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?


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.


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

5 Goals that ALL Actors Should Add to Their List this January

5 Goals that ALL Actors Should Add to Their List this January

I LOVE January.  I’ve always geeked out over goals, lists and vision boards.  I adore getting a new planner filled out with important dates and plans and I absolutely OBSESS over dreaming big and thinking about the future.

Whether or not you can relate, you can’t ignore January’s natural ability to make you think about your future and what it may hold for you.

Actors at all levels are currently making their dream lists for 2021.  Maybe you want to book your first co-star credit, land a national VO campaign, or find a new agent.  No matter what your specific goals are, here are a few goals that ALL actors can add to their list for 2021.

Find a new monologue or scene that not only represents your talent but you LOVE performing that character.  Find a story that you just LOVE telling.  Let it light your creative fire and inspire you!  Take notes on what about this character you love and see start exploring other opportunities you may see if the field to tell a similar story.

  1. Make a new contact in the field who is more successful than you are.  Learn from their example, advice and experiences.  Spend time with them.

  1. Take excellent notes on your audition data and regularly analyze what it tells you.  Be honest with yourself if your headshot isn’t opening doors, or if you audition material hasn’t gotten strong enough feedback.  Act on the info you learn.  Need help tracking your data?  We strongly suggest you check out

  1. Find a new film director who speaks to you heart.  Follow them and their projects and learn about the other type of people they regularly work with.  These are people to WATCH because they may have other projects coming down the pipeline that you could be a fit for.

  1. Start a meditation practice.  Mindfulness benefits everyone no matter the career but I feel it deserves extra attention when it comes to acting careers.  Mental strength and peace are invaluable in this field and will help you perform well under pressure and stay focused when the road seems long.

Take this list and add to it!  Write down some individualized goals for your career, health, family– everything!  Research has shown that the simple act of WRITING DOWN YOUR GOALS helps you to be more likely to achieve them.  Take the time for YOU.  And if no one has told you yet— you DESERVE a wonderful 2021.

Photo Kindly by Isaac Smith

Gifts Actors Should Give

3 Gifts Actors Should Give THEMSELVES this Holiday Season

Tis the season for giving! Many creatives I know are so used to giving and sharing their talents with others that they often neglect someone very important– THEMSELVES! You should use your holidays as a way to recharge and energize yourself as an artist and I have always been a believer in doing a little something for yourself each holiday season. So actors… read on to learn more about just a few simple gifts actors should give YOURSELF this December.


Jim Rohn said one of my favourite quotes; “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” I love this thought and I think it is important to audit your top 5 people regularly, especially when you are feeling life is a little lackluster. Are you surrounding yourself with people who inspire you? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are going after their own dreams and goals and love that you are pursuing your own? Exploring and strengthening an older friendship or finding a new inspiring relationship is one of the great gifts actors should give to yourself as you finish out wacky 2020 and head into a more hopeful 2021.


What you wear regularly to a potential job basically serves as a uniform. You want to make sure those clothing items are clean, pressed and help you to look your very best without having to plan a whole new outfit every single time. For this reason, it is a great practice to have several items in your closet that fit you PERFECTLY, that you can keep clean and ready to go and ONLY wear them for auditions. Not first dates. Not family dinners. Auditions only! That way, they are there on the hanger, waiting for that self-tape with the quick turn-around. No need to worry about wrinkles or pulling something together–because you have several great items always ironed and ready in your closet! During this holiday season, treat yourself to a few “audition only” clothing options to keep you stress free and looking your best for last minute opportunities. Oh and take advantage of those holiday sales and pull together a few different career looks appropriate for characters you often play!


