Every actor know headshots are the one thing we unanimously hate but we all need. In my four and a half years in LA I have gotten my headshots done *many* times trying to get the right shot, because a cut my hair, got bored, changed reps, hated the shirt i wore in that one shot, etc. And since I have gotten them done so many times, I wanted to share my tips, because I feel like I have finally (almost) figured out how to get a great headshot - because for the first time ever, I feel like I got shots that I actually like. And maybe, you can save yourself some time and money from all of my failed attempts to do one of the weirdest (and incredibly vain) but necessary parts of our industry: get a great head shot. (I don't share my winners from my new shoot...... until the end) *
*I am going to be hyper critical of my shots and the photographers who took them. I will not be naming names of the photographers who took the shots that I don't love because a bashing session is not the point of this post.
The Shots I moved to LA with
So I moved to LA with three shots that I had printed and were actively using (please notice the complete lack of eyebrow structure). The picture on the left is actually good and I ended up using that shot up until last year but the other two... boy oh boy. The eyebrows. The posing. The lack of specificity in the shots. They are... okay pictures... but what role would you cast me in based off of these shots? Can't think of one? Cool. Neither could I. Now, the one on the left, I could be the college kid, the baby sitter, the girl who sells you ice cream or tooth paste in a commercial. The shot on the left is usable because 1. it actually looks like me 2. There is energy and life coming through in the shot.
Lessons I learned from these shots
1. Girl! Your eyebrows are the WRONG shape!
2. Bring energy and life to your pictures
3. Being "glam" doesn't always get you a great shot
4. Head shots that show your arms are good
because they give casting as sense of you body type
LA SHOOT 1
So these were the first head shots I got when I moved to LA. My reps recommended the photographer and they were, not thrilled, but at least okay with the shots. Listen, they aren't bad. Actually these shots, combined with the smiling one above got me my first two sets of reps here. But what's wrong with these shots? My freakin' eyebrows! I had my first manager AND commercial agent tell me I needed to get those bad boys shaped and filled in and I didn't listen.
Lessons I learned from these shots
1. Girl! Your eyebrows are the WRONG shape!
And other people are calling you out on them. FIX THEM!
2. I look better when I have depth of filed behind me.
When you put me in front of a blank wall,
the picture looks static and lifeless.
3. I still love tank tops.
4. I haven't really figured out what my casting is.
This would have been a great shoot to got a "college kid"
look by wearing plaid or a cool hipster/character look by
wearing glasses/a nose ring/a hat - something that fit the type
of character I was playing at the time.
*MAJOR LESSON I SHOULD HAVE LEARNED HERE: you head shots should not be the prettiest picture EVER of you - it should be the best looking EVERY DAY version of you. You want to bring the same version of yourself that is walking into the casting room to your head shot session. If you look like Karlie Kloss, then your head shots should look like a supermodel, everyone else? You're should look like you on your absolute best normal day.
LA SHOOT 2
Let me start off by saying I ABSOLUTELY HATE THESE FREAKING SHOTS. They were pretty much my most expensive head shots I have ever taken and I don't think I've ever used a single one. The coloring is wrong, my hair is wrong, the angles are wrong. BUT! I did get my eyebrows fixed and I did try to put some effort into getting different *types* of head shots.
What I was going for:
Blue tank - leading lady
Striped sweater - commercial shot
Army jacket - badass
What I got:
Blue tank - too tightly curled hair, weird body angle
Striped sweater - flat, boring, my skin blends into the wall
Army jacket - far too freakin glam for a character shot. This was an opportunity to be gritty, and rough. I should have darkened the eye makeup and put my hair up in a messy bun with fly aways.
The worst part about this shoot? My manager at the time was at this one with me. He APPROVED these looks. That should have been red flag one that he wasn't the right fit for me.
Lessons I learned from these shots
1. Take control of your session. If you don't like what you look
like or like the outfit or don't feel like yourself,
you should not be taking
head shots in that outfit/hair-do/makeup style.
