This is a re-post of my Backstage Take 5 column from April 2008
April 1, 2008
by Nicole Kristal
In March, opportunities bloomed for our fabulous five as they honed their craft, landed crucial auditions and roles, and battled post-writers strike malaise.
Mild Case of BAS: Otherwise known as bitter actor syndrome. Even as I say that I want to smack myself in the face. “Snap out of it, you schmuck,” I want to say. But the truth is, that’s how I feel. This month has been a series of ups and downs for me.
I’ve been working hard this month to get my actor brand in order. I’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of actors understanding and promoting their unique brand. So new photos, a new demo, and the launch of a new website — all that showcase my unique brand — will take place April 15.
A realization occurred after five comedic auditions this month — all of them not funny. Seriously. During one, I swear I heard crickets. Give me a dramatic scenes, and I can bring the emotional life in a second; give me a scene from a half-hour comedy, and I’m a deer in headlights. So as an antidote to BAS and to strengthen my comedic muscles, I have been researching comedy and improv classes and will begin auditing them next week. I would like to be enrolled in a class no later than the end of April.
Does anyone really do drop-offs? Really? A group of us decided that to be proactive in generating more commercial work for ourselves, we would schedule an afternoon to do drop-offs at commercial casting studios. Apparently, none of us had done our due diligence as to exactly how this drop-off system works. Result: an entire tank of gas, several hours hanging out with friends, some crazy looks and odd responses from personnel at the studios, and five — yes, five — headshots distributed to commercial casting directors. (Aside: If there’s anyone out there who’s successful with drop-offs and willing to be my drop-off mentor, email me — please.)
“You really need to get in SAG.” “SAG makes it so difficult for us to Taft-Hartley that we never do it.” “We won’t even bring in nonunion actors for prereads.” Some variations of these comments is what I heard from every CD in March. I’m so well-versed in it I could give the spiel myself (oops, there goes the BAS again). So after much thought and with the recommendation of a trusted mentor, I have decided to join AFTRA. “What are you waiting for?” she asked. Good question. I waited 30 years to get this career moving; why waste any more time? So by the time you read this article, I will be a card-carrying member of AFTRA. I am going to put a concentrated amount of energy into booking work under that contract, continue to get in front of CDs and pursue SAG work, and will be a member of SAG in just 52 weeks (if not sooner).
I started an on-camera audition class that has been invaluable. Solid, practical training and practice in this discipline is important. The audition room is such an artificial setting in which to live truthfully that without a solid technique to work with, you often do more harm than good. Having trained primarily in a theatre environment, it’s exciting to learn how I can apply that technique to working in front of a camera.