How to Realistically Accomplish Your Goals

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There are times when we don’t feel like we have the motivation or the energy to get the things done that we need to get done. The way you find energy and motivation on the days that your lagging is to take immediate action. Taking action, and finishing a task (no matter how small), will give you a sense of accomplishment.

It can be as easy as making a phone call or sending an email or making your bed. It could be organizing all of your emails so that you can feel less overwhelmed. Once you feel a sense of accomplishment, you begin to feel motivated to get more things done. Success will lead to more success. 

So how can you find the energy to accomplish your career goals?

1. Put yourself in situations that will help you get motivated. If you need to do some writing tomorrow before you go to bed, leave your laptop on and open with a cup of cold coffee on your desk so that you can simply wake up, drink the coffee, and get to work. If you need to work out, go to bed with your workout clothes on or leave everything, shoes included, right next to your bed so that you don’t allow your brain to talk you out of what it is you need to do.

2. Change your environment. Working from home can be one of the hardest things to do when you are lacking motivation. Change your environment; go to a hotel or coffee shop and take your laptop to work there. It is far too easy to get caught in a meaningless task or turn on your TV and get sucked into “House of Cards.” 

3. Stop social media from distracting you. Don’t check your cell phone for 40 minutes and turn off email notifications, social media notifications, and definitely turn off your TV.

4. Don’t focus on the end goal. Focusing on the end goal can leave you unmotivated—especially when you have absolutely no idea how you are going to get there. Instead, focus on two or three small actions you can take today that will move you towards the end goal. 

5. Don’t have a never ending to-do list. Focus only on two or three tasks you can quickly accomplish. You will significantly increase your energy and motivation for that day. More importantly, you will go to bed with a sense of accomplishment and that you have had a good day, which will lead you to wake up the next day feeling confident and motivated to accomplish more things.

6. Be realistic. If you decide you want to accomplish 10 things in one day, you will set yourself up for failure. It is far better to set yourself three tasks for the day and to aim to accomplish them all by noon, and then decide to accomplish one or two more things in the afternoon. That is far more satisfying and achievable. 

7. Be a nice coach to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not being motivated. Being harsh and calling yourself lazy tells your brain to focus on all the negative things on which you shouldn’t focus. Instead, close your eyes for two or three minutes, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth, and tell yourself, “It feels great working on this project and I can’t believe how easy it was.” By re-focusing your mind on positive feelings, you are programing yourself to create that reality.

8. Pat yourself on the back for tasks you accomplish each day. We are all wired to enjoy positive reinforcement, so when you accomplish one of the tasks you have set yourself for the day, congratulate yourself on taking action and moving your projects forward.

3 Tips for Overcoming Bitterness

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Letting go of trying to be in control and focusing on enjoying the process is the key to allowing us to feel successful, happy, and helping us overcome the bitter actor syndrome. This is true in an audition, with a project, with our careers, and even with our lives. Not being focussed on a specific result and instead focusing on taking action allows us to be relaxed and happier as actors. The more relaxed and happier you are as an actor, the more creative you will be in your work, leading to more success in your career. 

It’s really hard work trying to impress other people, especially when we usually have no idea what it is they want in the first place. The irony is, they, who we are auditioning for, usually don’t know what they want until they see it. Second-guessing what a casting director, director, or producer wants is ultimately pointless. Trying to impress others will lead to resentment and bitterness. 

Natalie Roy, co-founder of C.R.E.A.T.E., a workshop series designed to break artists free of limiting beliefs, said, “You are entitled to your actions but not entitled to the fruits of those actions. Can you place the value in the action? Can you say, I took this action because I’m the kind of person who enjoys taking action. We become bitter because we want control and we expect a specific result.” The bitterness comes when the desired result does not follow the action.

When we let go and only focus on the action that we are taking for our careers, not only do we overcome being bitter, but we become fulfilled as artists. Being fulfilled leads to us feeling more confident. You enter your audition far more open, creative, and present when you are fulfilled.

The actor that we most want to hang around with and who casting directors enjoy calling in is that actor who is relaxed and isn’t trying to impress because he/she is confident that he or she is enough. He/she is in the room to inspire us with his/her art. We love being around people who are confident, relaxed, and who inspire us. People ultimately want to be inspired; it touches who we are as artist and gives us power. 

So, how do we become that person? By letting go. Letting go of that control stops us from taking things so personally and stops that voice in our head that tells us that we are being rejected. Rejection is something that we actors make up. It’s not actually really true. As Roy puts it, “When you don’t get an audition, you’re not actually being rejected. The industry is not saying something is wrong with you. What they are saying is that you are not right for this project.” By understanding all of this, we come across more confident. 

What all of this means is that we have to have a leap of faith of letting go and trusting that what we do is enough—a leap of faith that your preparation for the audition and role is enough, that you are in the right place for your career.

A few strong suggestions to help you to let go, be happy, and overcome being bitter. 

1. Meditate. Each morning for three-to-five minutes before you start your day (and definitely before you check your phone), sit quietly and tell yourself two or three great things for which you are currently grateful. One minute of mediation can be extremely powerful in starting your day in positive way. 

2. Visualize. Spend a minute telling yourself what an amazing audition or day you are going to have. Visualize that your day will go exactly that way you want to go and give thanks that it did. You are sending out positive waves into the world that will reverberate positive waves back. 

3. Be around positive people. Surround yourself with people who are goal-oriented, mature, optimistic, kind, and who celebrate and validate you. This includes your agent, your manager, and your acting teacher. You are an average of the people you with whom you surround yourself.

A Journey Through the Past 100 Years of Cinema

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https://vimeo.com/162855085  OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2016 Tribeca Film FestivalA journey through the past 100 years of cinema--the most memorable shot from each year (in my opinion). While many of these shots are the most recognizable in film history, others are equally iconic in their own right. For example, some shots pioneered a style or defined a genre, while others tested the boundaries of censorship and filmgoer expectations. If anything, I want this video to be a reminder as to why we all love cinema so much.

Great Questions for Actors to Prepare for Casting Directors and Agents

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Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_1Great questions that you should have an answer for agent and eating director meetings. Try to always stay positive and confidence in your answers.  Keep your head and eyes up.  Tell me about yourself. Example: I am originally from Houston, Texas. I moved here in 2000 to get top notch training and since here I have had the opportunity to work and study with some amazing artist. Kathleen Turner, Alec Baldwin, Edward Albee and my mentor Wyn Handman. Since here I have booked a lot edgy type roles on TV shows like Nurse Jackie, Damages, Person of Interest to name a few.  I have two children, my son Austin and baby girl Stella and yes, they were both named in reference to my favorite two plays, True West and Streetcar.   My one year goal is to book a recurring guest star on a hit show and to have a role in a Sundance caliber type film.  What do you think separates your successful clients from the others? My training (give examples) my experience on stage and on film (give one or two examples) and my deep passion to continue to learn grow as an actor.  What can I do as an actor to make your job easier? I am always prepared, disciplined in my craft and will always be sure to do my part as an actor in networking and making sure you have all the up to date material.Great questions to ask an agent at a meeting.

  •  Can you describe what a great agent-actor relationship?
  • What about a bad one?
  • What are your successful clients doing that other aren’t doing?
  • What can I do to make your job easier?