2. Everyone was right about the eyebrows
3. Girl. I get it, you want volume, but use some spray,
not tighter curls. The tighter curls look amateur and like I'm trying WAY too hard
4. If you're going for a character shot, actually GO for a character shot.
LA SHOOT 3
Listen, these shots aren't great either, but heck they are WORLDS better than the shots before. Well, at least the first two are. This was a shoot I did with Melrose Headshots for the $99 sale. You get as many looks as you can fit in during your 30 minute session. I went because I needed a young professional shot, and listen, is that middle shot *stellar* no, but is it good enough to get me in the room for that young professional guest star? Yes. it is.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THESE SHOTS
1. 30 minutes is really freaking short
2. I still, clearly, do not have the character shot down but
I am getting closer, at least with the "young professional" type
3. I'm not a "badass" - I just don't have that energy -
so I should stop wasting my time (and money) trying to get a
shot that I know doesn't really work for me.
LA shoot 4 + Bonus shoot
So shoot 4 was exactly a year after the shoot 2. I knew I needed new shots that were "leading lady" yet versatile. So these are shots that I got while getting my modeling portfolio shot with Wes Klain. Guys, Wes is bomb. He's quirky, edgy and fun. He gets great shots and you have a great time doing it. My theatrical reps still use both of these photos even thought my hair is a *tad bit* shorter. The two on the left are my favorite head shots I have ever taken. The Bonus Shoot are shots that I got from my friend, and insanely talented photographer, Bret Green. He's the bomb.com. He's an actor himself so he knows angles, lighting and what makes a photo work. I love the shots I've gotten with him. I use both of those theatrically to this day.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THESE SHOTS
1. Getting good at headshots takes time
2. Going in with a specific character or image you want
to emulate is a good strategy
3. Natural light. Natural light. Natural light.
4. Stalk the shit out of a photographers website before booking.
Have the shot celebrities? Or just a bunch of out of work actors?
5. Comfort with the photographer is KEY -
if you are uncomfortable, it will shot in your headshots!
THE NEW SHOOT
I also asked my friends and then looked at the shots they got from the photographers they worked with. I also was not willing to spend a bajillion dollars on shots when I was only getting them because I cut my hair and I needed new shots commercially. So I picked Tandem Photography. I did their one hour session ($280 for one hour and unlimited looks) and came prepared because I had already done a 1/2 hour session with Melrose Headshots so I knew how quickly that time goes. I had my looks picked out ahead of time, knew what hair styles I wanted for each look. Allison and Matt at Tandem were awesome. They made the experience collaborative!!! It didn't feel like they were doing me a favor or that I was at the mercy of their expertise or anything weird. I knew what I wanted and they helped me achieve that. I cannot recommend them enough.
LESSONS I LEARNED FROM THESE SHOTS
1. Shoot with people your friends have shot with.
You will get a better grasp on what your photos
will look like if you pick that photographer
2. Be prepared. Plan your wardrobe and bring
diverse options for the type of characters
you will realistically get cast as.
3. Know what looks good on you
(I booked my last SAG national wearing that orange
t-shirt so I knew it would work on me.)
4. Feeling comfortable and confident are the most important things.
5. Communicate. Tell the photographer the character
you are going for and they should help you get that shot.
6. Do your research! Referrals are the best
way to find great photographers to work with
because you can see what they did for people
that you know what they look like in person.
7. You don't have to spend a bajillion dollars to get good shots.
So there you have it. My headshot journey. I hope that is helpful to you and that you won't have to get your shots taken literally 4,000 times before you find a photographer that you love who gets your vibe. Allison at Tandem Photography - I'm looking at you.
I don't know about you but I love commercial auditions. In the last year, the spots I've been going out for are funnier, smarter and more fun. They all don't feel like "book-a-looks" anymore, they feel like a chance to play for a moment. Of course, some are still book-a-looks, but with these meatier spots, I've really enjoyed the process of commercial auditions!
With that being said, the hardest part for me, is knowing what to wear! It might sound silly, but it's true! I have learned that if I don't walk into the room wearing the "right" thing for me, I won't be as confident and that will affect my performance.
So, how do you know what to wear? How far should you really go with wardrobe for commercial auditions?
We all know the rule that with theatrical auditions you should give casting a "hint" - if you're reading for a nurse, don't actually wear scrubs, if you're reading for a doctor, wear a lab coat, but that's enough - that sort of thing, but does that same rule apply for commercial auditions?
The answer is no.
