Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I think every aspiring actor should read as many of these books as possible. You will note the absence of the “classics” such as Hagan and Stanislavsky. They are missing as I think these books are more important. Some are out of print and therefore may be skipped, at least for the present. These are listed in no particular order. Just find a title that interests you , get a copy at where you can get it used and in paper (if possible) at the very best price. If amazon does not have it try

-The Actor’s Art and Craft by Wm Esper and Damon DiMarco

-The Tao of Acting- Dr. Kenneth D. Plonkey

-The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Acting –Paul Baldwin and John Malone

-Rehearsal – Miriam Franklin

-True and False-David Mamet

-Acting without Agony – Don Richardson

-Acting is Everything: Gold Edition-Judy Kerr

-How to Be a Working Actor-Mari Lyn Henry and Lynne Rogers

-Self Management for Actors-Bonnie Gillespie

-How to Get Arrested-J. Wallach Michael and Paul Thurwachter

-An Agent Tells All-Tony Martinez

-How To Book Acting Jobs in TV and Film-Cathy Reinking

-One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor's Survival Guide-Markus Flanagan

-So You Want to Be in Showbusiness?- Steve R. Stevens

-Acting Truths and Lies (purchased at

-Book the Job-Doug Warhit

-Intent to Live-Larry Moss

-Acting for the Camera-Tony Barr

-Acting in Film-Michael Caine

-Acting Class: Take a Seat-Milton Katselas

-Acting Professionally-Robert Cohen

-Acting As a Business – Brian O’Neil

-How to Get the Part Without Falling Apart-Margie Haber

-Audition-Michael Shurtleff

-The 15 Guideline Map to Booking-Amy Lyndon

-Secrets to Successful Cold Readings-Glenn Alterman

-How to Become a Magnet to Hollywood Success – Micelle Blood and Rock Riddle

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Dare you! (To be serious about acting.)

Most people who are wanting to become professional actors either think they need an agent or they need to go to acting school. Careers do not start with agents, they wind up with agents. No agent is interested in inexperienced and untrained actor. Agents do not make actors out of people; they make money out of people who are actors. And as far as acting school goes, I think someone needs to be very sure they have talent worth investing money in before they put down tuition at an acting school.

I think experience (acting in plays) is more important than trainging (classes). There are lots of reasons for this: you can get experience for free in school and amateur community theatres; and such experience will tell you a lot about you and acting as a career. Then, I have a basic distrust of acting schools so I think they have to be selected carefully. Finally, acting professionally is a business, and you have to be prepared to enter the business with a good product--which is you as an actor, a goodly amount of money to invest in the business, knowledge about how to run the business, etc, etc.

You can find most of the info you need in my free ebook,The Tao of Acting, in my blog, if you read all of it back to its very beginning, and on my web site-- in that order. Since this is true, I use it to test to see if those who contact me are really interested in becoming actors. I tell them to read my book, my blog, and the other information at and ask me lots of questions about it. Usually one of two things happen: I either never hear from them again, or they ask me questions that indicate they have not read these things although they often say they have. But if they read and ask questions and seek to understand what these things have to offer, I know they are serious about becoming an actor.

Well, I have thrown down the gauntlet. Are you going to pick it up and work to become a professional using the knowledge I offer, or are you going to go your merry way not knowing what you are doing.? It is your choice. If you are really interested in succeeding as an actor, I can help—so long as you are willing to help yourself by becoming informed. I look forward to hearing from you. God bless, Doc

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that an aspiring actor needs considerable charisma--that mysterious charm and magnetism that audiences recognize in the actor and makes them identify with them. Charisma means that the audience members fall in love with the actor, at least to the point of being charmed by the actor and admiring him or her. Actors need to be attractive to audiences if they are going to succeed to any extent. Audiences want their actors to have qualities that they lack. They want to see happiness and success in actors. They want personality--charm and wit and sparkle, sexual energy, and attractiveness. This does not have to be physical beauty, it could be power, wealth, social position or self assurance.

So what does the aspiring actor have to do to achieve charisma? They can practice being suave. They can learn social graces and practice manners and tact. They also need to practice performing with energy in their demeanor and in their responses--vocal and physical. And they need to learn to love the camera. Whenever they audition, they need to be thrilled to be there, and they need to exude the charm of every character they read for. They need to have the kind of charm like when someone walk into a room, and everyone stops what they are doing and watches them, because they exude the charisma of a James Bond or a Clint Eastwood or a Meryl Streep. Aspiring actors need to work on it. And I suggest the aspiring actor takes plenty of time, doesn't rush, relaxes and that they REACT! Remember James Cagney's advice, "...look the other guy in they eye and speak the truth."

Additionally, you cannot act if you are carrying baggage from home into the scene room. You must have no problems at class, in rehearsal or in performance, You have left all of that home or certainly outside the performance space. You create charisma by enjoying what you do. It shows in your energy and charm, your relaxed and happy demeanor of loving being there and having no other care in the world.

Otherwise, the only prep you need to do is to create the physical character and learn the lines. Then don't think when you act, just listen and react. There is no half way to knowing your lines, you either know them or you don't. It is the actor's responsibility to know his lines. It is impossible to act without having the lines down to perfection. Knowing your lines frees your mind to receive the stimuli of the scene and to respond honestly, fully and without inhibition. It relaxes you the same way that meditation or yoga relaxes many actors. Being relaxed clears your mind for being charming and frees the body to respond with energy. There is no room in an actor's read for anything but the scene. That is why Mamet includes leaving home at home and the theatre at the theatre in his list in True and False of behavioral traits that actors must have. Actors who have charisma are not preoccupied by anything. They can concentrate on the task at hand.

