What do movies, TV, and commercials have to do with Memorial Day? When asked why soldiers fight, most commonly the answer is they’re fighting for their fellow soldiers, their “buddies.” That being said, they are acutely aware that their fighting protects their loved ones back at home, the security of our nation, as well as American ideals. By putting their lives on the line, they protect our freedom of speech—especially the right to express unpopular and controversial views. Although people can voice their deepest convictions through many avenues, theater, film and TV are particularly fruitful vehicles to communicate such views. With the rich tradition of challenging the status quo, American cinema has impacted culture with movies like All Quiet on the Western Front, A Clockwork Orange, The Deer Hunter, Do the Right Thing, and Brokeback Mountian. TV shows constantly push the envelope, redefining how far is too far with shows like All in the Family, Jerry Springer, and South Park. Even commercials sport their share of controversy. Most recently, Timothy Hutton’s Groupon commercial seemed to make light of the plight of the people of Tibet, and Ashton Kutcher’s Popchip commercial has been argued to be racist. Our soldiers’ willingness to fight keeps us all passionately debating our points of view at water coolers across the country–and keeps actors striving to be cast in the next controversial hit, giving fuel to a powerful and meaningful career. Here’s a toast to all you actors who continue to audition for all the groundbreaking roles that keep us passionately arguing—and a toast especially to all the men and women who’ve given their lives protecting our rights to express ourselves freely.Submit your profile for commercial auditions, TV auditions (and more!) in Los Angeles, New York & nationwide. Get more auditions using Casting Frontier's online casting system and showcase your talent! Post your reel & plus get your Casting Card that includes your personal Actor ID Barcode. Visit us at http://castingfrontier.com.
Would a rose still be a rose if its name was “Rosoideae Berberifolia?”
When pursuing a career in acting, there are a lot of things you might change: your hair color or style, your wardrobe, your diet and physique, your attitude. You might even change your name. Indeed, you just might have to. There are several reasons why an actor might change his or her name. Jennifer Anastassakis found her name was too hard to pronounce and spell, so simplified it to Jennifer Aniston. Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra felt her birth name was too long and consequently switched it to Meg Ryan. Some may prefer to conceal their heritage or shield themselves from potential discrimination. After Kalpen Suresh Modi, born to a Hindu Indian family, changed his name to Kal Penn, he noticed his callbacks increased by 50%. Historically, Jews in Hollywood were encouraged to anglicize their names. Jonah Hill Feldstein (Jonah Hill) Winona Laura Horowitz (Winona Ryder) and Natalie Hershlag (Natalie Portman) are recent examples of actors who opted to use names that deemphasize their heritage. Sometimes a name can really blow an actor’s image. Take Marion Morrison. He was aspiring to be cast in masculine cowboy roles; however, the name Marion had culturally evolved into a female name since his birth. So, he changed his name to John Wayne.
You may have no intention of changing your birth name for your career, but might discover you actually need to. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) requires that no two members in their organization share identical working names. Michael Fox wanted to join SAG, but found out there was already an actor in the guild with his name. Thus, he became Michael J. Fox. When Michael Douglas found his given name was already taken, he decided to become Michael Keaton instead.
When you are an actor, your name becomes a brand name. Some agents therefore suggest your name be fitting for a perfume or cologne brand name, hoping to elicit excitement and curiosity from the world. Joan Alexandra Molinsky’s agent, Tony Rivers, advised her to change her name; after she left his agency, she indeed opted to change her name … to Joan Rivers—after him.
Norma Jeane Mortensen Baker began using the name Marilyn Monroe in 1946 as a young actress, and the rest is history. Hollywood lore would have you believe the studio system forced her to change her name as they created and controlled her entire image and persona. Others say it is just as likely Norma Jeane wanted a more glamorous allure and believed the name Marilyn would help fulfill her prodigious dreams. I think it’s safe to say the name Marilyn Monroe served her very well, but it can be argued she would have succeeded as Norma Jeane just as well.
