My Actor Bag
In this business, we often attribute an individual’s success to luck; “they were in the right place at the right time,” or, “they had a certain look the casting director was looking for,” or, “they’re friends with the producer.” While I agree these are often reasons an actor is cast in a role, is it really as simple as chalking it all up to luck? And if so, why are some actors so damn lucky? A wise Roman philosopher, Seneca the Younger, is credited for saying, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” and I couldn’t agree with him more.
The key to being “lucky” in the entertainment industry is preparation. As a full-time actor I have made being overly-prepared the focus of my career and it has paid off ten-fold. Below is a list of what I keep in my Acting Bag at all times to ensure a successful shoot, audition, or even just a successful day of preparation.
Headshot and Resume
I’m sure you’re seeing Headshot and Resume and thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” But honestly I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been at an audition where an actor is asked for a copy of their headshot and resume and they don’t have it. Your headshot and resume are the most important materials for you to have on your person at all times; auditions, workshops, classes, networking events, and even just around town (you never know who you’ll run into). I have a folio I keep with me 24/7 with 3 copies of my headshot and resume (and please, staple the resume to the back of your headshot and trim the residual paper). By always ensuring I have 3 copies with me, I never find myself in the embarrassing situation of having to tell a casting director I don’t have one and look like I’m unprofessional and unprepared.
At Least 1 Monologue
Every actor should have, at the very minimum, 1 monologue that fits your age and type committed to memory and ready to perform. This monologue should be from a play that you have read in it’s entirety. If you haven’t read the entire play, you won’t have a good depth to your monologue and if the casting director is familiar with the play, they will know immediately that you haven’t read it. When I auditioned to be signed at my agency, they asked me to perform a monologue. I’ve been at on-camera auditions where, after my cold read, they asked if I had a monologue I could perform for them. By having a solid monologue prepared, it shows agents, casting directors, and producers that you have invested time in your craft and that you are prepared for anything.
(**For my theatre homies, you should have at least 3 monologues. I’ll be writing a blog at a later date specifically for you guys.)
Are you laughing? You shouldn’t be! Being well hydrated is linked to higher energy levels, clearer skin, decreased hunger, and better mental clarity. Science aside, have you ever been at an audition, felt a little nervous, and subsequently had the WORST dry mouth? I’m talking Sahara desert on your tongue. I have … and it’s no fun at all. Having water with you at all times will keep your energy up, keep your skin looking great, save you from dreaded dry mouth, keep you from over-snacking on junk, and lubricate your vocal cords so you can be nice and loud if you have to be. A hydrated actor is a prepared actor.
Of course these aren’t the only items I have in my Acting Bag, but they are the 3 I find I use the most with the highest payoff. They key concept you should all take from this article is that a working actor is highly prepared. When you go into an audition prepared, it’s impressive. When you show up to a gig early (and hydrated), lines memorized, and have a headshot and resume available for the director who asks for it because they are interested in you for future projects, it’s memorable. Being prepared will save you from looking foolish in front of other industry professionals and will make you stand out in an industry of thousands competing for the same job.