Let me tell you story - recently I auditioned for a really funny SAG national spot for a big brand (I can't say who or what but just roll with me). The role was for "princess" and all the notes for wardrobe said was "princess." So knowing the brand and the role, I opted for a "Game of Thrones" style top, jeans and pulled my hair half back like a princess.
When I got to the audition.... EVERYONE there was in a dress. Except me. One girl walked in wearing a legit princess costume, tiara and all. I looked around the room and thought "oh, yeah, I definitely should have worn a dress." And went in and did my audition. I felt like I had worn the wrong thing and so this one would be a wash. I thought "oh well, I'll just go in there and be me and pay a little more attention to the wardrobe notes next time." I went in, I hit the beats, I got the laugh and I went home.
Guess what? I got a callback.
At the callback I wore the same thing. Game-of-Thrones-style-top and jeans. And the other girls were in dresses. This time, I let it get to my head. I started to feel out of place and like I had failed because I didn't take the "princess" note as literally as the other girls. I was the third one to go in and by the time I did, all I could think about was that the other girls who had gone before me were wearing what I thought the "client" would have wanted them to wear. I got so insecure about what I was wearing instead of focusing on what really got me the callback - my comedic ability.
So... I didn't book the job.
But! I learned that when it comes to commercials, wear what the breakdown asks you to and leave it at that. There will always be people there who went more "all out" than you did and others who look like they just came from the grocery store. Pay attention to the role and dress accordingly - for you. What makes you feel like a "mom," a "basketball player," a "babysitter," and dress for that and then let it go. Make sure you're confident and comfortable. That's all they want out of you. Is to look at least in the world of what they are thinking (don't show up to a role as a "bridesmaid" in jeans) and to be comfortable, loose and you!
(Oh! And if you're reading for a "nurse" in a commercial audition - definitely wear scrubs!)
Before I moved to Los Angeles, I have ZERO idea how big the city was, how many different pockets there were and how much the neighborhood you live in dictates your world.
So how do you choose where to live in this massive metropolis?
Map by: "Art By Aleisha"
When I first moved to LA I was supposed to live in Sherman Oaks with two girls I met on the internet. Needless to say 1. that was a bad idea and 2. it all fell apart when they ghosted me literal days before my plane took off. So I sublet a room from a friend in Franklin Village in Hollywood which to this day is still my favorite neighborhood.
Here are the pockets of LA that I have learned and love:
Just miles under the Hollywood Sign on the east side of Hollywood (close to Griffith Park) is Franklin Village. North of Franklin Blvd, Franklin Village/Beachwood Canyon is my favorite place in all of Los Angeles. It has so much charm and culture and the energy just feels different there. I ended up living in that neighborhood for pretty much my first three years in LA. I loved it because I could hike, eat, grab a drink or see a comedy show all without having to get in my car. One my my favorite hikes is a guided walking tour called The Beachwood Stairs. Apartments here are a little pricy - I paid $1250 for my studio and my husband and I looked at a 1 Bedroom on Beachwood recently that was $1900 - and there isn't a lot of parking, but the charm and the location make is one my favorite places to live
Hipster, trendy, and full of culture. Highland Park is on the boarder of East LA and Pasadena. It is a about a 30 minute trek to Hollywood, about 45 minute trek to Beverly Hills and about an hour to Santa Monica. It is full of great places to eat and historic landmarks like the Highland Park Bowl which I highly recommend you check out for their amazing pizza, authentic bowling allies (they are the original ones, just restored) and fun shows like Friday Night Drag. Apartments average about $1800 for a one bedroom
If I could live anywhere that wasn't Beachwood Canyon/Franklin Village it would be Silverlake. With it's charming architecture and artist vibes, Silverlake deserves it's reputation for being the "cool" Los Angeles neighborhood. Rent is pricy but the views, the dining, shopping, and nightlife options make it worth it. The energy there is inspiring and the views are breathtaking. Apartments in Sliverlake start at about $1,900.
Studio City/Toluca Lake
I know people rag on the valley (shout to my writing partner who hates it) but I live here now and I love it. It is super cute, pretty normal and very suburban. If you don't want to worry about parking, want affordable rent and be in a central location, Studio City/Toluca Lake is the place for you. We have lived here for two years now and love it. Our apartment is great (and affordable) and we live in the canyon so I can still get my hiking in! This area of the Valley is great because you are only two exits up the 101 from Hollywood. I highly recommend this as a starting place or a place to settle down because it is affordable and safe without totally compromising on charm. It has cute dining spots like Aroma and Firefly. Studios here start at about $1600.
