5 essential characters in animation

5 Essential Characters in Animation by Paul Liberti

As a voice actor who is auditioning/working in animation…

Identify what relationship you are playing in regards to the main character. Character contrast makes a story exciting and becomes storytelling. As an actor, identifying your relationships – will help you discover your character arc in the storytelling. All great acting is about the relationship. Understanding that relationship – gives you a reason to move forward in the story.

Characters need to BALANCE each other in a story…

Characters’ ‘push and pull’ interactions move the story along. The evil character is a negative reflection of the depth of the good of the lead character. A mentor character can often push our lead to another level of self-actualization. Each character holds an essential balance for telling the entire story.

5 Characters – Essential to an Animation Story

1. The Protagonist – “I’m ready for my entrance…”

The protagonist is our hero/heroine, and the story is told from their point of view. They have the most to lose and the most to gain. The audience is meant to identify with the protagonist the most. This character does the most growth in the story. Their journey creates the story’s theme, and what they do – moves our story forward.

2. The Antagonist – “Bwa Ha-ha!!’

This character directly opposes the main character and creates obstacles for our hero. KEEP IN MIND – this could be an actual character OR an aspect of the main character’s personality.

3. The ‘Sidekick – ‘Holy H2O Batman!’

Every Batman needs a Robin. Loyal and supportive to the main character, this character’s goals align closely with our main character. Often the sidekick has differences from the main character – but they always compliment the main character.

4. The ‘Mentor’‘Do or do not. There is no try’.

The hero learns from this character. Often the mentor will take our hero on a journey and protect them on that journey. They are the ‘Conscience’ or moral compass which guides our hero/heroine, keeping them on the right path.

5. The ‘Love Interest’ – “Mhwa!”

Our hero is in love with this character, but this character may or may not love them back. They help to set our hero/heroine on their journey of self-discovery. This character is sometimes combined with other characters, i.e., the Antagonist or the Mentor.

When creating an animated character, Identify who they are in the story, and now you are not just playing a character – but a character RELATIONSHIP as well.


Written by Paul Liberti, Voice Director and Casting Director

Paul Liberti – Casting director and voice director for narration for THE RAZOR MAGAZINE. Paul is an acting teacher who teaches all genres of voice over including Commercial VO, Animation, Video Game, Narration and Promo. Paul is co-creator of AuthorDirect Audio, which directs nonfiction reads for Audible.

Paul has taught for many University acting programs annually and teaches sold out competitive classes in New York City, Los Angeles, and nationally and also for the SAG/AFTRA Foundation.

Paul has worked as a dialect coach on film sets, Broadway and London’s West End Theater, and Regional Theater with recent shows like Disney’s Frozen, USA Network – Falling Water, The National Theater’s – One Night in Miami, Greater Tuna, Anastasia, My Fair Lady, Carousel, Brigadoon and many others.

Paul has been a voice actor for Pokemon, Blues Clues, Noggin’s Pinky Dinky Doo, Saturday Night Live Cartoons, and Sesame Street and Jim Henson’s Muppets. He is currently the voice of Curious George & The Man In The Yellow Hat.

5 essential characters in animation Poster

imdb-logo

How to Boost your IMDb STARmeter Naturally and for FREE

If you’re a film/TV actor, then most likely you’re familiar with IMDb.

If you’re not, IMDb is the Internet Movie Database, an online database of information related to films, television series, home videos, video games, and streaming content online – including cast, production crew and personal biographies, plot summaries, trivia, ratings, and fan and critical reviews.

Essentially, it’s the who’s who of who’s working in the on-camera industry.

(For theatrical actors who have worked on Broadway, there’s IBDB, the Internet Broadway Database, which is the official source for Broadway information.)

For actors on IMDb, there is a ranking system called the STARmeter. It’s basically an online actor popularity contest / thermometer of who’s getting hot or who’s cooling down.