Listed below is just a small portion of actors who, for one reason or another, decided to change their names:
Caryn Johnson – Whoopi Goldberg
Bryan Ray Ulrich – Skeet Ulrich “Scream”
Carlos Irwin Estevez – Charlie Sheen
Demetria Gene Guynes – Demi Moore
Goldie Jean Studlendegehawn – Goldie Hawn
Carlos Ray Norris – Chuck Norris
Christian Michael Leonard Gainsborough – Christian Slater
Susan Abigail Tomalin – Susan Sarandon
Eric Bishop – Jamie Foxx
Allan Stewart Konigsberg – Woody Allen
Mandy Rogers – Portia De Rossi
Natasha Nikolaevna Gurdin – Natalie Wood
Kevin Matthew Fowler – Kevin SpaceySubmit your profile for commercial auditions, TV auditions (and more!) in Los Angeles, New York & nationwide. Get more auditions using Casting Frontier's online casting system and showcase your talent! Post your reel & plus get your Casting Card that includes your personal Actor ID Barcode. Visit us at http://castingfrontier.com.
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” – Thomas Merton
The moon waxes and wanes, the tides ebb and flow, and casting calls likewise follow cyclical patterns. Sometimes you’re basking in the glory of auditions lush with fruitful acting opportunities; other times you’re a parched stranded traveler on an isolated dessert road waiting for someone–anyone–to drive by. How could this happen, you ask yourself … when you have an agent?!
Don’t assume your agent is giving you the cold shoulder. Agents can only call you in if jobs are on the board. Commercial executives, producers, directors, and advertising agents like their vacation time just as much as the next guy. Expect spring and winter breaks, as well as the entire summer, to be slow to middling. Likewise, expect an influx of jobs to come in a month before these breaks, as well as before popular commercial events like the Super Bowl or major holidays.
But regardless of how many job opportunities are flowing in, it’s always a good idea to make your presence known to your agent. Make a practice of checking in. Go into such meetings with an understanding that he or she believes in your potential and is invested in your success. There’s always a chance your agent needs to get to know you better so he or she can best represent you–to get you auditions that match your personality, your look, your skills, your essence. By checking in, agents will also learn more about your drive to succeed. When you meet, don’t emphasize how slow the auditions are, your new job, the class you’re enrolled in, or any work you’ve been doing as an extra. They likely hear from actors all day long about such matters, and this is not what will make you shine in their eyes. First off, they want to hear enthusiasm in you voice and they want to see the belief you have in yourself. Communicate how you’re being proactive: emphasize any new notable relationships you’ve fostered in the field, work you’ve done with recognizable actors, casting directors you’ve seen, and share any roles you’ve played in independents especially those to be submitted in film festivals…as long as it’s all true. And if you don’t have any news to relate, go out and make news! Don’t get caught in the mistake of waiting on your agent; an agent will do the best he or she can, but at the end of the day, it’s your career, and no one will care about it like you. Find roles through friends, classes, workshops, industry seminars, and public submissions boards.
At the same time, life is about stages, and if you don’t have any real news to share, just bring your positive energy, your special personality, and chat about what’s good in your life: a great hike you just traversed, a terrific movie you’ve seen, a new skill you’re acquiring. Keep it brief, but keep it upbeat. The idea is to remind them of your presence and your flavor without pressuring or nagging. Hey, your success is their success. You can make their job easier by reaching out to them. Many actors have found that by simply keeping in contact with their agents, their commercial auditions increase. We hope yours do as well!Submit your profile for commercial auditions, TV auditions (and more!) in Los Angeles, New York & nationwide. Get more auditions using Casting Frontier's online casting system and showcase your talent! Post your reel & plus get your Casting Card that includes your personal Actor ID Barcode. Visit us at http://castingfrontier.com.
When you think of Steve Martin, do you think wild and crazy guy? That’s the epitome of an extrovert, right? Well, not quite. Steve Martin is actually an introvert. And so are Glenn Close, Helen Hunt, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Noah Wyle, Julia Roberts, and Gwyneth Paltrow among others. How is it possible for an actor to be an introvert when, after all, his or her career is to “ham it up” in front of audiences?
