9 Tips to Kick off 2016

Here is a recent article I wrote for Backstage, offering actor's some very easy resolutions for 2016 to bring their career to the next level.  

Here we go with the New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, read more books, run five miles a day, take up online dating, buy a French Bulldog, get more Instagram followers, stop being crazy. Once we get past the awkward holiday conversations—(“When will I see you on TV?” “Why don’t you just get a part on ‘Blue Bloods’?”)—we turn our attention to the new year, and how to push our career forward. 

What can you do to move your career forward in 2016? The business is always changing, and it’s important that actors keep up with the current trends.

Here are nine tips to start the year off right:

1. Take a class with a working professional. Actors need to know how to book jobs in today’s market. Plain and simple. Learn from someone who knows the business, who works in it, and understands current trends in the casting landscape. Athletes are constantly training so they are ready for the big game. You should do the same. Take an audition class and practice auditioning for the camera. It’s a different muscle, and must be exercised all the time so you are ready when the next one comes along.

2. Update your headshot and résumé. Take off the extra work and featured work (they don’t belong on a résumé), make sure it is formatted correctly (many actors do this wrong), and have it saved as a PDF so you can email it on a moment’s notice. If you haven’t had your headshots taken in two years, it’s time to get new ones. 

3. Track down your footage. Still waiting for your student film footage? Read my last articleabout how to stalk the directors and get your footage right away. If you don’t have any footage, have two scenes taped. 

4. Re-evaluate your type. Are you between types? Maybe you are transitioning to a new type. Ask around and make sure you are presenting yourself the way others see you. Perhaps you are going from cool college kid to hip young parent. 

5. Create your own opportunities. Now more than ever actors need to take control and create their own content. Get your friends together, rent a good camera, write a good short script or webisode, and create a role for yourself. No excuses here. 

6. Get new audition monologues. With new content coming out all the time, there is no reason that every actor in town shouldn’t have a current, original monologue from a TV show that isn’t overdone, that they can transcribe for themselves. For actors who want to break into TV, this is essential.

7. Make a website. Don’t have one yet? Welcome to 2016. It’s free and easy, and everyone asks for it. Create a simple site in Squarespace or Weebly, put your headshot, résumé, reel, and contact info on it, and then put your website link on your résumé and business cards. Trust me. 

8. Learn how to self-tape. Here are my “13 Tips for Better Self-Taping.” ’Nuff said. 

9. Get a hobby. Acting can be very frustrating, and everyone needs to have something else to focus on that makes them happy. If you get bogged down in your survival job, and rejection, you will start to question why you are doing this in the first place. Actors need inspiration, and a challenge. Find something on the side that makes you happy, that you are doing because you love it, not because you want to make money doing it. This will help your sanity when those auditions come along, and you won’t be putting all of your eggs in that one basket.

I love actors, and I think it’s very important that we present ourselves as professionals, and we will be treated as such. 

Good luck, and let’s kick butt in 2016!