The STARmeter is available to view on IMDb Pro only, and it is updated weekly on Sundays. The ranking system was created and is managed by IMDb and they alone determine how every movie and actor are ranked based upon a complicated equation.

The lower the STARmeter number, the better:

200,000 and below indicates actors who are working regularly.

3,000-5,000 are actors you might have heard of.

2,000 and below are well known actors.

900 and below are stars, celebrities and top directors.

Who’s currently the #1 actor? At the time of this article being written, it’s Joseph Quinn who was on Game of Thrones in a small role but had a breakout role this year as Eddie Munson on Stranger Things season 4.

Joseph Quinns IMDb page

So, how do you boost your STARmeter?

First, make sure that your IMDb profile is up-to-date and that all of your information and credits are correct. (Verify that your film/TV credits are all there with the role you played, episodes you were in etc., add in your headshots, shots from being on set or screenshots from the production, add your bio, film/tv demo, articles with links etc.)

Second, the more credits you have plus online notoriety leads to more people clicking on your IMDb profile page thus boosting your rating. What if you don’t have credits? Well, you can actually produce your very own short films which is a fantastic way to start earning credits, improving your craft, getting camera time etc.

Third, share your IMDb page through your actor website, different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social networking sites leading to more people checking out your IMDb page.

Fourth, link your IMDb page in your email signature and in the bio section of your social media platforms.

Fifth, you scratch my back and I scratch yours: Another tip is to help other people promote their IMDb page, promote other actors, filmmakers, projects, producers, and then vice versa ask them to promote you and your projects.

Sixth, list your IMDb page in your press kit (if you have one).

IMDbSeventh, increase your overall STARmeter by working on a film set or attending film premieres with actors and celebrities rated in IMDb’s Top 5000 STARmeter. If you are in still frames, behind the scenes or event photos that are published to IMDb, you can tag yourself in the photos and get backlinks to your profile. This is especially advantageous if the photo is linked to a top 100 profile often, and a recently released title. The photo(s) display on all pages tagged, and crosslink your page with massive traffic.

Eighth, once you have all of this accomplished, forget about it and let IMDb and it’s algorithm do it’s thing. Focus your passion on your career and don’t worry too much about your STARmeter. Yes, you can pay for clicks but IMDb has already figured this out so there’s no need to waste your money. You’re better off using a site like Karmalicity. It’s a much more appealing way than paying hundreds or more a month to have a server farm hit your IMDb page and you get to join an online community of like minded professionals.

Ninth, check your score every 4-5 months to see where you are at and then adjust from there.

Having a steady flow of page views and likes will increase and hopefully stabilize your IMDb STARmeter ranking. Good luck and check out my IMDb page for more info on me.

Tony Nation is a professional actor who has worked in all areas of Showbusiness. You can currently see him on HBO’s THE REHEARSAL in the pilot episode, in season 3 of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL and in an upcoming animated feature film in 2023.

2022 Fall TV Schedule

Actors! How to Get Ready for the Fall TV Episodic Season

Want to be a booking machine this fall? We are rooting for you! Here are some of our tips to be READY to BOOK episodic work in the coming months.

UPDATE YOUR HEADSHOT AND RESUME

Your headshot and resume are your most important marketing materials. They need to be top notch ALWAYS! Update your resume after EVERY job and with every solid new skill obtained. If your picture hasn’t gotten you great results in the last year, now might be the time to get a new one. It should look like you on a good day, but also tell a bit of a story about what type of character you could play. Every actor should have a few different shots that showcases them as the perfect actor for each type of role they KNOW they can play right now. Headshots are SO IMPORTANT and are a worthy investment for actors! Check out some photographers we have worked with HERE.

GET IN CLASS

Say you go to the gym for 4 years to build incredible muscles. If you skip the gym for the following two years, you can’t possibly expect to be in the same physical shape. Same goes for your acting skillset. You need to be regularly using your creative muscles to stay sharp and emotionally agile for the roles you can play. Need to fine some fun classes? We offer over 130 options every month! CLICK HERE to view our list.

