25 Questions. Your Answers May Be A Surprise.

qaWould you like to know a little more about who you are and what you truly believe? Well here’s a simple test that only
takes about 2 minutes. Just answer yes or no to each of the 25 “Do You Believe” questions. Your answers may surprise you!
1.      Do you believe that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference?
2.      Do you believe that we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take?
3.      Do you believe that our aspirations are our possibilities?
4.      Do you believe that projects don’t succeed…people do?
5.      Do you believe that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give?
6.    Do you believe that those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves?
7.      Do you believe that many times… less can be more?
8.      Do you believe that in the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity?
9.     Do you believe that you’re always one choice away from changing your life?
10.   Do you believe that when you’ve done your best you can wait for the results in peace?
11.    Do you believe that sometimes in the winds of change we can find our true direction?
12.     Do you believe that laughter is sunshine in any life?
13.     Do you believe that the most important things in life aren’t things?
14.    Do you believe that a leader’s job is to look into the future and see things not as they are, but… as they can be?
15.   Do you believe if you throw your heart over the fence, the rest will follow?
16.   Do you believe that customer service is not a department… it’s an attitude?
17.     Do you believe that the price of leadership is responsibility?
18.     Do you believe if you change your thoughts you can change the world?
19.     Do you believe you can burn brightly without burning out?
20.    Do you believe that the greatest principal in the world is… the things that get rewarded and appreciated get done?
21.    Do you believe that after the verb to love… to help is the most beautiful verb in the world?
22.    Do you believe that whether you think you can, or you can’t… you’re right?
23.     Do you believe that gratitude can change your life?
24.    Do you believe that its not the things you get but the hearts you touch that will determine your success in life?
25.    Do you believe that if you teach your child the Golden Rule, you will have left an estate of incalculable value?

Your answers to these questions will help you determine what you truly believe. For me the answer to each of these questions is… YES. I believe it! My mission is to inspire people who share these beliefs, particularly creative artists.

As the founder of Act Outside the Box, I’ve created over twenty-five seminars/products/courses illustrating these beliefs. The content is about what you need to know about your acting career – the logistics.  The context is what you believe and how to persevere in a very lop-sided business arena.  If you’d like to find out more about what I offer, check it out here.

This Q&A test was derived from my friends at SimpleTruths.com – repurposed for our community.  Please feel free to share YOUR beliefs in the comment box below!

Are You Interested or Are You Committed?

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when time and circumstance permits. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; you take inspired action, and create miraculous results!”  ― Art Turock

This is one of my favorite quotes because there are too many “interested” actors in our business.  The kind of actor I can make the biggest impact with is possibly reading this message right now. “Committed” actors find a way over, through, or around any obstacle.  (Time and money being the two most prominent in our field, with overwhelm a close third.)

So which one are you?  Read this post all the way to the end and take ACTion, or you will, by default, be in the “interested” category…see ya.

It’s my up close, personal experience of working with so many actors over close to two decades now, that I’ve unfortunately seen way too many folks simply not show up, chase the next “shiny object” and stay stuck in a holding pattern doing the same things over and over again. I think this is a product of interest and not commitment.

So I ask you to take a really deep look.  Are you COMMITTED to an extraordinary career?  

Here’s a little to do that if you actually do it, will help you get what you want for your creative life much faster!  Go back and read, all the way through to the end, my last 3 blog posts regarding your resume.  Then make all of the suggested changes to your online casting profiles and hard copy versions.  

Give your new marketing piece a chance out there in the world, track your new and improved results, and get back to me in the comments. Here are the titles with direct links…I really can’t make it any easier for you than this…  

So COMMITTED actor, get into ACTion!

  1. Your Roadmap to Your Success
  2. Rescue Your Resume
  3. What’s In A Name?

Even before you take on this task, give me a taste of what’s to come.  How do you feel about actually doing this and reporting back?  Inspired? Resistant? Feeling empowered or thinking too much about it all? Comments please and thanks!