In this fast-paced industry, it is easy to feel worried that you may miss a big opportunity if you don’t stay on point and connected 100% of the time. Without taking time out for yourself, however, you won’t be able to operate as efficiently and creatively as you would have if you allowed yourself a little rest. So this holiday season, give yourself permission to take time OFF! Completely off! Tell your agent you are booking out for a few days and put an autoresponder on your email that says to call you in an emergency… and then UNPLUG! Don’t work on new sides or monologues, don’t research another headshot photographer and don’t make adjustments to your website. Take time off for YOU and to do something completely unrelated to the industry that brings you joy. Paint. Take a Hike. Bake (and eat) cookies! Have a mini home wine tasting. Just enjoy the other aspects of life for a little while. Don’t worry– there will be plenty to hustle about in January!

Covid made 2020 challenging. Plans got cancelled, our industry stood still for a bit and life was drastically changed. If there was EVER a reason to love yourself extra in a holiday season… this year’s events would be it. You are a survivor. An adaptor. A creator. You deserve the extra self love and care this month– because 2021 is craving the best of you. And you are gonna BRING IT!

Image kindly by

What is “IT” Factor in Actors

What is “IT” Factor in Actors?

What is “IT” Factor in Actors?

They’ve got it.

They’re successful.

They have that “je ne sais quoi.”

The room changes when they walk in.

I can’t take my eyes off of them.

We’ve heard or even said these phrases about talented actors before… but no one quite pinpoints exactly what that feeling is.

Well I’m here to tell you— It’s Energy.

Now I don’t mean energy so much as in bouncing off the walls, 3 coffees deep type of energy. I mean internal vibrational energy made up of two primary things… CONFIDENCE and POSITIVITY.

The energy of someone who walks into an audition with training, experience and a positive self-affirming outlook is measurably different than someone who walks in with the energy of desperation for a booking. That desperation has usually eroded confidence, EVEN if the person is well trained and talented. Both desperation and lack of confidence are also indicators of a negative and self-destroying outlook– and this energy will lose you the job before you even open your mouth.

Casting Directors are experts in matching the energy of the actor, to the energy of the opportunity. They have spent thousands of hours assessing the “fit” of a person for a role and a project and they weigh everything from the ability to handle the character with craft and ease to the ability to work seamlessly with the on-set production team. These questions have always transcended look and resume to include the ENERGY of the performer.

So you need to FEEL like the right choice so you can give off the RIGHT energy in order to book the job.

Well how do you do that?

Here’s a few tips:

1. FULLY PREPARE. Do ALL of your actor homework. Get as off-book as humanly possible. Know your backstory, intentions and immerse yourself in WHO this character is.

2. BRING YOURSELF TO THE WORK. They want YOUR take, not a second hand version of what you think someone ELSE would do/ Find a way to personalize the work and bring your own sense of uniqueness to it.

3. MEDITATE that day. Get yourself in the zone. Clear your mind and center yourself so you can stay crystal clear and focused

4. VISUALIZE your success. Have fun imagining what a great audition looks and FEELS like. Rehearse the FEELINGS. This does WONDERS for your energy

5.DON’T RUSH. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive and plenty of time to perform.

6. STAY POSITIVE. Keep holding onto the joy that brought you here in the first place and stay committed to thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your abilities!

Need help training while you do the important work of building up your IT factor energy? Check out our many classes and events at to help build your confidence and skill level in this competitive field.

Stay up to date on what the “IT” Factor in Actors means to us, by following us on Facebook

Untraditional Improv Practice for this Holiday Season

Untraditional Improv Practice for this Holiday Season

Untraditional Improv Practice for this Holiday Season

As we head into the holiday season, people may be seeing family– including those adorable younger members– the kids! I know, you’ve already graduated from the children’s table long ago and you look forward to connecting with older family members you haven’t seen— but don’t underestimate what time with the younger ones can do for you AND for your creativity. This holiday season, I challenge you to take some time away from watching the holiday specials and sipping your favorite seasonal cocktails to get down on the floor —- and work on your acting career. How? Practice your improvisation skills!

Children are naturally brilliant improv artists. When you watch a child play, you’ll see them effortlessly create characters, scenarios and voices— making them the perfect holiday scene partner! Little kids can turn anything into a character and any amount of random items into a game using a bit of imagination. Help them create powerful memories and feel great about their own creativity by participating in a little creative play yourself!