  If you weren’t acting what would you be doing? Talk about something your passionate about and that inspires you. For me, I would be a Chef as my father. I love cooking and creating and I think being a Chef would feed that for me.  What have you seen lately that’s inspired you? Always have  a great indie film that one one knows about to share.What was your last audition? Give an example of one and then add 20 or 30 seconds interesting story about it.What television shows or show would you love most to be on? Important to know what’s shooting in NYC and where you fit in. They want to be confident that you now how to market yourself and where you fit in.What do you know about our company? Google the casting director agency or theatrical agency you are going in for. Know who they represent, what they’ve cast and definitely if they have one an award.  All this info can be found on IMDB Pro. Do you have any questions for me? Come up with a question for them that might spark an interesting conversation. Example. Do you have any exciting projects are you working on or what was the last project you worked on?  What types of roles do you see yourself being cast in? Say what your dream roles are in television and film- recognizable things that pay money and projects that agents and casting directors are part of.  What do you expect from an agent or manager? I am looking for an agent who I can talk to, work with and collaborate on how to me the both of us forward and grow with. I will always be sure to be prepared and to do my part of the relationship and ask to have a relationship that I can collaborate with and discuss the best coarse of actions for my career.  What makes you a unique performer? Talk about your experience, special talents and your training. Talk about what inspires you and what type of work resonates with you.What are your short term goals? Say what your short term acting goals are. Be mindful of who you’re talking to and if there is a connections in that what you’re talking about that they might be interested in.  i.e, if they are a comedy casting director you could show them the pilot of your comedy show.  Talk about the jobs you’re looking at that is going to make it financially viable for this person. Shows and films that pay money. An actor who creates their own material, is a good thing as long as it’s working toward bigger jobs, and networking opportunities if the short films are about getting in to bigger festivals.  What made you decide to be an actor? Tell a short 1 or 2 minute story on how you became actor. Example:  I was in love with an ex girlfriend and I wanted to impress her, and then the bug bit me and I fell in love playing characters.  Acting seemed to come natural to me as I have great empathy for people. I love the idea of teaching through acting and shining a mirror at life to help us look inside.  What do you think is holding you back in your career as an actor? A strong answer wold be, I don’t think there’s anything holding me back in my career, I think it’s just a matter of time about meditating, visualizing, and enjoying the process. Where do you see yourself in five years? Be confident in whatever you say, it’s ok to be confident without being cocky. Give specifics about project and roles that you would like to book. In 5 years I would like to see myself as a recurring guest star on a hit TV show and in a supporting role on Broadway. Then you can turn it around on them ask them, “Do you think these are realistic goals?” This really helps open up the conversation and keep the rapport flowing.  How has your training prepared you for you acting career? Important to take visual cues of what they’re giving you back to you can do a little name dropping, not too much.What are your favorite films and why? Talk about why they are your favorite films. The directors style, the lighting, etc..Describe your biggest accomplishment to date? Talk about this for about 1 or 2 minute and why. Example: Taking family and veteran letters and turning it into a successful solo show, The American Soldier that was nominated for a Ed Fringe Award, received strong reviews and sold out shows and was given 4 stars at the Ed Fringe.What is your favorite part of your job? A good question to ask a agent or casting director if they ask you if you have any questions for them.What is your strongest attribute? Talk about your talents and experience and discipline to always continue to study and grow as an artist. 

Actors, Take Control of Your Emails in 8 Steps

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Email technology is amazing, I love it. However, as much as it can empower us, it can overwhelm us. Staying in control of your emails allows you to focus on what you need to get done with your time. 

With computers in our pockets, our biggest challenge today as successful actors is avoiding interruption by our emails. Most successful professionals know how to control their emails instead of letting them run their day, and so we need to be able to do that too.

There are some emails that we must answer immediately and there is a way to track these without having to look at your inbox every minute for that dopamine hit.

1. Unsubscribe from what doesn’t count. You should only be subscribed to services and organizations that you consistently use. Be ruthless with your unsubscribing; you won’t miss it. Promise! Unsubscribing will save you so much time and release so much stress. 

2. Be alerted when important emails come in. Flag important emails as VIP with your iPhone or Android. They allow you to mark an email VIP so when your agent or manager contact you, your phone vibrates and rings. Use it to stay relaxed and not worrying about missing a very important or urgent email. 

3. Don’t answer emails immediately as they come in. You should plan to check all other emails at a certain times of the day, when you have a break between auditions, for example. This allows you to define when they impact your schedule as opposed to the other way around. 

4. Empty your inbox and use your sent box. I only keep about 20 emails in my inbox. Yes, 20. Everything else is filed away into a folder or deleted. If an email comes in and you reply to it, move it out of your inbox by filing or deleting. Leave the reply in your sent box to remind you to check back or that you are waiting for a reply. 

Once the information has been answered, either file the original thread or delete it. Do not use your inbox as an archive folder. It is either relevant or it not. File or delete. Be ruthless. If you do this, your inbox becomes your to-do list which will help you become more productive. 

5. File everything away. I have over 100 folders, all structured in a way they are easy to access. One suggestion for a folder structure, have one for agents, one for managers, and one for projects. Then underneath each of these folders have the next level of detail using either manager names, dates, or projects.

6. Use Evernote. I have mentioned this software before but it is one of the most powerful pieces of software that you can ever add to your arsenal. If there is link or file you need to file somewhere, don’t keep it our inbox or sent box, clip it to Evernote. Its search capabilities is unbelievable and you can have it on you Mac, iPhone, Android, or PC. Use Evernote. 

7. Use your flags option. If there is a very important email that you need to access all the time for a particle reason, either for information or if it has a link that you need to log into, flag it. All emails services from Gmail to Mac create an automatic flag folder for you. But only flag what is relevant, and review your flag folder on a regular basis to file what is out of date. Alternatively, create a folder called “Must Keep.”

8. Only keep 20 emails in your inbox and 20 in your sent box. Be ruthlessly disciplined about this rule. If you let it grow to 50, it will be 100 by the end of the week and the email virus that was stressing you out will be back with a vengeance. 

Technology is great, but like all good things, there is always some bad that comes with it. Learning how to stay in control of your technology so that it doesn’t overwhelm you is power and control you are giving back to yourself. 

Read about getting the most out of your calendar.

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Control Your Career by Controlling Your Calendar

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Controlling your calendar is controlling your time, and since time is your most precious commodity, when you manage your calendar, you stay in control of your life and your career. Managing your calendar will allow you to focus your time and energy on what it is you want and need to get done as an actor. You will squeeze the most productivity out of yourself and your day.

Once you decide on what tasks, goals, or projects you want to work on, schedule those tasks into your calendar for the day, week, and month, and be disciplined in sticking to them. Write them into your calendar as you would an appointment or audition. Break down tasks into 30-minute or one or two-hour chunks so that you can achieve them. 

Focus on the tasks that are critical, and understand which ones are time sensitive and which ones you simply enjoy. Plan them into your day accordingly, making sure you are getting some time to focus on what you really enjoy and what makes you tick. Be realistic. Understand what appointments and tasks you have planned for the day and don’t over schedule. 

It is a big mistake to wake up in the morning and schedule your day ahead for the first time over coffee. Plan ahead. Like any CEO or company, their days, weeks, and months are scheduled by their assistant for maximum productivity. You need to be your own assistant and be disciplined in scheduling your calendar. If you don’t, it is more likely that you will feel out of control and stressed about the things you need to get done because you are constantly reacting to what is coming at you. 