KNOW THE SHOWS

What market is closest to you? What shows film there? Who is casting each show? What shows are you a good fit for? Have you watched at least ONE EPISODE of each show filming in your home market? You need to answer ALL of these questions. When it comes to episodics, each show has it’s own flavor and style. In order to be successful auditioning for those shows, you need an understanding of the pace, story arc, and overall feel of the show as a whole. Don’t make guesses– good actors do their research! There’s enough left to chance in our industry– don’t chance your choices being off-brand for any production.

LEVEL-UP YOUR SELF-TAPE GAME

Poor self-tapes will keep you in an eternal booking dry spell. If you want to be competitive and stand out you MUST master this specific skill set. Your tapes MUST be well lit. No distracting shadows. You MUST be heard easily. If your device doesn’t have a good mic, consider investing in a lavalier mic that you can wear. You also need to come right out of the gate with some great specific choices. The best way to ensure you are doing that is to use a COACH! Find a go-to coach to help you with last minute self-tapes so you can be sure that you are putting your absolute best audition forward EVERY SINGLE TIME. Want someone to look at your recent self-tapes and help you determine what you can do better? Contact colleen@actorsconnection.com to learn more about our programs geared towards exactly that!

We hope this info helps you prepare for big successes for the upcoming season. We can’t wait for you to book a great job this fall! Tell Mom and Dad to get their DVRs ready!

2022 Fall TV Schedule in Grid Form


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 prepare for auditions, producing professional headshots, and acting training for theater and television.

LA personal manager Anna Lewkowska, CEO of LEWK MGMT

How Talent Agents and Managers Scan Actor Submissions

We recently found this great advice from LA personal manager Anna Lewkowska, CEO of LEWK MGMT, on how she honestly scans through hundreds of actor submissions.

  • She scrolls to the bottom of your submission email, so she can see your headshot, along the way briefly scanning your cover letter for any key things that pop out like credits, press, or training. (Less than 15 seconds)
  • If your headshot pulls her in, she will click on your reel (hopefully an easy to find link) & reallyyy focuses on your acting. Are you captivating on screen? Does she want more of you? Are names of people she should tell about you already coming to mind? Will America love you? 😍
  • If she liked your headshot and loved your reel, then she will go back and really read your cover letter this time to pick up on everything else there is to know about you. 🧐 Most cover letters don’t get read. Sorry.
  • Finally she will look at your socials to get a more honest feel of your personality and brand. Are you a creator, do you have a big following, are you political, do you market yourself aggressively, are you cool, are you into unicorns, do you live in another country? Lots to take in!!👽

Two More Points She Adds

If she’s intrigued by you, she likes to see your timeline of growth so she always check IMDb. Please make sure everything on there is updated.

If you’re already working with some agents that she loves, bonus points! 💥 We all have people we love & vibe with so if they’re already on your team, YAY! ❕Rarely, but it can happen, she will see an agent that she wouldn’t be too excited to team up with.

Check out Anna’s Twitter Feed here: https://twitter.com/AnnaLewk

question mark

ONE Question You MUST Answer REALLY WELL in order to Get an Agent

If you have been researching how to get an agent, you know it isn’t easy. There are HUNDREDS of tips and tools out there, but nothing is the magic juice. There are a lot of things that need to fall into place to finally obtain representation and get to the next level in your acting career.

There is no one size fits all tactic and everyone’s journey to finding a great professional rep is different. But there is ONE THING that is important in EVERY agent journey– and that is the ability to answer THIS QUESTION really well….

WHAT ROLES DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PLAYING?

Why is this question SO IMPORTANT?

Two main reasons…

Agents want to know you can book RIGHT NOW. Not 3 years from now or 5 years from now– but what you are right for RIGHT NOW.

