Sunday, November 13, 2011

60. Back Stage

"Get to your bottom line. Figure out who you are, uniquely, at your core and name it. Be consistently and authentically you. Be your own Tiger. Because you'll never be sorry about that." - Christina Shipp, The Savvy Actor

I love reading the articles, interviews and advice columns in Back Stage (the trade newspaper for actors). I've been an actor for most of my life, but just got my own subscription to Back Stage about a year ago. 

Why now?... I realized that for an actor, not reading Back Stage was sort-of like a finance-guy never reading the Wall Street Journal. 

How can you know what's going on in your industry? I figured, if I am really serious about being a professional actor, I'd better provide myself with some solid resources coming into my mailbox each week. It'll keep me in-touch with "the business"... even as I dabble in day-job-land... for now.

I also get the Equity Newsletter and have a subscription to American Theatre Magazine. I am sure there are many, many, many more resources that I could subscribe to that would also be very helpful to building my knowledge about "the industry." But I've got to start with SOMEWHERE... So these three resources seemed like the best start at keeping myself aware of what's going on in the acting world... and Back Stage has been an especially valuable investment.

For those of you that are like... "What the heck is Back Stage?" See the quote below, taken directly from the FAQ... 

If you already know all about it... then you can just scroll-down to the next section...

What is Back Stage?
Back Stage is the actor's resource, a brand that aims to give actors all the information they need to succeed. In practical terms, it is actually two products: a national newspaper and a website. The newspaper is sold on newsstands in New York, Los Angeles, and select other areas, as well as nationwide by subscription. 
First and foremost for our readers, both in print and online we publish casting calls and production listings, especially for New York City and Los Angeles. Both also include some news, features, columns, and theatre reviews. 
In the newspaper, we publish current events as well as over a dozen weekly advice columns, many of which never appear on the website. The Back Stage newspaper is best described as a publication to curl up with on a Sunday or take with you on the subway-stories you can savor. delivers updated news and casting throughout the day. Plus, offers casting from all over the country-many not available in print. Every week, we publish dozens of notices from areas like Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver and many more. 
Most importantly, web subscribers get free access to our incredible Multimedia Resume Database. With that, you can store your resume, several headshots and audio or video reel-for no extra charge! (Included in the price of membership.) also has video, weblogs, and a dynamic message board. We have web-only features and columns. Finally, we have our Actors' Yellow Pages, which allows you to access a wide range of photographers, classes, and more.

Such a worthy investment! 

Most recently I've been loooooving the newspaper interviews with super-top-notch-actors-with-great-craft-and-amazing-careers.

I will share with you two such examples today...

(You can also check-out their bios at another great resource for info about working actors.)

This is the Frank Langella quote of the day:

"...His career has been defined by many ups and downs and dry periods when he had neither work nor representation. But he never toyed with the idea of doing something else nor even questioned his talent. "When I had difficulty getting work or representation, I told myself it was not a reflection of my ability, but rather a reflection of my demeanor or manner, or it was luck of the draw. I never felt, 'Now I'll go do trash.' My motto is 'Never give up, never give in, if the dream is still strong in you.' If the need to act is so strong it wakes you in the middle of the night, then stay with it."  
He adds, "If you think you'd kind of like to be an actor because it'll get you laid, or you'd kind of like to be an actor because it'll make you famous, or you'd kind of like to be an actor because it'll make you lots of money and you won't have to work much, then you shouldn't be an actor. You should be a commercial commodity." 

And the Kirsten Dunst quote of the day:

"I think for everyone it's good to have your own personal work on a character and a film before you even start rehearsing, to have an inner life. I've always been someone that has, like, "character therapy" between me and whoever I'm playing. I'm the type of actor where when I get on set, I throw it all away, and then it becomes about being in the moment with whoever you're acting with and that inner life. You've worked on it and it's there, but then it's about being there for whatever happens in the scene. I'm not a very "this is planned out" person when I get to set. "This is how I'm going to do it"—I'm never like that. The energy with whoever you're working with and also of the place you're in, the set, or wherever it is. Your environment feeds what you're doing as well. You have to be open to whatever happens and not be afraid. That was the biggest thing from being a young adult actress to now being in films. There's a period where you have to break through this fear. It's okay to do a terrible take. Try something different. Or if you start laughing, or wherever it goes, it doesn't really matter, because by the end of the scene it could come to something really special. If you had this way in your head of thinking about it, it would have fell flat. That's usually the way I work. Also, I'm not a big fan of rehearsal, for the most part. I think when you find something for the first time on film, you get something special."

This is the kind of stuff that "pops-out" at me when I'm reading. 

Thank you, Back Stage, for making these resources available. There's so much to be gleaned by learning from the expertise of actors you respect and admire.

Makes me want to be a better actor myself... and also makes me feel good to know that actors with a strong point-of-view that don't necessarily "fit-the-mold" and aren't always cast according to "type" are some of the most successful actors out there. They've made their own way and get hired for jobs because of WHO THEY ARE and what they bring to a project creatively. 

I greatly admire actors that have created careers that are sustainable, creatively fulfilling, inspiring to others annnnnnd that can actually pay their bills and save for retirement with their actor-paychecks. They choose projects based on what inspires them and work with people that they LOVE and/or will challenge them to grow as artists. Now... THAT's the life.


Dreamin' BIG & takin' cues from the experts,

"I’m a big believer in relative expertise. For most purposes, you don’t need to be the world’s foremost expert on something to benefit from what you know. Being expert enough means knowing enough or being good enough to accomplish your goals, however modest or grand they may be. 
Someone once told me to think about expertise as a scale from one to ten, not as an absolute. If you’re a two or three on the scale, you’re expert enough to help people who are ones and twos. In fact, you might be better suited to helping beginners than a ten on the expert scale, because you’re closer to their level and better understand where they’re coming from." - Corbett Bar, Expert Enough


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