Schedule less in the day so that you can have the energy to accomplish more in the week and methodically complete all of your goals. Success breeds success, so if you can complete the tasks you have planned for the day, you are more likely to be motivated to keep working on the ones you have planned for tomorrow.

Once you have set yourself up for a productive day, work through the items. And once you have finished your tasks for the day, relax and reward yourself for your work. Finishing your tasks doesn’t mean you need to find more tasks to do so that you keep working like a robot. When you don’t rest and reward yourself, you will never feel like you’re resting, and you will feel like you aways need to be working. It’s a horrible and vicious cycle to be in and it leads to feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Draw your lines clearly as to determine when you are working and when you are resting. 

If something comes up that is not in your calendar, do not work on it now. Schedule it for another day in the week. Obviously if it is an audition, you have to make that a priority, but then you move what you are going to work on for that day to another day in the week. By keeping the tasks as appointments on your calendar, it is very easy to move them to another day and to block the appropriate time for them. 

In order for you to have the most impact, schedule and control your calendar and make it your most critical action on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even inter-daily, basis.

https://twitter.com/Backstage/status/711130246171463681 

Actors: It's a big mistake to wake up in the morning—and have no schedule for the day!Posted by Backstage on Friday, March 18, 2016

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Interview with Casting Director Jen Rudolph from The Actor’s Green Room on the Importance of Working with a Mentor