Little kids will giggle at the creative voices you are working on in your voiceover class and will love the characters you create using skills from your dialects class. They’ll enjoy your ability to build a story and have a great time as their contributions help or hinder the character of your creation. They will delight in your comedic timing (or help you fine tune it) and they will give you great insight as to what is important to them thru their own impulses and choices. You’ll both learn as you test your ability to create stories on-the-spot without the pressure of a teacher, audition or comparison to a classmate.

These cute little peeps understand LOVE thru TIME and ATTENTION. Give them both of those things this season and give yourself the gift of remembering the joy that exists in this craft for yourself.

Don’t have young family members? Explore ways you can connect with kids in your local area by volunteering at a children’s hospital or getting involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters. There are many kids out there craving a positive role model– why not help your career AND be a great human!

Looking for classes to finetune your skillset in the meantime? Check out and learn from ANYWHERE with our large selection of online classes. Explore voiceover, improv, commercials, working on camera and much more in one of our many offerings you can explore from the comfort of your home! For a full listing of programs, visit:

Share your favorite moments of Untraditional Improv Practice this Holiday Season with us on our Facebook page:

Photo Kindly by Andi Chatfield.

Should You Move to Los Angeles? Or New York? Or Atlanta?

Should You Move to Los Angeles? Or New York? Or Atlanta?

Should You Move to Los Angeles? Or New York? Or Atlanta?

So often we run into actors who are considering a move to another major market. Right now, our biggest entertainment hubs are located in NY, LA and ATL and deciding which location is right for you is VERY important. Here are the most important questions you need to ask yourself when determining if a move to another market is right for you.

Have you grown out of your current market?

Have you already explored everything your home market has to offer? Maybe you are in a city like Chicago, Philly or DC where there are lots of opportunities in entertainment that can be explored BEFORE a big move. Have you hit a plateau in your city, or are you still building your resume and learning everyday? Do you feel like you have done everything you could have done to grow in your city but you aren’t getting to the next level?

Are you looking to build initial credits or build upon recent success?

Some markets are harder to build initial credits than others. Are you having a hard time getting initial credits in a larger market? Maybe a smaller market will help you beef up your resume before focusing on a larger one. Have you been crushing it in your city? Maybe you NEED a move to be able to go in more consistently for bigger projects and reach the next level.

Where are your “best fit” shows filming now?

What shows can you see yourself on? Where are THEY casting? What directors/writers are stylistically complimentary to the styles YOU are drawn to as a storyteller? What cities are THEY based in? The movies, series and shorts you are loving— where did THEY film?

Where are your support systems?

This is a tough career and support is IMPORTANT. Where do you know people who can help you along your path? Where are the training centers and teachers you trust located? Where do you have family and friends who can keep you positive and motivated? Identifying support systems where you live (or where you WILL LIVE) is KEY to success.

What kind of life do you want OUTSIDE of your career?

Think about the work/life balance that would make you happiest and explore the financial blueprint you need to get there. Now explore living expenses in the city of your choice. What do you need to do to obtain that lifestyle in that city? Where do you need to work? How many hours? Do you need a roommate? What type of living situation suits you the most? Do you want a dog? A car? A yard? Access to public transportation? Access to restaurants and shops? Which city can you fully visualize yourself in?

These questions are intended to focus you on which city is your best fit for you— and keep it mind, during your career, your answer may CHANGE!  There are many opportunities to build a successful career– and finding the best path for unique you deserves research, observation and careful consideration.  Good luck as you make your decision!

Photo Kindly by Joey Kyber on Unsplash.

From Hobby Actor to Professional: Here's 5 Tips to Help you Get There

From Hobby Actor to Professional: 5 Tips to Help you Get There

From Hobby Actor to Professional: Here’s 5 Tips to Help you Get There

So many people begin their love of the industry thru school or community theatre and it just blossoms from there… but making the jump from hobbyist to professional is not an easy step for many actors. Enjoy these 5 helpful tips when making the leap into paid performance opportunities as an actor.



