New Habits Over Time

Unmade Bed

I started blogging in 2009 but only started blogging regularly since May of this year.  Yippee!  Before I was consistently inconsistent and I had results that mirrored that.  It took a long time to develop this habit, years actually, but I’ve learned a lot along the way and pass it on to you so you can cut down the time this habit building process takes.  And like Oprah says, the one thing I know for sure is that starting is the easy part.  It’s the continuing that gets a little tricky.

How do you think your career would be impacted if you mailed regularly to your database of contacts informing them on the status of your career?  What gigs could you be in the running for if you consistently informed the folks that have already seen your work and acknowledged they enjoyed what you do, that you are available?  What if you did this as a habit and not just once in a while when the mood strikes?  There’s the time it takes to create a habit and once you’re habitual, the time it takes to reach your desires shortens.  I like the thought of that, don’t you?

I’ve learned from many of my mentors, and from my own experience, that starting small so I can win at whatever I take on is the key, not only for me but for everyone.  Designing something that I will do every day, especially when I′ve never done it before ever, is a set up for upset.  Many folks give up right away if they miss a day, kind of like a going off a diet.  They just simply quit.  But if you′re really committed, each day is a new day that provides an opportunity to begin again.  My commitment is to add to this blog a minimum of 6 to 8 times a month.  Just so its “out there”!

Anything new that we as actors want to include in our daily lives is going to be tough at first.  It takes time, right?  Where will you fit it in?  Did you read my last post?  Hint…the strategy there works!  Writing follow ups to meetings, sending headshots to prospective new agents, researching the casting directors of the shows we want to be in it is soooo easy to NOT do.  Saying we want to do these things, planning them, that’s all good.  However being in ACTion and having it become habitual is where the real juice lies and momentum takes over.

I recommend beginning the process of consciously creating new habits with something easy.  Tasks like making the bed every day at first may seem like a real chore.  Then with time, it′s almost just part of the daily activities and feels weird if it isn′t done.  It becomes missing from the routine.  Flossing, wiping the sink out after washing dishes, putting the lid down on the toilet seat are all good, small tasks you can begin with. Your process of consciously building habits is great to test out your new skill set with these simple household chores. 

My advice to any actors out there who have big dreams is to keep the faith and take small, consistent, habitual, winnable steps toward your goals.  New habits, done consistently over time equals success.

Keep the faith!  Having that faith is an amazing quality and I love being in this community where faced with rejection more than acceptance, we keep that faith in place.

I invite you to keep me on my toes and if I begin to slack off a bit on the posts, email me and say “Lisa, did you forget to post today? Where’s the juicy info, news, great biz tips”?  Let’s keep each other on track with our new habits, K?  

Your “Never Ending” To Do List

Yellow_To_Do_List2

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they are great and noble.”   Helen Keller

I love this quote and I love who it came from.  One of my FAVORITE things to do is cross things off my to do list.  And I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who sometimes can get completely STOPPED because of the feeling of overwhelm.

In my last post I talked about the Time Trap and the desire of most actors to get what they want, like yesterday!  But if you’re anything like me, things are added daily to my never ending list that can often make my goals and dreams seem very far off indeed.  It’s an illusion of course and I’ve since gained a new perspective.

My perspective shifted greatly once I noticed a recurring theme with many of my coaching clients, that though progress is being made, it’s often overwhelming taking on new things and deciding what to do with what seems an expanding “to do” list.  Where to start, what to leave out, what’s a priority…how to fit it all in?

So I’ve got a really cool strategy for you that will make a HUGE difference, especially if you are one of the folks that have not been able to keep up with the “building” over time of performing multiple tasks.  This strategy will bring you focus and clarity on what to do, and more importantly what not to do.

Make a “to do” list.  EVERYTHING you have to do both personal and professional.  Things like: Make an appointment for the dentist; clean the bathroom; call 3 photographers, make appointments, choose one; wash the dog/car/clothes; write 5 postcards, travel to Australia, buy a Birthday card for Tom.  Call Joan about dinner on Tuesday.  Go on Actors Access and submit for some great auditions.  Pay bills.  Sign up for The Golden Circle (ha!, had to slip that one in!)