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Douglas Taurel_ I think a lot of people forget that some of the most importan-2I recently had the amazing pleasure of interviewing Jen Rudolph, the founder and owner of Actor’s Green Room, and talked to her about the value of working with a mentor or coach.AGR is a company whose mission is to nourish artists spiritually and artistically. It is designed to help actors find and play to their strengths in this very competitive industry. You can learn about Jen and the Actor’s Green Room at www.theactorsgreenroom.com.Follow Jen on Twitter: @AGRNYLADouglas Taurel: Where are you originally from Jen?Jen Rudolph: Manhattan. Born and raised. I don’t have an accent though; it was kicked out of me in college.Douglas Taurel: For some reason, I thought you were from the Midwest.Jen Rudolph: That’s because I’m kind.Douglas Taurel: That’s probably it! I know you really enjoy mentoring actors, and so the first question I want to ask you is what is it about mentoring you enjoy and why?Jen Rudolph: Good question. My mom was an actress growing up, she went to a high school of performing arts, Liza Minnelli was one of her classmates, so I had the acting bug when I was younger. I went to London and then I went to college for acting where I went into the director role and casting role. I have always been a very nurturing person, I learned by osmosis my mother’s mentoring skills, I became meshed with actors and just really love watching other people achieve their dreams.Something hit me, I don’t know where it came from but I really enjoyed directing people and casting and kind of having a puzzle to put together. In my 20s I had a lot of friends who were actors and since I’ve always been an encouraging person, I love mentoring and helping them because I always knew what it would take for somebody to book a role. So I started mentoring in college, and then in the big leagues it just kind of happened. I do come from a show biz family, my cousin is Jon Landau, my first cousin, so he’s my father’s sister’s son, Avatar, Titanic – Tina Landau is my other cousin.Douglas Taurel: That’s really amazing.Jen Rudolph: So when I grew up, I was pretty close to Jon and Tina in New York and I watched Tina just kind of create all this work,Douglas Taurel: So the bug was in you.Jen Rudolph: The bug was in me, Edie and Eli Landau, my aunt and uncle, they had a production company in the 80’s. They did a lot of big projects and Lev Landau, directed a lotof stuff for them. Tina Landau, I would say was definitely the most nurturing force for me, just watching her create did something to me.Douglas Taurel: Through your uncle, is that how you knew all these people?Jen Rudolph: Yep, aunt and uncle, so I was immersed in it and I think it just kind of took hold of me and after college I was hawing about what I wanted to do. I went to work at a talent agency; I worked at HWA and eventually became like a junior agent over there and would work with some of the clients, I loved listening about their careers. I would kind of give them advice and then from then they would get jobs, so I was like maybe I should be in casting and production.Prior to that I was friends with a manager named Jocelyn Herman and I asked Jocelyn if there was anything I could do to get into casting a little bit. There was a script that came my way called Roger Dodger and they wanted me to look for the lead roles and other supporting roles, and I got a headshot from someone whose name was Jesse Eisenberg. We brought him in and read him and I said, “I think this kid is going to be a star,” he got the part that launched his career. Then from there I was like okay, I need to be in casting.Douglas Taurel: I think a lot of people forget that some of the most important people we know today had mentors, like Albert Einstein, Jay Z, Oprah, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet.Jen Rudolph: Everybody does, I have a mentor. I have four actually. Natalie, Clyde, Jeff and Jordan. I go to them all for different things.Douglas Taurel: Why do you think it’s important for an actor to have a mentor or a coach?Jen Rudolph: Because they don’t know any better, because they’re inexperienced, because everybody needs someone who will take them under their wing and advise them on everything. Early on in my career I would say my ultimate mentor was Diana Doussant, she helped shaped how I was going about things, she helped me with my self-esteem in certain ways.Douglas Taurel: Can I ask who’s Dianna?Jen Rudolph: She was an agent at HWA who became like a coach to me and then became a really close friend. I mean it’s important to have someone to talk to, someone to open up to about all your insecurities, all of your fears, all of your beliefs that might be holding you back. I believe that we all have in us the potential to shine in whatever way we want but what’s holding us back is our own stuff.Douglas Taurel: Very true.Jen Rudolph:It’s so true.Douglas Taurel: You create these stories inside your head.Jen Rudolph: You want to work with a mentor or coach who is wiser and a little more seasoned in a sense, so when you work with them, you can address those issues and that is when miracles happen. I think that is one of the big reasons why we have so much success here at AGR, and why I love doing what I do is because I literally watch people who are completely in their shell who are holding themselves back or sabotaging themselves and I tell them, “you are enough, you can do this but you have to get out of your own way.”Douglas Taurel: Who’s your mentor or coach right now?Jen Rudolph: I have a few. I would say Clyde Baldo is my mentor, he’s like our acting coach, he’s been my best friend for 15 years. He’s a director, psychotherapist, actor, I mean he’s everything. He was there for me in my darkest days; he’s helped me get out of my way. Sometimes even me, like I’m prone to insecurity, I’m prone to anxiety and he helps me. Jeff Mitchell, who I’ve been in business with is definitely my business mentor and Jordan Ancel has taught me everything I know about social media. I was terrified of social media. I go to people who are physically older than me and who have had a little more experience in certain ways and I ask them to please help me. There is nothing more powerful than saying Help.Douglas Taurel: My wife gives me that advice all the time, she says there’s something so powerful when you ask for help, when you say hey I need some help. People want to help naturally, it’s in our DNA to help.Jen Rudolph: I have a tattoo that says, I surrender” and what that means to me, is that I don’t know anything. If I’m struggling to find the answer, not to struggle more and to ask and say I need help.Douglas Taurel: What is the biggest mistake you see actors make when they come here to AGR?Jen Rudolph: They don’t listen and unfortunately think that they know it all. They don’t want to look in the mirror and possibly think that they’re the reason they have the reality that is in front of them right now. They blame everyone else, so I ask them, “Are you doing what you need to do? Are you prepared? Are you open? Are you doing your work?” I turn the tables on them and I tell them that I’m not here to say you’re a victim, but I’m here to empower you.Douglas Taurel: I read your blog recently about an actor who you spoke some tough love to and   because he listens to you, he got called in for an audition by a big time casting director, yes?Jen Rudolph: I kicked his ass.Douglas Taurel: From what I recall, you said, “you don’t have a website, are you kidding me? You have let yourself down and I’m disappointed in your lack of preparation for the business.”Jen Rudolph: I could have let that go very easily but I wanted to prove an example. I mean an actor needs a website.Douglas Taurel: I agree. You can build one for free.Jen Rudolph: I told him get on there and build it in 30 minutes. It doesn’t need to cost you anything, this is unacceptable. You have to fight and stand up if you think you’re worth it. I wanted to show him that he’s worth it, and if he invests in himself, someone will go to bat for him. I went to bat for him. How can anybody go to bat for you if you’re not going to bat for yourself?Douglas Taurel: That’s a great mantra; If you invest in yourself, someone will bat for you. So what exactly is C.R.E.A.T.E?Jen Rudolph: C.R.E.A.T.E is a series of workshops that offer spiritual tools to empower actors in a sense. Each workshop is 20 bucks and there’s a topic every week, this week is a topic on intimacy. The other week was a topic on shame, we address topics with a lecture and we talk about the spiritual principles on the subjects. It’s kind of like a wonderful group therapy in a sense. You share with a partner, who’s an actor in the class, and then you sit in like a small group and talk about your stuff. It really gives people an opportunity to open up and be heard, seen and to be vulnerable, and then we all support each other.It’s the Law of Attraction, clearing out all the stuff that kind of blocking you from shining. Then when they go into their acting work, they go in there unobstructed. Their shedding all of their negative baggage.In C.R.E.A.T.E we give people a means of connecting with other artists, there’s nothing like being open with your fellow actors and forming friendships and being ultimately supportive. We achieve more as a group than we do individually.Douglas Taurel: Where in your teaching or casting career did you say, that’s how I want to mentor actors?Jen Rudolph: I always had an image of actors coming together and bonding with each other.   I think it was my destiny. When I moved into this space I was nervous about being able to afford it and fill it. However, I knew that if I built a space for actors to come together, they would come. It’s something that I preach to actors all the time here at AGR, “If you build it, they will come.” – like in my favorite movie, Field of Dreams.Douglas Taurel: You had the image first.Jen Rudolph: I am giving to people what I always wanted. I can look at you and see what you’re capable of, I see beyond your negative stories. I can tell you it’s a competitive business, I can tell you that there are a lot of factors that you’re not in control of, however I can also tell you that there’s a lot that you are in control of and I am here to provide a path for you.Douglas Taurel: How do you think actors should stay open and how should they keep their focus on the long game?Jen Rudolph: I think every actor should be in a scene study class, number one. That’s like their gym. We have a scene study class here, Sarah Baskin.Douglas Taurel: I agree.Jen Rudolph: She is incredible, like we have a level one, a level two and a level three. She has her own methods. It’s kind of what I call high octane acting. I sat in on her class and she actually threw me into a scene. It was the most exhilarating, amazing, truthful experience.Douglas Taurel: Not getting too much into it, what’ her theory on scene study?Jen Rudolph: To surrender to the moment. She will push you until you like admit your truth. She is a sledgehammer to an actor’s defenses basically. I’m obsessed with her and I know the AGR community is obsessed with her.They should also invest and come to C.R.E.A.T. E. It’s only 20 dollars, there is no long term commitment and it will help them let go of all of their negative beliefs. Put down the latte and come invest in yourself.Douglas Taurel: To commit.Jen Rudolph: Commit, sacrifice and invest in yourself. Everybody needs a community. It’s a cutthroat business, it’s tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Every actor is like a snowflake, they’re all individually unique. You are extremely unique and special and your uniqueness will set you apart.Douglas Taurel: Well said. Okay, so in summary, an actor should commit to themselves, always be in a scene study class, invest in themselves emotionally so that they can let go of their negative believes like in a workshop like C.R.E.A.T.E.Jen Rudolph: Yes. If you focus on yourself, work will come to you; casting directors will pay attention to you. Granted you have to put yourself out there, like you’re not going to get work if you’re in a room not meeting anybody and waiting for the phone to ring, that’s ludicrous. However, if you put yourself out there, it will happen, it’s like moths to a flame; if you build it they will come is what your mindset needs to be.Douglas Taurel: You talk a lot about actors getting out of their comfort zone, what does that mean and is there a specific risk an actor should take and a risk actors should never take?Jen Rudolph: Not to be afraid to really letting yourself fall apart in the audition, be prepared and professional but if it gets messy, let it get messy, messy is real. There is no such thing as a perfect audition, there isn’t. Perfection is an illusion and it’s not human.Douglas Taurel: I agree. Perfection is not art.Jen Rudolph: We want real people and we connect with people who are vulnerable and are not afraid to show us their mistakes. We are captivated by people because of their humanity not because of their perfection.Douglas Taurel: You hear that from so many casting directors who say they love mistakes, as well as from well-known directors who have said that they don’t like it when an actor is too polished.Jen Rudolph: It’s not real.Douglas Taurel: They feel like they can’t mold them anymore.Jen Rudolph: The best moments are when an actor falls down and has to recover, it’s not about falling down its how you recover.Douglas Taurel: Yeah.Jen Rudolph: It’s interesting, it’s real, it’s off the beaten path. However, something that an actor should never do is be unprepared. If your meeting the casting director for Blue Bloods, watch the show. It’s insane not to. You have to do your work.Douglas Taurel: The vision for AGR five years from now?Jen Rudolph: We are going to be a complete mind body professional program where literally, we’re going to be the most important place that an actor goes and lives. We’re offering the spiritual component; we’re going to offer more and more acting classes and more casting director workshops. We’re going to be the hub and continue to grow AGR online. We’re doing webinars with all the top people, in the industry and they are all free. We are eventually going to become a broadcasting network where we are going to be the actor’s sanctuary.Douglas Taurel: Do you think it’s the community that you’re trying to create what separates you from everybody else?Jen Rudolph: 100%, the other workshop owners they’re not involved personally, nobody even knows who the workshop owner is. The emails are not sensitive and interpersonal. I write all of those emails, every single one. I have a relationship with everybody who comes through this door. I am personally invested, the other places are a bit like factories and I’m not afraid to say that. The minute I want to become a factory I’m going to close because that’s never been my vision, you know what I mean?Douglas Taurel: I do. When you mentor actors, you coach them, what’s the biggest “ah huh” moment you see them take away when they work with you?Jen Rudolph: That they realize that they’re in control and that they now have a trajectory of what it is they can do. I have given them the steps and now they now have a plan. They can follow. I see them so relieved because a lot of times they are given bad information or perhaps they have their own wrong ideas about something. I show them an outside eye of the industry, and when they get that, they leave with, “Holy crap, I get it now!”Douglas Taurel: What I’m hearing from you is that you help the actors gain confidence, control over their careers and an understanding how the business really works. They leave with specific action steps they need to do professionally and personally to help themselves move forward.Jen Rudolph: They leave empowered more than anything, versus I’m lost I don’t know what to do. I feel empowered, I know exactly what to do.Douglas Taurel: Do you think actors should have a plan and a vision where they’re going?Jen Rudolph: Of course, here’s the thing, in C.R.E.A.T.E we have a vision board or what Natalie calls a “Bhavana” a statement, it’s everything that you want. You’re acting and speaking about it as if it has already happened.   Example, in October when I book my guest star role or when I am in the next issue of Inc. Magazine. You talk as if it’s already happened and you put it out there. It is the Law of Attraction.Douglas Taurel: It’s a very true statement. When I created my solo show, I was having a real hard time finding a director, a coach gave me that advice. He told me to go to bed every night and say thank you as if it already happened and it did. I ended up finding an amazing director, Padraic Lillis. I definitely believe in “Bhavana”Jen Rudolph: It means calling the thing you want into an existence and the way you call into existence is by acting like it’s already happened.Douglas Taurel: That’s great.Jen Rudolph: Again all of this is Law of Attraction; it’s really all the same theme.Douglas Taurel: How soon do you think an actor should work with a mentor or coach?Jen Rudolph: Immediately. Everybody has a mentor. Every success story, they all have a mentor, all of them.Douglas Taurel: Do you think actors should intern at a casting director’s office?Jen Rudolph: I think it’s always great to learn how the business works and what really goes on. However, what’s even better is if you’re a reader at a casting director’s office. Then you’re literally in the room with the casting director and you’re listening to the feedback and you’re seeing all the mistakes actors make.Douglas Taurel: A book you think all actors must read?Jen Rudolph: It’s going to get spiritual again. The manual, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.Douglas Taurel: The Untethered Soul.Jen Rudolph: It’s all about mindfulness.Douglas Taurel: If you could put a billboard anywhere in the city of Manhattan that gave advice to actors, what would it say?Jen Rudolph: If you build it they will come. You have the power within you to manifest whatever it is you want.Douglas Taurel: What do you want the industry and actors to know AGR for?Jen Rudolph: That we nurture the artist from the inside out.Douglas Taurel: Nicely said!

