Have you ever known people who have so much talent and so much natural ability to simplify something others find confounding, that you feel like a whole bunch more people out there need to know these gifts exist?
Welp, that’s the reality for a handful of spectacular creatures whose simply brilliant creations I *keep* pointing people toward and have always wished I could do so to a greater degree.
On October 28, 2016, I timidly mentioned to Keith that I had this idea to create a marketplace of sorts. (Timidly because I had *just* returned from my latest New York trip and we were in the thick of building Get in Gear for the Next Tier, which was taking every ounce of our resources.) But as we drove to Ventura to take in a Pixies concert, I described a one-stop-shop for mini-courses, tutorials, and services from hand-selected — vetted — people I adore. Some of the goodies would be free, some would be not-free, and the people would each be specialists in things like social media, brand awareness, marketing, decluttering, crowdfunding, the craft of acting, makeup artistry, demo reel editing, health and wellness, copywriting, personal styling, custom scripts, content creation, and even issues facing young actors.
See, there’s so much NOISE out there vying for creatives’ attention that the mere concept of having someone (that’d be me, with my vast show bible filled with spectacular human beings) curate the best stuff to help the creative journey feel more DO-ABLE felt like it would provide massive value to my community at a time when option overload freezes so many and when this business — and all its dips — can feel so isolating and unforgiving. Having a TEAM as your go-to for whatever you might need? What a relief!
And as Self-Management for Actors gets brought into the curriculum at more and more academic institutions around the world, I’m reminded how LIFE is an enrollment in continuing education. That’s why this is SMFA-U and that’s why these are my profs.
At long last, we’re revealing the goodies we’ve been cooking up together and I could not be more proud of these beauties and what we’ve built! Special thanks to Ninja Princess Erin Zapcic who truly uses her royal superpowers to keep this project — with all its moving parts — on-track and filled with so much magic along the way!
Ready to meet the profs? 🙂 Let’s GO!
Abby Cooper — I first met Abby through the power duo that is Lisa and Laura Bunbury of Actors Info Booth. We started working together in an online course and I soon learned that Abs has a can-do spirit, a PhD, and a passion for self-care that matches her high-energy delivery! Since then, I’ve cast Abby *and* had the joy of masterminding with her for a few years now! With her health and wellness materials, you’re on your way to a nutritious, delicious, and joy-filled creative lifestyle you can’t wait to get up for every morning!
Amber Plaster — Amber has always been early to the party. When she became one of the very first students we had in our online courses (in 2010, y’all), she was already leading the field in innovative use of video content and she caught my eye as a “keeper” right away. I’ve cast her, I’ve hired her, and she’s hired me! Her advice on editing your own demo reel, your self-produced content, even your YouTube personality vids will rock your world! And when you can’t DIY, hiring her to edit your goods is a smart move.
Dakota Shepard — So, Dakota came to me by way of my very favorite acting coach in New York, Matt Newton! We started working together when she got to Los Angeles and over time, we learned we have a LOT in common. When I saw her helping actors in our SMFA Facebook group with their on-brand labeling of clips at Actors Access, I knew there was gold to mine there. Dakota’s keen eye and intuitive nature combine to get you brand clarity as you label your footage and tighten up your marketing tools.
Jen Ponton — This bubbly blast of hope that all is truly right with the world came into my life so long ago that I’ll have to let her spill exactly when. I’ve had the honor of guiding Jen through some phenomenal tier-jumps over the years and without question, she has mastered the art of mailed marketing tools, taking something “everyone does” and doing it differently — authentically. I’m so excited to let her guide your marketing materials to their on-brand best… from postcards to one-sheets, and from castability profiles to press releases.
Kathi Carey — Kathi’s brilliance for content creation spans decades and I learned this at an industry networking event *and* when she participated in our old Hollywood Happy Hour listserv (yes, that’s how long ago we first connected… there was a listserv involved). Self-producing before it was cool to do so, Kathi has so many festival wins it’ll make your head spin to be able to tap into her guidance for writing, crewing up, shooting, and enjoying the festival run of your self-produced content.
Katie O’Neil — Oh, sweet Katie reached out to me after something bad happened with colleagues of mine. Mortified, I made sure she was not only taken care of but cared for because I was *not* gonna have things go down that way on my watch! Our interaction was so pleasant and wonderful I knew we’d have a blast working together for years to come. When she launched her organizational business, I was thrilled to ask her to introduce her decluttering methods to help provide breathing room for artists’ creativity worldwide.
