May 26, 2014

Advice for Actresses

Think you're ready for a close-up? Not so fast...

Once upon a time, a Steampunk enthusiast approached me at the Pure Speculation Festival and asked me, "How can I be a film actress?" Yikes. That's a really hard question. I think I replied, "uhhhhhhhhh... " while suppressing the rising urge to scream, "No child! Run for the hills!" So I've been thinking and cynicism aside - or as much as humanly possible - here is my advice:
Take classes.
My education was pretty self-indulgent. I studied scripts, wore dance unitards, and explored the colour purple in interpretive movement. I played chuckle belly in public places.  Also, there was some making out. Did I learn anything? Who knows. But I met some great people. And great kissers.

Get an Agent.
Without an agent, you just won't hear about the auditions and they can be a great person to help direct your talent. Although, they can also contact you to audition for your own movie. That was awkward.

Meet budding filmmakers.
Find a local co-op where independent filmmakers hone their skills and will be looking for non-ACTRA talent, because they cannot afford union. You'll meet great people, collaborate, and actually get something to pad your resume. In Edmonton, check out FAVA:

Do it yourself.
Make your own film & cast yourself. Pull some friends together and just have fun. Try it.

Ask yourself: Is this a hobby or passion? 
If it's a hobby, then do it. Have fun, learn, pick up a camera and improvise. Many short films don't require a script - just make something.

If it's your passion - meaning you can't not do it - then you need to be bold, get your headshot and resume out and meet people you can work with and let them know you're serious. Then - don't wait for permission, which always goes back to my tried-and-true mantra: don't be "just" an actress

This industry is competitive, sexist, full of twisted sleazy people who perpetuate an image of beauty that can only be obtained through drug use and an eating disorder. Protect yourself by having some clout and purpose. It can be a long time in-between acting gigs and the only guarantee about being on the big screen is that someone on the Internet will be calling you fat, no matter what you look like. So brace yourself.

But this industry can also be very thrilling, engaging, collaborative, and fulfilling if you're grounded and know what you're all about. And if acting is your passion, but you find yourself saying "I don't write," "I don't direct," "I don't know how to use a camera," then it's time to take a good look at yourself and ask, why not?

And if you're still only interested in owning a very small piece of the film industry and no desire for anything else, then roll the dice and move to Vancouver or L.A. Throw some elbows.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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