What’s In A Name? Should It Be On Your Resume?

Let’s dive a little deeper into the psychology of your resume and the effect of names, or in fact the words in general, that you put on it.

Of course your name should be on it…big and bold and at the top of a hard copy or PDF version along with your contact info.  Your online profiles place your name prominently by default. But what about names of directors, teachers, or even stars that you’ve worked with?  Should they go on there too?

In a word YES, but ONLY if they are just as, if not more, recognizable as yours and give influential meaning to the reader of your resume.  I’ve seen in the last few years the trend of adding a 4th column or replacing a production or theater company with a director’s name.  Why?  Because someone told you to or because everyone is doing it?

That’s called the blind leading the blind.  Mass mentality.  Not knowing how to market yourself correctly.

Why would you put student director, Joe Blow, on your resume?  Wouldn’t Columbia Film School or USC Grad Film seem a better visual and psychological connection for an agent or casting director to view and evaluate you on rather than an unknown person that has no meaning to them?  Industry professionals appreciate work done at the University level and of course these schools have a credibility and history so it explains more about YOU to see the recognizable school names…so take Joe Blow off.

What about Steven Spielberg?  Do not put his name there unless you had a speaking role in a recent feature and were actually directed by him.  The industry can certainly tell based on your union status and other credits if you were a background actor and putting Steven’s name on your resume now doesn’t enhance your status it hurts it.

In fact, agents and casting directors connect more to production companies and theater companies/producers because of their (most likely) multiple and prominent projects over years.  The more well known the name of the person, company, network or school is, the better for you!

The same thing applies for stars.  If you worked with them in a speaking role but the play, webisode, indie film, or other work title isn’t well known, putting the star’s name raises the visibility of the project, and you by association.

How about those teachers?  Absolutely…and it’s even better if those teachers are known and respected by the industry.  Take this into consideration the next time you’re looking for a great class and skill set to add.  Your talent agent (or perspective rep) would certainly like to see an audition technique class taught by a working casting director as that then becomes a connection for them to leverage in a submission for you on their next project.

And if you want to get to the nitty gritty of the psychology of words in general, consider the example of an @aol.com email address these days. You know immediately that anyone using one is over 40! (Yes, I still have one!)  It’s all about the immediate and automatic psychological connection we make between the words we view and our thoughts about them.

The names of the characters or kinds of roles you played can have a great impact.  For example, if your brand and product is an innocent/ingenue and you played a character named Gladys, that’s a disconnect, as we stereotypically think of Gladys being an older person’s name.

If you’re a leader type and you’re carving this perception with the credits on your resume, seeing the words (roles) Lawyer, Politician, Judge will have the reader of your resume understand this.  This does help in the beginning of your career when you have background credits or non-speaking roles in projects.

This is not to say you will be making things up that aren’t true on your resume, it’s saying that you can position your credits, take things off that don’t belong, and have complete creative control over the perception and product you’re selling.

There’s a ton of marketing psychology in play when industry professionals are reading your resume and looking for that “gut check” (at a glance most of the time) so the more you know about proper placement of words and name value, the better odds you’ll have of getting in the door to show your stuff.  After all, your resume is the tool that, along with the picture(s) that they see first, will get you that audition or not.

Have any comments or stories to tell?  I’d love to hear from some of you that I’ve worked with and hear about the adjustments we made on your resume and how they’ve impacted your audition rate.

Rescue Your Resume – Before It’s Too Late

Rescued from what you ask? A HUGE and most common mistake! Thinking that your acting resume is nothing more than a compilation of all of your previous work is folly. Why? Because that’s not how casting directors, agents, or anyone else in the industry view it.

Yeah, I thought I might get a “huuuhhhhh?” on that one.  Your resume is a living, breathing document that, at a glance, needs to tell agents, managers, casting directors and ultimately the creative team that will be hiring you, exactly what you’re capable of…now or in the immediate future!

