This is part of an exclusive interview with Hollywood Acting Coach Bernard Hiller, who answers the question: How Do You Know If Acting Is Right For You?
Hello. First I would like to thank for an opportunity
to ask you a question. I’m Russian and I came to United States 4 years ago
to pursue my acting career ( I’m 16).When I turn 18 I’m moving to NY to
pursue my career.
Today I have been working on my cover letter and this is that what I came
with :” Dear( agents name) Your agency has been recommended to me by various
people during my search for representation in New York/Los Angeles. I have
always loved acting and I have taken various acting classes in and outside
of United States, so I am sure that I am the right type of “white bread” to
be represented. I have enclosed my resume and photos for your consideration.
I am looking forward to meeting you and I will contact you by phone ( date
and time). Truly yours, Daria XXX.
do you consider this to be a good cover letter?
IF you don’t mind Ill address my another problem, when I was in Russia
I have been in MANY theater productions and such,however I lost information
( director’s name etc, ) how should I present it in my resume?
I decided to be an actress when I was 7 ( I saw the lord of the rings) and
I was like this isit… I want to do that. Thank you so much for a chance
to ask you a question.
There were a lot of mistakes in that mail above that I received. I corrected most of them.
First of all, with regard to the cover letter, have a look at this page.
It’s a similar question I answered from a girl not long ago and has
some of the things I think will be helpful for you.
Secondly, I would suggest you have a look at these pages as well. They
are about what you need to consider when you get an agent.
That leads me to your accent and English language ability. The better
your English is, the more kinds of roles you can be cast in. Otherwise
you will always be the Russian girl. There is absolutely nothing wrong with
that, but it limits the number of auditions you can go on and consequently,
the number of jobs you can get.
This page shows you step by step exactly what you have to do to get an
Also, even though you have a lot of experience, you should still be going to
class. Your acting craft never stops growing. You must keep learning. Also, it is
important for you to know that even if you don’t have a lot of experience, agents and
casting directors will be looking to see if you have been training or not.
Here’s how to choose the right school for you:
Lastly, with regard to the addresses, names you have lost. I don’t know what
to tell you except don’t lie. You must find some of them at least.
I hope this is helpful to you.
Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.
As long as you haven’t signed an exclusive agreement with any one agent, you can have as many agents as you want. My advice though would be to be honest with your agents, especially with the ones that get you most of the work. It could happen as happened to me a couple of years ago, that I got called in for the same audition by two different agents within 15 minutes. I accepted to go to the audition from the first agent. When the second agent called, I told him that I had already accepted to go to that audition. In that moment, I was so glad that I had told the second agent the truth, which was that I had another agent as well. Even though I wasn’t obligated to tell him, I was thinking it might be better to be honest, which would help maintain a good, open relationship.
I just think it’s always good to be clear up front. Takes the stress out of life. There’s enough of that already.
Hope that answers your question.
Here is some information about how to actually go about getting a talent agent.
Hi, I’m 16 years old and in high school and I know I have to be an actor; it is what I love to do. My question is, once I graduate high school, do you suggest moving to LA to pursue an acting career, or going to college to get a degree in acting? I want to do film & television work, not theater, so would moving to LA be a better career move?
Yes LA would definitely be the better place to be for film and televison, but
you will want to use this time until you graduate to do a few very important things.
1. Start getting some really good, solid acting training. Learn a technique for example. Learn how to audition. Learn some monologues. Learn why classes are important and how to choose a school that is right for you:
2. Learn as much as you can about the industry and what’s happening.
Learn as much as you can about LA and Hollywood, not only from an industry
standpoint, but also from a geographical standpoint.
3. Devlop a strategy that includes learning business and networking skills. You NEED to know how to do those things. It’s not just as simple as getting an agent and expecting that they will do all the work. It’s not that simple. That’s what my book teaches you about, among other things.
If you can get a chance, take a couple of fact finding trips to LA and check things out. Go to some workshops and seminars for actors there. Start interviewing schools and other actors there before you go, so that you will feel more sure when you finally get to where you want to be. Have a look at the HOLLYWOOD HO link on the menu of the site.
My 10 yr old daughter is wanting to be an actress. We are starting out at the beginning right now–she is doing a 4wk course of theatre which teaches the basics. After that, we are somewhat lost as to what to do to keep her going to help her resume. Leads are very scarce in our area (Kansas),so that makes it a bit more difficult.
> We are hoping to be moving out to California or Arizona in 3 yrs, so that will help, but until then, what can we do as parents to help her? Thanks
The first and most important thing that I see you are already doing is to
get her into some really good acting classes and keep her there. She
can never get too much experience. Ever! Keep her in classes…continuously.
Another thing is for you to stay close to her when engaging in contacts in the
industry. Now it’s pretty much a no-brainer, but even as she gets older, don’t
let her out of your site. There are a lot of people who will prey on kids like her
and tell her everything and anything to make a buck. Don’t buy it!
