If you’re good at your craft and really focused on what you want, I don’t think your age matters. It may be a bit harder in some areas, sure, but that is nothing new in our business. We all have our challenges, but I truly believe that the key to success is understanding how to look at your career with an optimistic and “what could be possible” lens. It’s true with everything in life and acting is no different, whatever age you are.
What is critical though is that you really make sure your whole heart is in it, because it will take money, a lot of dedication, and a lot of sacrifice. This business has many rewards, but it is not for the faint of heart. Projects will come up that could move your career forward and you will have to choose them instead of going out of town, going to a ball game, or a weekend with family. You can have a life, of course, but you are going to need footage, experience, training, and résumé building, and these projects might be the work you need in order to get that first big booking.
Many actors believe one of the hardest hurdles to someone entering the acting world at any age, but particularly at an older age, will be changing a life that is not built around the business to all of sudden being flexible around the business. Success in this business is very, veryinconvenient. It will come when you are about to go out of town, are already out of town, when you’re tired, or when you simply don’t have the time because the rest of your life has gotten in the way. You will need to have the discipline and heart to say, “This is what I want and I need to sacrifice so that I can do this class, project, short film, etc…”
But if you are willing to make the sacrifice and work your butt off then you can have a career as an actor.
Here’s how to be a successful actor, regardless of your age:
1. Get laser-focused on what it is you want! If you want to do TV then focus on that and don’t take on projects that are out of that wheelhouse. The same goes for theater or film. You don’t want to waste any time dabbling in areas you don’t really have your heart in. Focus, focus, and focus.
2. Ignore all naysayers and the people who tell you can’t. When they say no, you say yes.
3. Be very, very good! The competition has years on you, so when you get back in the water or get in the water for the first time, be ready to swim like an Olympic swimmer. Practice, practice, and practice as much as you can, because your opportunity will come and you want to make sure you hit the ball out of the park so that luck will be on your side.
Preparation plus opportunity equals luck!
Break a leg!
“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger
When you get home from a long day of classes, you want to relax and enjoy yourself. For some reason, however, you start staring at your phone or computer screen looking for your next audition or acting class. So turn off the electronics and pick up one of these many simple hobbies that can be extremely therapeutic and incredibly enjoyable.
1. Collect something.
It doesn't have to be expensive, and you may have already started without realizing. I started picking up old cameras at antique stores because of my love for photography, and before I knew it I had dozens. It's an easy way for friends to find a good birthday gift for you as well!
2. Try journaling.
Even if it's just a sentence a day, journaling is proven to help you process events in your life better, and it can even be exciting to look back on in the future. And yes, guys can totally do this too.
3. Do a puzzle.
Despite what you might think, puzzles aren't just for the elderly. I recently found a Star Wars puzzle at the store and had a really fun time putting it together with my roommates. It was challenging, but also relaxing. Word puzzles can be a lot of fun, too!
4. Get a pet.
While this may end up causing more stress if you're not ready for one, having a living companion can be immensely comforting. Even if it's something relatively small and low-maintenance like a hamster or turtle, having the responsibility over another living thing can lift your spirits and zap your stress away.
5. Paint by number.
The picture above was taken by my friend last summer when I decided a "paint by number" might be a really relaxing way for me to spend my Saturdays. Six hours later, I couldn't be more content and stress-free. You don't have to have artistic ability, just be patient and have fun!
6. Learn a new language.You don't have to have a goal of being trilingual in 6 months to explore a new language. It's exciting just to be at the grocery store and know how to say the names of different fruits in Italian, or maybe you just want to finally figure out what Lady Marmalade is saying in her song.
Photo Courtesy: Backstage Photography NYC
There’s no question that eye contact is integral to acting; connecting with your scene partner and engaging in the give-and-take of the relationship is one of the foundations of the craft and eye contact is central to that process.
There is almost no better way to know where you stand with your partner than by taking in his or her eyes. This means that making frequent eye contact with your partner should generally be a big part of almost every scene you do. It’s an observation that’s so obvious it perhaps borders on trite, and yet many actors don’t make enough eye contact with their partners. This suggests to us, the audience, that they aren’t all that interested in their partner’s attitude on the evolving situation of the scene and that’s bad news. An actor who isn’t invested in their partner is likely self-conscious, possibly self-indulgent.
But it’s also true that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. There are certain very high-stakes situations that might involve longer periods of steady eye contact, but an actor who never breaks eye contact is likely going to seem artificially fixated, maybe even becoming physically disengaged as if they had fallen into a sort of trance.
At first blush, it can seem like there may not be an issue: when you act, you attempt to enter into the character’s circumstances, then follow your impulses. If your impulse is to look at your partner, you look at your partner. If your impulse is to look away, you look away.
The trouble with this is that although you’re engaged in living in the character’s situation, the pressures on you, the actor, are somewhat different from those of the character. You have to remember lines, the character doesn’t. You’re aware of being watched and/or recorded by a camera, your character isn't. Your character is likely interacting with someone with whom they have a real relationship, you are engaged in pretending with another actor that you are engaging in a real relationship.
