woman sitting in theater

6 Actor Traps Professionals Should Avoid

Don’t fall into these common ACTOR TRAPS that are surefire ways to lead you towards dissatisfaction in your acting career.

  1. Over-analyzing your audition. Give yourself 2 minutes to think about how you can improve your audition next time. Write down some tips for yourself. THEN LET IT GO! Replaying your audition over and over in your head for days on end won’t book you the job, make you feel good, OR make you a better auditioner. Follow the 2 minute rule– and then MOVE ON WITH LIFE.
  2. Lights, Camera, Action!Not making time to enjoy other things in life. I say this ALL the time. YOU ARE NOT AN ACTOR ROBOT. If you are only doing acting related things you aren’t populating your brain with new life experiences to source from when building new characters. The more life you live…the more interesting things you can use to build incredibly realistic and authentic performances. Go out there and do new things and meet new people.
  3. Skipping the research. If you aren’t making time to research the work you are going in for– then step aside and leave the business for the true professionals. With the internet at your fingertips– there is no reason why you can’t set aside an hour to research a role you are right for or a show you are auditioning for. Going in blind doesn’t send casting the message that you will take the job seriously. Dig a little deeper.
  4. Selecting overdone material. With millions of choices for great material out there, there is no need to do things that are known to be overdone. Veer away from materials that are being done time and time again and swap it out for specific choices that are perfect for you. Look at earlier bodies of work– or lesser known bodies or work. Or repurpose something to fit your needs. Unexpected material that suits you and the project are the best routes.
  5. Submitting for jobs they aren’t right for or don’t want. Nothing frustrates casting more than someone who takes time out of their auditions for “relationship building” and not because they actually are right for the job. That is a selfish move and could certainly backfire in a big way. Make sure you want the job/are RIGHT for the job/ are AVAILABLE for the job. Time is money for casting teams and when you knowingly take advantage of their audition process you will put an unnecessary dent in what could have been a positive relationship. Don’t lose trust going out for the wrong jobs.
  6. Comparing your careers to others. Everyone is different and this journey is no exception. What works for one person doesn’t work for all people. You need to customize your path, and make adjustments depending on what helps YOU to be bookable.

Need help navigating this advance along with all the other the ins and the outs of your acting career? Consider our FAST TRACK program. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection. Colleen is an expert helping aspiring actors find acting classes not only in New York, but also in Atlanta and LA.

Photo kindly by Vladimir Fedotov.

six eggs laid out

6 Reasons Why It’s The BEST Time To Pursue Your Acting Career!

Ok so it has been a tumultuous time for our industry with pandemic related shut downs and restrictions— but I STILL think that it is a better time than EVER to start pursuing your acting career. Enjoy my list below (in no particular order) of some of the wonderful elements that our current world has brought to our wild and crazy industry.

  1. Media LogosStreaming created TONS of new opportunities. There is more work being produced now than EVER before. Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Hulu, Netflix, Disney +– the list of streaming services acquiring and producing new works goes ON and ON. With such a need for content, more projects are being produced more than ever. Sure, they are all not big box office releases with mega budgets— but that is why it is good for YOU. All these projects can’t afford A listers, so they are discovering new talent left and right– making lots of room for you in features and recurring roles on new episodics.
  2. Covid made self-tapes the new norm, opening up new opportunities. Once upon a time, if you couldn’t make the audition, you lost your chance. Now everything starts out via tapes! Traveling? Bring your self-tape equipment! Sore throat today? Tape it tomorrow! Self-tapes allow you more time to perfect your audition, more time to squeeze an audition into your schedule, and EVEN SOMETIMES the ability to participate in projects outside of your local area.
  3. Equity membership is OPEN. Equity JUST announced that membership is now OPEN to those who have received compensation for theatrical work. New professionals can now join the union and avoid the strict joining guidelines that used to be in place. Check out the Actor’s Equity site to learn more.
  4. Numerous online resources. You can find information about auditions, casting directors, agencies, self-tapes, voiceovers– YOU NAME IT– just a quick google search away. You can find all sorts of blogs, podcasts and info on career strategy and know-how so you can get your most pressing career related questions answered as they pop into your head.
  5. Diversity is embraced. Our industry is embracing and celebrating diversity and we are HERE for it! All looks, shapes and sizes are being brought to the table for projects and it is truly exciting! Finally our industry is catching up to what is actually represented in our worlds!
  6. No need for tons of printed color headshots. I miss opening up that box of pristine pictures but– boy oh boy are we all saving LOTS of money! It’s good to have a handful of hard copies always at the ready— but in our virtual lives these days, emailed files are preferred and used MOST of the time.