Everything goes on the list.  This will probably take at least 15 to 30 minutes or longer.  Then when you’ve emptied your brain of all that you have to do, more things will come up if you stay in silence and let them come.  Then write those things down too!

Next, divide this one huge list into 3 smaller lists:  The things you are never doing (at least right now), the things you are not doing (at least right now…this time frame being not within the next 4 to 6 weeks) and the things you are doing now.

The never doing now list contains items that if they never, ever got done, will not affect your life and goals in an adverse way…yet you may someday still want to do them.  For example, travel to Australia or re-paint the bathroom.

The not doing now list contains things that are definitely needed and wanted to accomplish, but again, won’t adversely affect you life or goals if they don’t happen outside of 4-6 weeks from now.

That leaves the “to do” list…things that if not attended to within the next month to 6 weeks, will adversely affect your life and goals.  These items should then be scheduled…actually pick a time and date and put them into your calendar.

So the things you’re doing now get put into your schedule, to be moved around if need be due to auditions, other opportunities, etc. but then get rescheduled, got it?

Once they are in your calendar/schedule you will have a clearer picture of accomplishing the things that are directly related to what you say you want.  For some this will be a huge accomplishment and breakthrough, for others, a review.  Either way, do it please!

“What you resist persists” – Anonymous

By the way, if you don’t use a calendar or schedule of some kind to keep track…GET ONE.  Honestly, you’re life will become much more manageable when you keep track of your appointments (especially the ones you make with yourself!)  Get started today.  It’s not too late, in fact, we have an opportunity to start newly every day

Enjoy marking those things off the list!  Ahhhhh, feels GOOD!

As usual, I’d love your comments or perhaps you have some tips about time you could share with the community.  Write them below now…don’t put this “to do” on your list!

Creating Your Ultimate Career – The Time Trap

Have you CREATED your ultimate career yet?

The biggest reason any actor’s inability in creating the career of their dreams is simple.  I call it the Time Trap.

First of all, let me ask you this:  Why do you want it to happen so FAST?  What’s that expression? “Half the fun is getting there!” – It doesn’t seem to apply to our actor community.  Maybe it’s the society we live in but we all seem to want a microwave career.  Everyone is always in such a hurry!

Creating the career of your dreams – out there in the future, requires that you understand that your dreams are already in existence right now.  Yeah, I hear your inner voice shouting, “But it doesn’t exist the way I want it to yet!” — your inner voice is LOUD!

There  you are stuck in the Time Trap with a part of you canceling the work that you’ve already done to achieve where you already are, which if you look is pretty significant…but that doesn’t count, right?  The Time Trap also seems to cancel out the upcoming ACTions still needed in order to get to the next goal or milepost because you most likely haven’t created them yet or even know what they are…you just want it all to be different than it is right now, which is insufficient.

No wonder so many actors never achieve their ultimate career dreams.  Remember statistics say that 97% of professional actors leave the business withing 3 years of getting into it!

I want to share with you a quote from Esther Hicks of Abraham-Hicks, a spiritual leader/teacher of mine, who teaches this premise around time and getting what you want.  Please read what follows slowly, without distraction, and let it sink in.  It truly can and will change your point of view about the time it takes to have a successful career:

If you are willing to let your improved emotional state be the evidence of your progress, then the progress will continue; you will continue to feel even better, and the tipping point will come where physical evidence can be seen.

But if you look too soon for the evidence, and you do not yet find it, you will lose ground. The need to see the immediate evidence of progress is the most significant hindrance to most people. When you attempt to take score of your progress too soon, you move further from the results you seek.

There is no desire that you hold that is for any other reason than you believe you would feel better in the having of it. Whether it is a material object, a pile of money, a relationship, or a physical state of being, every desire is wanted because you want to feel better.

