The celebrated American playwright, Edward Albee, said, “there are always going to be more actors than anybody can ever use.”  So how does an actor set herself or himself apart from the pack, secure work, and build a career when the field is supersaturated?  One could argue that an essential component is ongoing education.  Classes on technique and craft can grow an actor’s skills, but educating oneself on the business side is also vital.

Part 2 of our “Breaking Into the Biz” series contains several local industry resources for emerging Washington actors.  These posts aren’t intended to be all-inclusive.  Please look at them as information to help spark an actor’s own research.  As this conversation develops, Washington Filmworks will open the discussion to guest contributors with expertise on the business of building a sustainable career in the Evergreen State.

Set yourself apart.

Acting is a process.  Actors should constantly seek out prospects to build their resume and grow their skills, as unique capabilities can be the key to landing certain gigs.  Working with a coach and taking classes are ways to hone your craft, but they’re also valuable networking opportunities.  Learning accents, languages, and even musical instruments can open new and specialized opportunities, and Washington is rife with classes, both formal and informal. The Northwest Production Index lists several prospects for talent, from workshops to focused training.  Keep in mind that individual communities host many types of classes as well.  Actors should find something that piques their interest, explore, and expand.

Understand your industry.

The Actors Handbook is an online directory for stage, film and commercial actors in the Seattle area. This resource contains a diverse range of information for talent and may be extremely useful even if one lives outside of the Puget Sound region.  Actors can find everything here from a list of photographers for headshots, to an index for legal assistance.  Be sure to learn about the industry, it’s as significant as the nuts and bolts of performing.

Actors that are not already members of a union, or don’t have an agent, should aim to educate themselves about the process.  SAG and AFTRA merged this spring, and their website will now redirect users. Information on becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA and getting representation can be found here, as well as other helpful resources.  Going union may not be the best strategy for all actors, but one should definitely explore the idea and understand the procedure.

Trust your instincts.

Being alert, prepared, and simultaneously protecting one’s image is a paramount part of being a performer.  Washington Filmworks has an online resource for actors, models and extras entitled Cautions and Guidelines for Talent.  This is designed to help talent stay savvy and safe as they pursue a career.  We’ve provided performers with a number of reminders to help identify scams and vet opportunities that might raise concerns.  The guidelines include tips such as:

  • Check everything out before you go to the interview or audition.
  • Beware of opportunities sounding too good to be true; they usually are.
  • Read all releases and contracts carefully before signing them.

We encourage actors to read this document to learn more about best practices.

The previous post in this series was Breaking Into the Biz – Tips for Emerging Actors (Part 1).