The work of an actor is NEVER done. You need to constantly expand your skills and practice what you have learned time and time again. A series of community theatre or school productions does not equivalent real training with experienced educators. Find a teacher who is passionate about the craft that challenges you to be better. And don’t be the best person in your acting class… aggressive learning and training doesn’t happen when things are easy. Allow yourself to be in a classroom where it feels HARD!



Professional actors spend hours each day working on moving their career forward. I suggest protecting hours each day to do this. During this time, you should be researching industry trends, opportunities, potential partners, learning new materials, marketing yourself, tending to emails and more. You need to be an expert in what types of opportunities are out there for you, who you need to know to get them, and how to start building those relationships. This requires a daily commitment.



In order to be seen as a professional and get paid for your work, you’ll need to get REALLY picky on what work you decide to do for free. You can’t expect others to value your work if you don’t. Giving things away constantly does not create a sense of value. I’ve seen this be a hard step for actors– but it is very important. Only take on free projects that could have MAJOR impact on your career thru connections or big resume credits— and even then— be really really picky. Do you need another role like this on your resume? Or does your resume already show you can do that type of part? Will the time you put in be worth what YOU receive for doing the project? Draw a line for yourself and hold yourself to valuing your contributions and performances. If YOU don’t do this for yourself, NO ONE ELSE WILL.



Maybe your sister-in-law is a good photographer and does a fabulous job at your family photos– but that doesn’t always make her a good choice for a headshot photographer. It is very worthwhile to select a photographer who is experienced in this area. Notable headshot photographers have an understanding of what types of shots help actors get work and how to creatively obtain an organic shot from you. You should have a photographer who understands characters and storytelling so they can help you achieve pictures that clearly broadcast the emotions of the most common characters you can play. Headshot photographers also know the difference between a good picture of you and a good HEADSHOT of you. Just because a picture is flattering doesn’t make it a good headshot. You need to look just like you on a good day– not an over airbrushed magazine cover model.



There are tons of information on how to go about the path of becoming a working actor and it can feel overwhelming at times. I strongly suggest that all actors find a mentor in the business; someone who is working professionally who has learned the ropes and can help you avoid mistakes and missteps along the way. As you go about your journey you’ll have questions about unions, contracts, pay rates and representation. It is enormously helpful to have a go-to person (or people) to help you learn professional protocols and standards along the way.


Looking for more help getting started along your career path from hobby actor to professional actor? Actors Connection is here to help you access the training and information you need to get to the next level. Sign-up here for a completely FREE program consultation to learn more about what we suggest as your personal next steps.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and learn how to take yourself from from hobby actor to professional, by watching our InterAct Q&A Webinars series with industry professionals. 

Skill-Adjacent Income Ideas for Actors

Skill-Adjacent Income Ideas for Actors

Skill-Adjacent Income Ideas for Actors 

Even though the entertainment industry is working hard on adjusting to the health requirements of a pandemic, we are still seeing so many actors out of work.  Now, more than ever, is it important for performers to utilize their creative capabilities in new ways to build income generating opportunities for themselves. Skill-Adjacent Income Ideas for Actors

There have always been locally driven opportunities to make money from your entertainment skillset in your community— and it doesn’t even have to be an actor gig– just skill adjacent.

As a performer, you have cultivated MANY skillsets in both arenas of creativity and interpersonal relationships.  Don’t underestimate YOUR VALUE when using these secondary skills out in the world.

Here are some examples of services you can offer for extra income at this time using your actor skillset– but don’t limit yourself to these ones!  Use them as a jumping off point for your own ideas during this time!

Authenticity Help for A Sales Team  

Did you know that many sales organizations use scripts?  There are many teams out there with their lines, improv-ing when necessary.  As a performer, maybe you could help them adjust their scripts to their audience, bring more authenticity to individual presentations and show how salespersons can employ “intention”  and “actions” to be more riveting in their performances.. I mean, sales pitches!