Getting the right info on exactly how to position yourself for the roles you want can be tricky, but there is a strategy and system that works.  The first step is to change your thinking. You need to look at your resume from the reader’s point of view and realize it is simply the marketing tool that gets you in more doors, garners more auditions, and identifies what you uniquely have to offer.

Every resume will be different of course so you’re going to have already done the work of determining what you are “selling”.  Your resume (along with your headshots and media clips) are simply the “brochure” that gives the industry professional you want to attract, the “first look” to determine whether they want to “taste” (audition) the real thing in person.

Your talent agent knows that this is the same tool, the one you’ve created, that they will be using as well.  The casting directors they submit to are looking for first and foremost a few things to connect to and you’ll need to make these easy for them to find.

Psychologically the resume is a “mind map” – images for the reader that identify the roles you’re right for but haven’t played yet.  Remember, they are looking to see if you’re a match to the future role and looking for evidence that you’ve done something similar or have the training and “industry proof” via other people that have hired you in the past.  Everyone out there is reducing risk, valuing time, and need exactly what they need when they need it.

Your resume has to give them this info fast, clearly, and also create a big gut reaction that says “YES”.  Because if it isn’t a “hell yes”, it’s a “hell no”!

Here are a few tips for you to apply to your resume today that will help you immensely:

  • Do keep a separate electronic version 40K or less in a Word or PDF doc ONLY
  • Do put your NAME in file title extension
  • Do keep it easy to read, 3 columns, not 4 – forget those directors no one has ever heard of
  • Do put degrees earned even if not in theater studies
  • Do make sure it’s only 1 page, fits 8X10 should they choose to print it out

 

  • Don’t reference any years or dates EVER
  • Don’t put credits no longer valid (like Matlock or Annie when you were 10)
  • Don’t put non-special skills (you must do this better than 90% of others)
  • Don’t put your address on your resume
  • Don’t use funky or fancy fonts to stand out

Though we typically submit for representation and work through online casting sites, for now you’ll still need the old fashioned printable version that you can also email separately.  Make sure these have the same credits and are consistent.  Though some platforms limit you to the actual structure, try to keep the experience, people, and training the same.  You may want to move credits of your focus to the top to make them easier to find quickly.  The example here would be to put commercial credits at the top of the resume on LA Casting, though you may only put “list upon request” on the pdf version.

I’m sure I’m ruffling a few feathers here and may even illicit some contrary comments, but would love to hear your thoughts.  I can tell you that actors who have employed some of these simple changes have seen fabulous results!

Your Roadmap to Success – Your Resume

It seems like it should be much easier to convey your artistry and skills as an actor than through the process of submitting a picture and resume online among hundreds, if not thousands, to even GET THE CHANCE to show what you’ve got in person to get work.  A lot has changed with technology and the primary use of the internet as a vetting process before you can show off that great talent of yours.

It used to be that your credits were confined to one single 8×10 piece of paper attached to your headshot (electronically or hard copy no matter), but even with online casting profiles being prevalent, no matter the format or delivery system, exactly what and how much to put on your resume is a topic of consternation, frustration and/or mystery.

So how do you inform the reader of your resume “at a glance” (’cause that’s what it’s gonna get at best in the rush of this biz) that you are the RIGHT ACTOR for the job?  Or, if wanting representation, what is your future talent agent or manager looking for (again quickly) that speaks clearly, concisely, and most importantly stands out and shows you off as as potential income producing possibility?

Most actors have been taught to list everything they’ve ever done on their resume…especially when just starting out. Then, when there are many credits to choose from, you can start eliminating some of them…but which ones?

I have news for you.  “They” are wrong.  When  looking for a guide, consider your resume to be road map.  Do you take out a map to see where you’ve been? (OK, there’s a few in every crowd!)  Or do you take out a map to see where you’re going?

The first thing to consider is that your resume is the road map to your success.  What kind of success?  YOU get to say, and that’s the beauty of  it.  Instead of putting every darned thing on it that you think someone might possibly be interested in, who needs an actor for any given project of any and every kind, what are the projects that you want to be in?

