Actors Blog

Whether you are an up and coming actor or a seasoned thespian, we have advice, stories and tips that will inspire you.

I think a lot of actors and entertainers have the wrong idea about creativity. I think most of these people have it in their heads that in order to be creative you have to stick out in the crowd, be the center of attention or do something crazy that no one else has ever done before.

If you were with us last blog you got to read about five easy things you can do to ruin your acting career. My hope is that after reading each you did whatever you could to avoid them at all cost. Let’s keep that ball rolling. Here are five more things you can do if you want to ruin your career.

Thursday, 02 August 2012 00:27

Five Easy Ways to Ruin Your Acting Career!

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5 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Acting Career!


I want to take a slight detour from my regular agenda and talk about a few things that have been on my mind lately.... things that actors do to sabotage themselves. Ten of them come to mind, so I’m going to talk about five in this blog and another five in the next.

When the business is slow, as it usually is this time of year, I find myself falling into old habits and bad “self talk.” So, this blog might be more for me than anyone else. That said, let’s talk about 5 things that we all do, at one time or another, that are guaranteed to ruin our acting career.

1) Always Be Negative. The circle of people who work regularly in Hollywood hate negativity. Consequently, people who are regularly negative, don’t work very much, if at all. But think about it, who wants to be around someone who’s negative and brings everyone down all the time? No one. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, be positive as much as you can. Be one of the people we all want to work with. Always remember, if you’ve booked any work at all in Hollywood, whether it’s the lead in a film, a one day/one line co-star or a commercial where the camera pans past you for a total of one whole second, then you need to be thankful. You’ve accomplished what millions of people have only dreamed about doing. You worked professionally in Hollywood as an actor. Remind yourself of that often and be thankful. Even if you haven’t booked anything yet, give yourself credit too! You actually came to Hollywood to pursue your dreams. Most everyone you know didn’t have the guts to do the same. But you did. Be thankful! The more thankful and upbeat you are, the more you’ll book. Don’t believe me, try it. Nobody wants to spend 12 hours a day, six days a week with a Debbie downer. Right?

2) Try To Please Everybody. One of the mistakes I’ve made time and time again is that I walk into an audition or meeting and I immediately try to please everyone in the room. I want everyone to love me and I will do whatever I can to make that happen. It’s a mistake! There’s nothing wrong with dishing out a compliment or two but your job as an actor is to act not be the host of the party. Bill Cosby said it best. He said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." As hard as it is to do, I implore you to stop caring so much what other people think. You can’t control them anyway. All you should care about is doing your job. And, what is that? To simply show them who you are and what you look like in that particular role. That’s it. Besides, you have no idea what’s in their heads anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I thought my audition sucked only to find out everyone in the room loved it. Stop trying to please everyone. Just give it up and have fun. And, that means in your agent interviews as well.

3) Apologize All the Time. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Your best audition is always in the car on the way home?” I’ve heard it so many times that I want to throw up. And, it’s not even true. Great acting is always about chemistry and your read to yourself in the car has no chemistry whatsoever. So, no matter how brilliant your line readings in your car may seem your read in a room with someone else will always be more interesting. Don’t listen to your inner voice when it tries to tell you otherwise. It’s impossible to see what the audience sees and that is especially true when it comes to seeing chemistry between you and someone else. Stop second-guessing yourself. What you do in a room is almost always better than you thought it was. So, if that’s the case then there’s no reason to apologize. Right? Years ago a brilliant commercial “star” told me his secret to booking is that he never apologizes in an audition. Even if he blows his lines he simply says, “Let’s take that again.” He acts as if he already has the part and he’s behaving as if he is already on the set. Actors make mistakes from time to time, so it’s no problem if you do too. It’s all just part of what we do and therefore needs no apology. That piece of advice in itself has won me more bookings than anything else I can think of. We’re not expected to be perfect. We’re merely expected to show them who we are, flaws and all!