Why an Actor Absolutely, Positively Needs a Mentor

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Mentorship

Imagine if you had Warren Buffet help you become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, or Kevin Spacey sharing his insights with you on how to best approach a scene. Or perhaps Oprah Winfrey explaining how to conduct a successful interview. This is what a mentor can do for you; working with a mentor can transform your life. 

A mentor is that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing, and nurture your career quest. Mentoring gives us a roadmap of the actions our successful counterparts have done so that we can follow them on their path. Success leaves clues, and if you look to learn from those who are ahead of you, you can pick up on those clues. You can learn from a mentor’s mistakes and avoid making them yourself. A mentor may notice potential in you that you might not see in yourself.   

When I spoke to casting director and coach Jen Rudolph of the Actor’s Green Room regarding the value of actors working with a mentor, she said, “It’s important for actors to work with a mentor because they can help you understand how your fears or beliefs might be holding you back. They take you under their wing and coach you. A lot of times what holds us back is our own stuff. A mentor can help you work through that and give you an understanding about how the business works, or what specific things you probably need to do to help yourself.” She explained to me that when she works with actors, she tries to give them a sense of empowerment more than anything else. She tries to help them find direction versus feeling lost not knowing what to do.

Look for mentors not only in a person you can talk to, but also look for stories about how those you respect became successful. I always think of Sylvester Stallone as someone who is extremely successful, and I use him as a mentor in my life. As a young actor, everyone told him to quit because of how he spoke. So what did he do? He wrote “Rocky.” Other actors I look to as mentors are those who I relate to, like Vin Diesel, Ed Burns and John Liguizamo—all who created their own paths. And so I copied them by writing and producing my own solo show, and I am now working on turning that successful show into a film. 

My personal belief is that the easiest way to find a mentor is through books. The most famous and successful people in the world can be in your house.  Books contain a treasure trove of tips and suggestions on how to achieve success in your life. Books are the CliffsNotes of the most successful people in the world. You may have to rewire your brain so that you see books as a golden opportunity to gain incredible knowledge. Don’t think of books as a one-time event, read it over and over to absorb the knowledge. There is no rule on how fast you need to read them. You set your own pace. Make notes in the margins and refer back to them often.

If you’re looking for a mentor of your own, here are four places to start: 

  1. Write to someone who is at least five or 10 times ahead of you in the field in which you are trying to gain knowledge and ask them to be your mentor. They have a whole different network of contacts and connections that you don’t.
  2. Work with a coach or a consultant to help you understand things about the business on which you don’t have a grasp. Working with a coach as a mentor can help you reach the next level of your career faster. 
  3. Persevere. You must persevere in your search for a mentor. You must persevere to get success in your life. If you write somebody and they don’t answer, don’t give up so easy. Keep at it. Success comes to those who are willing to persevere.
  4. Read a book a week. You don’t have to finish the book in a week but you should be reading a book a week on something that will help you improve your life. Books are a treasure trove of information and advice. 

 https://twitter.com/thekatelord/status/698200920086200320https://twitter.com/AGRNYLA/status/697949948411678721https://twitter.com/Backstage/status/698107000534728704https://twitter.com/simplestudios/status/698510810881138693https://twitter.com/MaggieReedworks/status/703632477676552192

https://twitter.com/THEEREALPJCOOK/status/703015822319554560 

Showbusiness can be tough and confusing to navigate. Having someone to guide you is so critical!Posted by Backstage on Thursday, February 11, 2016

   

Read How to Make an Interesting Choice in a Scene 

Federico Fellini

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This is one the great film scenes ever. I just love the whole movie but I especially love how Fellini's uses the wides and over the shoulder shots. What I love the most about this film is the name of the film 8 1/2. It was called that because he was having so much trouble finishing the script that he ended up shooting the story about a man who could finish a story and  called it 8 1/2.A great statement about improvisation!Some of this other films.

  • La Dolce Vita 
  • La Strada 
  • The Nights of Cabiria 
  • Juliet of the Spirits 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g23_s-xr3FU&list=LLez-sSqIrowC5pxQrth8X3A&index=4

TED Talk by Derek Sivers

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If you have not read or listen to Derek Sivers, I strongly suggest that you do. Think of him as a philosopher-king programmer and a master teacher. Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100 million in sales for 150,000 musicians. He also has a website where you can read his notes on some of his favorite books.  https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K5SycZjGhI

How to Make the Most Interesting Choice in a Scene

As two of my former acting teachers, Jonathan Silverstein and Carl Forsman, used to suggest: Finding the positive choice in a scene is the most helpful and interesting choice you can make. Always look for the agreement in the scene; it wins the day. 

It is always more dramatic if you need, or use, the other actor in the scene. Use them to help you win the agreement that would best help your character achieve his needs.

As actors, we like playing the pain in the scene, we like to suffer, and I’m as guilty of this as anyone. However, what helps the scene the most, and us of course, is when we try to solve the problem in the scene. Given the option, most actors will pick fighting on stage because it’s easier and less vulnerable. Loving is always harder and more vulnerable in life, so why should it not be for the stage?

The moment you work for the agreement in the sceneyou give yourself an objective—something to work towards. You begin to use yourself and your imagination in the scene. You almost have to because now you’re working towards the goal and not playing a general mood or emotional state.

It’s a much stronger choice when you work hard for the friendship in the scene, even when it’s apparent that the two characters hate each other. Remember, it’s useless to argue for the sake of arguing. As in life and on stage, you always get more with sugar that you do with vinegar.