It’s a good time to be you. It’s a good time to be here. It’s a good time to show the world your talent! Don’t forget— if you are craving training by top notch Casting Directors— we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of upcoming classes and events HERE!

Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection. Colleen is an expert dealing with online casting especially in regards to New York. If you find yourself wondering how to meet casting directors, Colleen can help. Photo kindly by Danielle MacInnes.

woman approaching sunrise

Room For You

In a competitive industry, many actors worry about whether there is ROOM for them. If there are other actors that look like them and can play the same characters just as well– then how can they succeed?

Well let me say with 100% confidence that if you are passionate about this work being the most perfect fit for you– then there IS ROOM FOR YOU IN THIS INDUSTRY.

No one is YOU. Not even close.

No one’s heart can come even close to replicating yours. How could it? No one has been through the emotional ups and downs that you have. No one has lived through life making the exact decisions you have made– and have been served the exact same lessons the exact same way. All of those little details that are intimately you, are YOURS and YOURS alone.

So if NO ONE can be you… precisely YOU…. well then as long as you approach your work authentically… NO ONE can give the exact same performance.

child laughingAny audition appointment you get– they want to see one thing. YOUR version of the character. If they wanted to see someone else’s version of the work– well they would set up an appointment with them and NOT you. When you are brought to the table– it is your JOB to do a performance as only YOU can give it. And there is no one as qualified to bring YOURSELF to the work– as YOU!

Thinking this way as you approach your auditions can help keep you feeling empowered as an artist. Stop worrying about what the other side of the table WANTS and start focusing on what YOU want to BRING. You can’t control anyone else’s decisions but your own. So make the decision to make YOURSELF proud. Make choices that YOU have fun with. Trying to get into the head of someone else will trip you up. Do your research and understand the story and vibe to the best of your ability and then make the choices that make YOU feel good.

Stop WORRYING about the other people auditioning. Stop WORRYING about what the other side of the table wants. Start CREATING things that ONLY YOU can create and see how THAT brings you new places in your career. Auditioning IS the work, and if you find yourself having more fear than fun, you need to take a step back and check in with yourself. Fear doesn’t book jobs. Fun on the other hand…..that’s a different story!

For more help on making creative choices in the audition room– check out our online classes!

Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection, offering online acting classes and workshops for teens and adults alike.

Photo kindly by Jean Gerber. Additional insert photo thank you to Ben White

talent agent new york

Looking for NY Representation? Check Out This List!

If you’re currently looking for NY representation, this is the blog article you don’t want to miss.

Even during a pandemic, there have been many talent agencies that have recently expanded from Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston into the NY Market.

telent agent nycBefore you submit, it’s important for you to do your due diligence. You should check out their websites and IMDbPro listing to see if they are missing your type on their rosters. Their websites can also really give you an insider perspective into their missions as agencies and many of them you can submit directly to via their website.

Pro Tip: Read their submission instructions thoroughly and don’t submit unless you have all of your materials together that they are requesting. Also, if you’re not happy with your headshots, resume, clips, demos etc., wait and update them and then submit when you are ready.

If you’re looking for NY or Atlanta representation, I’d also recommend picking up Up-to-Date Theatricals NYC Agent Directory or South East Entertainment Directory.

The NYC Agent Directory includes a quick look of WHO’S SEEKING WHO and will guide you in what age ranges and types the agencies are currently seeking.

