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Advice

Just Say 'NO'

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An actor new to Hollywood can often greatly benefit from a can-do attitude—a willingness to do what is asked of you. However, knowing when to sport a "cannot do" attitude may help even more. Need examples? Read on.

If someone asks you to act in a play or a film for free, and your schedule is equally free, do it. If someone asks you to act in a play or a film but requires you to pay to do so, don't do it—other than being a dues-paying member of a prolific theater company that allows you to work. Work begets work, but no matter how legitimate the role may seem, if they are asking you to front the bill, it's not legitimate—trust us.

If Martin Scorsese asks you to take off your clothes for a film, and you're comfortable with nudity, consider doing it. If some "director" at Starbucks asks you to do the same, run away quickly. Occasionally, an amazing role will require nudity, but a "casting director" on the prowl, not working from a legit casting office, will almost always prove to be a scam. In that same vein, if that "director" asks you to audition for a role in his private minivan (or anywhere else, for that matter), well, don't do it. Legit directors call out, "Action!" but predatory directors just want some.

Rebecca Yee, national director of affirmative action/diversity for the Screen Actors Guild, says her office regularly receives calls from actors reporting sexual harassment by individuals claiming to be SAG producers or directors. If someone is claiming to be affiliated with a union, check with that union before believing him or her. Yee advises actors approached by such "predatory producers" to call the cops.

If you're late for an audition on a Wednesday and you find a parking spot with a sign that reads, "No Parking Tuesday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.," you may park there. If instead you see about 10 signs posted, some of which read, "No Parking Wednesday," and not a single car parked on the street, parking your car there is probably not the best idea.

"I never had to worry about where I parked before I moved here, so I just pulled up and parked," says Los Angeles–based actor Jackie Johnson, who moved from Texas about three years ago and now performs at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. "Then there would be 17 signs: Can't park between 8 and 9 on a full moon; can't park on days that end with 'y.' You just have to look at where you're parking, or else you're going to get slapped with these ridiculous tickets, and they suck."

These tips may seem simple, but many an actor has fallen into the pits listed here. If you want to transition successfully as an actor in Hollywood, use your common sense. If not, don't.     


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