Super close to Franklin Village, Los Feliz is home to Griffith Park and rose to popularity with its charming bungalows and cute main drag. Bordering Hollywood on the East side Los Feliz has a mixture of charm and grit that attracts creatives. Some of my favorite places to eat are in Los Feliz like Alcove and Home. Pricier than most because of it's central location and charm, apartments start at about $1,995 for a studio.
Disclaimer: All figures mentioned are based on research from Apartments.com I am not a relator, nor do I work in real estate. I am just an avid apartment hunter. All images are pulled from google under the town which is described.
One of the most beautiful, loving, caring souls I know is my friend Bianca Santos. You'd never know meeting her that she has starred in such projects as The DUFF (2015- Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne), Ouija (2014) and (my personal favorite) as Lexi on Freeform's The Fosters.
I met Bianca in an acting class a year and a half ago and let me tell you - this girl is as loving, genuine and supportive as she is talented. Whether it is coaching a friend for an audition, coming over for girls night, chatting on the phone about nothing, or celebrating with us at our wedding - Bianca is one human I know I can count on no matter what. And I am so excited to share her story with you! So without further ado - keep reading for my bedheaded interview with actress Bianca Santos!
Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in acting
Hello! My name is Bianca, I’m a first generation American and my parents are from Cuba and Brazil. I’m born and raised in LA which makes me a unicorn. Even though I spent a lot of time acting in my own right growing up, I am not a child actor (shock!) so I had to figure it out as an adult.
What was your favorite project you have worked on?
I think there comes a moment when your job transcends just showing up and doing the work and it becomes something more. When I worked on an indie film in 2015 called Priceless, I had the privilege of taking ownership of my craft. I was invited to be a part of the collaboration process and each scene got to have my feedback and voice heard. The immersed participation I had with that project makes it one that will always be close to my heart.
What was the hardest thing you've had to overcome in your acting career?
Honestly? The lulls. People will tell you about how difficult it is to break in to the business but the equally challenging (in a different way) part is realizing “breaking in” never stops— “made it” is an illusion. Once you book that show and that movie, you’re now up against EVERYONE everyone already knows. Staying afloat when your pool of people you’re up against is an A-lister thats a phone call offer away can be daunting. But it’s important to remember everyone has their turn in this town, keep the faith.
Who has been the most instrumental in your career life?
Has anyone read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers? Read it. The whole book explains the factors of success and mainly how it never comes without help from people plus environment plus context. That book has my story. Showing up to an industry with perfect timing with the help of unlikely people. From that weird acting coach I had who made a phone call to get me a manager, to the creep from class who had a crush on me and literally gave me a crash course on what the business side of acting is. These strange characters are not in my life but they were instrumental to my career.
What advice do you have for people trying to break into the industry?
When I started I had no idea what I was doing so I joined an acting studio. This is such an important step because who else can you bounce the ideas of what headshot photographers to go with, what managers to aim for, and where are you going to find friends you can shoot things with? Community and perseverance, those two things are the foundation of your career and they work best together. Otherwise it’s a lazy lonely road!
What's the best life advice you've been given?
I was searching for direction at a pivotal point in my life, and I happened to be in a luncheon with one of the most famous people you’ve never heard of: Albert Bandura, World Famous Psychologist. I was one of 12 people dining with him before he was to give a big University lecture (aka hanging with Beyonce in her green room before her show). He was delightful, recounting stories when suddenly my friend Corrine asked, “What advice do you have for the younger generation?” I was salivating, anxious to hear his response…“You regret in life the things you did not do.” —the simplest quote hit me like a ton of bricks. Acting. I need to do acting. It was my absolute truth.
How important is it for you to have like-minded artists around? How did you build that community for yourself?
It’s so important to find and surround yourself with like minded people!! Creativity and success are infectious I’ve found. You must surround yourself with those that are excited to build you up, not be jealous of the heights you will reach. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve built my community through past projects I’ve worked on with some of the most incredible humans (Madisen Beaty) as well as through acting classes (what up Ans!!).
