Every now and then, I have an inbox bursting with quick questions; ones that seem too in-and-out for the Your Turn section but that still need a little attention. That brings me to today’s column. And your questions. 🙂

Hey Bonnie,

I’m the father of an 18-year-old daughter. She recently had a headshot session. We are looking for the pics that make her look as young as possible. Another pic for just a good headshot.

Can I pay you to go through the pics and pick your best five favorites? I realize that agents and managers all have their opinion, but I would like to get yours. If you would like to send me a PayPal invoice beforehand, that’s okay.

But I’m curious which pics you would pick and if you don’t mind, could you critique your favs like you do in your articles? If you can help just send an email with the pic number and critique. Please get back to me ASAP.

Harry Winters

I get emails like this a lot. It’s part of why I decided to continue the Critiques Series for members of my mailing list, occasionally here at my weekly column. Harry, the type of service you’re looking for is actually something commercial casting director Danielle Eskinazi offers through her Actvice website. When I’m working with an actor on best tools, it’s a part of a comprehensive coaching experience — or it’s a teaching moment in front of the readers of my weekly column. I don’t do “inbox coaching.”

One caution I’ll offer, in reading what you’ve shared with me: With a goal of having photos that make your daughter look “as young as possible,” you’re potentially setting her up for some very disappointing audition experiences. The goal should be to get headshots that make the actor look exactly how she looks when she walks into the room. Headshots that play up youth when she can’t pull that off in the room, or headshots that play up ANY “type” that isn’t what the actor nails, every time, actually hurt.

Good luck to you and to your daughter! Keep me posted on how it goes for y’all.

Hi Bonnie,

I was wondering what is most looked for when it comes to headshots? I know they want a picture that looks the most like you but I am also considering taking a couple of full body pictures to show my physique. Do you think that is necessary?

Thank you,

Hiya LJ. This is actually one of those “it depends” items. 🙂 If you’re the type of actor who regularly goes out for roles in which your body is a factor (more so than it is for other roles), having a shot that shows off your bod is certainly worth having. If your TYPE is in the zone of those where your body is a part of your castability, then yes, having a shot that shows it off is absolutely important.

For MOST actors, body shots or 3/4 shots are not necessary. For those who submit on breakdowns on which “rock hard abs” or “muscular build” or “elite athlete” are common phrases, you betcha, that body shot is gold.

Thank you for your amazing tips and advice in your columns, they are incredibly helpful and inspirational. I grew up on the stage, but am very new to Hollywood and feel far more confident after reading through your archives and hearing what you had to say.

I had an interview with a production company yesterday just for some background work and my read went so well they asked to put me forward for an audition for a speaking role in a TV show. I felt so confident and optimistic with my performance and walked out feeling so comfortable with how it went that I didn’t even care whether it went anywhere or not. Being able to maintain a positive attitude like that really reassured me that this is definitely an industry I want to be in, even if it takes a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of time to get there!

Thanks again and have an awesome day!
Kae Winters

Well, that’s just awesome, Kae. Thank you. I know you didn’t ask a question in this email, but I so adore the positivity in this email and how focused you are on building long-term relationships and enjoying the journey that I just had to share it, so I could celebrate you in front of the readers of The Actors Voice.

Keep that good stuff flowing and always remember that this is a lifetime of lovely relationships, collaborations, and creative brilliance stretched out ahead of us. Here’s to enjoying every day!

Hi Bonnie,

First off, I just started reading your column on Showfax and truly appreciate the time you’ve taken out to address issues facing actors today. As an actor that just recently graduated from college, I’m wondering how to go about gleaning footage for a reel. I have a few projects that I can use, but a couple of them are shot on really low-quality cameras. I feel like there isn’t anything worth showing even though so many requests are made for actor reel footage whenever I submit for a role. It sort of feels like trying to break into a glass box when the only available hammer is sitting inside that very box. I just joined your list so maybe this issue has already been addressed in a previous column, but if you have a spare moment, I would really appreciate some tips.

Thank you!
Ashley Pharaoh

Awesome, Ashley. I’m so glad you found your way here to The Actors Voice and that the information has already been helpful.

I hear you on the conundrum of not having great stuff for your reel but constantly being asked for footage, so buyers can assess whether you’re right for the role they have open at that moment. Catch-22 for sure!

It’s one of the reasons that I so champion self-producing. There is so much good stuff *you* can create, which will showcase exactly what you’re capable of, while its quality is absolutely within your hands. So much of the first footage you get from other projects is just BAD, and after you’ve waited so long for it, it’s frustrating to have it not even be something you can use on your reel.

So, gather with a group of fellow creatives who also need to put together some footage and decide who’s best at what sort of crew position, who’s better suited for another type of role, and start churning out material that will — eventually — be the kind of stuff you’re proud to show off. Sure, at first, you’ll mess things up and have a lot of lessons to learn. Keep doing it! And if in the mean time you get cast in something wonderful and that footage comes back gorgeous, bonus! 🙂 You’ve just added MORE to your awesome reel.

Hi Bonnie,

I am in a legal bind with a contract for the next couple years with my manager. My contract has no escape clause and no way to drop. Will an entertainment lawyer/attorney help? What does an entertainment lawyer even do? Thanks so much Bonnie. Love your column.

Sasha S.

Hiya Sasha. Definitely connect with an attorney. It doesn’t have to be an entertainment attorney, specifically, because all attorneys have studied contract law, and — in the end — that’s what you’re dealing with, here. Certainly, an entertainment attorney will know the ins and outs of the standard representation contracts, but any attorney should be able to look over what you signed and let you know what your options are.

People break contracts all the time. The question is, will you be sued for doing so. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Many times, actors are concerned they’ll be sued for ending a representation contract early and what ends up happening is the agent or manager says, “Cool. We weren’t getting you out like we thought we could anyway. Let’s get clear on what commissions are due on outstanding bookings and go our separate ways.”

If you’re a member of an actors’ union, take a copy of your contract to the local union office and ask a rep to go over it with you. Even if the contract you entered into is not an official union-sanctioned document, your union reps will still be able to look at it and share some advice.

Good luck to you! Keep me posted on how it goes.

My business partner/fellow actor told me that she would never go for a part as an extra in anything because her coach in college said that once a casting director (or producer or whatnot) sees you as an extra, they lock you into that and it becomes harder for them to consider you for bigger roles. True?


Hiya Mars. True if you’re in a market where people keep up with such things. In Los Angeles, extra work is more akin to a survival job than anything else, so even though it’s “on the set,” it’s one of those things that rarely pops on the radar of the buyers on the principal side of the casting process, simply because of how much production is going on at any one time.

But yes, I’ve heard the advice that your friend’s coach shared with her, before. Certainly, I know some actors who specialize in background work and stand-in work (and they make great, union wages doing so) and it can be challenging for them to get principal work, but let’s just agree that it’s challenging for MOST people to get principal work. 😉

So, if you enjoy the work of atmosphere and you have fun just being on set, and you’re not there hoping you’ll get bumped up to a speaking role, but instead are there to make money, enjoy your life, and build relationships for the long-haul, go for it! Just don’t mention to the principal casting director for that same project how much experience you have as an extra on that set! That won’t help you.

Cool? Cool. Thanks, guys, for your quickies! I look forward to more, as y’all always keep my inbox interesting. 🙂 Yay!

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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001621.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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