This week, I’m going to answer a handful of “quick answer” questions from the road. Enjoy!

In your book, Self-Management for Actors, you stress several times that your headshot must look like you. Does that also apply to kids’ headshots? Should a kid actor have new headshots as often, especially with regard to longer hair?

Child actors actually have a nice little shortcut to getting new headshots as frequently as their looks change. It is accepted practice to include a recent snapshot of a child with a headshot and resumé submission. Only get new headshots when major growth (and not just of the hair) has occurred.

How do you refine your mailing to CDs that would be interested in you?

Homework, homework, and more homework. Know your type, research casting directors who consistently cast your type, and submit accordingly. Be sure your headshot accurately represents you and include a cover letter that introduces yourself and lets the CD know that you are aware of your type and the CD’s tendency to need your type. The goal is to get (and stay) on the radar of the CDs who are most likely to need you and then to continue working on your craft while you build these relationships.

I am nonunion and working toward getting my SAG card, but with pilot season around the corner, it made me wonder: Are you more or less likely to be cast in a pilot if you are nonunion?

You are most likely to get cast in a pilot if you are right for the role. I know that sounds like a trite answer, but really, it’s true. Pilots are shot union, nonunion, nonunion to go union when picked up, one union contract at first and then switched to another, etc. Once you are SAG-eligible, you should choose to join SAG when you are regularly getting more SAG auditions than nonunion paying jobs. Until then, you may cut off your ability to work as a paid performer altogether by joining too soon. Actors get cast in pilots because they are right for the roles, not due to their union status.

How do work opportunities compare between New York and Los Angeles? Which town is better for an actor looking for work?

What kind of work are you looking for? If you are a theatre actor, your soul will certainly be more-frequently and better fed in New York, which is a theatre town like no other. If you are a triple threat who loves the stage, that’s your best bet. If, on the other hand, you have goals of doing regular feature film gigs or working as a series regular on TV, Los Angeles will provide more opportunities of those types. Finally, if you aspire to work regularly in industrials or commercials, while you could certainly do well in either NY or LA, there are also many minor markets in which you could succeed without being in one of the “two big” acting hubs. Always, I will recommend that you visit any city before making such a big decision and spend a good amount of time speaking with working actors who’ve made the move before you about pros and cons in each location.

What do you think of actors sending cards? I have a daughter and son — both have agents and a manager. Their agents told me not to waste my time mailing out cards and their manager said, “Sure! They look at them.” Do you guys look and have you ever asked to see someone you got a card from?

I’m a big fan of mail, in general, and I tend to respond positively to postcards, headshot business cards, and even greeting cards. But every CD is different and I know for a fact that some CDs don’t even look at postcards, for example. They feel they need all of the information available on an 8×10. It’s just a matter of style and preference, and I don’t think you can spend too much energy trying to figure out what every CD in town prefers, before doing a mailing. Either you like doing mailings of non-headshot material or you don’t. You can’t worry too much about whether each recipient responds to such material. It’s just like the thank you note issue. You’re either the type who writes thank you notes or you’re not. Unless you’re going to meticulously track everyone’s preferences and customize your every mailing (which some actors do), don’t worry about what “type” the recipient is. Just be yourself and do what feels right for you.

And on that note, I’ll say a big thank you to my wonderful readers! You always please me with the emails you send. Your comments, ideas, and feedback are so very valuable to me and I’m thrilled to know this column is helpful to you, week after week. Thank you for letting me live my dreams by helping you to live yours!

See you next week!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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