An Actors Toolkit

As an actor who wants to be taken seriously in the professional world (aka entertainment industry, y’all!!) there are a few things you should have handy. Here is a basic checklist if you’re just starting out:


HEADSHOT

RESUME

WORKING PHONE WITH VOICEMAIL

EMAIL ADDRESS

WEBSITE

MONOLOGUES

REEL

AUDIO DEMO (IF DOING VOICEOVERS)

ACCOUNTS WITH ONLINE CASTING SERVICES

APPROPRIATE WARDROBE

POSTCARDS FOR SHOWS

PENS

BUSINESS CARDS


HEADSHOT:

An up to date photo of yourself that you can use to submit to casting directors, directors, producers or agents. It’s necessary to have one of these as most of the time people in the industry will refer to your picture and resume before considering you for an audition and/or job. Click for more info on headshots and how to research the best headshot photographers 


RESUME:

As above. This should be as up to date as possible. It is important that the format is clear and that your primary interest as an actor (i.e. film, theater, Television, etc) be listed first. Follow this link to read more about your acting resume.


WORKING PHONE WITH VOICEMAIL:

You NEED this more than anything else!! I know it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many actors are wishy-washy in this department. Your voicemail should be clear and professional. Make sure you state your name. If you don’t, the agent, CD, etc may hang up because they’re not sure if they got the right number. This is the answering system to your business – full stop! So make that message as professional as you would for your company. Listen to an example: My voicemail (coming soon!)


EMAIL ADDRESS:

Duh! right? Well, just make sure you have one of these and that you can check it regularly. I also think, personally, that your email address should be easy to remember and easy to write down. If you have a website (e.g.: http://www.yourname.com) you should really set up and email address that is connected to this (e.g. info@yourname.com). That way, your name will get repeated a lot – which in the advertising world is a trick to get people to remember your brand/name – and when you have to give it on the fly (happens more than you realize) there’ll be less of a chance for forgetting it, spelling mistakes, etc. I remember getting someone’s email address on the fly as I was getting off the train and as the doors were closing. Their email address was info@theirname.com. I didn’t have time to write it down, but to this day, I still remember what it is because of how simple it was.


WEBSITE:

Every actor in this day and age should have a website.

It should be a calling card of sorts for who you are as an actor so it should have your photos, resume and all media on it. That way, if you need to show examples of your work to someone in a pinch you can just send them to your website. Easy-peasy. Visit mine for an example


MONOLOGUES:

You should have at least one good monologue in your head ready to perform at all times. Even better, you should have two or more. A contemporary dramatic monologue and a contemp comedic monologue will get you through most TV/Film auditions where there isn’t a script. In addition to contemp monologues, if you’re into theater you should have both a classical dramatic and classical comedic one. If you sing, you should have 16 bars or so of song at the tip of your tongue that you can sing a cappella. This is no joke. If you do accents, be ready to spit it out on the spot when asked. Agents and CDs, etc won’t take your word for it. They’ll cross you off their list and mark you as being unprofessional if you say something like “oh, I can do it if I need to” or “With practice/time I am great” or “hmmm, I can’t really remember right now”, etc. There was even an example of this on the TV show America’s Next Top Model (yeahyeah – I’m revealing my guilty pleasures..) where a model had noted on her resume that she had done musical theater before. The agent asked her to perform a couple of bars from her favorite piece. But she blanked and said that she couldn’t remember it and wriggled out of the situation. She was kicked off the show immediately because the agent didn’t appreciate how noncommittal she was. Click here for more (coming soon!)


REEL:

I’ve heard so many conflicting reports in regards to reels. What I would say, in general, is that if you have any video footage from a film/TV job, whether it be from a student film, or whatever, you should extract the best scenes/performances and edit them together to show off your experience visually. Eventually this reel should consist of ass-kicking jobs to demonstrate how “hire-able” you are. Click to read about your demo reel


AUDIO DEMO (IF DOING VOICEOVERS):

As above. Its more common to have “fake” jobs on your audio demo, so if you do this, just make sure they are as professionally recorded and mixed as possible and replace them as soon as you get “real” work. Click to read about voiceovers


ACCOUNTS WITH ONLINE CASTING SERVICES:

more and more casting is happening over the web through companies such as Actors access, Backstage.com, etc. You should invest in some of these to make sure you are taking control of your own audition process and not pining for the love/affection/attention of an agent. They’ll respect you more if you’re generating your own work, anyway.

Click to read about which online casting services are best for you.


APPROPRIATE WARDROBE:

There are some basics that every actor should have in their wardrobe to help them nail those auditions. Like with everything else in an actors toolbox, you will probably have to invest financially upfront. But don’t worry. If you pay $250 for a good suit, you’ll pay for it by booking one union extra job – let alone an actual speaking role. To find out what wardrobe staples every actor should have follow the link.


POSTCARDS FOR SHOWS:

Most show’s, even super-low budget productions (I’m talking theater here) will have a slice of the budget saved for promotional materials. Postcards are generally included in this. I’d recommend carrying a few around with you incase you bump into someone in the industry who shows interest in seeing your work. Especially if you have an audition or seminar through Actors Connection or some such place. Its no problem at all in your meeting with an industry person to drop into the conversation that you are performing and that if they’d like to attend you’d be happy to comp them and then slip them a card (or mail it to them the next day) as a reminder.


PENS:

Always carry writing material with you. It’ll help for sign-in sheets at auditions and call-backs. And if you find yourself at a party or gathering and you meet someone important, you’ll be able to write down their information or write down yours for them. Of course my iPhone is a great tool to help in this last bit, but you never know. Best to have a pen on hand just in case.


BUSINESS CARDS:

Not a major necessity and in my opinion, they can be pretty cheesy, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for one. And its much easier to give someone a business card then it is to hand over your big old headshot/resume when you’re in, say, a bar. Also easier to carry around! But they are NOT a replacement for your pic/res. And these days most of us have phones that can handle a lot of new info. So this part is up to you.




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About The NYC Actor

Angela Dee is a professional actress working in Film, Theatre, TV, Commercials and Voiceovers. She currently lives in New York. www.angeladee.com

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