This business is about making a profit. In order to have a profitable actor/agent relationship, you need to book jobs and there needs to be job opportunities out there for someone like you! In school, you often play characters that you wouldn’t play professionally until you are much older and that can throw a lot of actors off. Your agent wants you to focus on the age appropriate characters you can start making money playing right away.

&

Agents want to know YOU UNDERSTAND HOW YOU CAN BOOK. So many actors just want to work but have done little to NO research on what they actually can book right now.

They don’t know the shows they are right for or the styles they can nail or at least they can’t articulate it. This screams LAZY ACTOR and it is not impressive to agents. You should be able to name theatre titles and characters, tv shows, writers and types of projects you are castable for at the drop of a dime. This shows an agent what you believe your type to be and that you are always aware of the opportunities you may be right for. This shows heart and hustle. It is SO important.

So ask yourself– can I answer this question? Can I answer it without an “um” or “uhhh”? Can I rattle off 5-10 quick titles or projects? If you can’t— this is your HOMEWORK!

Start researching and understanding what your money making opportunities are! Your career depends on it and there are lots of agents out there interested in hearing your answers!

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 prepare for auditions and tryouts with Casting Directors and Talent Agents. Contact Colleen for more information. Photo provided by Towfiqu barbhuiya.

Stuart K. Robinson Actor & Teacher

Speak L.A. Podcast! Interview with Stuart K. Robinson

Hey Actors!

In this week’s collaboration with Speak LA, we bring you a life-changing podcast episode. Meet Stuart Robinson – Teacher, Actor, Agent.

Stuart breaks down:

What does it REALLY mean to Be Yourself?
What is “The Thing That YOU Do?” (This is the key to everything!)
How can you get rid of your fear?
How can you not be waiting anymore?
What quality should your headshot absolutely have?

And so much more! Enjoy!

– Actors Connection

Prentice Miles Acting Website

Do Actors Need A Website?

Let me start by asking you this: 

When you are writing up an email to a potential talent Agent, Manger or Casting Director that you recently connected with, do you feel like you are over-explaining yourself in your email pitch? 

Do you struggle making it sound impressive without sounding “braggy”?

Does it feel like you are pushing your personality to shine through while still keeping it brief and professional?

If you answered “YES” to any of this (or cringed while reading those questions… or had slight heart palpitations because writing a good cover letter is STRESSFUL) then Dear Actor, YES you need a website!

Do you need any ole website? NO!

DO NOT waste your money on a website if you are just going to basically make it like an Actors Access profile and have everything slapped up there boringly…

DO INVEST your money in designing a website if you are going to do it right. Take time to develop a brand based on research (or hire someone who can help you develop your brand) and optimize your website to function as a PREMIUM PITCH PACKAGE. Because at the end of the day, that’s what a GOOD Actor Website will do for you: It will function as your 3 Dimensional Cover Letter and do “The Humble Brag” for you so you don’t have to in your email pitches. 

Think about when you look at a show poster, let’s say Stranger Things for example, what does that poster tell you about the world? About the tone of the show? About the premise?

Well, your actor website is basically the show poster to who you are as an actor/human! A good website allows you to show more and say less, because your website does all the talking so you don’t have to when you pitch yourself!

So my advice to you when it comes to beginning your actor website journey is this:

Take the time to develop your brand first because good branding is what differentiates your website from functioning as a portfolio site (like Actors Access) to serving you as a Premium Pitch Package.

In short, my definition of Branding is how to marry your essence with the industry. Branding IS NOT Typecasting OR putting you in a box to paint a 1 Dimensional picture of what “Archetype you play.” It is much more intricate and deeper than that. – – –  I will write another blog about my definition of an Actor Brand because there are so many controversial opinions about this and I PROMISE you my version of branding is MUCH different from what you’ve heard.

If you’re struggling with how to begin this Actor Website + Branding Development journey and are ready to take the leap and hire a professional, let’s connect! I help actors every day level up their actor websites to function as a Premium Pitch Package, and I can help you too. Schedule your Free 20 Minute Consultation to get started.