New NY Agencies are:
Gill Talent Group
Park Artists Group
PureFlare Acting and Modeling Agency
The Collective
The Green Agency
The Movement Talent Agency
Universal Attractions Agency
WSM Talent

Newer NY Agencies:
Eris Talent Agency
STW Talent

The Hell’s Kitchen Agency

Recently merged NY Agencies:
Bonafide & Emerging Artists

This article was written by Tony Nation, a partner at the Actors Connection, and an expert in Acting Classes not only for New York City, but also Atlanta, LA, and beyond.

man on hill in sun

Why Positive Visualizations Will Improve Your Auditions

Visualizing yourself achieving major goals is an incredible tool when it comes to setting yourself up for success. But how does it work exactly?

As an actor, you make an income from having a great imagination. You regularly access your brain in a way most people don’t. Why not harness that brainpower more fully?

When you visualize your achievements — your mind is basically “rehearsing” living the event. Not only will it give you the confidence to perform well when you are actually in the scenario, but it harnesses your subconscious to conspire to support you in subtle shifts and new inspiration. Visualization techniques are one of the most powerful ways to tap your hidden talents and potential and help empower you to make better decisions under pressure.

So why aren’t you using it before your auditions? 

Follow these easy steps to start a visualization practice before your next audition– we can’t wait to hear how it helps you!

STEP 1: Sit in a quiet, comfortable place. Close your eyes. Focus on long deep breaths.

STEP 2: Set the scene in your mind. Imagine the audition in as much detail as you can. Visualize what the room might look like. Visualize you and what you are wearing. What are the sounds? Smells?

STEP 3: Think through the action steps of the audition. What do you want to happen? What is said? What is seen? What is heard? The more detail here the better. Imagine the action you are taking. Imagine the perfect discoveries you find in the text. Imagine how “at home” you feel in this character and how honestly you connect with your reader. Most importantly, feel the confidence and success in your body as things unfold beautifully. Where do you feel that success in your body? What does it do to your energy? Revel for a moment in that energy. Enjoy it. Savor it. Live this moment during this meditation– and live it the exact way you would like for it to go down.

STEP 4: Imagine your results. Feel how it makes you feel. Did you “book” the room? Is everyone smiling? Did you change the energy of the room? Did you uplift the creative team? What was said? How did it feel to make yourself proud of your grounded authentic work? Where do you feel that joy in your body? Focus in on that energy like you are memorizing the energy itself. Revel in it.

STEP 5: Open your eyes but maintain that energy of confidence and success as you go about your day.

Pro Tip: A visualization like this should be enjoyable. It should make you feel great. Let any negative thoughts that come up melt away and enjoy focusing on the positive.

Pro Tip 2: The more you visualize this, the more you will be rehearsing your audition energy and confidence, the easier it will be to tap into it in the moment.

Looking for more tips and tools for your acting career? Register for a free consultation to learn about what classes are right for you. CLICK HERE to get started.


Many people ask us how to meet casting directors and acting agents. We hope this article by Actors Connection President Colleen Kahl helps you on that path. Photo kindly by @pabloheimplatz

talent agent nyc

Tips to Move Your Career Forward Without An Agent

So many actors falsely believe that you NEED an agent to launch your career. While having representation is certainly helpful and definitely an ultimate career goal, you don’t need to feel stuck until you find your perfect match. Actors have been finding success prior to representation for YEARS and there are actions you can be taking to get the ball rolling. Here are some tips you can use to start getting the momentum you crave!

Create Actors Access/Casting Networks Profiles and Self-Submit

You can submit for professional jobs immediately, even without a New York talent agent, once you have accounts with Actors Access and Casting Networks. Both sites offer profiles where you can add your experience and headshots and submit for auditions right thru their website platforms. Not all jobs are available to the public for submissions, but there are many that ARE posted on there– and you should be self-submitting for all the work you are right for!

Make Your Own Content

It can be hard to accurately showcase your abilities thru credits only. Clips of your work is a great way to really show others your talents, regardless of if you have an NYC talent agent. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be cast in a project that resulted in good footage of your work, consider making it yourself! Focus on characters and stories that you are most suited for via type and capabilities. Work with a team to produce short works that can help demonstrate your talents.