It’s a more interesting choice, and scene, if:

  • A con man is trying to befriend an officer with charm instead of trying to be tough and mean.
  • A wife, whose husband has left her for a younger women, behaves sweetly and kindly towards him instead of yelling and being angry.
  • Two lonely and depressed people act as if they are enjoying each other’s company because they want to stop feeling lonely, rather than acting lonely and depressed.

What a lot of us will want to do is play the end in the scene at the beginning so that we can show we are “acting” in the scene. Instead, play the opposite in the scene and look for the conflict or problem and try to solve it. 

On camera, this is even more critical that you look for the agreement in the scene and don’t play the end the whole way through. It ruins the pictures in the story and makes it difficult to edit. You have to see a change in the relationship in the scene and you do that though the pictures you create. 

All scenes have to have a change, and if you play the end of the scene at the beginning, you don’t have that change. Playing the love in the scene, looking for the agreement, helps you create that dramatic transition in the scene, and on camera, gives editors and the director something to cut and edit. 

Don’t look for the fight. Next time you get a scene where the two characters are either yelling at each other, don’t go for the obvious choice (hate and anger). Instead, look for the love between the characters. Try to get the agreement from the other actor you’re in trouble with. 

Here are two questions you can use to help you win your next scene:What would success look like for me in the scene? Then, how can I achieve that success? Then use yourself as you would in real life to try to win that objective. Remember, you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar. 

https://twitter.com/RPRTheater/status/698260979067400192

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Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger's Rules of Success

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I have many inspirational individuals who I look up to but three of my favorite that inspire me the most are Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We know them now as legends today but there was a time that everyone told them no and no one believed in them. Their determination and believe in themselves took them to where they are now and how we view them today.
Bruce Lee's T op 10 Rules for Success
1. Demonstrate Impressively
2. Express Your Self
3. Have Faith in Yourself
4. Exploit Opportunity
5. Be Confident
6. Be Like Water
7. Create Your Art
8. Commit Fearlessly
9. Don't think, Feel
10. Take on the Best
Sylvester Stallone's Top 10 Rules for Success
1. No Means yes
2. Listen to Your Gut
3. Improvise
4. Don't Give up, Keep Talking
5. Get it Done
6. Believe in Yourself
7. Find Your Process
8. Do One Thing Right
9. You Only Learn Through Failure
10. Keep Moving Forward.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Top 10 Rules for Success
1. Have a Clear Goal
2. Think Big
3. Turn Your Liabilities into Assets
4. Ignore the Littleton
5. Work your Butt Off
6. Make the World a Better Place
7. Don't be Realistic
8. Don't be Afraid to Fail
9. Find a Model of Success
10. Believe in Yourself

My 4 Star Review at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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This is my review at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015. I was proud to have been given this 4 star review by Broadway Baby and Richard Beck.  Read the review at Broadway Baby here

We must be nearly at saturation point with plays and particularly monologues about war veterans. There can’t be much more left to be said on the subject and it’s very difficult to find a new angle on this almost exhausted theme. The American Soldier is vulnerable in this respect, yet every time one of these works appears, it’s impossible not to be moved by the devotion of the performer to the subject and the tragedies that form a recurring pattern in the lives of those who sacrifice themselves in the service of their country."They tell an enduring story and one that we all have to live with, either personally or collectively."Written and performed by Douglas Taurel, this play is derived from research he undertook in the New York public library into books of letters from a number of wars. His reading generated two strands that form the basis of this production. The first was relatively obvious, in terms of the extent to which service personnel give up their civilian family lives and devote themselves to national service. Through having done that and fought in combat zones, the second theme of post traumatic stress disorder became evident.Unlike other plays that focus on a single war, The American Soldier covers engagements across the centuries and miles. The American Revolution, Vietnam, Iwo Jima and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere all feature. While the stories are located in different times and places the underlying themes are universal. Mostly the statements are from are from soldiers but he also uses wives, children and the people left behind as characters in his drama.Although Douglas Taurel never served in the military, his family has connections, and in uniform he looks every inch the soldier. He has the build and the sergeant major’s voice which makes him convincing, but he can also transform himself into the grieving parent and speak in soft, tearful tones. Uniforms, civvies and wartime memorabilia enhance various scenes along with apt sound effects.

Douglas Taurel gives a heartfelt performance and joins a long line of actors who have taken on this subject. Like the soldiers they represent, they deserve to be respected and honoured even if they are not breaking new ground or moving forward the frontiers of modern theatre. They tell an enduring story and one that we all have to live with, either personally or collectively, and some do it very well.

 https://twitter.com/broadwaybaby/status/634080445580361729https://twitter.com/hannahmarie_c/status/631547128477843457https://twitter.com/elsiexzero/status/633943367546732544https://twitter.com/arashmischief/status/666621812453842945 

Most Powerful Question an Actor Can Ask

https://twitter.com/Backstage/status/695985701398179840

As children, we’re always asking, “Why?” We are curious, we investigate, and we naturally want to know why. However for some reason as adults, we lose the urge to ask why. We know what we do and who we are, but we do not fully know why we do something. The most powerful question you can ask yourself to help motivate you and drive you to always getting things done, is to know why you do something. You should almost be a little obsessed about it.
Knowing why you do something gives you the purpose to get out of bed early in the morning, to stay up late when you need to, and not quit on your goals. It is the most powerful tool for your success. When we know why we do something, we can overcome all obstacles and challenges that face us. When we don’t know why we do something, we lose our will power.
Take New Year’s resolutions as an example. We start out with a general idea of losing weight, a goal of going to the gym every day, and after a while when things get a little tough or boring, we quit. Why? Because we never clearly define why we want to lose the weight. Wanting to lose 10 pounds is a goal; it is not why we work out, run the miles, and say no to the desserts. When you choose to work out because you are tired of how you feel and look, this becomes the why that drives you through and helps you to take the action to lose those 10 pounds.
Asking yourself, “How do I become a successful actor?” is the what we are trying to do—the goal and not the why. Instead, we need to find more of the why we are doing it, the why within ourselves that drives us to do everything in our lives. And once you know why you want to become a successful actor, that same why will help drive you to do everything else in your life.
Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Why do I want to get up early in the morning or stay up late to accomplish something?
  • Why do I put my heart into a project?
  • Why do I do the jobs that are not acting that allow me to create and tell stories as an actor?
It might be a little scary to ask that big why. You may even cry or get frustrated when you work out the why, because it is that compelling and energizing. That’s OK, but it’s important that you have identified it and know it. In fact, knowing it may be so compelling that it is hard to forget it. You can then lean on it when projects become hard or when life becomes challenging. If we can find and define that inner fire—that inner drive—for ourselves, we can move ourselves to greatness, and most importantly, find immense satisfaction in everything that we do.
When you’re tired and it’s 5 a.m. and you need to get up in the morning, what is more compelling:
I want to become a successful actor. 
or 
I am going to prove to myself that I can be what others said was impossible!
Only you can answer your why, but it’s worth the time and energy to figure that why out. Once you know, you will find the strength to take on risks, move your life forward, and stay driven to accomplish all your dreams.
 
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” —German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
 
 
 
 
 
Tweet me @DouglasTaurel with your questions. 
 

3 Tips for Being a Successful Actor at Any Age

3 Tips for Being a Successful Actor at Any Age

If you’re good at your craft and really focused on what you want, I don’t think your age matters. It may be a bit harder in some areas, sure, but that is nothing new in our business. We all have our challenges, but I truly believe that the key to success is understanding how to look at your career with an optimistic and “what could be possible” lens. It’s true with everything in life and acting is no different, whatever age you are.