-Kristina Horan, Head Website Designer + Brand Developer at Kristina Horan Website Designs.

Sabra May

Speak L.A. Podcast! Voice Over Actress Sabra May

Hi Actors!

In our collaboration with Speak L.A. the podcast, we bring you a V.O. actress who has recorded over 1000 commercials and shares the tricks of the trade with us in this 30 minute V.O. Master Class!
Hear answers to…
– How can you get started in the voiceover world?
– What does it mean to enter the V.O. world “sideways?”
– Can you have more than one agent for V.O. work?
– How can you create your own V.O studio at home?
– What are V.O agents looking for in a new client? 
– Should you start by making an expensive demo? (Spoiler alert – NO!).

We’re excited to share this with you!

Actors Connection

woman with headphones

Are You Ready to Take Online Classes with Casting Directors?

Learning from people working in the business right now is a VERY POWERFUL way to get a leg up in this industry– but you NEED to be somewhat ready before you enter a class like that.

I am a big believer that educational opportunities should be readily available. If there are too many barriers to important knowledge, we can’t expect to have the diverse workforce we NEED to tell stories in the most impactful and authentic ways.

You’ll see in my checklist below– the things you ABSOLUTELY need to take a class taught by a casting director at Actors Connection are really very simple- but important if you would like to take one of our online acting classes right now.

  1. A Headshot. If you are BRAND new, a good picture just of your face will work as a placeholder for classroom purposes. If you are serious about being an actor, you do NEED to invest in a great headshot. The picture should look like YOU on a good day. No glamour shots or artsy pics. Just your fabulous face. In classes where you are being assigned material, this is EXTREMELY important.
  2. A Device with a Good Camera/Mic. For most people, this is their iPhone. Sometimes your laptop will suffice. Either way, you need to be seen and heard clearly. As you grow, you may want to invest in other equipment, but this is what you need to get started. If you are using your iPhone, you will need a stand to hold your device still while you participate in class.
  3. High Speed Internet. We are all on zoom right and you NEED to be sure you won’t be freezing in the middle of your big moment within your scene. Zoom with a friend before class to ensure that there are no glitches.
  4. A Quiet Place to Learn. It’s hard to do a powerful scene with lots of background noise and distractions. Make sure you can take class somewhere quiet with no interruptions.
  5. A basic understanding of the craft of acting. If you have never taken an acting class before in your life, do yourself a favor and try 101 or introductory level classes before considering a class with a casting director. After all, you only make 1 first impression and you want to be sure you know the basics. I suggest taking a class with Lorrie Odom if you are new or if you want to brush up your skills before taking class with CDs.

As you continue your training and professional development, you will want to be sure to level up and add to this list. You will want a professional backdrop, a ring light, a good microphone and many other things— but you don’t need to have absolutely everything ready and figured out to start learning!

Everyone starts somewhere and you will always be improving in your career. Don’t let perfectionism keep you from getting moving!

A great resource for new actors is our FREE New Client Orientation program! Join us to learn more about how our programs work and word out on the street– just by attending you could save money on your first Actors Connection Purchase!

Colleen Finnegan Kahl is an accomplished Theatre Arts Educator, author of this article, and President of Actors Connection. Colleen is an expert in online casting, and helping actors in New York (NYC) and around the world refine their craft, and expand their art. 

Katy McCaffery

Speak L.A. Podcast! Literary Agent Katy McCaffery

Hi Actors!

In our latest collaboration with Speak L.A. the podcast, we bring you a unique opportunity… Learn straight from a head agent at The Gersh Agency as she addresses questions like:

What temp job gives you the best view of the entertainment industry?
What qualities do literary agencies look for in young writers?
Why is your personal backstory just as important (if not more so) as your art?
How can you differentiate yourself from other writers/actors?
Why should you pour yourself into everything you write?

This is 30 minutes packed full of the information you need to know,

Enjoy!