When you discover the power of feeling better first, by the deliberate focusing of your mind away from problems, struggles, irritants , and any other manner of unwanted things and focus your mind upon the simplicity of even your own breathing, you will have found the key to the power of allowing. And allowing is the answer to all that you seek.”

I shared this life lesson with you because in my own life I have found that if I pay attention to how I feel first as the most primary importance of my focus, the stuff I want comes to me faster.  I’ve figured out how to get out and stay out of the Time Trap…and I hope you do too!

I’ll be posting more about TIME and how it affects the way we move through our career, feelings of overwhelm, how to manage all of the details of the balance of career aspirations and family life in upcoming posts.

I’m grateful to you dear reader and welcome any comments you have on the subject below.

5 Big Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

In my last post I began to discuss mistakes and fear.  Mainly fear of making mistakes!  However it’s inevitable you’re going to make them, so fear not.  However there are some mistakes that you can easily avoid that will make a HUGE difference in speeding up the path to your dreams and goals as an actor.  So whoop, there they are:

MISTAKE 1:  CONFUSING HOPE FOR GOALS

We all have hopes for our career, deep desires for our future life, and what we yearn to see happen. It feels good to dream and imagine. But sometimes we let the good feeling that comes from expressing our hopes get in the way of working to see them realized. Very typical of artists.

This happens two ways:

  1. We don’t know the difference between a hope and a goal. A goal has a certain kind of anatomy that gives hope structure. We’re too often satisfied by the feeling we have and think our hope is strong enough to stand on its own. But it’s not.  I mean I love good feelings and preach a lot about finding that satisfying place, however it’s the specific features of well constructed goals that enable our hopes to come to life.  It’s the ACTion part of the formula for success.
  2. We’re not disciplined enough to either do the work of constructing good goals in the first place or to see them through.  We let the hope suffice for now, resigned to the frustration we’ll feel later. I can’t imagine ever doing that anymore.  My hopes are too important for that.  I’ll bet yours are too.

MISTAKE 2:  NOT CONNECTING TO “THE WHY”

The real issue here is that we are not consistently connected to our “why” which is the biggest cause of a gap between our choices today and our results tomorrow.  One thing research has taught us is that stagnation and very few results happens mainly because we don’t connect to our future selves. If we have a desire for our career but don’t see our future self as the product of the choices we’re making right now then it’s easier to put off the marketing efforts, open call audition, (insert yours here), till tomorrow or skip it entirely.

When we can connect to our “why”, we can see the connection between our future reality and our present decisions. That means it is vital to establish goals where we have a strong emotional connection to the outcome. We have to connect our ACTions today to the payoff tomorrow.

MISTAKE 3:  BELIEVING THE NEGATIVE LABELS

You’ve heard the statistics: Most people who set a New Year’s resolution blow it year after year (me included by the way, which is why I’ve stopped that nonsense!) There are lots of negative consequences to this yearly disappointment but one is setting up the rest of the year based on failure, which then dampens our sense of what’s possible.

The more we fail, the easier it is to label ourselves as someone who can’t win. Just as bad, we sometimes let others do that job for us. But don’t believe it. We all have hardships, setbacks, and challenges. We all have things that didn’t go so well in the past. So here’s the reality…

Negative labels are just an interpretation of the past. You’re free to interpret the past differently at any time you choose. You’re also free to see it as one chapter, not the entire story. As far as I know, the only person who can’t win at the acting game is the one who lets these negative labels determine their present, which in turn, predicts the future. It’s that “rat on a wheel” and “stuck in a rut” space.  Many actors are all too familiar with this.

MISTAKE 4:  LETTING OTHER THINGS TAKE PRIORITY

This has always been a tough one for me because I want to do soooo many things in life and many of my creative coaching clients face the same situation. However if being a sought after, highly paid actor is one of your goals, you’ll need to make this particular goal a priority.