For example, some will tell you that they will represent her, but that you have to
pay for that service. That’s Bull! Agents get 10% of the take generally (in a few
cases maybe 15%) but AFTER she has actually done the job. First the audition,
then she would be hired, then she does the job, then the agent gets paid by the
customer and THEN she will be sent 90% of whatever the pay was for that particular
job and the agent will keep 10% for him-/herself. That’s the way it works.
There are three other things I would suggest you do:
1. Have a look at my latest video:
The Top 10 Reasons Why Most Aspiring Actors Never Make It!
2. Have a look at this page on my site. It’s dedicated to teens, but you will certainly find some helpful hints and practical things to do that have to do with different aspects of starting an acting career such as:
How to get an agent
23 benefits of taking acting classes
17 Things you can do to start getting acting work
29 ways to promote yourself as an actor
How to choose a school
All about head shots
Also, you could read the pages about convincing your parents and tell me what you think! 🙂
The cost of an acting career
Thoughts on becoming famous (that you might want to have her read)
3. Invest $19.95 in a copy of my book: Acting Career Start-Up: Four Key Factors For Success. You can buy it on Amazon or Barnes&Noble.com or order it in your local book store. To see what it’s all about, have a look at this page.
Just remember that it is a business you are getting your daughter into.
A store owner must make sure that her store is attractive and inviting, but first
and foremost it must have really good quality products. But then, the owner
must make sure that people come into the store and that people even know about it.
Otherwise it is all in vain.
Many aspiring actors don’t make it, because they don’t have the concept of business
in their minds. One of the things you must do in my opinion if you really want to help your daughter is “make sure her product (of being an actress) is top quality, because the competition is fierce. And then you must make sure that the right people see her work.
I did an interview with a Hollywood Acting Coach named Bernard Hiller who said,
“It’s not about who you know in the acting industry and it’s not about who knows you.
It’s really about who WANTS to know you!”
Make sure that the right people want to know your daughter. You do that by starting from scratch of build a good, solid base of acting talent and skill, while you Mommy, bone up on your business skills. That will be a winning combination down the road!
Good luck to you and stay in touch with ActingCareerStartUp.com!
I am very sorry to bother you but I feel lost. I am a 23 year old student from Vienna and I signed up for the one year NYFA acting for film program. Since I have very little experience I also signed up for a one week intensive in vienna. Now I start to panic asking myself if the NYFA was a good choice. It costs a load of money and EVERYBODY can get in. Since I cannot look around for acting schools myself I have to do it over the net and I keep finding tons of other acting schools which seem far better and less expensive. Even for the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York there doesn’t seem to be an audition required. I would just like to know how professionals react when they hear, that’s somebody’s been gaining experience at the nyfa. I know that I am starting my “career” late, but I feel that I am going to die if I don’t try right now, that’s why I want to have a good education in acting, and I doubt that the NYFA can provide it.
> Thank you so much in advance
In the end what matters is what you can do, whether you are a good actress
or not. It is true, however, that training is important for what it does for your
acting capability, but also as it appears on your resume. One of the things
industry professionals look for is 1. that you have been training, 2. what kind
of training, and last but not least 3. where and with whom you have trained.
The better the reputation of the school, the more likely they are to want to
give you a chance.
I agree that if you are serious, nyfa isn’t probably at the top of the list, but if you have already committed and can’t get out of it, try and look at it from the positive side.
One thing I would recommend is for you to find people in your classes who are as
committed as you are. NYFA has a lot of young kids (not only), some of whom just think it’s cool to be going to school for acting, but they really aren’t committed. So find and latch on to the right people.
The same is true for the kids in the director’s school there. One great advantage of going to NYFA is that you will have a chance to do a lot of student film projects, which will give you experience and practice. That’s something that you wouldn’t have at some other schools.
The main thing is for you to find the right people and hold on to them.
It seems like you are really serious about starting your acting career and that’s good, because that seriousness you will definitely need to be successful. Only if you are really serious though, you might want to think of investing an additional $19.95 for my book: Acting Career Start-Up: Four Key Factors For Success. It will help guide you through moments like the one of indecision that you are having now.
I am taking a photoshoot next week. Im a beginner. The rate im paying is $125 for 1-hour session, 50 shots, and 1 image lightly retouched. I want to add other headshots. About how much more images out of the 50 shots should I Retouched. I need some advice please!
Headshots can be tricky if you are not guided in the right direction.
Two questions I have in my mind are:
1. Have you had any acting training at all yet?
2. How good is your head shot photographer?
3. What will you use the pictures for?
The reason I ask is, if you haven’t taken any acting classes yet, then it might be too early to think about head shots. Why? Because (and now moving into the next point) if your photographer isn’t good enough or professional enough or is only interested in making a buck, then you risk having pictures that are not very good, emotionless and that don’t bring out the best in you, because you don’t know how to “own” the camera.
The third point is, if you are truely a beginner and are going after a legit or commercial agent, what will you do if you get called in to meet them? Are you ready for that?
