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Backstage Experts

16 Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Organized Actor

16 Do’s and Don’ts of Being an Organized Actor
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Unorganized, disorganized—it seems all very excusable for artists, who typically think and live “outside the box.” They are expected to be that way. 

But actors have it different from other artists, such as sculptors, painters, writers, and poets, who can walk in disheveled and unorganized to a professional meeting. As long as they can produce their work, they really don’t need to worry as much about how they present themselves. In fact, being unorganized can actually be a characteristic of a successful, artistic persona. And, if so, they would do well to have beside them a hyper-organized assistant to handle the many necessary administrative tasks of their work.

Actors, on the other hand, have to audition. They need to have the mindset of a businessperson. They need to display a sense of awareness and confidence in their abilities, and be prepared to perform examples of their craft while also convincing others of their value.

They need to walk into an audition, deal with the “business stuff,” and then make the room their “studio” so they can create the art that people will want to buy. For example, sometimes just asking an actor for a headshot throws them off. We get a slightly bewildered/panicked response such as: “I thought my agent sent you one,” or “I have one in my car and I can get it for you afterwards.”

Don’t get us wrong, we love actors, but being disorganized is off-putting to those of us who are hiring you. It screams “train wreck” and you begin to make us nervous. 

So here’s some help. This is a method that may drive you nuts at first, but will help you when you need it most.  

Some Don’ts: 

  • Don’t be surprised that you got an audition—even if you got it at the last minute.
  • Don’t print pictures  and résumés the night before and then staple them together in the lobby or, worse, in the audition room.
  • Don’t start ironing your clothes at the last minute. 
  • Don’t try to squeeze yourself into clothes that used to fit; it will only make you feel badly about yourself right before you need to feel good about yourself. This translates on camera.
  • Don’t just assume your pictures and résumés are “in your bag somewhere.”
  • Don’t assume you will have enough gas.  
  • Don’t figure you’ll just “deal with the parking situation when you get there.”

Some Do’s:

  • Do expect work today.  
  • Do clean and press your wardrobe ahead of time.
  • Do work to fit properly into those clothes that you are meticulously ironing.
  • Do print out plenty of pictures, with résumés on the back (because you expect to run into people who will need one).
  • Do have your pictures and résumés ready in your bag, regardless of whether they are requested or not. Keep them in a place that’s easy to access.
  • Do be practiced in your craft so as to not worry about your level of skill when you walk in the room.  
  • Do keep your gas tank filled.
  • Do map out the best route to take today. Even if you’ve been there a million times, your GPS will tell you if there are accidents and road closures of which you should be aware.
  • Do plan to get there early enough to scout out the parking situation and park where you’re not going to be stressed about expiring parking meters or parking tickets.

Ultimately, you want to be prepared to get an audition every day. Since this is what you do, it should never come as a surprise. Prepare in advance. Take care of yourself so that you can enjoy the ride.

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Chuck Marra and Megan Foley Marra are Los Angeles-based casting directors and Backstage Experts. For more information, check out their full bio

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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