Befriend Filmmakers, Directors and Producers and Work on their Projects

Show business is heavily reliant on relationships. People in this industry, particularly agents in NYC, like to work with other talented people that they enjoy. With this in mind, try to meet lots of people who work in other areas of our business. Help them on their passion projects and while you do so, you’ll meet other people in their circles. Every new project with each new person brings a whole new circle of professional contacts. Build a reputation for being helpful, professional and a solid go-to choice for when your type is needed. Having a large network who trusts your work is a great way to get direct offers for projects. Side note–Don’t be afraid to learn other production skills so help open doors and establish trust.

Research and Reach Out Regarding Direct Submissions

When you have a full understanding of the work being done in your area, you will always be in the know on projects coming down that pipeline that could be perfect for you. When this is the case, never hesitate to reach out to casting/directors/producers directly! Brief emails regarding why you are a fit for the show/role/project along with your headshot and resume can turn into auditions and opportunities! This, however, is very research driven– so make sure you are always looking up opportunities and staying on top of your research game!

These are just a few tips to help you build your experiences while you are looking for a great rep that is right for you. Remember– take your time. There is so much you can be doing in the meantime– you never need to feel like you are powerless without representation!

hello sign!

The Art of the Follow-Up

So you met someone in this industry? Awesome! In such a relationship-based business, we should constantly be meeting new contacts to build our rolodex of people who know and appreciate our work. It is part of the job as an actor to be marketing yourself and making new connections. So how do you stay in contact with these individuals in a professional way?

Here are some tips below, on how to get an agent or meet a casting director!

Start with a thank you or a nice to meet you note shortly after your first encounter. Add something specific about your conversation to help them remember you and show that you were truly listening.

Make sure your actor website is in your email signature. Imbed your headshot in the signature as a small image at the bottom of your email as well. This enforces a face with the name to help them remember you beyond your initial meeting. This is also helpful if they ever need to access your materials– they can find it through a simple email search!

Reach back out when you have interesting career news to share. That includes sharing new headshots, you created your own content (and you are proud of it because it is GOOD!) you booked a job, your episode is airing or the like. People want to hear about your WINS! It tells the story of an actor on their way up to success! That always piques someone’s interest.

Don’t reach out just to say “I’m alive, remember me” — all correspondence should be with a purpose. Emails just to say “hi” or follow-up for no real reason just cloud a person’s inbox and waste your time and theirs.

Reach out if you have something THEY would be interested in— based off of your knowledge of that person– do you have/know something that would be of interest to them that isn’t about you but about them? An article? An opportunity? A contact for them? That is a great reason to get in touch! Help them solve some sort of problem they have!

Industry movers and shakers get hundreds of emails daily. If they don’t write back, don’t be offended. When you are unsure if you should follow-up or not, feel free to contact Actors Connection for guidance. Sometimes you need to let a relationship breathe. Think of it as tending to a garden. You water the flowers so they can grow, but if you overwater, they die. You need to tend to your garden carefully and thoughtfully.

If a new contact requested that you contact them for a meeting or opportunity, do so immediately. Don’t let time lapse when someone is waiting on your availability, materials or response. Show that you are a professional that can return correspondence in a timely fashion. These relationships are the foundation for the business and you should be holding office hours for yourself to get this follow-up work accomplished in a timely manner to continue to impress your contacts and build trust with them.

Don’t OVER ASK for anything. If you have a request to make be sure it is 1) Important 2) Not too time consuming 3) Only 1 thing. Your contacts don’t work for you. Asking for favors should only happen if it is VITAL. If you are asking for something, make sure that you only ask for one thing and that it is appropriate. If you are wondering how to meet a Casting Director… a casting director you met one time doesn’t want to look at all 500 of your headshots to help you pick one. That is a task better suited for your coach. Think about if your current relationship warrants the request you are about to make.

Remember, time is an important resource for EVERYONE. Always keep in mind how much time your request may take someone and adjust your request accordingly. A whole script is a lot for someone you don’t know really well to read— but just a few pages– that can be a different story!

Hope these tips help you as you continue to build relationships in your business. Handling all correspondence with respect and professionalism is key to building the necessary trust for a strong relationship. Now go ahead and KIT!

Many actors ask us “How to get an agent” or “How to meet a casting director?” We hope this article by Actors Connection President Colleen Kahl helps you on that path. Photo by @drew_beamer

virtual accounts

7 Virtual Accounts Every Actor Should Have

With an abundance of resources marketing for your attention, it can be hard to decide which online accounts you REALLY need as an actor. So, in an effort to help, here is a list of sites that we feel actors should prioritize!