If you already have the pictures, which it seems that you do, have a look at this page on retouching. I interviewed a New York retouching specialist for my site for new and aspiring actors who talks about the retouching process and how much retouching is too much.
Also have a look at this page!! http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/headshots.html
This is a whole section on head shots, how to get the best ones, how to make sure that you get the right head shot photographer for you, the right questions to ask, how to evaluate which head shot photographer to use, and so on.
The first thing I started to do before I even thought about getting an agent was to start training. I realized that if I started contacting agents before I was ready, that once I got an interview and they asked me to do a monologue, that I had to be ready. I had to know how to act, at least a little.
I also started finding out what agents really look for in an actor and why agents are in business, what they would expect from me once they decided to sign me.
I also knew that it was important for me to understand what my type was, so that all my marketing efforts were funneled in the same direction.
Once I started to do those things, I then began to find out which agents cater to my type, which agents were actually looking for someone like me. I looked at the Ross Reports and another publication called New York Agencies and found everything I needed.
I learned how to write a good cover letter, learned how to put together my resume and how to get really professional looking headshots taken and then I started systematically mailing the agents I was interested in working with.
In this way I ended up getting three agents to work with me in a short period of time.
If you are one of the many young kids going directly from “I wanna be an actress.” to “How do I get an agent?”
That’s not a winning strategy. Make sure that when you spend time and money to make all your materials, that someone will want to actually look at them!
Have a look at this page on my site for new and aspiring actors. It has 23 links to different pages that have to do with aspects of starting an acting career, including how to get an agent, how to get really good head shots, how much your acting career will cost along with other things you might find helpful. www.actingcareerstartup.com/teen_acting.html
To go directly to a page that gives you a 12 step method to getting an agent, click on this link below:
I’m not sure where you start except that you will need to have a good, solid story line. You might need to take a workshop about the key elements of story telling. Stories have certain qualities and elements, that make them compelling and interesting to read or watch. If you don’t know what they are, you might want to figure that out.
Otherwise, I would say that you are on the right track by looking for information, but don’t underestimate the importance of knowing exactly where you want to take the entire project. Be VERY, VERY SPECIFIC AND DETAILED. The more specific you are about what you want, the more likely is that you will be able to make it happen.
Don’t be in such a hurry to rush off and get something done to achieve your goal without spending the necessary time, to do these things that I mentioned above FIRST.
Without a good story, your whole project crumbles.
Anyway, congratulations! This is a great idea. One of the reasons why many aspiring actors don’t make it is because the only way they know about to get acting work is “get a head shot, resume, write a cover letter and try to get an agent.” What they don’t realize is that there are many other ways to get acting work and get your self set up in the industry.
Your project is ambitious, but if you really and truly want it and go about in a smart way, you could very well achieve what you are looking to achieve. But you will have to work really, really hard.
There is an open call for a talent agency that is registered with SAG that I will be going to. Anyone know what they do when they call you in/ what should I expect while having this interview with them?
You can also check with the Association Of Talent Agents to find out if the agency is registered with them.
At any rate, you will probably be in a room waiting with a lot of aspiring actors and people who really shouldn’t be there, but who have a dream and think that even without training they are qualified to get an agent.
As far as what to expect when you get your turn, it really depends on the agent and what they are looking for. They could very well ask you to do a monologue 1-2 minutes. You should have two or three monologues to choose from anyway when you walk in.
They might ask you to do commercial copy. You might want to practice that as well.
Haven’t heard of too many agents asking you to do a cold read, but you never know.
And then again, they just might want to talk to you to see what your personality is like and what your motivations are for wanting to become an actress. In that case, with their training they will look deep into your soul and try to figure out if in the long run, they can make any money off of you. In other words, they will be trying to determine whether or not if they send you to auditions, if they think you will have a good chance of booking something. If not, they will most likely not be interested in you.
So if you don’t have training, then just go for the experience, but don’t get your hopes up too high.
Don’t pay anything, no matter what they say!!!
Don’t go to any photographers they suggest!!!
Those are indications that they are trying to scam you.
In fact, decent agencies don’t usually have open calls. They have no need to do so. So I’m skeptical already.
Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I hear of so many kids who talk about that ONE open call or that ONE friend who said they would introduce them to that ONE agent or that ONE casting director and they put all their eggs in that basket and then just wait…and wait…and wait… and most often (99.999999%) of the time, nothing every happens after that.
That’s not a strategy.
A strategy first starts with your true and deep desire to pursue acting because it’s something that makes your heart smile and because you just can’t live without it.
Then, you first start trying to become the best actor you can possibly be. And THEN you start thinking about an agent.
Putting the cart before the horse, you are thinking short term and not long term.
Have a look at this page on my site for new and aspiring actors. It has links to 23 different pages that have to do with different aspects of starting an acting career. http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/teen_acting.html
Including much better ways to think of getting an agent rather than going to an open call!!! Ugh!
Anyway, good luck!