I don't know about you but I just ordered "Outliers"! Thank you B for such an insightful interview! If you guys want more of Bianca you can check her out in "SPF 18" out now!
I don't know about you but I LOVE podcasts (I even had one of my own!) I listen to them all of the time - when I'm hiking, sitting in LA traffic, cleaning my apartment, whatever - and I especially love podcasts where actors talk about their journey. It is so inspiring to hear that Jenna Fischer (Pam from "The Office") struggled in LA for 8 years before booking her iconic role, that actors are people who have struggled and fought for what they have now. So I have made a list of podcasts to keep you inspired and help you not feel alone in this crazy, wild, magical city while perusing your dreams!
Off Camera With Sam Jones
This was the first actor-interview podcast I found a few years ago and it is still one of my favorites. Sam Jones is a photographer that goes deep into the past and careers of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. According to the show's website "Off Camera is hosted by director/photographer Sam Jones, who created the show out of his passion for the long form conversational interview, and as a way to share his conversations with a myriad of artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that pique his interest.
Because the best conversations happen Off Camera." | Listen Here
That One Audition with Alyshia Ochse
I found this podcast a few months ago when Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Life Sentence) advertised that she was going to be on the show and boy! do I love it! Alyshia is so sweet and detailed with her guests. She interviews actors who are making a living as actors, and some you've heard of, but others are relatable working actors who are making a living and doing what they love. The audio isn't the best every episode but there is so much actors can pick up in each episode that are so helpful and inspiring. According to the show's website: "Honest, humorous and inspirational conversations with your favorite on-screen storytellers and Hollywood influencers who reveal their most life changing audition tales and the survival skills they’ve collected along the way."| Listen Here
Kahnversations Podcast By Ryan Bailey
If you've lived in Los Angeles for any amount of time (or maybe even if you haven't) you've probably heard of famed acting teacher Lesly Kahn. Her studio is a powerhouse and a great resource for actors. And one of those resources is the Kahnersations podcast hosted by LK Staff Member Ryan Bailey. According to the show's description "So many inspiring podcasts out there allow us to hear all about how well-established stars got to where they are today. But those actors are so faaaaaaar away from where so many of us are today! Wouldn’t it be great to hear from the guy who just booked his first pilot? Or the kid finally doing a studio pic after a bunch of low budget indies? Or the woman who’s been a series regular a few times but is only now becoming a name? What about the guy who’s been on a show for years and you know his face but what’shisnameagain? Or that actress who is now a freakin’ showrunner???? How’d THEY do it, right? How did they transition from relative obscurity, bartending and bottle service, to buying that house in the hills? Listen in and enjoy as these entertainers speak candidly about their paths, processes, and experiences." | Listen Here
Backstage did an article on a bunch of others and I haven't listened to most of them, but click here if you would like to!
Until next time!
Let me start off by saying I am not a psychologist or anyone who knows anything about giving advice. This is just ways that have worked for me.
Breakups, fights with your family, financial struggles, roommate issues - these are all things that we all deal with in Los Angeles (and in life) and are things that can mess with your head. If things mess with your head, then they mess with your career. So how do we combat that? This is something I have been working on daily since I moved to LA and let me tell you: there is no quick fix. BUT....
There are ways to combat those negative thoughts so they stay in their proper place. Let me tell you a story....
When I moved to LA is was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. New things were thrown at me daily and dealing with them was sometimes more than I could handle. I was in a car accident the day before I moved to Los Angeles, I signed with a big manager (they represent my idols) 3 days after I moved to LA, my boyfriend (who I thought I was going to marry) admitted that he was cheating on me - all of this happened within a span of 3 months. As if moving across the country wasn't enough.
Figuring out a way to balance the pressures of living in a new city 3,000 miles away from home, having an A-List manager, the financial pressure of living in one of the most expensive cities in the country was insane. It was terrifying and exhilarating and one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and I wouldn't have been able to do it if I didn't think I could (remember that quote from the Confidence post?).... It is amazing what happens when you shift your mindset to "I can" instead of "I can't."
There is no time for "can't-s" in your life. If you want something, game plan it.