But just because you declare it a priority doesn’t mean it IS one or your only one. The next mistake we make is not recognizing our unspoken priorities. We have many things competing for our attention and time and some of these are extremely important.  If we don’t get clear about these, and a myriad of other daily details and where they fit, it’s almost certain we will sabotage our attempts to achieve our dreams. “Life” gets in the way.

This is doubly true for one of my least favorite priority distractions— procrastination, which is just a competing time claim that has no real or inherent value. It makes sense to organize our efforts around a regular date night, but not Candy Crush, which in late night hours I have been guilty of playing, losing sleep, and thus causing a back log of attaining my goals the following day! But now I get back on track quickly. My priorities, and realizing I’m not perfect but committed, is the key!

MISTAKE 5:  NOT BELIEVING IN YOURSELF

Here’s the one I think is probably the most important. We tend to experience what we expect. If we expect to fail, or even have this lingering doubt, we’ll likely fail. If we expect to win, we’ll likely win. Why? I’m sure you’ve heard the term “self-fulfilling prophecy.” The idea is that our predictions and expectations direct our actions, even if we’re not aware of it.

Someone who thinks they can’t achieve a goal, or that it’s super hard to achieve, is the kind of person who will give up more quickly. And at the same time, someone who believes they can achieve a thing they’ve set their mind to is more likely to see opportunities where others don’t, more likely to work a little harder when it counts, and more likely to persevere when others quit.

There’s no guarantee you’ll accomplish everything you desire, but there are several things you can do to dramatically improve your odds. This includes taking the right steps, but it also includes avoiding the bad ones.

So there you have it. I am convinced you can shortcut a lot of time and trouble by avoiding these top five mistakes!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.  Thanks!

The Miracle of Mistakes. My Gift to You.

In my next series of posts I’ll be delving into the subjects of mistakes and fear.  Let’s face it, being an actor can be scary sometimes. 

Not knowing where your next paycheck will come from; the insecurity that is built into a business where your gig always ends and you have to constantly find the next one; the naysayers and non-believers in your career choice and path; the fear of going up on lines at an audition or worse, on the set or the stage.  Yep, there are a ton of mistakes to be made in your future (if you’re really out there doing this career) and I want to urge you to not fear making them. Mistakes are something we usually want to avoid, right?  Well I’ve got news for you (and a little story) that will offer some “re-framing” around your interpretation of mistakes.

Let’s start with the story of a mistake turning into something good – – –

Dom Perignon made a mistake during their wine preparation one Spring. The wine was entering a second stage of fermentation and was sure to break the bottles. His sous chefs asked him how they might prevent the bottles from exploding from the yeast that had come to life. Should they try putting the wine back in the cask?

Yes, Dom replied. Let us see what happens!

Days passed, and it was time for a tasting. A sample was tapped and passed to Dom. He smelled. He peered into his glass, a little perplexed at what he was seeing. He sipped. Well? he was asked. It is like drinking stars, Dom Perignon replied.

Et voila. Champagne was born.  Why a story about champagne?  On New Years Eve more champagne will be consumed world wide than any other beverage on the planet in celebration of the new year.   How about weddings, birthdays and other special occasions? Can you IMAGINE this holiday with out it? No, I certainly cannot!  And to think it came from a mistake.

Now of course there are some big mistakes that you can totally avoid.  You don’t have to make them yourself, and instead learn from others (OK, me!) so that you don’t have to pay the price!  I paid a lot of mistake tax in my time and I wanted to offer them to you so you don’t make them too. 

Stay tuned for my next post in this series to learn about 5 really big mistakes you can easily avoid that will make it easier and faster to realize your dreams and goals as an actor (and a person too!)

As usual, I welcome all of your comments below.  Do you have a mistake that you know you’re making over and over again, but can’t figure out how to break free?  Or maybe you can share a mistake you’ve made that you have learned from and let others hear what you found out.

Do You Have Stinkin’ Thinkin’?

“It is always your next move.” – Napoleon Hill (author of Think and Grow Rich)

If you’ve never read the book Think and Grow Rich, please do so as soon as possible because even though it’s not a book on acting per se, it is the single most highly recommended book by not only me, but every other successful person that I know.

