Misconceptions About The Working Actor

Cast It Talent isn’t for actors who like to sit by the phone or wait in the soda fountain to be discovered.  Cast It Talent is for actors who recognize the value of the tools we provide and uses them to submit themselves, create their own projects, deliver a professional virtual package, and take their career by the short hairs.

Here’s to the actors with gumption, and chutzpah, and elbow grease, and drive, and Mojo, and, and, and…  You BE that working actor!!

Working Actors are generally defined as those who consistently work in commercial, television and film and yet never receive “true stardom”. Often they are the actors that you see over and over on your television and movie screen but can’t quite place their name to their face, or when they’re mentioned, and then you see a photo of them, you have a moment of, “Oh – THAT guy!” You recognize them but you don’t “know” them. Some examples of these actors are David Morse, Oliver Platt, Robin Tunney and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe. All of them have been consistently working for years but they may not be a household name to the average film and television viewer.

Unfortunately, over the years, the term “working actor” has gotten a bad reputation. Often times people these days go into acting for one thing – and that’s fame. The idea of being “famous” or a celebrity is equated to “success” and “being happy” – and it’s often the goal to become said celebrity in anticipation that you will reach your greatest potential in doing so. In reality, most actors are working actors, and there really is nothing wrong with that. Going from job to job and having to continuously audition may seem daunting and unfulfilling, but the truth is that there is a lot of respect from the entertainment industry for these people – and there is actually a tremendous opportunity to pursue acting as more of an art than as the means to an end. In reality, if you approach your budding career being happy to work for whatever project you get called in on (whether it be a small MOW or a blockbuster feature film) you may be more likely to find that celebrity goal. Actors like John C. Reilly and Jeremy Renner are perfect examples of this.

So how do you become one of those respected working actors? How do you work continuously so you can achieve a steady income? It all starts now, when you’re just getting your foot in the door. You have your agent, you’ve perfected your headshots and resume, and you’ve got a few clips for a decent demo reel. The temptation will be there to pass on small “Movie of the Week” projects or turn your head at independent films – but the reality is, unless it sacrifices your personal integrity and values, you should undoubtedly go in the room for most, if not all, projects. You never know who you might meet, what collaborating might bring you to, and how doing a bit part in a feature might lead you to a lead role for the next project of the director’s. Never underestimate a project and it’s potential or the creative team behind said project. There should never be a question on whether or not you should do anything you’re uncomfortable with (you shouldn’t) or not financially able to do, but you should weigh everything equally despite the names behind the project. Once you become that actor that goes out on most projects, that casting directors are familiar with, that is dependable and talented and hard working – the work will come to you. You’ll see opportunities open to you, and you may even get a “big break”.

Being a “working actor” may not necessarily be your “big dream”, but in the end, is it really that bad to be consistently working? To be a respected actor in the community? To have others be fearful of seeing you in the audition waiting room because they know your track record for booking jobs? While you may not end up being chased by paparazzi, you may still get recognized for your work and talent – Oliver Platt’s been nominated for four Emmy awards and a Golden Globe, David Morse – two Emmy Awards. Most of all you have to realize, acting is not a career one should go into unless you’re completely passionate about doing it – regardless of whether you’re starring in a cat food commercial or the star of Michael Bay’s newest action flick. Be proud of yourself if you’re a working actor, and don’t let the stigma get you down – it’s not easy to do just that.


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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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