Hear me out: speaking positively to yourself will change your life. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are talented. You have a lot to offer and the world wants to hear what you have to say. You are worth it. You are enough. Feels good, right? That is how you should be speaking to yourself. You need to hold yourself accountable, but you also need to build yourself up. It feels silly at first and you BS meter is probably going off real strong, but trust me: nothing is better that when YOU love you. A few months ago I went through and put random affirmations in my phone as reminders. I didn't look when I picked the date (I just scrolled and set some random time) so now, every couple of weeks, I get a notification on my phone that says something positive. From me - to me.
Set Reasonable Goals
I do this every 6 months. It is a way I check in with myself and I get super specific. Right now I have my goals down to the number (the amount of money I want to save by the end of the year, how much I want to grow my social media in the next 6 months, etc). Write your goals down - I keep mine in a Note in my phone and date it. As I check off goals, I put a checkmark emoji next to it. Update them as you go - if there are things you need to purchase/update in your life (for me a new DSLR camera and a desktop computer) but that on your goals list with the amount of money you need to save to purchase them and then work towards that. Need new headshots or a new bedspread or a new job? Put it on your goals list, hold yourself accountable, and work towards it.
Check in with yourself mentally
How are you feeling? Burnt out? Ready to kick ass? Lost? It is important to know where you are so you know where to start. If you're not in a good spot, figure out why. Are you unhappy in a relationship? Are you frustrated with your roommate? What is bugging you and what is causing you to sit in a space of negativity. Positive Mind = Positive Life. You can't complain about your woes, do nothing about it, and expect anything to change. We have a tendency to be bystanders in our own life. To live on autopilot. Yes, somethings are out of your control, but how you react to them - what you do about them - is totally in your power. So if there is something negative in your space, deal with it. Head on. (Trust me, you're strong enough and it will make a huge difference).
There's a lot of power in not giving a f*$k.
I learned this one the hard way. If you give people too much power, they will screw you over. No one cares about you as much as you do and people only have the power you give them. This is something I am still working on daily, but like I said in my confidence post, you get one life. This is yours. Your moment is now and for the rest of your moments on earth. Do not let anyone take that away from you. Go confidently after what you want. Stand up for yourself. Take ownership of your life.
You're doing great!
"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit." – E.E. Cummings
Confidence is a funny thing. Some people just have it. Others have put a lot of work into it. Some are searching for it. But one thing is true for all - confidence plays a huge part in our lives.
I've been working on my confidence for about a year now. I have put the effort into myself on a daily basis and have tried to not allow myself to think I am less than others because they are prettier - smarter - more successful - you name it, than me. I am by no means good at it yet, but changing my mindset to "would you talk to your best friend that way?" has helped me a lot in changing how I mentally think about myself.
No one can give you confidence. You have to create it for yourself. And trust me - it is so hard. (If anyone has a secret potion for it - let me know!) But for those of us who want to work on it, there are many benefits. I genuinely feel that confidence is the "key" for everything. Why?
Confidence makes you happier.
You are you, doing you, for you, and you don't care what others think of that. You know I am a big believer in "there's power in not giving a f*#k" and that comes from confidence.
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right." - Henry Ford
What does confidence do to your career? If you are so nervous in an audition room - do you think they are going to give you the part? NO! Because who casting casts is a reflection on them... they can't have some flailing actor who was horribly nervous at the audition walk on set and be a potential a flight risk. They won't hire you if you don't have the confidence to believe you should be hired. Going back to that quote above "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right." YOU GUYS THIS IS HUGE. Your mindset is so crucial.
But if you walk into your audition cool as a cucumber, ready to work and take direction - casting is more likely to see you as someone who is ready to be on set. You know you can do the job so they know you can do the job.
How to build your confidence? Like I said - magic potion anyone?! Until we figure that out - confidence comes from self love which you all know I am a big fan of. Speak kindly to yourself. Take care of yourself. Take time to work on yourself and improve yourself. Take time for yourself. Figure out what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of that.
For me, building my confidence started with me turning inward. I tend to be a very outward driven person and put a lot of energy into relationships with others, interactions with other, how i am perceived by others - "oh, you're a working actress and I'm still working side jobs? You must be better than me." It is SO easy to slip into that mindset. BUT! Don't let yourself. You are not defined by your job, your career, your followers - you have so much more to offer than that. You are you and you are awesome. So celebrate that.