Since Napoleon passed away several decades ago, the way I found out about it was through a referral.  When networking with like minds, the subject of this book (the original author to mention the secret) always comes up. Get it? No mass advertising, Instagram ads or Snapchat flash sale, just plain old fashioned word of mouth.  And now I pass it on to you…

Your outer “manifested” world (some would call this reality) is a direct reflection of your inner world and I read his book at least once a year as a reminder that everything I want in my life begins with my thinking. You too! You can get it on Amazon and also see and listen to Napoleon Hill on YouTube.

“You are what you think”.  I have no idea who said that but I just did and believe it’s true!

Napoleon Hill, a true inspiration leader, wrote what follows in his highly acclaimed book Think and Grow Rich originally published in the 1930’s.  Millions and millions and millions of readers (and book sales) keep it on the shelves today.  Go NOW to your local bookstore or download it on Kindle and heed these wise words.  Hey, the language may be a bit dated, but you’ll get the drift…Napoleon writes:

“Here are the real enemies that stand between you and noteworthy achievement.  You will find not only the symptoms indicating weakness of persistence, but also the deeply seated subconscious causes.  Study the list carefully and face yourself squarely if you really wish to know who you are and what you are capable of doing.

These are the weaknesses which MUST be MASTERED by all who accumulate success and in turn, wealth and happiness.

  1.  Failure to recognize and to define clearly exactly what you want.
  2.  Procrastination, with or without cause. (Usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses.)
  3.  Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.
  4.  Indecision, the habit of “passing the buck” on all occasions, instead of facing issues squarely. (Also backed by alibis.)
  5.  The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.
  6.  Self-satisfaction. There is but little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.
  7.  Indifference, usually reflected in one’s readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.
  8.  The habit of blaming others for one’s mistakes, an accepting of unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.
  9.  Weakness of desire, due to neglect in the choice of motives that impel action.
  10.  Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. (Based upon fear.)
  11.  Lack of organized plans, placed in writing where they may be analyzed.
  12.  The habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
  13.  Wishing instead of willing.
  14.  The habit of compromising with poverty instead of aiming at riches.  General absence of ambition to be, to do, to own. (Lisa adds “insert self described starving artists here.”)
  15.  Searching for all the short-cuts to riches, trying to get without giving a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling.  (Lisa adds “waiting for the big break.”)
  16.  Fear of criticism, failure to create plans and to put them into action, because of what other people will think, do, or say.  This enemy belongs at the top of the list, because it generally exists in one’s subconscious mind, where its presence is not recognized.”

People refuse to take chances in our business, because they fear the criticism which may follow if they fail.  The fear of criticism in such cases is stronger than the desire for success.  And I’m not talking about taking chances in your craft, I’m talking about marketing yourself, networking, and yes, selling yourself to the movers and shakers out there who you want to work with.  You don’t take enough risks here because you’re afraid to fail.  I say fail your way to success!

Sooooooo, I hope you got the drift here.  If you identified with any of the above weaknesses in your thinking, there’s some internal work for you to do.  And there is no shortage of ways and means to do it.  Start by reading Think and Grow Rich, or download my video workshop based on Napoleon Hill’s teachings – Think and Grow Rich Acting.

As always I welcome your delicious comments in the section below.

The Reason to Love Rejection

Today I will share with you some of my most useful career experience. Believe it or not, it comes from rejection, and lots of it. Who likes rejection? I’ll tell ya who – I do! Well, maybe not ‘like” it, but certainly I can appreciate it.

I knew I wanted to be in show business (singing, acting, walking the red carpet) ever since I was 4 years old. At the beginning it was easy. I got the lead in all of the school plays (Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan, solo for the class song on the radio) and grew up in a house where my dad was a comic. I was fully supported and when I wanted to go to North Carolina School of the Arts for high school, I got in on the first try.