Social Media Video Consultant

Everyone has local neighborhood brands they love.  Is your brand doing a good job educating the public about their product and generating excitement?  Do you have commercial training that can help them fine tune their language and messaging?  Maybe you would be willing to self-produce a few videos or a podcast on your own for their page (and for an appropriate fee!)?  How can you partner with local businesses you love so you both can reach new goals?

Online Storyteller

Schools, non-profits and families are looking for safe new ways to engage kids right now. If you are a tremendous story-teller (especially one that can improvise) maybe you can connect with schools, YMCA’s or even local families as a new service to engage kids in stories that have a goal or an impact point.  Can you creatively teach about bullying thru a story?  About kindness?  About Math?  Can you do a Q&A as a famous literary character for a local school?  Can you adapt a story to your exact audience so a group feels like the whole thing was just for them?  How can you use your story-telling skills to support local individuals who are struggling to find fun new ways for their kids to learn right

I hope these ideas got you thinking about how you can use your years of experience to bring in additional income at this time.  You are valuable… and so is what you bring to the world. Think about your skills outside of the confinements of plays and tv shows and enjoy what doors may open up for you.

Hopefully this gave you inspiration around skill-adjacent income ideas for actors . Be sure to check out our online acting classes, intensives, and special events

Photo Kindly by Randy Fath on Unsplash.

My Favorite Bravery-Building Networking Tip For Actors

Bravery-Building Networking Tip For Actors

My Favorite Bravery-Building Networking Tip For Actors

Once upon a time, on New Year’s Eve actually— a group of friends and I got together to prepare goals for the new year, sip champagne, and celebrate our expected successes for the coming year.

Being the absolute dork that I am, I prepared some pretty little sheets to help us get focused during our little goal setting party. I’ve also included a game I made up called THE 50 QUESTIONS GAME.

The questions game is the PERFECT exercise to remind you that so many possibilities exist for you in the world if you go looking for them. It is also the perfect way to get used to asking for what you want and building up an immunity to the word “No.” A “no” is just another step closer to a “yes”— and if you look at the laws of probability… you WILL get some “yes” answers to some of your questions.

Here is how you play.

On a page you write out the numbers 1-50– each number on a different line. Then for each number you need to come up with a person and a question/request for that person. You can ask ANYONE but all questions should be things that would either cultivate great joy for yourself, open up an opportunity, or make a new connection.

I think the game is most successful when you have a mix of personal questions that would make you happy, new things you’d like to learn about, and career focused inquiries.

In your 50 questions… ask people you admire for a coffee… or 5 mins of their time for a specific reason (the key to an answer is be specific and don’t require TOO much time of the person). Ask for someone to make an introduction for you. Ask for a backstage tour of the zoo. Ask to be a free set of hands to watch how they work and help someone you admire for the day. Ask for an audition for the upcoming season. Ask someone if they’ll donate to your project. Ask someone if they need volunteer help on their project. Ask someone for advice. Ask someone to read a chapter of your book or a few pages of your script. Ask someone for feedback on your reel. Ask someone for something– anything! Ask someone out to dinner. Ask someone what books have inspired them. Ask someone how they got to where they are. Doesn’t matter what you ask or who you ask– but you NEED to ask 50 questions.

When you commit to doing this, you will get some surprises. Some people won’t answer…and others will. Either way, you will get something you didn’t have before. Part of the fun is waiting to see who responds and what new relationships are cultivated during those responses. Nothing lost by asking!!

So get out there and get asking!

Practice this Bravery-Building Networking Tip For Actors online, from the comfort of your home, by getting social and networking with us on Facebook.

Also, be sure to check out our Acting Classes now available online! Not sure what classes, seminars and special events you’re ready for? No problem. Actors Connection offers one 15-minute complimentary program consultation to guide you into the appropriate programs for you at this time in your career. 

Photo Kindly by Dee @ Copper and Wild on Unsplash.