This is an ongoing journey for me and I might do another post on this as keep going but I wanted to put this out there - just because you are not where you want to be in your career right now, just because your dream has not come true, does not mean that it won't. Keep putting in the work. Keep pushing. And most of all: love yourself.
Living in a metropolis like NY or LA is hard. There is so much to worry about and things can slip through the cracks. Juggling your career, your side job, your social life, your instagram, your dating life while still having time to keep your apartment clean, workout and get 8 hours of sleep a night
1. Not taking time to read
Backstage. Deadline. The full script for your audition. Acting books. The background on acting teachers. The different projects that casting director you're reading for on Thursday has done. Different people who are booking's IMDb accounts. You need to read everything. As actors, your job is to research! So why are we so quick to let that part of our job go? Read the whole pilot you are auditioning for. Read the WHOLE script before you jump to your sides (should I do a post on preparing for auditions?) Research the filmmaker before putting yourself on tape - know their style, their tone. Trust me. That makes a big difference. Also - knowledge is power. (Duh). So give yourself some power.
2. Not mapping it out before you head out
In LA we all know traffic is THE WORST. So if you know that it usually takes you 40 minutes to get to that casting office in Santa Monica but low and behold there is a major accident blocking every single lane on the 405 (shocker, right) and traffic is backed up all the way to the valley so now it is going to take you over an hour to get there because you have to take side roads! When you have an audition or a callback that should be your focus for the day. You are an actor. That is you "going to work." So don't be late for work.
3. Not keeping your materials updated
Headshots are expensive, I know. But building a website isn't. You don't need to update your materials every 6 months, but if it has been 2 years since your last headshot shoot - it might be time to look into getting new pictures. Also - if you haven't looked through your actors access profile since 2008 - do it. Clean it up, trim the fat. Casting directors in LA don't care that you did a student commercial back in 2001. Any "resume padders" should come off - because they are exactly that and make you look less legit. Update your website, clean up your reel, stay current. That matters.
4. Not giving yourself enough time to prepare
I see this the worst with taped auditions. People don't take them as seriously as they do in-person auditions because they think the get a bajillion tapes so they don't need to read the script and they can just run their lines a few times before laying down the tape and their read will be great. No. That is not how that works. A taped audition is exactly like an in-person except you get to play a little bit of the casting director's role. You need to treat tapes with the same weight that you treat in-persons because at the end of the day you are doing exactly what you want: auditioning.
5. Speaking poorly about yourself
I don't know who to blame for this trend of self-deprecating humor, or it being funny to make yourself the butt of a joke, but let me tell you it is not good for your psyche. The way we speak about ourselves is how we tell the world we feel about ourselves. No, we don't need to be a narcissistic asshole, but you should be celebrating your accomplishments. You should be building yourself up. You shouldn't be around people that cause you to self-shrink (or people who put you down themselves). On that note.....
6. Not keeping relationships in their proper place
I think I am going to do a whole post on boundaries - with friends, family, agents, boss - so I will keep it brief here. What I said in a previous post about your "top 5" - about who you keep close to you - is so important. You've all seen the video about how "fake friends are ruining you," right? Well if you haven't here is an article explaining it (really worth the read). Part of growing up is learning where people fit in your life and setting up boundaries to make sure they stay there. Work a freelance job? You need to set up boundaries so your boss isn't asking you to edit a photo for them at 9pm on a Sunday night. Have a friend that you're not sure is actually happy for you? Pay attention to what information you are sharing with them - set up boundaries and don't give them more weight than they deserve. Boundaries protect your and your mental state and there is nothing more valuable.
Okay y'all, rant over. (But really I am going to do a post on boundaries because the digital world has made us ALLLLLLLL too accessible).
Until next time!
Three years ago today I got on a plane with two suitcases and a backpack (yep, on 9/11) and left the comfort of my home in Florida. Three years ago today I landed in Los Angeles.
Three years ago today I began living my dream.
This journey has been hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. But also the most rewarding.
So in honor of my 3rd anniversary, I wanted to share 30 things I have learned since moving to LA. Here we go:
I am really excited to see what the next year will hold - because in LA you just never know! How am I spending my anniversary? My fiancé made vegan pancakes, we are doing my favorite hike in Beachwood Canyon, I have a callback for an amazing project and then I'm getting drinks with some ladies who inspire the shit out of me.
