Actor as Entrepreneur

Several actors in class this week inspired me as they participated in the “Hot Seat” exercise – that’s where actors keep themselves accountable by checking in about how they feel and what they’ve been up to; it’s also a way in for me as a coach. The serendipity I felt recalling some of their comments thrilled me, because they were right in line with the topic of this month’s blog.

Over the past twenty five to thirty years I’ve made the following observation: most of the people I knew had jobs.

They focused their energy and purpose on getting hired by a large corporation or business. Very few were self-employed, both in the professional business world and in acting. It seemed like it was split about 80/20 percent employment vs. self-employed. The sentiment back then was to go to college or learn a trade, and then get hired by a big company. In those days the concept of self-employment was out of the mainstream.

Today I notice it’s shifted in the opposite direction.

In both the professional business world and in acting more people are self-employed and fewer seem to work for someone else. So, it seems the energy shift is toward self-employment and self-promotion. I’m seeing this a lot lately with actors, and I think it’s a good thing. Less waiting around, and more creating art, which is what nourishes the artist.

The ubiquity of You Tube, web series, the low cost of filming, and online distribution means “new” media has become an integral part of an actor’s work, process, and marketing, and actors have greater opportunities to showcase and perform. Here are two actors who were in the “hot seat” in my class just last week:

Diane Musselman is an actress/writer who struggled to get her work seen.

Though very talented and hard-working, no one knew her, since she was a small fish in a big pond here in LA. She became impassioned, and three years later on her amazing journey she wrote and produced “Just Another Dance With My Father.” This month, April 2015, her film received the Gold Remi Award for Original Dramatic Short at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. It’s a magnificent accomplishment and very prestigious award.

Amanda Serra moved to Los Angeles nearly three years ago.

She studied, pounded the pavement, worked in commercials, television, and indie films. Many talented actors (herself included) struggled to find acting jobs, so to generate more work for all of them, she created a comedic web series, “Carbon Dating.” She cast herself and fellow actress Marcie Barkin in the leads, launched her own production company, and now the show is going into a full production. The cast even includes actor Michael Gross from “Family Ties” and the “Tremors” films as one of the leads.

Justin Bieber was discovered though his self-produced YouTube videos.

Whatever you think of his music, you can’t deny his success. After a nationwide search, rock band Journey found their replacement lead singer, Arnel Pineda through YouTube videos he made singing with a cover band in the Philippines.

Artists of this generation are taking matters into their own hands are finding more and more success. There are even books written about it. Seth Godin’s “The Icarus Deception” and “What to Do When it’s Your Turn” are two good reads for this consciousness.

Twenty five years ago I was tired of auditioning for and attending bad theater, so I teamed up with Lynda Goodfriend and we built our own theater, which at the time was considered outlandish, out of fashion, and peculiar. The Actors Workout Studio grew, and is now one of the most prominent, longest-running acting schools and theaters in Los Angeles. As an artist you don’t always need to step outside the box. Sometimes you need to build your own box.

So actors, this is a great time to be an artist.

There are so many opportunities to pursue your passion. And when you can’t find them, you must create them for yourself. Good luck, be patient, and pursue…

Fran Montano
Author: Fran Montano

Fran Montano - is the owner and Artistic Director of The Actors Workout Studio, located in the NoHo Arts District for nearly 30 years. It is one of the longest running small, intimate theaters and Acting Schools in the Los Angeles area. AWS was created to being a “home” for aspiring and working actors were the work not only includes classes and training, but personal coaching, career planning, networking, showcasing, and regular performing. His students range from beginning actors, accomplished actors who work regularly in film, television, and stage, as well as numerous working directors and writers. His style is on an individual basis and in his small, intimate classes, it’s like working with a private coach. His reputation is in finding and breaking actors blocks Fran’s background as an actor, in producing, directing and theater makes him an excellent resource for actors in Los Angeles, in finding their way both in their talent, and promoting their career. Visit www.actorsworkout.com for more information and a schedule of classes and productions