4) Use the Time In the Waiting Room to Socialize, Learn Your Lines or Panic. One of the biggest mistakes I think most actors make is that they don’t utilize the time before an audition or meeting properly. Too many times actors use the waiting room to socialize with friends and even the total strangers. Or, they’ll try to cram their lines down their throats. Or, they will focus entirely on stopping their nervousness. In my opinion, those are all mistakes (unless any of those things specifically helps you to be creative). The waiting room is where you get into the mindset to do your job, to act and be creative. As John Cleese so magnificently points out in his famous speech about creativity (http://youtu.be/VShmtsLhkQg), it is basically a state of being. That’s what the waiting room should be for, to allow you the time to get to the place of being creative. If you don’t know your lines by the time you get to the waiting room chances are you’re in trouble. Do your homework, learn your lines beforehand and be ready to audition so you can use the waiting room to do your routine to be creative. Now that the Olympics have started, Michael Phelps is on my mind. One of the things I love about Michael is that he uses the few minutes before each race to focus himself entirely on his purpose and goal. Michael listens to music before every race. It helps him forget about everything else except what is important. He wears headphones so nothing will distract him. It’s his regular routine. Do you have a routine? Athletes do that sort of thing all the time and yet it’s rare that I see actors do the same. Don’t get distracted in the waiting room. Focus in on your task at hand. Get into the state of mind to be creative. If you’ve never heard John Cleese’s speech above, please take 30 minutes to listen to it. You’ll be glad you did.

5) When Things Are Slow and You’re Not Auditioning, Take Advantage of the Time Off and Relax. Unless you’re a star or an actor who works all the time, one of the worst things you can do is do nothing when things are slow. Great actors know how to utilize the downtime. Right about now you should be doing a play, web series, short or independent film. Or, you should be in class getting a lot better than your competition (who is at home playing Angry Birds). This is your bets chance to excel. I’ve used this quote before but it seems appropriate to say it again; Samuel Jackson says, “The actor’s job is finding work. The fringe benefit of our job is that we get to act.” Take advantage of any free time you can get to hone your skills and get your “brand” out there. Do your own stuff. Get your name out there as an actor who “works.”

Check in next time for five more things you can easily do to ruin your career.

Mark Atteberry is an award winning actor, teacher and photographer. As an actor his work includes features like Miranda July’s "The Future” and Ang Lee’s "The Hulk.” His recent TV work includes “Luck,” "House M.D.," “Justified,” "The Closer," “The Mentalist,” "Dexter," “Criminal Minds,” and "24." Mark is internationally known for his advertising, documentary and headshot photography. His clients include NBC, CBS, A&E, Bravo, CAA, ICM, WME, and Big Lots. Mark regularly teaches and lectures on the topics of "Branding, Marketing and Type" and "How to Succeed in the Entertainment Industry." He has authored or co-authored several books on the business of acting including the best selling, "Working Actor's Guide to LA." For more of Mark’s acting credits go to: www.imdb.com/name/nm0040992. For Mark’s headshot photography go to: www.idyllicphotography.com. And, for Mark’s classes go to: www.beaworkingactor.com

Thursday, 12 July 2012 19:25

Does Acting Have to Be Fun?

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It’s been said many times in many ways that acting is probably the most difficult profession on the face of the earth. A couple of years ago I was at an art opening talking to Aaron Eckhart when a man approached and said to him, “You’re so lucky. Acting is the easiest career in the world.” Aaron literally went off on him for 20 minutes, telling the man why he was wrong. He said things like, “You go from laughter to sobbing on cue in front of a crew of 100 people. You convince a studio head that your are entertaining, mesmerizing and worth a fee of 25 million dollars. You do job interviews every day for six six years before you finally get a job, only to realize you’re loosing it again in a couple of months.” Aaron let him have it, and rightfully so. The guy clearly had no idea what he was saying. Why? Because, actors like Aaron make it look so effortless and easy. Samuel L. Jackson says, “The actor’s job is finding work. The fringe benefit of our job is that we get to act.” Finding and keeping work as an actor is a never ending task. And, without fun there would be no reason or incentive to pursue it.

What’s the Most Important Thing?

There is one question that I get fairly often and it is probably the most powerful question you can ask. It is this: “What is the most important thing you can do if you want to be a working actor?” Think you know what it is?