Thank you guys for being on this wild ride with me!
You guys know that I am a big supporter of creating your own stuff. Whether it's a webseries, a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel - the idea of "if you build it, they will come" is always murmuring in the back of my head. Also - my mantra is "Why not try?"
This is true for a couple of reasons - people who make their own stuff have an ownership over their career. They are not waiting for someone to give them a job to feel creatively fulfilled. They are doing it themselves. That's powerful.
I want to give two examples: 1 personal and one about a person I (sort of) know.
I'll tell mine first because it is far less interesting, but still applies.
About a year ago I decided to start a podcast. I was listening to a bajillion podcasts while I hiked in my neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills and I don't know what gave me the idea that I could (or should) do it but I decided to. I love unsolved crimes - I love mysteries - I love Old Hollywood. There isn't a podcast out there that combines the 3 that I could find, so I started my own.
My fiancé is an amazingly talented graphic designer and I went to him and said "Okay, so I'm starting a podcast. Think 'Nancy Drew grew up, moved to Old Hollywood, and started a podcast' and I want each episode to come with maps so the listener can 'help solve the case.' Thoughts?" He was so sweet and so supportive and went to town on my graphics.
So next came the content. I started researching unsolved murders in Hollywood and found that in the Greater Los Angeles area the most interesting murders all happened from the 1920's to 1940's so I decided to focus on that. I told my fiancé that and he made graphics match that era.
I picked my 8 murders I was going to profile on the show and starting writing. Each episode takes about 15 hours just to research, 3 hours to record and 3 hours to edit. So each episode takes about the time of a part-time job.
At first I sprinted out of the gate - I was working on the show everyday. I was excited about it. And then the inevitable happened: I got burnt out.
And then I got a bad review. That lowered my ratings on iTunes and then I got another on Stitcher. They said I sounded like a "college project." Who was I to think that I would write, record, edit and manage a podcast on unsolved murder when I am not in the field of voice overs, producing, forensics or anything of the sort.
I walked away from the show for about 3 months. I took a break. And then I looked at my plays on SoundCloud.
My show had over 10k listens in just a few months with just 4 episodes out. How?
What I wasn't taking into account was that there might be other people who are interested in this topic but there are no podcasts out there like it (hence why I started it) or podcasts that have the interactive feature of maps and addresses. I'm not saying that my show is perfect, far from it, but now, a year later, the show has over 27,000 listens on just SoundCloud alone.
"If you build it, they will come." The internet is a weird place man. Put it out there and people will find it.
So I slowly started working on it again. I wasn't putting episodes as frequently - until I had a major opportunity fall into my lap. A large social media platform wanted to turn my show into series with a network on their app. I hadn't even thought that this side-art (more about that in another post) was something that could turn into something that would actually help my career.
I was meeting with the head of casting of a major network and she had a book on her desk about William Desmond Taylor - who is known as "Hollywood's First Murder" - so I asked her about it and it turns out that she is a huge unsolved true-crime fan as well! I was late to my next meeting because we were talking about theories and suspects and not even a week later, casting directors who worked under her started bringing me in to read for parts.
It's okay to get burnt out. It's okay to take a break. It's okay to regroup. BUT - you can't quit because it's hard. And something being "hard" is not the same as "losing inspiration" - you can get your inspiration back.
Who is ready for a MAJOR inspiration bomb?!
There is is this girl that I know through a friend named Stephanie. Stephanie is super talented. Stephanie wrote a webseries with her friend Brian. That webseries has been bought by Lionsgate and Anonymous Content to be made into a real series for a major platform. She is getting paid to be the creator, writer and star. All from about 30 minutes on YouTube. Don't get me wrong, she is SUPER TALENTED and put in crazy amounts of time, energy and work into creating an amazing show. But she did it - SHE CREATED IT. And now she is literally living her dream. So you can too! Put in the work, get rid of excuses, and make it happen.
You can do it - I believe in you!
Oh hey there
Thank you for stopping by. My name is Ansley and I am a creative being. With not much to show for it. Feel the same?! Welcome! For all of you artists out there who are just hanging in there - this is for you!