“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? What’s YOUR dream?”
Ah… I’ll never forget the first time I saw Pretty Woman, and I’ll never forget the actor shouting that through the streets in an opening scene.
I passed the Regent Beverly Wilshire the other day and said (in my best Laura San Giacomo voice), “Reg. Bev. Wil,” while pretending to write those same syllables on a pizza box with a lipstick.
(Okay, I may have watched this movie a zillion times in its 23 years on the planet. I may or may not be able to quote it, line for line. I admit nothing. Except that I won a radio trivia contest by naming all the continuity errors in the film. That was fun.)
Why am I rambling about Pretty Woman? Well, I did something pretty cool over the past two weeks, to celebrate our move into 310 Casting last month. I offered 20 slots for private coaching at half-off. This allowed me not only to work with ongoing clients who love a good deal, but to work with creatives who otherwise found my pricing cost-prohibitive. It brought a lot of new, excited energy into my life, and it had me doing more one-on-one work with creatives than I usually do in a month, all within a few days.
It was fun.
One of the themes in my coaching, it seems, is “those things that make your face light up when you talk about ’em,” vs., “what you hope they’ll never ask you about.” I use this test to help actors clear clutter off their resumés, delete scenes from their reels, remove entire paragraphs from their cover letters, and revamp their websites.
Because nothing. (period) NOTHING! (exclamation point) on any of your materials should make your face go dark and worried and downturned when it’s brought up.
“But, but, but!” you argue, “that extra work was *really* featured. You can really see me acting with my face.” And you think that means it’s worth calling “featured” and leaving on your ACTING resumé.
Until I walk you through the conversation in which everything goes badly. Until I ask you to tell me how it helps the buyers cast you next. Until you head down the road of backpedaling and explaining and defending and justifying. And then you feel like crap at the end of that agent meeting or that Q&A section of the casting workshop or whatever.
What — on your resumé — represents the work you WANT to keep doing? With the people you WANT to keep working? At the *minimum* level you hope to continue to work? And what of those credits represent the place to which you never wish to return (the crappy indie, the non-sync student film with bad lighting, the non-paying “very featured” extra work, the re-enactment, the hair modeling, and so on)?
Just like I advise actors against asking anyone what his or her pet peeves might be, I say your best bet is surrounding your every on-brand stitch of marketing materials with as much positivity, forward-moving, “where I’m headed next” energy as possible.
Because when I ask you about a favorite credit on your resumé, when we discuss the slam-dunk of a scene on your reel (not the one you hate, not the one you paid to include, not the one you cringe at due to how much your acting has improved since you shot it), and when I read your bio aloud with you sitting there in the room as I do it, you should jump up and down with glee over how freakin’ awesome it is.
And if you don’t — if you can’t — because it’s simply not awesome, um, fix that. Fix it immediately.
I had to do that recently. I was in Austin for my panel at SXSW and handed over my business card and quickly said, “Oh, but actually, the best place to go is bonniegillespie.com,” and then I felt my face scrunch up, disappointed that I was asking them to either write that on the card or remember it. I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing giving out a business card that sends people to a website that doesn’t fully represent who I am or what I do?”
Of course, what I was doing was having an epiphany about having put all sorts of money into a website but not bothering to print up new business cards (Because, really, who’s giving out business cards anymore?), and suddenly I needed to hand out my card… and I did so with a sense of apology, rather than a sense of “POW! How awesome is THIS?!?”
Next stop: New business cards. Done.
No excuses for having any material you don’t want out there, if it’s within your control. “Oh, I hate my website.” Then redirect your URL to your Actors Access profile or IMDb page while you fix it. “My reel sucks.” Then never show it to anyone, and work on creating your own well-branded, professionally-collaborated content that showcases what you’re capable of, NOW.
In a creative, unpredictable world where there’s very little we control, get those tools you *do* control looking amazing. And if you need to ask yourself what makes you LIGHT UP when you talk about it, remember the guy roaming the streets at the beginning and end of Pretty Woman and ask yourself, “What’s YOUR dream?”
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001643.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.