How about being the designer of your future success, and creating the resume that reflects that instead of confusing the reader of your resume.  They are always  looking for a specific kind of actor for a specific role or addition to their talent stable.  Honestly, you can’t be all things to all people as you’ll end up being nothing to no one.

The first step is to cut out all of the things you’ve ever done that don’t reflect what you can currently do (get cast in).  Take off all of those roles that no longer support your “brand” or archetype you’re most likely going to be paid to play.  You do like that word paid don’t you?

In show BUSINESS, your talent (the product) is purchased to fulfill a need (acting role) and this is not a one size fits all business.  What “size” are you?  You can’t be all of them (though your acting teacher told you you could – and that’s your problem!)

Figure that out first – what you have defined as the type/product you’re going to market and then your resume (brochure) reflects that!  Actors that do take the time and lay that groundwork initially make far greater strides faster than those who continue to insist on the ability to “be and do” anything.

What’s you’re take on the subject?  Still have point 8 type on your resume so you can fit it all on a page?  Still listing unknown directors?  Still have the starring role of Annie on your resume but you’re 28?  Stay tuned for more info in coming posts about everything that should and should not be on your RESUME!  Love your comments below as per usual!

Usage of Your Likeness and “In Perpetuity”

I’m all for actors working.  Of course I am and of course you want to work.  But what KIND of work?

When I worked as a rep at 90210 Talent, I got a big taste of the different “levels” of talent and also the different “levels” of jobs available to actors directly and via agency representation.  It truly amazed me how many gigs were put out to agents in the first place with horrible rates and usage terms.  In fact I had a threshold of “suck” that I wouldn’t even bother with if the rate or other terms around the job didn’t pay well for the actor (and thus for the agent).  It truly wasn’t worth the time to push the submission button.

But even before I worked with the agency and still now, I get pleas for help to refer actors from people casting things directly.  Because of my large roster of clients like you who I could refer to them to and having cast several projects myself in the past, they trust me to send them the cream of the crop.  I just turned down the opportunity today…here’s the email exchange (names are omitted to protect the not so innocent):

Hi Lisa,

We have a commercial print job we are shooting on Saturday. We are in need a female model for a client for our shoot.  Its for a bedding company.  It would be for most of the day.

The client has budgeted $200 for the model which we know is really nothing. But I wanted to see if you might have a few clients that might want to build their book with this project. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing back.

Hi So and So,

Hummm.  Let me see if this is something I could post on social media or target in an email but I need some more info first.  I would send them directly to you to vet or just give you a handful of my “top of mind” list.

I need a breakdown…age, hair color, height or weight a consideration?  This is print right, so what’s the usage?  How long and in what media?  If in “perpetuity” I’m a big believer in NEVER EVER EVER…for actors at least.  It’s great for the company of course…So again, if still looking let me know and I’ll toss it to a few folks on my short list or maybe actors in my membership who would be most likely interested after getting the answers.

Best, Lisa

Hey Lisa,

Nice to hear back.  Its print.  Its a super small company so it would be in perpetuity.  It would be useful for portfolio usage and then the day rate.  It would be 6 hours of their time or so.  Let me know.

Age: 25-32

Hair: brunette

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Height: 5ft 6 – 5ft 9

Weight: 110-135

Hey So-and-So,

So I’m not able to help with this. Even before I was in agent land I was a big NO to recommending actors doing stock photography or anything in perpetuity. I know there are a ton of folks who would love a $200 payday but I just can’t be a stand for anything without a closed end usage. Suggest you put it out on your Facebook page. You’ll get a ton of responses. xo, L

Thanks Lisa,

Got it!  I still love ya though!

Sooooo here’s the TAKE AWAY lesson for you.  DON’T be one of the folks who are part of the ton of responses to this kind of work in a breakdown, social media or through a referral.  Why?

