The Power of the Kit

You know the kit. You’ve seen it. You’ve attended a show (or showcase) and seen people here and there clutching folders filled with headshots after the show (or you’ve watched them writing on resumés during the show and tried to sneak a peek at what’s going on). If you’re a busy theatre actor, you’ve certainly had to provide a stack of headshots for the kits, time and again.

Industry kits, presskits, or simply “kits;” whatever you call them, they are somehow, when held by members of the audience during the schmoozefest after a show, a source of power.

Here’s how I know this.

Last week, an actor friend of mine attended a showcase in support of an actor friend who was in the cast. He happened to go with an agent friend of his, and at one point after the showcase, my actor friend was holding his agent friend’s kit. Suddenly, he said, it was as though he had become the cool kid in high school, the guy with the best car, star quarterback, and king of the world, all at once.

It wasn’t just the fact that actors began to pay attention to him; it’s that they would stop talking with other actors and cross the room in order to schmooze him up. They saw him as some young, upstart agent, out scouting and ready to sign new talent. Here he was, “just one of them,” holding his buddy’s kit, and everything changed.

“Bonnie, if you could’ve seen these actors — the look in their eyes — you would’ve been floored,” he told me. Of course, I’ve seen that look. The difference is, I’ve seen it from the perspective of someone who did, in fact, go to the show that night to scout talent. I went and scrawled notes on the resumés within that presskit to remind me of what I’d seen and what I could expect, were I to call any of those actors in, somewhere down the line. After having seen that look a few times, I began to understand why some of my fellow casting directors tend to make a rather hasty exit following a show. It’s not personal. It’s simply that they don’t want you to talk them out of having enjoyed your performance.

Let me clarify.

Your eagerness to schmooze with the industry guests after you’ve done a really great job could actually cancel out the “feel good” vibes these folks were leaving there feeling.

My actor friend described your job — as the actor — this way: Your job is to say hello to your supportive family and friends, meet and greet those who appear receptive and interested in saying hello and congratulations to you, and be prepared for the kit-wielding industry types to come over, extend a hand, say, “Good job,” and head out the door. That right there is the highest praise. Out of all of the actors in the show, that CD, agent, or manager chose to approach you and say, “good job,” while on the way out the door. Don’t press to get feedback (certainly take it if you’re offered it, and be gracious about it), don’t offer your contact information (See that kit? Your contact information is in there, right?), simply say thank you and continue chatting with your friends, classmates, and other supportive well-wishers from whom you don’t hope to get a life-changing career opportunity down the line.

If you’ve never been to a showcase (or to a regular play on industry night), do try to tag along with someone in the industry and get the experience, from the non-performer side of things. As always, it is an enlightening experience to see the industry operate from outside your perspective. Hold a kit. Behold the power of the kit. Then make sure you don’t fall into one of the classic traps on the other side of the kit, when you’re schmoozing after your show.

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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