Keith Johnson — Ah, my beloved. My partner. My best friend. Keith — like most people — reached out to ask me some acting advice online, but with us there was meant to be so much more. He is the one who said, “You know, this should be a book,” when I looked at the advice I had shared over the years and thought, “Eh… it’s okay.” Without him, there would be no Self-Management for Actors, and it turns out he’s a phenomenal script doctor turned screenwriter who can coach you through writing your own masterpiece or be your writer for hire.
Kristy Sexton — When I started hearing *way* more often than before, “My acting coach said I HAVE TO work with you on SMFA,” I said, “Who *IS* this acting coach who keeps sending people my way?!?” Turns out it was Kristy, whose classes I’ve since sat in on (as I won’t recommend craft coaches without fully vetting their process), and whose work is sheer brilliance. Part coach, part therapist, part ass-kicking career-shifting wake-up call, Kristy brings her celebrity on-set coaching prowess right to your screen by teaching you how to elevate your craft in ways you’ve never imagined possible.
Laura Buckles — If not my very first private coaching client, Laura was certainly one of my very first. I knew when we sat together demystifying the biz at the 101 Coffee Shop that she’d be in my life forever and I’ve been able to cast her, she’s hired me to cast for her, and a bunch o’ wonderful collaborations have happened in between. One of Laura’s secret superpowers is makeup artistry! She’s gonna lead you through your most ninja makeup kit whether for your on-set use, headshot sessions, auditions, or daily life!
Leah Cevoli — Another Hollywood Happy Hour goddess, Leah impressed me from jump with her savvy networking ways. Whenever I’ve created a venture in which Leah could participate, she’s at the top of my list, because no one hustles as effortlessly and organically as she does! There’s magic to her rock ‘n roll ways and because Leah has single-handedly guided content creators toward millions of dollars in their crowdfunding campaigns, I am simply over the moon with glee to bring her brilliance to your creative dream project!
Lenka Šilhánová — SMFA-U exists because of Lenka, plain and simple. She wrote up a post in our alumni forum that was so ridiculously helpful and packed full of social media tips that I said, “Dear GAWD, this woman should teach a course to creatives!” And then… well… I did what *I* do best and figured out a way to make a kernel of an idea into a reality… for her and another dozen awesome profs! I’m so glad we met through my column years ago and went on to work together in London. Lenka’s courses on mastering social media without feeling icky will inspire you to take your online profile to the next level.
Quincy Cho — Quincy is the queen of “lurk then lead.” After creeping on me for a while, she became president of the Bonnie Fangirl Fan Club and I couldn’t be more honored about that! I’ve had the pure joy of jamming with Quincy on the regular for many years now and watching her grow her creative empire from scratch has been amazing. Quincy’s spunky copywriting services and modules will get your bio, resumé, cover letter, press release, and website content looking better than ever! She makes it all so damn simple.
Rosalie Tenseth — Sweet, sassy, saucy Rosalie charged into my life with such determination and drive in 2014, always with more to give than to take from every encounter. It has been a delight to collaborate with this firecracker who has a spectacular facility for working with young actors (and their parents). In her offerings for the U, Rosalie covers auditioning, setting up your home studio, child labor laws, and what it takes to make it as a young actor (and how to be the best parent-of-a-kid-actor possible).
Tunisha Hubbard — While modeling in Chicago, Tunisha joined in a very early incarnation of our livestream courses in 2012 and she revealed herself to be a leader of fashion by becoming the go-to for actors in many markets, thanks to her Skype and in-person work with them. Through entrepreneurial masterminding, we formalized the business that now offers up Tunisha’s styling services and DIY guides. These offerings will make sure you’re dressing on-brand for your next headshot shoot, rep meeting, audition, or networking event!
As I reflect on how these incredible leaders entered my life, have remained in my life, and will always be a part of my life thanks to what we’ve woven together here, I am humbled by their talents, their generosity of spirit, and their unmitigated joy for sharing what comes easily to them with those who most need their gifts.
If you’re ready to poke around at the menu of offerings — ranging from free to incredibly reasonable for the value infused within — head on over to the DOJO and thank you for your support of this exciting launch of SMFA-U! Tweet us a little love here!
Questions? Pop ’em in below and we’ll getcha covered!
Cannot wait to jam with you in the U!