10 Essential Ways to Build Your Résumé, Reel + Career in Atlanta

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Atlanta actors are in high demand right now with the city offering amazing opportunities to book work. And that’s great! But will you be ready when Hollywood comes calling?

What casting directors, producers, filmmakers, and directors in L.A. and Atlanta want from actors are artists who are truly committed and professional, who are confident, fired up, and serious about the work. Whatever city you’re in, the work is the work. As actors from Atlanta and the southeast are booking bigger and better roles, it’s time to get ready so that when the role shows up, you do too you.

If you want to book a co-star role once in awhile, go for it. But we suspect you want more. For a robust acting career—one you can make a living from—you’re going to have to build it. Here are 10 ways to build your résumé, reel, and career in Atlanta.

1. Build your résumé role by role.
In the beginning, be willing to do most roles. Grab every opportunity with gusto. And ask for a name for your character; you may not get one but when you do, identify the name on your résumé, not just “co-star.” As you build your résumé, become more and more selective. It’s okay to say no to auditions for “one-line cop” if you feel you’ve done it too many times. Unless it’s a chance to work with and learn from an amazing actor or director, hold out for juicier roles.

2. Train.
Get and stay in shape so that when the amazing recurring guest star audition is presented,
you’re ready to walk in and take it. We’ve seen it time and time again: the actor who is immersed deeply in her craft and understands that she’s got to be exercising her acting muscles no matter what is ready to work at the level that the industry demands.

3. Master the self-tape.
The self-tape reigns and is the dominant way of auditioning in regional markets like Atlanta, so you have to master it. In a nutshell, don’t try to replicate an audition; do the work you’d do on set. Bringing that kind of leadership to your self-tape will distinguish you from the rest.

4. Be a whole artist.
You should be doing everything possible to build a diverse and rich career.
Local CDs want to know more about you—certainly more than four lines in an audition—so give them as much opportunity to work with as possible! Get involved with independent films, theater, web series, shorts, local seminars, the Atlanta Film Festival, etc. Hell, create your own production company.

READ: How to Get an Agent in Atlanta

5. Make work!
This has become the focus of many actors we see who take artistic leadership in their careers. They aren’t waiting for the industry to tell them they’re an actor, they’re taking charge and creating content. Taking command distinguishes you from everyone else waiting for the call. Plus, you’ll get new material for your reel.

6. Diversify in every way possible.
Paint, dance, write, direct, podcast...develop other areas of industry-related expression and expertise that will serve your acting and expand your possibilities as a professional. Expressing your creative impulse works the muscles, keeps you happy, and lets people know you’re an artist. So many actor-photographers and actor-comedians, etc. have caught our eye as creative beings and shifted how we see them.

7. Assume a relationship with CDs.
With so much self-taping, it’s hard to remember that casting folks are your partners. Be in their world and see them as collaborators, not higher-ups in the industry food chain. Though CD workshops recently took a big hit in L.A., if casting directors present a chance to get into the work with you, consider it. Working relationships can be forged in so many ways.

Make sure your reps and any CDs you have a relationship with (even those who’ve cast you but never met you or who’ve liked your work but haven’t yet cast you) know that you’re available to be a reader, do a cast table-read or help out in other ways. This may seem foreign to you and your agent, but it works for us.

8. Create community.
We see actors find community in so many ways: doing theater, forming writing groups, in artist collectives that meet to run lines and self-tape together, producing content in small production groups. Keep yourself connected to the work, to each other, and to the industry; it’s enormously powerful.

9. Practice self-care.
If you’re going to put yourself out there—taking risks, dealing with rejection, balancing a day job and an acting career—you’re going to have to take really good care of yourself. Make sure you have a solid daily practice that gives you the self-awareness you need to show up.

10. Be where you are.
Don’t run away to another city because the grass looks greener. Whatever is in your way in Atlanta will still be your challenge in Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago. Look at what else you can be doing in your own corner of the world to elevate your career.

Decide if you’re serious about this. If being an actor is a calling, find ways to feed your purpose. It’s the same deal in any city, in any market. You must be in and of the work all the time. Do it all. Have the appetite of an artistic beast. Be ready in mind, body, and spirit. Separate yourself from the pack and work at a championship level so that you can (and we know you can) achieve the career of your dreams.

Atlanta actors, just because you’re not in (what you may think is) the center of the industry’s universe does not mean you can make yourself less than. You’re not a smaller actor and you’re not missing out. In L.A., Atlanta looks like the “place to be”; it has that new car smell and we all want a whiff. So stand up as an Atlanta actor. You have currency.

We are coming to Atlanta in August for a transformational weekend of next-level acting training. Join us for The BGB Studio Atlanta Audition Revolution in August.

Get all of your casting questions answered by peers and experts on the Backstage Community forums!

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.

Author Headshot
Risa Bramon Garcia
For the past 40 years, Risa has worked as a director, producer, casting director, and teacher. Having directed two features—including “200 Cigarettes”—she has also directed for TV and dozens of plays in New York and Los Angeles. Her casting résumé includes more than 80 feature films and shows, and includes “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Fatal Attraction,” “JFK,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Affair,” “Masters of Sex,” and the original “Roseanne.” She is a founding partner of The BGB Studio, known for revolutionary acting training.
See full bio and articles here!
Author Headshot
Steve Braun
Steve Braun is an acting coach, teacher, and communication consultant, drawing on years of acting, Buddhist practice, and martial arts training to help his clients discover and express their unique emotional truth. When he pursued an acting career, he starred in movies, was a series regular many times, and guest starred on numerous TV shows. He is a founding partner of The BGB Studio, known for revolutionary acting training.
See full bio and articles here!