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Advice

The First Job You Booked in New York?

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"My first job was as Templeton for a national tour of 'Charlotte's Web.' I booked it shortly after arriving in New York, and because it got me into Actors' Equity, I thought I'd made it. In some ways the experience was an ideal first job in the theater. For one thing, the cast got along great on the road. (I later learned how rare this is.) Also, Equity's health insurance policy at the time was extremely generous. My latest job involved flying out of the country and reminded me that sometimes the best acting gigs literally take us places."

Tony Rodriguez, New York

  "I moved to New York the day after I graduated college, when my agents got me an audition for the beggar woman in the national tour of 'Sweeney Todd.' It was incredibly stressful leaving my family and friends! I actually told my agents, 'Maybe I should sit this one out.' Mainly I was apprehensive about playing the clarinet and piano. I bucked up, and after practicing my butt off between the audition and the callback, I booked it! After I booked it, I burst into tears! I had never worked so hard. Keep up your special skills, people!"

Patty Lohr, New York

"My first job in New York was an NYU voiceover project titled 'DJ Booty Talk's After School Special.' It was a short radio play about the dilemmas facing teenagers. After each scenario, DJ Booty Talk would respond with terrible advice for the caller. I voiced the roles of Diana, the pregnant girl, and Moondance, the hippie girl personifying the dangers of veganism. It was so hard not to laugh during takes! It amazed me how many redos occur because of technical things out of the actor's control. You have to be able to do it—just like that—until everything is right!"

Ellen Warner, New York

"The first job I booked in New York was a commercial for 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure' toys. I was 13. I couldn't have been happier. My friend Jamar had done a commercial for Honeycomb cereal. I couldn't believe that the same kid I went to school with was on TV! He helped me find an agent, and I began the process of going on auditions. My parents drove me to countless calls until 'Squeezin' their legs gets them jammin'!' became the first words I ever spoke on screen. Not bad making $80,000 for playing with toys. Love you, Mom and Dad!"

Greg Siff, New York

"My first job as a New Yorker was the independent film 'The Height of the Sky,' which was filmed in Arkansas. I was in Arkansas with my then-boyfriend (now husband) visiting his family when he got an audition for this film. I came along, expecting to wait outside while he read. But the director needed a reader, and I piped right up that I'd be glad to help. Long story short, we both booked the job, and I ended up playing the lead role! The film won some festivals, got distribution, and I got some great reviews."

Jennifer Weedon, New York

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