The reason I declined is because if you say yes to a “trade for photos” or even being paid for a job that has no usage end, that company or photographer owns the RIGHT to your likeness…forever!  They can use those shots years from now and when your career and image have taken off and you are a more visible presence, these shots you did eons ago will be dug out of the drawer because you’re famous now.  Or with stock photography, they can simply take that lovely headshot picture of you, your likeness and image,  and sell it themselves to any company they want.  Any and all of them, over and over, and you get bupkis!

It’s a never ending, with no legal recourse, BAD IDEA.  I’m pretty protective of you all and I’m very protective of my own time and stand on certain subjects. So I hope you understand why I said “no”.

And I’d like you to say it MORE OFTEN than you do.  There is power in saying no sometimes!  Own it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below on TFP (trade for pics) or stock photography.  Also, if you’ve turned down a gig recently for any reason, please share your powerful no.  We’d all love to know!

My Ultimate Reading List

Many people have asked me who inspires me and who and where I learned what I know so that I can then assimilate and pass on amazing things to you.  I’m always pleased when I get emails or see comments letting me know that what I write, say, or teach has made a difference in someone’s life and/or career.

However grateful I am for these wonderful messages (extremely), I certainly can’t take the credit without acknowledging the sources and, of course, can’t “teach” what I haven’t learned from someone else.  Most great stuff is totally recycled in an expanded form anyway.

OK, I know I have my own special spin on things…just like you do.  But what has significantly shaped me and my world comes from the many books I’ve read, seminars I’ve taken, and mentors I’ve worked with.

Today I offer you my list of favorite books that contain the inspiration, knowledge, and great practical information as well as the mindset, outside the box thinking, and motivation that keep me going.

My desire is that this list of books will help find your own path to the expansion of your knowledge, power, and ultimately translate what you read into ACTion.  Here are the best of the best:

  1. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
  2. Ask and It is Given, Abraham-Hicks
  3. One Less Bitter Actor, Markus Fanagan
  4. Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi
  5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki
  6. The Cashflow Quadrant, Robert Kiyosaki
  7. The Game of Life and How to Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn
  8. How to Act and Eat at the Same Time, Tom Logan
  9. The Thriving Artists, Joe Abraham and Christine Negherbon
  10. The Present Actor, Marci Phillips
  11. Acting as Business, Brian O’Neil
  12. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker
  13. The 4-Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss
  14. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
  15. Power vs. Force, David R. Hawkins

Some may seem obvious (like they have the word ACT in the title!) but some don’t even mention acting. Those books are the ones you may miss, unless you have someone like me telling you “Hey, you GOTTA read this”. Trust me, these books will ROCK your business and your LIFE!

Do you have any books that have inspired you in ways you’d like to share?  Please do, in the comments section below.

 

Fame and Fortune. A REAL Look…

These days I feel very fortunate. As actors, we use the phrase “fame and fortune” a lot. We all know that the fame is about acknowledgment. But what about the fortune part? Is it really only about money? I don’t think so. Fortune and being fortunate, expresses itself in our daily lives in so many different ways.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more fortunate than the million or so people who won’t survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of war, the loneliness of prison, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are more fortunate than 20 million people around the world. If you attend a religious meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more fortunate than almost three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive, you are very, very rare, especially in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are fortunate because the majority of people can, but most do not. If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are fortunate because you really know what compassion is.

If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

You are so fortunate in ways you never even realize and NONE of it has to do with getting an agent, an acting gig, or the like.

Take a look at just how fortunate you are. Write a list of at least 10 “fortunes” you have. Write the list on a piece of paper small enough to carry with you in your wallet or purse at ALL TIMES. When you find yourself feeling down about missing that audition or having any other “poor me” thoughts, just take out that piece of paper and remind yourself of your riches!

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Please take the opportunity right now to share with the rest of the community, just how fortunate you are.  Please let us know in the comments section below.

Working For Free – Is It Ever a Good Idea?

