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The Working Actor

Will a Young, Multiethnic Look Hurt?

Will a Young, Multiethnic Look Hurt?
Photo Source: Thomas Pitilli

Dear Michael:
If you book a series regular on a pilot, does the network pay for your publicist? Or do you still have to pay for and hire your own? Likewise, if you land a really big role in a movie, does the studio pay for a publicist?

— AJ 

Dear AJ:
Generally, networks and studios hire publicists to promote their own shows and films, not an individual actor’s career. However, that wouldn’t happen at the pilot phase. Since pilots aren’t broadcast, neither you nor the network would have a reason to work with a publicist at that point.

Dear Michael:
I enjoy doing improv and
writing sketches, but a coach told me to stop and only act. But it’s so much a part of me, I wouldn’t know how. Also, I have a youthful, multiethnic look. Are these additional hurdles for my career?

— Lost in the South 

Dear Lost:
There’s no reason to stop doing improv and writing sketches. Those forms have been the basis for many successful careers. They can prepare you for comedy formats like “Saturday Night Live,” commercial auditions where adjustments are sometimes thrown at you, and even enhance your dramatic work, since they develop listening and spontaneity. Plus, it’s fun.

Youthful and multiethnic are two very marketable qualities these days, so don’t let them worry you in the least. Besides, what are your alternatives?

Dear Michael:
What exactly constitutes a pilot? I see many auditions labeled “pilot.” Would a project literally have to go through the pitching process with a major studio or network to be called that? Or can it be labeled a “pilot” simply when an independent production company creates a project with the hopes of pitching it to bigger industry people? I’ve been acting for years and have always wanted clarification on that.

— Big Fish 

Dear Big Fish:
Anyone can call their project a pilot. It just means it’s the first filmed incarnation of a project that’s envisioned as a series. It doesn’t even have to be designed for TV; some people shoot pilots for Web series. It’s a word anyone can use, and there’s no qualification required. That means you have to be savvy and learn all you can before auditioning, to make sure it’s something you want to be involved in.

Dear Michael:
I was recently called up by a man who apparently wanted to connect me with tons of auditions, such as for a supporting role in the upcoming film “Left Behind” with Nicolas Cage and Ashley Tisdale. It was hard to understand him because of his thick accent, and the moment he said I needed to make a small investment of $120, I began to say goodbye. I asked my acting teacher, and she disdainfully answered that anyone who asks for money for this is not legitimate. Was it really a scam?

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed:
I can answer you in one word. Absolutely. 

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