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 19:15

Taking a Risk as an Actor

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For the past couple of months I focused these blogs and the techniques and tools of being an actor. I mentioned at the beginning there were 10 tools that I thought were essential to acting. We’ve covered seven of those in the past seven weeks. I still have three more to discuss, and I will, but I’m going to change the format of these blogs and get a little more personal.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 05:58

The Actor’s Technique Toolbox - Part 7

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In my office I have a framed poster of Robert Duvall. On it is one of my favorite quotes regarding acting. Duvall is quoted, “The truth is that acting is all about talking and listening. It’s as simple as that.” I completely agree with that statement. And, to be very honest with you it’s probably taken me nearly 20 years to grasp the meaning of it.

Friday, 27 April 2012 09:55

The Actor’s Technique Toolbox - Part 6

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Every now and then I will get in a conversation with someone and they will inevitably say, “I just don’t know how you actors do it. How do you memorize all those lines?” Even my manger said it to me the other day. I don’t know about you but I struggle with memorization. I never know exactly how to answer that question. Usually, I mumble something back like, “I have no idea. With a lot of work, I guess.”

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It’s been good for me to review the vital acting tools in these blogs. One of the reasons I love blogging, speaking and teaching so much is because it reminds me what I need to focus on as an actor. I’m in the trenches with you and if I talk about the essentials of acting I’d better be practicing them in my own work. Like a professional athlete I need to be “in shape” all the time. I need to practice in order to stay on top of my game. I need to make sure my own set of acting tools, the ones I talk about, are honed and readily available. I’ve said it before, the best actors in the world are right here in L.A. and they are my competition (and yours). The top masters of technique are sitting right there in the same room with me, waiting to audition for the same role.

It always makes me chuckle when I hear someone say, “Acting is the easiest job in the world. Anyone can do it.” Obviously, they have no idea what they’re talking about. They haven’t been through the many years of training and endless hours of rehearsal and performance to understand how wrong they are. There are so many different talents an actor needs to master in order to become skilled. Over the past few blogs we’ve discussed several of those talents including script breakdown, emotional control and physical control. Next, I like to discuss the voice.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 07:27

The Actor’s Technique Toolbox - Part 3

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Over the past few blogs we’ve been discussing the various tools that belong in every actor’s toolbox. But, just the other day someone asked me, “Does that include Headshots?” I suddenly realized I had intended these to be the tools we need from a technique standpoint, not a marketing standpoint, so I decided I should clarify things. To avoid further confusion I have decided to call these the Tools We Need In Our Actor’s Technique Toolbox. That’s a lot of verbiage but you know what I mean. So far we’ve explored the intellectual skill of knowing how to break down a script and the visceral skill of mastering your emotions in order to make you characters real and attached. This time I want to focus on the physical aspect of acting.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 11:16

The Actor’s Toolbox - Part 2

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After having labored through the intellectual subject matter of “Script Breakdown” in my last blog I am ready to get messy, have a little fun and talk about us crazy actors and our emotions. Yes, it is invaluable that you know your script inside and out and intellectually dissect every thought your character has in order to play the role adequately, but it is just as important to understand and bring to life the emotional side of your character. 

Friday, 03 February 2012 11:22

The Actors Tool Box - Part 1

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Many an acting teacher has tried to break down the art of acting into a series of usable skills. The intent is to first identify the various tools necessary in order to learn them and thus become a highly skilled actor. The idea is to have a set of tools we can keep in our “actor’s toolbox” that we may use whenever needed. Of course, it makes sense. We all want to be highly skilled and most of us have at least one tool we’ve mastered, but most of us still have more to learn. The easiest way to teach an art, like acting, is to break it down into its basic components and then one by one teach how to master those components until finally you have a mastery of them all.

Monday, 23 January 2012 10:33

What Can I Do to Be a Working Actor in LA?

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Every year at about this time there is a significant number of new actors coming to Los Angeles to try their hand at a career in acting. Somehow, just about everyone across the country has heard at one time or another that January is the beginning of pilot season (although that is not necessarily true, things generally don’t really pick up until after Sundance at the end of January). For that reason, I felt it appropriate to make a few lists and talk about the things that I think an actor 1) absolutely must have, 2) probably should have and 3) it would be nice to have if they hope to make it in LA.

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