What is critical though is that you really make sure your whole heart is in it, because it will take money, a lot of dedication, and a lot of sacrifice. This business has many rewards, but it is not for the faint of heart. Projects will come up that could move your career forward and you will have to choose them instead of going out of town, going to a ball game, or a weekend with family. You can have a life, of course, but you are going to need footage, experience, training, and résumé building, and these projects might be the work you need in order to get that first big booking.

I believe one of the hardest hurdles to someone entering the acting world at any age, but particularly at an older age, will be changing a life that is not built around the business to all of sudden being flexible around the business. Success in this business is very, very inconvenient. It will come when you are about to go out of town, are already out of town, when you’re tired, or when you simply don’t have the time because the rest of your life has gotten in the way. You will need to have the discipline and heart to say, “This is what I want and I need to sacrifice so that I can do this class, project, short film, etc…”

But if you are willing to make the sacrifice and work your butt off then you can have a career as an actor.

Here’s how to be a successful actor, regardless of your age:

1. Get laser-focused on what it is you want! If you want to do TV then focus on that and don’t take on projects that are out of that wheelhouse. The same goes for theater or film. You don’t want to waste any time dabbling in areas you don’t really have your heart in. Focus, focus, and focus.

2. Ignore all naysayers and the people who tell you can’t. When they say no, you say yes.

3. Be very, very good! The competition has years on you, so when you get back in the water or get in the water for the first time, be ready to swim like an Olympic swimmer. Practice, practice, and practice as much as you can, because your opportunity will come and you want to make sure you hit the ball out of the park so that luck will be on your side.

Preparation plus opportunity equals luck!

Break a leg!

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger


My current acting projects

How to Handle Setbacks

Setbacks happen, and yes they suck, but they are as much part of our business as they are a part of life. From the very beginning of our existence, failure is at our doorsteps. As a toddler, you have to fall first before you can walk. It is how life strengthens and teaches us how to overcome.

Your setbacks and failures don’t define you, but how you handle them does. Get into the habit of always seeing everything as an opportunity to grow and get better. Individuals with a growth mindset find setbacks motivating, informative, and it helps them wake up. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. Having a growth mindset when you encounter your setbacks determines if you will overcome them and flourish, or if you will be overrun by them.

Think of your setback not as I am a failure but as I failed at this and now I can do what I need to get better. Think of your challenges not as I can’t do this, but as How can I learn to do this? Projects won’t turn out the way you wanted them to, you will have personal setbacks (I have had them), but these setbacks are not because you are a failure but because they are part of a bigger journey of you becoming the champion you want to be. It takes guts and determination to overcome and win. Here a few examples of theater artist overcoming setbacks:

Padraic Lillis, the Farm Theater: “In the early stage of the Farm Theater, I had doubts about whether I was equipped to deliver the goals I had set but I quickly realized I could create opportunities for the early career artist. That was really energizing. It turns out that the project is benefiting many more future artists than the original goal ever would have.”

Francisco Solorzano, Barefoot Theater Company: “The biggest setback when starting out was realizing the amount of hard work it truly takes to build and maintain a productive ensemble that respects and supports each other, individually and collectively…we’ve been able to grow and flourish into a 15-year-old, bi-coastal theater and film company by understanding we needed to become really good at staying focused on the work, and how to nourish and protect the process it takes to create that work.”

Erin Cronican, Seeing Place Theater: “There are so many setbacks when doing something that others think are impossible! We have faced many detractors from major reviewers who have said that they will never review a ‘revival’ done by an indie company, to some fellow artists who have said, ‘Who do you think you are to presume that you can do anything with these works that others haven’t?’ The key for us has been to stay true to our mission, no matter what comes our way. If you have the passion, resources, and moxie, you should explore that mission as far as it can go, because some of the greatest work has been created in adversity. This weekend we are celebrating our five-year anniversary as a theater company.”

Keep swinging for the fences and keep stepping up to the plate knowing that when you swing for the fences, you will miss at times and you will have setbacks. Both Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth had more strikeouts than home runs, but when they finally connected, they hit home runs.

And don’t forget the greatest example of all: Michael Jordan was cut from the high school varsity team, wasn’t recruited by the college he wanted, and wasn’t drafted by the first two NBA teams that could have chosen him. He became the greater athlete of our era.

Your setbacks and failures don’t define you, but how you handle them does!

Read more of my Backstage Articles Here

Read more on the Science of Great Acting

Read more about me at IMDB

Move Your Career Forward with Readings

Getting involved and saying yes to readings is one thing you can do right now to help boost your acting career. This is not new wisdom, but something that had taken me some time to fully understand and take to heart—despite hearing it a long time ago from my good friend and mentor Brian O’Neil.

Going to readings and saying yes to a reading, no matter how small, gets you working. However, more importantly, it helps introduce your craft to other artists who might want to use you for one of their projects or a friend’s project. As the old saying goes “Work begets work!” This is really how you start building your résumé, your networks, and your career.
If you are ever find yourself thinking that a reading at someone’s apartment or a small theater in New Jersey is a waste of time, think again. It is not! In our business, there is absolutely nothing that is a waste of time; you never know what will open what door for you.
For my own career, I got involved with a small theater group many years ago by going to its readings. I then wrote to the director and let him know that if I could ever take part in one of the readings, I would love to be considered. He said yes and pulled me into a small reading at the his apartment. I took the opportunity seriously and worked hard on the role. The next invitation was to another project by the director—but this time it was at Cherry Lane Theatre. From this project, I have been invited onto other projects many times by actors and directors in the Company. One of the producers in the company referred me to a writer who had a project that was being produced at Playwrights Horizon and asked if I would take a small part in the project. And if I had the time and space, I’d share countless other opportunities that have boosted my career by going and saying yes to readings.
Here are two tips to help you get involved in readings and boost your career.
1. Write to the directors you have worked with or would like to work with. Make sure you send a sincere email saying that you would love to take part and help them with any small role in one of their upcoming readings. Why do you want to say small? I believe that this implies that you don’t want to be the star of their project, but simply that you want to work as an actor and to help them. You are showing them that you understand your place in the pecking order. Believe me, you will get offered leads later.
2. If you are in a small market or just starting out, set up your own readings and invite actors and directors to them. I can guarantee you that another project will come from this event and it will help to grow your career.
Remember, this is what luck is—being ready and putting yourself out there so that when opportunity comes knocking, you are the lucky one.
“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself” - Douglas MacArthurRead more of my Backstage ArticlesRead more on How to Achieve More with Less!Read more about me on IMDB

How to Gain More Confidence


Confidence can feel like such an elusive feeling: “I want to be and feel more confident,” “If only I could have more confidence I would be able to do x and y,” or “If I could just stop feeling so scared I would try x and y.” Feeling confident is so critical for us as actors, for every aspect of our careers, but especially during agent interviews and auditions. 
Your physical posture determines how you feel, how you talk to yourself (either positively or negatively), but more importantly, how the world relates to you and ultimately, how your life unfolds. 
When we stand upright, shoulders back and with our heads held up high—what psychologists call a power pose—we release more testosterone (true for both men and women). Testosterone is the hormone that regulates dominance and assertiveness. When we have our heads down and our shoulders rounded such as in a hunch position, we release more cortisol, the stress hormone.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School, performed an experiment where subjects adopted either a high or low power pose in a real-world situation applying for a job. Subjects who adopted high power poses before the interview not only were chosen as viable candidates, but were also evaluated much more positively overall.  Low power posers were judged as not suitable.
Even more fascinating was that people who put themselves in power poses for two minutes had an increase in testosterone of 20 percent, a decrease in cortisol of 20 percent and 86 percent of the group was more likely to take risks. The group that took a low power pose for two minutes showed a decrease in testosterone of 10 percent and an increase in cortisol of 15 percent, and only 60 percent of the group were likely to take risks.
Based on this, I offer two tips that will increase your confidence:
1. When you go to a meeting or an audition, don’t check your cell phone or iPad. Notice the body position you are in when you’re checking your devices: rounded shoulders, bent head. You are releasing more cortisol and placing yourself in a weaker position!
2. Go into the meeting with your chin high and your chest up as if you had a cape on like a super hero, and with a genuine smile. Hold this position for at least two minutes before you go in. Notice not only how confident you begin to feel but also how others respond to you. Put yourself in a stronger position!