As a result of these pressures on you that are different from those of the character, you may sometimes have impulses that depart from what’s appropriate for the character, particularly when it comes to what your eyes are doing.
So there’s a bit of a needle to be threaded here between too little eye contact on the one hand and too much on the other.
A simple example: It’s easier to recall lines if you disengage from eye contact with your partner. This is a fact. As a result, many actors get in the habit of disconnecting from the partner in the moment when they are finding the impulse to speak because they’re trying to recall the line. This habit often persists in their performance, even as they become more confident with the lines and can end up meaning that none of their impulses to speak are borne out of receiving off of the partner! Not a good state of affairs.
This pattern appears in student work with some frequency and when I can get a student who is consistently disengaging as he starts to speak to stop doing this and instead look at the partner as they find the impulse to speak, the difference in the student’s work is often quite dramatic.
My recommendation regarding eye contact? As you begin work on a scene, it’s good to err on the side of more eye contact than might feel normal or comfortable. Brain scientists have indicated that eye contact supports bonding, so having a lot of contact in the beginning, helps to make the pretend-relationship you’re engaging in with your partner take root and acquire some solidity. It’s particularly important to find the impulse to speak through receiving off of the partner aka eye contact.
As the rehearsal process unfolds and the connection with the partner feels stronger, you can loosen things up and allow yourself to disengage from eye contact more, trusting that you won’t lose your connection even when you’re not making eye contact.
But don’t disengage too much! While every scene is different, plenty of eye contact is important—even essential—to make a scene work. As Jimmy Cagney famously said, actors should “hit your mark, look your partner in the eye, and tell the truth!”
Ah, your personal website. I can’t even count the number of my actor friends who have lost hours of their life, thousands of dollars, and several patches of hair in an attempt to get it right. It seems like it’s always a work in progress, heck, I was just emailing my coder yesterday asking for an update on old problems. Yes, it’s true, the whole processis simply frustrating. (Maybe even more so than those pesky auditions!) But it doesn’t have to be.
Hopefully the following advice will help you avoid some of the more common website-related pitfalls.
Top 5 Mistakes Actors Make on Their Websites
1. Amateur Design - There’s a LOT of non-sense out there. Always look at a portfolio of someone’s work before hiring them, and remember that you usually get what you pay for. If someone’s former work looks like something from 1997, steer clear. An outdated website is worse than any website at all.
2. Third person updates - Unless you’re a huge star, it’s just plain weird to write your news and/or blog updates in the third person. It’s YOUR website, so people expect for it to be personal. The exception with this is your bio, which can be written in first or third person, but avoid mistake #3…
3. Overly pompous language - It is incredibly annoying to read bios peppered with cheesy self-importance, i.e. “With her incredible work ethic and talent, Taryn is on the rise to becoming Hollywood’s next big starlet!” Barf. Think like a journalist and stick to facts. What are your credits? Hobbies? Feel free to be funny, just not egotistical.
4. Flash website - Ten years ago, flash was in. Unfortunately, it’s quickly becoming a useless format because it’s not compatible with smart phones and iPads. (Not to mention the loading times can often be quite annoying.) Make sure your website is being built in HTML5, the most common and adaptable mark up language for the web.
5. Un-updateable website - If you can’t update your website with new photos, videos, bios, and/or news on your own, you’re going to have a heart attack . Make sure that however your site is built - through Joomla, Wordpress, or otherwise - that you have access to the back-end and you understand how to update the website elements. Have your designer walk you through the process when the site is complete so you can avoid having to email him/her with annoying updates.
Okay, so enough about mistakes, here’s what you absolutely NEED!
The 5 Essentials For An Actor’s Website
1. A business email - In addition to your agents/managers info, you need a way to be reached at all times Make the address separate from your personal email. Use Gmail, but feel free to customize if you see fit (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org.)
2. Embedded reels - Make sure your reels are easy to find, and use the YouTube player. The HD quality is as good as ever, and it loads FAR faster than Vimeo. If you’re worried about privacy, you can keep the video unlisted on YouTube, so that only people who stop by your website can actually view it.
3. Promotional and/or behind the scenes photos - Just posting headshots is so boring, and only gives people a one-dimensional view of who you are. Include promotional photos, press photos (if you have them), and/or behind the scenes shots of you on set. Yay! Now you’re a real person, not just an “actor.”
4. Social media links - Make sure you include links to your Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages (if you have them) and encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter (if you have one).
5. Bio - A good bio goes a long way. If you can make it funny like, even better. You can include your credits on this page as well.
So now you know what to avoid AND what you need, but you don’t know a good designer/programmer?
Weebly, Squarespace and Wordpress are a good place to start. Just drop and load. All of these sites have great tips, great support and easy to understand HTML.
Happy web developing!