7 Virtual Accounts Every Actor Should Have

ActorsAccess.com

Actors Access is a no-brainer. Actors Access is the actor side of Breakdown Express. Breakdown Express is the system that Casting Directors use to release auditions to Agents in the appropriate region. On Actors Access, actors are able to submit for some of those auditions directly. Having an updated profile here is a great way to submit for opportunities and a must-have for actors with or without agents. On your profile you can upload headshots and clips to give those looking a good sense of your professional capabilities and get in the running for appropriate opportunities.

CastingNetworks.com

Casting Networks is similar to Actors Access and some Casting Departments prefer only to use this system– making it important to have both Actors Access and Casting Networks to allow optimal access to opportunities. Casting Networks also offers scheduling and audition management so more of the process can be organized through that platform.

UptoDateActor.com

This service is on the newer side and an organizational blessing for actors! In this business, you are meeting people day in and day out and keeping notes on your industry contacts is vital for building many new relationships at once. In Up to Date Actor, you can track all your data about auditions, meetings, find the best new classes AND look up contact information for new contacts you’d like to connect with. You can even pull reports at the end of the year and analyze some of your important business choices. And our favorite part? You can select certain industry guests to see when they are doing events or teaching classes near you!

CastingAbout.com

This service is a tried and true website for finding project and team information. Want to know who is casting what? Looking for associate info for a casting director? Want to know if an office has social media? Casting About is a great place to find all of those answers and stay in the know on the hottest projects announced on both coasts.

IMDBPro.com

tony nationOnce you start booking work in tv and film, you’ll want to get it listed on the IMDB database under your own personal profile. This database also tracks when projects are still in production or completed so individuals looking for more information on the work you have done lately can find out about the more notable projects you have been involved with. Think of it as an industry verified resume.

Backstage.com

Backstage is a great resource for theatre actors looking to learn about projects at all levels. Postings on Backstage often include union and non-union opportunities but since it operates as a public bulletin board, you should always carefully vet each opportunity before applying to be sure it is a fit for you. Backstage is especially helpful in finding initial resume builder opportunities.

Actors Connection.com

All actors should focus on growing their skillset while pursuing professional opportunities– enter us at Actors Connection! Learn from Casting Directors, Agents, Managers and other industry professionals so you can build contacts while you fine tune your audition techniques and skills both on and off the camera! Now offering classes online, you can study with our impressive team of educators from anywhere in the world!

Actors Connection also offers regular free seminars and has a staff available to help you with career questions no matter if you are a beginner or seasoned professional! If you are new to us, please join us for a new client orientation to learn more and get access to a new student discount! For dates on the next session, CLICK HERE.

 

Colleen Finnegan Kahl Blog

The 10 Commandments of Content Creation

It’s no secret. The industry time and time again suggests to actors that creating your own content is a great way to get ahead while you are waiting for your big break. So have you started your own project yet? Before you do, read these 10 important things to keep in mind as you begin your career changing content creation journey.

film set

 