Definition of VALUE – [val-yoo]

1. Relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.

2. Monetary or material worth, as in commerce or trade: This piece of land has greatly increased in value.

3. The worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.

Do you realize your value, at this moment in time, to a project, production, group, or other industry related activity designed to move your career forward?  You’ll need to be confident in the value you provide so that if you’re not getting paid, you at the very least, get your value in return.  So is working for free a good idea?  Consider this:

  1. If they are making or will be making money, you should be too (yes – even if they are your friend).
  2. The right job that shows off your creative genius is worth doing – but stick to groups that are similar in experience to you. As a general rule, if the people you’re working with are doing it for the love of it, the experience, or the possibilities for all concerned rather than the money, then you are all in similar positions and growing together and that’s a good thing.
  3. If you do choose to work for free, make sure they know that they are lucky (because they are), and how much you would normally charge for your work. I’m not suggesting you be cocky, but rather subtly ensure that they know you’re on an equal footing to them. Using the word ‘collaborating’, can be especially useful in driving this home. Remember though, the goal is to win friends and influence people. And once you’ve got your foot in the door, wiggle it around so you get some standing room!
  4. Know how to pick a winner. If you see a young Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow, or Julie Taymor who wants to form a bond, by golly build your bridges.

Unfortunately when you start working, whether paid or unpaid, you’ll more than likely learn some lessons the hard way. But if you follow this advice, hopefully you’ll come out with some good experiences, some contacts, and a great resume credit or reel clip.

To make sure you do get that clip, my friends at Performer Track came up with a wonderful contract that you can ask the producer to sign ensuring it.  You can also use it if you are a content creator hiring actors for your project.  It’s smart because anything signed and agreed to in writing by two parties becomes legal and binding. Though you probably will never actually take someone to court over this (though you could), just by having them sign it brings significance and importance to your business.  And you’ll begin to develop the habit of negotiating for yourself and protecting your actor asset…which has great value!

Download this valuable contract here.

Any comments?  As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Attract Agents by Knowing Casting Directors

You know the old saying “It’s who you know” that will help you get ahead in this biz.  Well that’s half true.

My take on it is “it’s who knows you”.

For every agent meeting you take, you’ll be asked “how many casting directors know your work?”  Before you interview, my recommendation is that you have at least a list of 5 or don’t go! And when you have a rep, your talent agent and/or manager will want you to continue to grow your list on your own in addition to the auditions they send you on.

So how do you create a network of influential people that know you, like your acting work and are in your court?

Here are 5 ways to do just that:

  1. Mail or email your headshot, resume and online profile links to the 10 top casting directors in your area of focus every quarter, without fail, letting them know that you’re available and what else is going on in your career i.e. a new class, skill acquired, call back or booking.
  2. Identify which CD’s you’d like to show your talent to in person and book a meeting with them at a casting director workshop establishment like Actors Connection in New York or Act Now in Los Angeles. If you’re not in either of those two cities, check for local opportunities to meet industry in person or submit a reel for critique on ActorInsite.com, ACInteract.com or similar sites.
  3. Attend a networking party, brunch, assistant’s night, screening or other event where casting directors and other industry professionals will be in attendance. Introduce yourself as an actor and be interested in them and what they do before you offer a headshot, resume or business card.
  4. Volunteer at or attend a charity event frequented by the entertainment community. Animal rescue and health awareness causes always draw actors, agents and casting directors alike.  Do your research on your top picks to see what they stand for and if you get behind the same cause, you have commonality.
  5. Follow or friend them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media. Today casting directors use the web to offer advice, post auditions and offer feedback on many things hoping to help the actors they will meet someday in an audition room.

It’s time you understood that with a HUGE network of people that have you on their radar, the chances of having the breakthrough, kick-butt, acting career of your dreams are dramatically increased.  There are many people in the showbiz world who are ready and waiting for you to get connected and stay connected.  You never know which one of them will be key in your forward movement.

What are your favorite ways to make contact with casting directors, agents and other industry?  If you have resources to share, please post away in the comments section below with your location and why you recommend what you recommend.  Thanks!