To do your very best in your audition, your performance and in your career, you need to develop strong charisma. It is the undefinable quality that makes an actor a star!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to Be A Successful Actor, Part Two

here are some details on the list from the last post

1. If you hang around successful people they can tell you how they succeeded. Losers can only complain that they are not succeeding.

2. Having a mentor to show you the ropes is the most important thing you can have to help you succeed.

3. If you are going to be an actor, act. If not professionally, then semi-professionally or even in amateur theatre.

4. Don't rely on old techniques. Learn the latest approaches to acting and auditioning.

5. You should always be in a class for networking, learning new approaches and staying sharp. A private tutor can really improve your acting. Even successful movie stars have them.

6. In order to succeed you need to be energetic. Energy is the key ingredient in charisma. A charming personality is necessary for success.

7. You can never hope to succeed if you don't have a strong basis of experience, training and networking. You need a strong resume and good reputation in the industry to get an agent and get ahead.

8. I wrote elsewhere in this blog about not listening to what 'people' say because for the most part 'they' will be wrong. Listen to successful people, your mentor and your tutors.

9. If what you are currently doing is not getting you ahead in the business, then change and try something new. The definition of insanity (and Democrats-sorry, couldn't resist it) is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

10. If you fail, it is your fault. Perhaps your lack of talent. Perhaps your not following these precepts. Perhaps something else you have neglected. But it is not the agent's fault, not the CD's fault, or anyone else's fault but yours. You have the power to do the right thing or not. You have to ask yourself, Are you doing what you need to do to be a success? What are doing this week that will move you ahead in the business?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tips for Success as an Actor

Why do some actors succeed and others fail?

1, Those who succeed associate with successful people.

2. Those who succeed have a mentor.

3. Those who succeed are always acting.

4. Those who succeed study the latest acting techniques.

5, Those who succeed are always in classes or private tutoring.

6. Those who succeed are energetic personalities.

7. Those who succeed have a strong basis for their career.

8. Those who succeed do not follow what 'they' say.

9. Those who succeed keep trying new approaches.

10, Those who succeed accept responsibility for their success.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Idealism, Mythology and Profesional Actng

One of the things that has impressed me over the past couple of years is how important young people seem to think their idealism about acting is. They often write how they want to change the world through their acting, or that they want to serve as a role model through their acting, or some such noble goal.

I know when I was a young student and later when I was a young professor how I would do my best to uphold the high ideals of theatre and acting. I unashamedly have published on my web site my most well-known lecture, "Theatre, Religion, and Football," in which I emphasize the long standing cultural need for and the historical honored position of theatre in our society. I am pleased that theatre is still an important part of the cultural scene of our cities. But along the way, the high idealism that believes someone is going to make a difference by their acting has been replaced by a cynical reality check about acting as a profession.

It is not just that it is nearly impossible to become a professional actor in the first place, it is also the crass commercialism that has turned what used to be a great art form into a huge business venture. The mythology of acting being some high status artistic endeavor long has been replaced by the lust for fame and fortune. The successful actor still acts because he is compelled to act, and money is not the object so much as is the acting itself. Indeed, the high minded actor will act for nothing if that is the only way he can act. And there remains still among New York stage actors the feeling that they are artists and that Hollywood film actors are prostitutes selling themselves for money. When I first got involved in professional film acting years ago, I can remember one of my former students being aghast at the fact that I had deserted the idealism of the theatre for motion pictures. Of course, I had not deserted the theatre and strove to maintain its idealism. It was, however, a lost cause amongst the financial realities of the bureaucratic structure of academia. The mythology of the Ivory Tower of knowledge, learning and culture in our universities has been replaced by the grim realities of FTE and state funding formulae, not to mention political indoctrination.

It must be a blow to the idealistic, liberal minded young person to discover that being an actor is as much of a business as being a banker. Indeed, it takes a bit of scratch to get your itch to become an actor satisfied. It takes money to get started and it takes money to keep going. I guess I should have listed under preparations that the aspiring actor needs to know is how to earn a living before trying to become an actor as that is the very first thing one must do—support himself and his acting habit. There are books to be ordered to give the candidate for acting success the informational preparation he needs. There are head shots, business cards, the printing of resumes, personal post cards, and even creating a personal actor’s letterhead stationary for correspondence is something the actor needs to pay for. Management software such as Performer Track and web sites for audition information and casting opportunities to subscribe to add to the financial investment of one’s acting business. Then there are acting classes and union initiation fees and monthly dues to pay when that level of success is reached. It totals up to a pretty substantial amount. Whatever happened to the actor as an artist?

The professional world of acting is far removed from the ideals of they young artist. Those ideals are only part of the mythology of acting, like Thespis and Demeter.

They are mostly lost among professional acting, but they are not entirely gone from society. While the commercialism of professional acting forces the artist to be a businessman, the freedom of amateur and semi-professional acting still allows acting to be pursued as an art. Thus, we have an active indie film industry and many film festivals for the work of artists to be displayed. We even have a few, small stage theatres whose work is geared toward art rather than money. They are to be applauded.

They cannot possibly survive without income, of course, but the fact that there are people who will choose art over money will continue the mythology for the world of acting.

In the final analysis, what acting most needs are successful actors who will then serve the art by nurturing budding attempts at creating, preserving and expanding theatre, cinema and acting beyond the commercial toward the pinnacle of art.