The body changes the mind, the mind changes behavior, behavior changes outcomes.” —Amy Cuddy 










6 Ways to Think More Positively

 6 Ways to Think More Positively

It is easy as an actor to get negative—to only focus on the auditions we didn't book, should have booked, where we feel our careers should be now. However, this type of thinking only hinders our creative spirits and success. When you focus on what is positive and speak kindly to and of yourself, you change how your mind works.

Thinking negatively and having a consistent and negative internal monologue running in your head is a normal way of thinking, but focusing on positive experiences, images, and creating a positive internal monologue in your mind is an extraordinary way of thinking. And all creative success come from an extraordinary way of thinking.

The mind is a muscle, and like any other muscle it needs repetitive training in order to get stronger. The more we use certain parts of our minds with what we think about, the stronger they become and the more influence those parts of the brain have.

Thoughts equal actions. Actions equal behavior. Behavior equals your character. You have to transform those thoughts that have not been helping you and discover new thoughts that will help you. Create a better of view of yourself so that you can build and become the person you want to be. Your view of yourself will determine who you end up becoming and the things you end up accomplishing.

Visualize every day who you want to be and the success you want to create in bright colors and keep that image dead center in your mind’s eye. Focusing on this movie starts to create a better view of yourself and helps you focus on where your thoughts should be and not where you don’t want them to go.

How to rewire your brain and think more positively:

1. See great moments in your life in bright color and visualize them on a huge screen in front of you, almost as if you are watching them in IMAX. They will feed your confidence when you begin to doubt yourself.

2. See your negative experiences in black and white, and really small and far away, almost as if you have to squint to look at them. This will disassociate them from you. 
3. Have a growth mindset and create a belief that failure doesn’t really exist. Failure is only a learning experience that you learn and grow from. All great performers learn from their mistakes. 
4. Don’t criticize yourself. Instead speak to yourself as a kind coach and tell yourself to take action. Taking a simple action towards something you fear builds your confidence. 
5. Don’t worry about what others might think. Instead focus only on what you want to happen. 
6. And finally, what I feel is most important, is to be grateful for the things you want to accomplish in your life as if they have already happened. If you give thanks to them, they always come in time. But you must believe and give thanks for those dreams.


“All people dream, but not all equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make them possible.” —T. E. Lawrence

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8 Health Tips for Feeling and Performing Your Best

Fitness Tips for Actors

Learning how to take care of your body as a performer can be a genuine challenge. Late night shoots, running to auditions, back to work then to acting class or another audition can disrupt anyone’s routine and health. But making the effort of taking care of yourself by choosing the right foods, exercising, drinking enough water, thinking positively, and getting enough sleep can have a profound change on your emotional and psychological state as a performer.

We should put a high value on understanding how important stamina is for our careers. Long days on the set, rehearsals, and auditioning require huge amounts of stamina. To be the best performer you can possibly be, you need to be in the best shape possible. And just in case you are defining this as being super thin, don’t. Being fit means being flexible, strong, and having high, high amounts of energy and stamina for the roles you are pursuing—and the ability to handle all of the stress that comes from pursuing a rewarding but challenging career as a performer.

The great the Estelle Parsons is a recent inspiration for all of us. If you saw the play “August: Osage County” you know how physical the play and the role of the grandmother was. At 81, she replaced the lead actor at 68 who cited she needed to leave the production because of exhaustion. A 90-minute workout of going up and down stairs of a 3-hour play. Parsons cites that she hardly ever drinks, works out every day by doing yoga and lifting weights, and goes on 30-minute bike rides two or three days a week.

Casting directors and producers can see when you are not eating well, sleeping well, or exercising. The body shows it. You need to train and have your body ready before the play starts, before you begin shooting the movie—and not once you get the role. By then, it is too late. I had the opportunity of studying with Alec Baldwin for a few summers and something he would always kindly remind us was that the business of acting is not hard but damn hard, and in order to succeed you have take care of every inch of your body as a performer.

Here are 8 important tips for performing and feeling your best.

1. Eat nutrient-dense foods. Eat high quality protein, chicken, fish, and carbohydrates. Yes carbohydrates, like brown rice, sweet potatoes, veggies, and some fruit in moderation. Your body needs the carbohydrates for energy—don’t forget that your brain functions on sugar. Low-carb diets make it hard to think and keep your emotional state positive.

2. Eat the right carbohydrates at the right time. Eat the higher complex carbs like steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes before 3 or 4 p.m. and then switch to lower calorie carbohydrates—broccoli, spinach, squash—later towards the day.

3. Drink water. Good hydration improves your skin, appearance and digestion. And good digestion keeps weight off. Add lemon to your water to help your body eliminate toxins.

4. Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast in the morning helps your body focus throughout the day and also reduces cravings for bad food. The higher in protein and fat your breakfast is, the more mental and physical energy you will have. Greek yogurt with nuts, or two whole eggs with almonds or cashews (any nut is fine except for peanuts). And if you are in a crunch for time: a whey protein isolate or plant-based protein mixed with almond milk and a banana.

5. No junk for breakfast. Like starchy bagels and muffins. Starch is pretty high in sugar and will crash your energy stores later in the day and make weight gain much easier due to what it does to your hormones.

6. Carry snacks. Carrying snacks helps keep your blood sugar even. You should eat something high in quality and low in quantity every 3–4 hours. Low blood sugar levels completely destroy your emotional state and your stamina goes right out the window. Nuts are an easy snack to carry (except peanuts) and they raise acetylcholine in the brain which make you feel mentally strong and think clearer. A can of tuna in oil—which is full of Omega-3 fatty acids help the brain with depression and OCD—organic protein bars like KIND bars, and of course the easiest thing to carry is apples.

7. Move your body. The most important thing is to move your body at least 30 minutes a day, minimum. Choosing which exercise can seem overwhelming but if you just start moving your body it will help give you momentum. And once you get in a rhythm, you can choose a mode that is more specific for what you need. Exercising puts you in a positive state of mind and makes you more proactive.

8. Meditate. Meditation helps you with stress. Don’t know how to meditate or find it to hard? Just sit somewhere quiet for five minutes every day. You will be amazed by the positive response it has for your mental and physical state. The better you feel, the more you want to accomplish.

When lost, remember this: Live clean, train hard, get rid of crap, have a positive inner voice and you will have a much better body.

“Actors are athletes of the heart.” —Antonin Artaud

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