During the summer when I was 16, I auditioned for and got my very first paying acting/singing job in a show called Hooray for Hollywood at a NC based theme park – Carowinds.  So where’s the rejection you ask? Everything that happened directly after that. And I am thankful!

After school and then some college I began going on hundreds of auditions. Yes, HUNDREDS. I auditioned for everything, appropriate or not for my type or level of skill, and because of that, of course, didn’t get MOST of the things I auditioned for. Big theater companies rejected me, little jingle companies rejected me because I couldn’t read music well enough, print agents said I was too “big” (I’ve lost over a hundred pounds since then but that’s another story!) and forget TV. Most of the auditions I did get for TV were basically open calls or generals (which they don’t even do anymore) before they also rejected me.

It was mainly because I had very little experience. The economy was recovering then too – the recession of the 80’s, the gas crisis, hey, everything old is new again, right? And I kept thinking my career would be different if someone would just give me a break. How can I get the experience if someone doesn’t give me a break?

The reason this period of time was so useful is that it helped me develop a really thick skin. I came to realize that casting directors weren’t really rejecting me as a person or on my potential (heck I was and still am an AWESOME singer) – they were rejecting my resume; my product. As it became depersonalized, it became easier. I eventually landed a gig with a big band, then my first musical, and shortly after that a gig as an “in house” jingle singer in Houston, TX. From there I did more musicals, cruise ships as a headliner, print work, soaps, commercials, some indie film and 35 years later I look back and see that I have a very nice history doing what I love and getting paid. But it took TIME and lots of rejection.

One of the great things about auditioning over and over again is that your “payoff” of getting the gig is almost always a function of a series of “best of all attempts”, not the average. Now that my focus has turned to helping other actors gain representation, I  get rejected by many more people several times at a day.  And that’s OK because I always remember that at the end of a long string of “nos” there is bound to be a yes!

Reaching this level of appreciation takes time AND getting rejected a lot!  So if you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, get your butt out there!   Never give up and keep on keepin’ on! 

I’d love some stories of rejection.  Yes, it may be painful or it could be cathartic.  This includes auditions, agent interviews or even at networking events.  Maybe social media comes in to play?  Please share!

Your Industry Contact List

You know the old saying “it’s who you know” in this business that will really get you ahead? Well that’s half true. My take on it is “it’s who knows you!” How many industry professionals are on your list? How many industry professionals have you on their list? Are you asking yourself “what list”?

How do you create a network of influential people that know you, like you and are in your court? Glad you asked. Well you didn’t really ask, but it’s time you understood that without a huge network of people that have you on their radar, the chances of really having the BREAKTHROUGH, kick-butt, acting career of your dreams are very narrow. You odds increase dramatically with the number of people who are in your network, thus your list.

This includes casting directors, agents, managers, producers, directors, your mom (seriously!), friends of your neighbors, acting classmates and the many other people in the world who are ready and waiting for you to get connected and stay connected. You never know
which one of the many will be KEY in your forward movement. This is why I’ve always advocated having some sort of database to keep it all straight, preferably online. There are several to choose from and regardless of which one you do choose, the point is to START that list now!

If you’re reading this right now, you’re online. If you submit yourself through any of the myriad of casting submission platforms, you’re online. If you read or post on social media, you’re online.

Like it or not, we live in an online world and show business is no exception. “First contact” with agents or CDs usually occurs online these days, with the ultimate goal to move the relationship off line and into the real world.

I hope this doesn’t come as a shock, but as an actor you’re also an online marketer! My workshops and seminars, though done live for years, have now basically moved to online programs. This goes for my coaching services too. Why? Because we can reach a larger audience and connect to people we would not normally have access to as in the “old days”.

I took an online workshop a few years back that taught me if you’ve got 10,000 names on your email list, you’ve got a million dollar business. Now I know this isn’t quite the case in show biz, but I’m using the comparison to illustrate a point.

Networking at live events, coupled with consistent networking online via posts and social media, email blasts, personal email check ins and other various forms of online marketing are all required of you these days. “Out of sight, out of mind” is another cliche but true statement and in this constant barrage of information and marketing coming at people day in and day out and moment to moment, if you’re not doing it too, well, you’re out of (your) mind!

