An Actor's Perspective: Things I Wish I'd Know Sooner.

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Zack Whyel is an American Actor and Skateboarder. Born in Laurinburg, NC and raised in Concord, NC. Zack has been featured in Hit TV Shows, Movies and Magazines. A part of SAG/AFTRA represented by Luciano Reeves Talent for Commercial in California and CAROLINA TALENT Across the Board in NC . Zack Host a Skate School and is the creator of his own Lifestyle YouTube channel.

1. Beware of Acting Class Scams

Taking an Acting class can be a great way to sharpen your acting skills, as well as meet new people and network with industry professionals. However, some classes may not give you the edge you’re looking for. It’s a good idea to research the teacher’s credentials before committing to a class. Make sure to read reviews and talk to other actors to see which classes they may recommend. The cost of the class should be reasonable. Don’t overstretch your budget in hopes of taking a class that will lead directly to a “big break.” A good acting class should be open, supportive, and informative. It should feel like a safe space to practice your craft and meet other talented actors in the process. Do your research before signing up and trust your gut–if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!

2. Agents vs. Managers

So what’s the difference and why do we need them?

An agent works for a talent agency that is licensed by the state and, in some cases, franchised by the union. That gives them the legal right to solicit employment for clients, connecting an actor to the work, and negotiating contracts on your behalf. Agents are only legally allowed to receive 20% commission off your bookings for Non-Union, or can take 10% for SAG-AFTRA Union Actors.

Managers, on the other hand, do not have to be employed by a management company–they can work independently. Their sole function is to provide guidance. Ideally they are a Yoda, providing inspiration and positive momentum for your career. For instance, a manager might help an actor define and develop their personal brand or grow a social media following. Managers are not allowed to set up auditions or negotiate contracts. Of course, they want to get paid, along with your agent, and will often take a cut of ALL earnings–including theatrical, commercial, voice-over, and any other work that’s part of the entertainment industry. So, like any great team, make sure everyone is clear on their role and are contributing towards the advancement of your career as an actor. No hanger-ons!

3. Building Relationships

It is a smart habit to make connections and friendships throughout the industry, wherever you live. Most of the industry is run through social networks, the ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know.’ Solid relationships lead to more bookings. This includes Casting Directors, Crew Members, Directors, Cinematographers, Producers, Hair/Make-Up etc. Never undervalue anyone on set or think that they are not worth taking the time to get to know. Every person on set has value, and you never know where your next acting job will come from. Stay humble, and keep talking.

4. Background Work will not make you an established Actor

I love background work! It helps you meet new people and soak in the atmosphere on set. Even though it’s a great first step, just because you are an extra does not make you an established actor. It’s great for a little extra money; but it doesn’t show-off your talents, add value to your showreel, or give you a leg-up to leading roles. If you truly want to become an established Actor, you need to be auditioning–constantly. As well as seeking reputable Agents/Managers, making your own videos, and being a part of smaller (Indie) productions. Remember, the more you do background work, the more you will be seen as just a background actor. Don’t be afraid to shine.

5. Always do your best

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Just do your best and be happy where your acting career takes you. Try to embrace the present moment and remember each role big or small, is a stepping stone in your career. Be happy with minor roles and grateful for each and every new opportunity. Even a small role, performed well, can have a massive impact in the film and your career. If you always give your all, it will bring you closer to embodying where you want to be.

#acting #film #filmmaking #actress #hollywood

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