A few weeks ago, I went to an Equity principal audition. I did a monologue, and immediately afterward the casting director looked at me and said, "Wow, you need to be on 'SNL.' You are hysterical." He then asked me for another piece, which I did, and after that he said to me, "Wow, you're great. I have nothing for you in my season, but you're great." He asked me if I had a manager. I told him, "I am freelancing with some people," and he gave me the number of a guy he said I needed to call. He told me he would call the manager later that day to tell him about me. I was ecstatic.
I was blown away that this type of thing happened to me at an EPA. It was quite a boost. I called the manager, told him what the CD said, and he asked me to send my stuff. I emailed him my headshot, résumé, and some links to some of my work online, including a video I posted that is killing!
A few days went by and I heard nothing. I called him to confirm that he got the email. When I reached him, he said he had gotten the email but was going to pass on me, because he already had another standup and a guy that was my type. I was baffled. I understand the whole conflict-of-interest thing, but this guy never even gave me a chance. I was simply trying to get him to agree to a meeting, but he wouldn't budge. He said, "Post card me, keep me in the loop, let me know when you're doing something—blah blah blah."
If a referral from a legit casting director on the spot at an EPA isn't enough to get me in the door, what the heck is?
—Flattered and Flattened!
Dear F and F:
I know, it sounds nuts. But what in our business isn't? I congratulate you on the wonderful feedback. It is indeed unusual to have someone gush like that at an audition. But in terms of dry facts, the casting director's reaction only tells you one thing: This one particular casting director dug your stuff—dug it enough to recommend you to a manager. And that's great; it's no small compliment. But the manager is a different person. He has his own taste, his own knowledge of who he has and who he's looking for, and he might not have the same reaction as the casting director. When you think about it that way, what happened to you is really not such an outrage.
Here's the hard truth: The manager saw your materials and wasn't interested. It happens, even when someone is highly recommended. That's why, among my many sayings, I've coined the reminder "Nothing is anything until it's something." In our profession, there are all kinds of potentially misleading signs (such as the casting director who exclaimed after my audition, "My God! It's as if this part was written for you!" and then didn't call me back). To take any of these encouraging signs for more than face value can lead to disappointment. So don't do that. Until there's ink on a page or a paycheck in your hand, just smile and enjoy the compliment.
However, if I were you, I would take a moment and drop a note to the casting director, thanking him for the recommendation but letting him know that the manager declined to meet with you. Keep it positive and appreciative and avoid complaint, but deliver the information. The casting director might want to know that when considering the manager's clients for audition appointments. I'm just saying.
I am sick to death of these casting workshops being my only resource for being seen. I am searching for a group or troupe of passionate, skilled, hungry artists who use each other to stay sharp and network. Of course, I realize that so is every single actor in North America.
Do you know of or recommend any theater companies in town where I can work with an acting family–type atmosphere? I realize this is an ambiguous question. It's just that I started the workshops after being consistently disappointed with the acting troupes I was auditing, so I thought I would ask.
This is sort of a tough one. Frankly, L.A.'s show business community isn't best known for its sense of community. I can tell you, off the top of my head, some of the theater companies that I have heard good things about—Theatre of Note, Open Fist, the Actors' Gang, the Colony, Sacred Fools—but I have no idea whether they offer the kind of communal, soul-feeding atmosphere you've described. Maybe they do. It's worth looking into. But it sounds like you may have audited these companies already.
You know me. I often like to give simple, obvious, plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face advice, because sometimes we skip over those things. So here it is: I've found that the best way to find almost anything is to put the word out to everyone you know, via phone, email, Facebook, Craigslist, and whatever other resources you can think of, not the least of which are the message boards at BackStage.com. Have you done that yet? Maybe someone will respond and tell you about a great, nurturing, supportive company of which you were unaware.
And if not (and I'm sure you knew this was coming), please start such an organization! If not a theater company, then maybe some sort of an actors center, where people could share resources, solve problems, brainstorm, and so forth. I'd be a part of something like that in a second. I think a lot of us would. Being an L.A. actor can be a bit isolating. Having a place to commune might remind us that we face many of the same challenges.
Jackie Apodaca and I really do get these letters, and while we can't answer them all, we get to as many as possible. We'd love to hear from you, so if you have a question, or need advice or brainstorming, or just want to vent, don't hesitate to write to us at TheWorkingActor@gmail.com. When you write, please remember to include your name, city and state, and, if you like, a pseudonym for publication (Lost in Los Angeles, Star-to-Be, Mr. Write—that sort of thing) for anonymity. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you.