I’ll use these blog posts as an example.  In 2015 and 2016 while traveling to begin a new project in the Dominican Republic and then tour the country the following year in an RV, I was in touch here and there.  I sent a few emails and did not write blog posts at all.  My income for those two years was significantly lower than in years previous or since.  Meaning I was “out of sight and out of mind”.  Now I’m dedicated to consistency, creating useful and relevant content, and staying connected.

I’ve coached actors who have email lists, send hard copy post cards, know the names of the players in the industry in their area and are working and making money. Of course they’re talented too…that’s a given. If you’re not working at the rate you’d like or making any or enough income as an actor, this is the essential place to start. Do it right now…get out a paper and pen and go “old school” and start making your list today. Then create a calendar and an action plan to be in constant contact. Hey, now there’s an idea!

As always I welcome your comments and feedback!

Does Your Resume Reveal Your Age?

In my previous blog posts on the subject of your resume I hope I’ve convinced you that this document is NOT a list of everything you’ve ever done in your life as an actor, but a road map or “vetting” doc of determining whether you’ll get an audition, meeting or other appointment.  It’s only job is to get you in the door.

The reader of your resume is a human being (for now – watch out for AI in the future) and has their own set of “glasses” or perspective they are reading with/through.  That being said, without actually having a number, or even range of numbers, printed on that doc, the format and contents of your resume say a lot about your age.

Age discrimination is a fact of life in today’s everyday job market and there are numerous articles in the trades that confirm it in our business of show too.  This goes both ways for the young and just starting out, and the older professional, been in the game for years, actor.

Home Address

For many years, we sent our resume and cover letter through the mail.  Even then we knew not to put our home address on the top, however many did. Fact is, there has never been a need to put your home address on the resume.  It often excludes actors who live a distance away from the “action” and also shows that you’re either very young and green or older and out of touch.  Thank goodness there’s no field for this in online profiles.

There are other reasons not to include your home address:

  • Economic profiling
  • Length of commute (especially in LA)
  • Personal safety

If anyone needs your home mailing address, they can ask for it.

E-Mail Address

One sure sign that you are over 50 is to have a aol.com e-mail address, or even an e-mail address from your cable provider like rr.com on your resume.  Yes, I confessed in a previous post that I still have an @aol.com address, but it pulls into my @gmail account and is only used for log-ins and other personal matters.  For those just out of school, the same thing applies for your @______.edu address.

Either sign up for a gmail address or get your own domain, i.e.  Jane@JaneDoe.com.

Your email address says something about your professional brand.  I see too many “cutesie” email addresses that don’t “ring” professional actor out there or long, complicated, hard to remember/read/spell addresses unrelated to YOUR NAME.  If possible I recommend using a separate e-mail address for your acting related business.

Home Phone Number

Who under a “certain age” still has a home phone? I ditched my home phone about 10 years ago, and I am a bit older than you may think! If you still have a home phone and do not want to give out your cell phone number, get a Google Voice number. Put it on your resume as your cell number. You can set it up so that it will ring on multiple phones (both home and cell). It can be configured to transcribe the message, and then e-mail and text you the transcription. Sometimes the speech to text function of the transcriptions can be really funny. When I was at the agency, I had a separate Google Voice number and one actor left me a message and her name was transcribed as stressed out waters.

Double Space After Period

I am going to go out a limb and declare that putting two spaces after a period is obsolete. It is how most of us were taught to type on a typewriter like I was in the 7th grade!  I’m super grateful for that education and definitely still guilty of the automaticity of two spaces but am working on it. This shows up mainly on the web where formatting in blog posts like this one and other forms and profiles have certain templates making two spaces after the period have it look “off”.  Therefore, most of us who do this are over 50 years of age.

