: The plan was that I went back to school. I packed up myself, I left my house here, I went to Baton Rouge, and I became a student at LSU and I was a full time student for two semesters. I had been in an acting class 20 years before that, back in Detroit, so I decided to enroll in an improv class. And so I did the improv class, and then Katrina happened and all of the stuff that was shooting in New Orleans moved to Shreveport. So I thought to myself, after I had done the two semesters at LSU: you know, I’m going back home to Shreveport, and I’d be silly not to go ahead and try to get a piece of that! So they were doing all these movies in Shreveport and I bellied up and became an extra in the Kevin Costner movie, “Mr. Brooks”. And then, you know, I got more and more interested in doing a little bit more extra work. And then I started doing student films, and then after student films I got an agent, then started reading for roles, and every once in a while I’d get one- so that’s how that worked. So I didn’t really have that planned when I retired, but it just all kind of fell in place.


Cast It: According to your IMDb page, you’ve accumulated more than 100 film/TV credits in just 10 years. That’s really incredible! You know that a lot of actors don’t manage that many roles over the course of their entire career…

TF: I’m a worker. I love the work!


Cast It: Well, sure- you can’t ever overestimate the value of hard work and tenacity. But still, there are so many actors out there who do work really hard, yet they just can’t ever seem to get ahead. Are there other factors you can share with us, that you believe have contributed to your career success? 

TF: Well naturally, the first thing you’ve got to do is utilize the media through things like Cast It. What you do is you put your best stuff out there. You spend the kind of money that you need to spend to get a great headshot. The one where I’m smiling, with the beard and the blue background? I spent $1000 for that shot. It’s by an LA top-rated headshot photographer. I made an appointment and I went in there and we had five different looks and I spent $1000. The other thing is that you pick and choose the projects that you want to work in, and you just do good auditions. Years ago, before I was doing this, I was a real popular #1 disc jockey in Detroit- so naturally, you’re talking about a particular talent level. But then you study hard, you get good coaches, you work hard, you put great reels and demos out- my demos are all solid and they’re all on Cast It- and after you get the demo going, then you just work real hard to prepare for the audition, so that when you walk in there you knock it down.


Cast It: What sorts of things do you do to prepare for an audition, when one comes up?

TF: Well, the first thing I do is that I put the other guy on the tape recorder. If I’m in a scene where I’m with another person, I put the other guy on the tape recorder, and I read with the other guy. And I do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over until I really, really, really have it memorized. And if it’s a serious, big-time audition that I really need to invest in, then I go to my coach. I have 3 coaches in LA that I use, and I’ve got one coach here. And you go and you work it with a coach, and the coach has always got suggestions and ideas and things and choices that you can make, and so you prepare in that respect; you do as much time as you have before the audition. You know, you’ve got to look at it like it’s a job. Some people may prepare and they’ll fool around with it for an hour or so and then they stop. But I mean, if you were doing your job you’d have to work eight hours a day, now wouldn’t you? It’s the same principle. You don’t necessarily have to work eight hours a day. The way I would go about it is I would probably work two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. And then if it still wasn’t together, then while I was sitting there watching TV I would be working at it while watching TV. Because sometimes, to me, watching television while working these sides is like a distraction, and it makes you more solid in what you’re doing. And there you go.


Cast It: If you had to give some advice to actors reading this- actors who may be at the stage in their career where they’re just now starting out- what would that advice be?

TF: Well the thing that you have to do, is you have to work as much as you possibly can. Now that means going to workshops. That means getting yourself a regular coach or a regular class, or maybe two. And then every time you get an opportunity to read for a student film or one of those kind of deals— you’re not going to get paid, there’s always tons of projects going that are either low-dough or no-dough— you just get in there and do as much work as you possibly can. When I’m in LA, I probably do anywhere from 4-10 auditions per week. And the more auditions you get, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more jobs you’re going to get. I mean, you know- I average anywhere from 7-12 movies a year. And you just get better from doing that work. And it takes a while. I mean, it takes two, three, maybe five years before you really get to the point where you can really pretty much book a lot. And I still miss. You know, my problem is that I graduated into the big leagues and I’m doing the auditions for roles that everybody in Hollywood wants. You know, it’s tough on me. I just did an audition for a CBS pilot, and I just did an audition for a big-time show that’s on AMC, called “TURN: Washington’s Spies”, and these are major shows, and the roles were full-blown recurring roles. And you know, the competition for that stuff is real, real tough. I’m not reading for 200 roles anymore, I’m reading for the big ones, and those are gonna be few and far between. But I have three movies coming up, and on the 13th I’m gonna do a music video in Texas with a Texas country band. So there’s plenty of work out there, and you can find it if it’s there.


Cast It: Speaking of finding work—how did you first start using Cast It, and what role does it play for you in helping find jobs or auditions?

TF: Well, there are certain casting directors that use Cast It exclusively- one of which is Kiira Arai in Albuquerque. Kiira casts “Better Call Saul”, and she was casting a series called “The Preacher”. And when she signed up to work with Cast It, the information came down from my agent: okay guys, we’re now gonna be on Cast It, so you need to go ahead and get your profile and get your information and your headshots and your reels on Cast It, so that all of that information becomes available very easily to Kiira. And then whenever you do the audition, you send it to your agent and the agent uploads it onto Cast It. So that’s the way that operates. And you know, there’s a number of those industry standard websites that have your headshots and all of that stuff, but Cast It is one that allows you to have A LOT of stuff on there. I mean, I’ve got a lot of stuff…probably 9 or 10 different reels; I put mine on there where they’re role-specific. In other words, I’ve got a reel for preachers, I’ve got a reel for rednecks and cowboys, I’ve got a reel for my stunt stuff, I’ve got my regular demo reel, I’ve got my expanded demo reel, I’ve got a commercial reel, I’ve got my comedy reel, plus I’ve got all of my headshots, and I’ve got all of those role-specific as well. I’ve got a cowboy shot and a redneck shot and a guy-with-a-gun shot and all these different ones. You know, it works for me.


Cast It: Well it certainly sounds like it’s working! Have you got any parting words for us?

TF: You know, all I can say is this: Being a good old Southern boy and a good old Christian, I thank God for giving me the talent and giving me the work ethic that it takes to make it in the business. And the second part of the story is to work hard and do your very best. Always represent yourself in a professional and good way. Always be nice to your brothers and your sisters in the business, because it always comes back to you. There are 10 or 12 directors that I’ve worked with over the years, that every time they do a movie they come to me and say, ‘I’ve got a role for you’. And that was because of the way we did it the first time. And that’s important.


Cast It: Exactly. I don’t think nearly enough people respect how much relationships matter in this business.

TF: Well, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about working with people, and people knowing what you can do, and knowing that you can be relied upon, and knowing that you can be trusted to give them what they need to make that movie great. That’s the deal.


Cast It: Absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Ted.

TF: Okay, my dear. I appreciate your time.


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Elizabeth Elizabeth Sekora is an actress and classically trained soprano living in Los Angeles. She has 24 years of experience in theatre, film, opera, television, and voiceover work, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. www.elizabethsekora.com.

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