Let’s first define what extroverts and introverts are. Extroverts are people who become energized in response to the presence of other people, and their energy tends to fade when they’re alone. A classic extrovert would prefer to talk with others instead of independently sit and think—especially because they’re known to think best when conversing. Their ease of making small talk makes them appear more socially adept.
Introverts, on the other hand, come most alive and feel most capable when they’re alone exploring their thoughts and feelings; being around the stimulation of other people expends this energy. This does not mean they are shy. Shyness is characterized by fear of social judgment. While introverts may or may not have good social skills, they will likely need to recharge their energy level by being alone after spending time with others–even those whose company they enjoy.
Although introverts make up 25-40% of the population, they often experience a general bias in our Western society which favors the more outgoing, bold, assertive style that extroverts exemplify over their quiet, introspective nature.
At first glance, the act of performing roles appears to be more about socializing, seeking attention, and being invigorated by the presence of the audience–qualities one would expect from an extrovert. However, quality acting requires a deep understanding of a character’s emotions as well as valuable introspection of one’s own complexities to convincingly pull off roles.
Both introverts and extroverts bring their own particular strengths and power to any given role. So, whether you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or anything in between, embrace your own style. Resist the notion that one style is any better than the other, and invest in your authenticity.
Susan Cain, a former corporate lawyer as well as an introvert, points out many ways modern society pushes introverts to abandon their natural style. Click here to hear her inspiring talk celebrating introverts and encouraging them to embrace their personal style and create positive change in the world.Submit your profile for commercial auditions, TV auditions (and more!) in Los Angeles, New York & nationwide. Get more auditions using Casting Frontier's online casting system and showcase your talent! Post your reel & plus get your Casting Card that includes your personal Actor ID Barcode. Visit us at http://castingfrontier.com.
Had Harrison Ford listened to studio heads early in his career, he would have stuck to his day job as a carpenter–and Indiana Jones and Han Solo would have been played by other actors. Had Penelope Cruz listened to critics in her early performances, she would have given up on acting and never won an Oscar. Had Clint Eastwood put all his faith in the opinions of studio execs, he’d have stopped pursuing a career as an actor and gone down in history as an actor in “probably the lousiest Western ever made.”
Countless aspiring actors have been discouraged by the words of impressive professionals in the field, and have struggled with the notion of giving up. It’s easy to rely on their advice and opinions. After all, they’ve made it, seem highly qualified, are experienced in the field; naturally, their opinions are the best to be found. Similarly, everyone has met people who stubbornly refuse to listen to expert advice–foolishly driving their aspirations into a ditch.
But you have to remember that evolution calls for change and adapting, and no one–not even experts–knows what the future holds, and what the next hot-ticket actor looks or sounds like. Penelope’s accent was too thick, Clint’s adam’s apple protruded too much, Harrison didn’t seem like a leading man. The experts at the time were simply reflecting on what already existed as the norm. Ironically, what Hollywood is most interested in is a fresh, new talent. A new actor needs to be different, but is immediately doubted when he or she is different.
So how’s an actor supposed to know whose advice to listen to and whose to disregard? It’s a slippery slope maneuvering through the opinions of others. And there are no easy answers. The goal for any actor is to keep moving in the right direction. Listen to your heart, listen to your needs, and be open to the views of others along your journey. Harrison needed to feed his family so opted to devote himself to his carpentry work…which ultimately broadened his contacts, leading him back to the entertainment industry. Becoming successful is a process of trial and error, failure and rejection, regathering strength and focus, adapting–and keeping up this process over and over and over again. Respect other’s opinions, but never allow others to stop you from taking risks and believing in yourself.
Tim Harford is the author of the book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Listen to his illuminating talk about the importance of questioning expert advice, and the challenge of perceiving ourselves as process-oriented works in progress.
Submit your profile for commercial auditions, TV auditions (and more!) in Los Angeles, New York & nationwide. Get more auditions using Casting Frontier's online casting system and showcase your talent! Post your reel & plus get your Casting Card that includes your personal Actor ID Barcode. Visit us at http://castingfrontier.com.