  1. Give yourself a vital role. The content you create to help your acting career should be focused on showcasing YOUR ACTING! Give yourself something great to do on film or on stage in your content creation piece. Show off talent and skills your previous work didn’t allow you to show. Great content creation can become your calling card. Don’t skimp on your role! This is not an ego play– this is being a smart creator!
  2. Budget Smart. Content Creation CAN get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Create a budget for yourself and prioritize your resources towards the most important parts of the project. Set a number for the project ahead of the game. Do solid research on the varying expenses and partner with individuals who can help you save on different services. Don’t just spend as you go. Track all expenses.
  3. Quality over Quantity. A well-done piece of content creation always overshadows a bunch of poorly produced content. Choose to make shorter, quality pieces over longer projects. Make sure you have the budget to see the full project through– and if that turns your web series into a really solid pilot episode only– that is absolutely ok!
  4. Work with a Good Team. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the roles involved in a project. Surround yourself with a team you trust and delegate important tasks. Make sure you are picky about who you work with and find people who also need great examples of content they can make. Trying to do it all will slow you down and can inhibit the quality of your finished piece. Build strong relationships with people who have skills different than yours and be sure all bases are covered.
  5. Be Original. Has the world seen this story before? Told the same way? Well then what can you do differently? Don’t just make a new version of someone else’s work. Make interesting choices and be specific with them. Take a unique point of view.
  6. Make sure your storytelling is clear. If people don’t understand your work, it won’t get the positive results you crave. Double check that your storytelling is clear throughout the piece. Get opinions on if the details of your project are clear. Test your storyboards and rough edits on fresh eyes and ask the viewer questions to be sure they understand what you are trying to say.
  7. Carefully Plan the Life Cycle of Your Project. Write down your goals and timeline and build out a schedule. Life can get busy and many people push their personal projects aside when it does. When you put things in your calendar from the beginning, it’ll be easier to protect your time and finish the different phases of your work.
  8. Submit to festivals. Once your work is completed, explore what festivals and contests it may be eligible for. You could win cash towards your next piece of content and make great new connections! Festival acceptances and wins are also great for your resume and for the marketing of your project.
  9. Market The Finished Project. TELL THE WORLD! Creativity should be shared! Make sure your whole team is celebrating the piece on social media and driving as many eyeballs to the project as possible. The more people know about it, the more chances you have of the RIGHT people finding out about it. Talk with your team about which industry contacts you should send your work to. Be specific. Blanket submissions aren’t helpful here, but thoughtful ones could land you important meetings and impressive results.
  10. Only Launch work you are proud of. Once your work is out there— especially via an internet launch, it can be very hard to scrub it completely off the internet if you determine later it is no good. Only launch work that you are PROUD of. This doesn’t mean that you won’t grow and gain new skills later— of course people expect your work to get better as you continue on in this industry. When you launch, though, make sure that you feel great about your finished product— you never know who is watching!

Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection, offering online acting classes and workshops (zoom acting lessons!) for teens and adults alike. Photo kindly by @wbayreuther.

Generous Networker

How to Be A Generous Networker

Anyone you meet could end up being a vital link to a completely different level of success. You never know the people and contacts who will change your life or your career for the better. Looking at new people through this lens is exciting– but a word of caution. Relationships built on need, aren’t satisfying and most industry contacts in our field can sense “NEED” right away, and unfortunately be completely turned off from helping you.

So how do you build important relationships without being a dreaded needy energy vampire?

BECOME A GENEROUS NETWORKER.

When in doubt, adopt the philosophy of giving before getting anything from anyone. Generosity is a wonderful relationship builder– and you’ll feel good about the help you provide people along the way. You can find something they are interested in and connect them to an interesting article or opportunity involving it. Or you can introduce them to someone who can solve a problem for them (this can be as simple as suggesting a great plumber or sharing an industry contact you have made). Either way it involves one VERY important element.

LISTENING.

You can’t figure out how to help someone if you are doing most of the talking. Actors naturally gravitate towards the spotlight and are eager to share details about their craft and life. Give that impulse a backseat and 100% focus on the person you are talking to. Ask them questions about themselves. Let those questions spark more questions. Enjoy discovering who this person is. This is a networker’s MOST IMPORTANT work. You can’t fully connect with people or help them connect with each other effectively if you don’t fully understand them in the first place. Take the time to do this. And more importantly— find the joy in it!

click for seminarsA little word of caution…when it comes to helping someone to build your relationship with them, don’t translate that to mean hours upon hours of free labor. Simple, focused, thoughtful actions and connections are the best. Full on projects for someone else as a favor reeks of neediness and is not necessary. Showing you listen, remembering what someone says, referring back to it or helping them in a small way is enough to start to build a lovely relationship.

ADDITIONAL PRO-NETWORKING TIP: Write things down! After you meet contacts, jot the things you want to remember about them in a journal or computer file so you can refer back when your mind may get hazy. There are so many things you need to remember– lines, appointments, passwords— you don’t want to waste your networking experience by forgetting what you have learned about someone. Another great way to do this is jot a few notes down on their business card or in the notes section of your phone!

Photo kindly by @marvelous