Special Skills

Limit the skills you list on your resume to current and relevant skills. I have seen many actor resumes that list every sport they’ve every played but would no longer get cast doing. This also applies to the younger actor listing what “older” actors would be doing or tasks they’d be performing.  Anything regarding technology systems, like “proficient in MS-DOS” is obsolete.  By the way, putting any skill on your resume that anyone can be filmed as if they are doing it (working at a computer, painting, cooking) is not needed in the first place.  That’s the magic of the movies!

Look at your resume—what does it say about your age? Show it to others and ask them what it says about you.  And please forgive any and all double spacing after the periods!

I welcome, as usual, any and all comments below…

5 Reasons Networking Isn’t Working for You

Networking

You hear and read repeatedly that networking is one of the best ways to grow your acting business not only from me but, well, everyone! It’s true and I have created many such networking opportunities/events over the years for actors to practice this essential skill.

However, sometimes even when you try, the time you spend on it doesn’t lead anywhere. Makes you wonder if everyone is lying (not me, of course!) or you’re doing something terribly wrong (hummm?). Networking IS a great way to grow your show BUSINESS, if you do it right. In my last post I gave out my top 10 tips on proper networking. So check out some reasons why what you’ve been doing may not be working for you, so you can make a change that will likely make a big difference.

You Don’t Talk to Enough People

Networking events are about meeting as many people as possible. I’ve often said to go with a number in mind.  How many people will you meet as your goal? You shouldn’t stay with one person too long because that will take away the time you have to meet other people that could lead to great opportunities. Make a connection, hand a business card to the person or collect their contact info, and then move on to the next person.  Don’t stay in a conversation with your friends instead of meeting the new folks you came to meet.

You’re Talking Too Much About Yourself

This is big one and I’ve seen way to many actors make this mistake. There’s a unique exchange of information that happens at networking events. The key is to LISTEN more than you SPEAK. This is how people find out if they can help each other. When you focus on yourself too much, you won’t be able to help people because you won’t know anything about them. By helping people I mean being the solution to their problem…a role that needs to be cast or an agent looking for new clients.  Sometimes it’s a fellow actor looking for a great acting teacher. The more you help, the more people want to help you.

You Don’t Do Your Research Before an Event

I usually put out a “scheduled to appear” list for my events. Why? So you can do your research!  Many actors who don’t find the Research ladyvalue in networking will say that they never meet anyone who is worth pursuing after an event. This is probably true because they didn’t do adequate research either before or after meeting people. You must find networking events that cater to the audience that you’re part of. If you’re also a writer, go to writing networking events.  Want to produce a film? There are a ton of filmmaker events.  And if you’re an actor, go to them all, but beware of ones that promise HUGE industry professionals as guests, without an entrance fee, free food and booze.  In a world where everything costs something, I smell a rat.  Get referrals and attend trusted events with good reputations.

You Don’t Reach Out After the Event

This is my biggest pet peeve. Just going to a networking event isn’t enough to grow your business as an actor. Showing up is one thing but following up is the key to the Kingdom. You need to make contact with people afterwards. This is your chance to get to know your contacts much better, and figure out how you can work together.  Staying connected is essential.  You might not work together for years, but if you have been building rapport with folks you met via networking, over time it’s amazing how much fruit your biz will bear.

You Don’t Go to Enough of Them

Going to one networking event won’t boost your business to the level you want it to be at. I used to run my parties monthly until I became bi-coastal and now run them only as special events when time permits.  Don’t wait for my party to come back to your neck of the woods (currently NY and LA). Those successful at using networking to grow their acting business will attend a few events a month.  They are much more common now then when I started producing them over a decade ago. The more you go to, the more opportunities are available. Before you say that networking isn’t working for you, make sure you are going to enough of them to make that judgment.

It’s time to make some changes in how you approach networking. Get out there, meet as many people as possible, help them, research the events you go to, reach out to people afterwards, and keep going to events until you start to see results. It can seem like a lot of work, but believe me, it’s worth it!

Let me hear from you in the comments section below about any results, relationships and other magical manifestations you’ve created from growing your network!