Four Times Starting an Acting Career is like Starting a Cookie Factory

Or any other business really. At least, I imagine it would be… Naturally I haven’t owned a company yet, I’m 22! Although, I saw The Social Network yesterday and apparently it’s not that self-evident. Now I feel like an underachiever.But really, being an aspiring actor can feel like being an entrepreneur sometimes.So here are four times you need to put on your Donald Trump hat (wig? toupet?) and think about your acting career

as if you were starting a cookie factory.*

1. What cookie am I selling?
When you are in Los Angeles you will hear this sentence many times. No, not the cookie one, this one: know your type. I was always like “But I think I can play lots of different roles!” And perhaps I can, but when you’re just starting out as an actor, knowing what you’re selling a.k.a. what type you are is vital. Of course lots of ingredients go into one cookie. And of course it can be candy as well as desert as well as a space cookie. But when you send out headshots and go to auditions etc. you’re essentially selling a product. And if you always do your mysterious murderer type but every casting director sees you as cute boy/girl next door, you sell the wrong product and it can really stand in your way. That’s why asking others what they think is your type is important. They see you differently than you do. Even though it can be frustrating to hear what people see as your type, you just have to embrace it. For example my acting teacher saw me as the happy-go-lucky innocent blondie that always agrees. Now I felt this wasn’t completely (or completely wasn’t) accurate, but that doesn’t matter. Every person is so complex that no type is ever going to be accurate. Yet every one has that special thing that you remember them for:  a type.

2. A business plan for Cookies Inc.
I recently really started noticing how much a good plan and organization can help you as an actor. And trust me, these two things are far…FAR from natural to me;) Of course in my case it is especially vital, because there’s really no way you can move to Los Angeles and live there for a while without having a plan first. But it can help you with everything. For starters: create a directory on your computer for acting and organize all your acting related stuff in there. I for example have several subfolders like Headshots in which I save my headshots (surprise!) and Projects in which I save pictures and film clips from acting jobs. You should also make a document where you list all contact details for casting directors, actors, agents and other industry people. I for example have a file with e-mail addresses from all the casting directors I know. Every time I’ve done a new project I copy and paste and send all of them an update. That way I’m fresh in their memory and they’ll hopefully invite me for a new audition. Do note that it’s better to put them all in the BCC line. It’s not very appropriate to show them they’re just part of a mass e-mail…

3. What should the cookies cost?
What should you earn as a starting actress? This is the part I’m really horrible at and it always makes me feel bad so I’m in now place to be giving advice on this. But hopefully I can save you some trouble by giving you the chance to learn from my mistakes. It’s really all about finding the right balance between standing up for your rights and preventing people from thinking you’re a diva or whiny. I think one thing that can help is this: Never respond to an offer immediately. Even if you feel pressured or if you feel angry because your cookie is worth much more. Just let it sink in, ask some people about their opinions and then decide what the best course of action is. And then just work towards that wonderful moment you sign with an agent or manager and you never personally have to be in negotiations again…

4. Keeping in touch with the costumers
The way normal companies have account managers and sales people that cling to you like skinny jeans on a hot day, you need to keep in touch with your costumers a.k.a. the people you worked with on projects. I have to admit once again that I’m not too good at this myself because I’m not the best with names, but social networking sites help. I kind of don’t want to encourage you getting a Facebook though, after seeing that Social Network movie…I kid! Facebook is awesome. It’s what kept me in touch with my LA friends for years and got me to meet up with them here in Amsterdam. Also, usually you want to know what your previous colleagues are up to anyway, at least I do. So this might be the easiest step!

Well, that’s it for my advice. I’m only a beginner myself so don’t think I see myself as a guru of any kind, but these are lessons experienced people in the business thought me. So, what do you think? Will it help you? Is it clear? If you have more tips or want to share mistakes you made yourself, please do!

Oh and if you like my posts here and don’t want to miss one, click the I want to follow button on the upper right!

Footnote
* Yes, I am aware Donald Trump doesn’t own a cookie factory, those two things are unrelated. To be honest I wouldn’t know what his companies sell.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Four Times Starting an Acting Career is like Starting a Cookie Factory

  1. vickyaj

    Awesome post, as always! I’m on my way to LA so the timing on your post couldn’t be better!

  2. Bjarne

    I really enjoyed reading this on the early train, you make the boring things like planning seem a little more fun! Well written!

  3. Lisanne

    Dankjewel! Heel handig dit. Met dat updates sturen naar casting directors, stuur je dat dan alleen aan de personen die je in het echt gezien hebt of ook de mensen waarmee je contact hebt gehad via email of telefoon? En ook naar de castingbureaus waar je ingeschreven staat(ookal ben je daar nog nooit geweest)? En wanneer stuur je dan een update, als je een project afgerond hebt en het is ergens te zien of als je de rol hebt gekregen of als je bezig met met filmen/repeteren? Heb deze tip al vaak gehoord maar vind het moeilijk om er iets mee te doen, hopelijk kan je me helpen!

    • Hi Lisanne! Ik stuur altijd een updatjes als ik recentelijk een nieuw project heb afgerond of als ik nieuwe castingfoto’s heb. Ik stuur het dan naar iedereen die film en tv castings doet. Het maakt uiteraard niet echt uit of je een mail stuurt voor, tijdens of na je project..als je af en toe maar iets van je laat horen!
      Hoop dat je er wat aan hebt!

  4. Sharon

    Thanks! This is a great post!
    It’s so important to know how to market yourself.
    We’re artists, but this is a business, and we have to be good at it in order to be successful.

  5. Hi, my name is LaTicia Lock, and I follow you on twitter, I just wanted to thank you for the advice you gave me, and ask you how you got your blog to look so awesome. You can contact me through my email, website, or twitter account. Thanks for your help!

  6. Hi LaTicia, I don’t know a lot of HTML but I’m a Photoshop geek so I created the banner with Photoshop. Thanks for reading and replying!

  7. Pingback: The Formula to Success in Hollywood | Stars in the Eyes

  8. zakk

    Hi, my name is Zakk
    I was wondering when in your career did you start looking for an agent
    also where should I start a career in acting? <– (to be more specific) school/plays or do i just get an agent to help me build a career

    if you don't mind answering these questions I would be very thankful!

  9. Hi Zakk,

    I started looking when I first got to LA, even though I had only done amateur theater by then. I didn’t get signed because I was only in LA for a month at the time, but might get signed when I return next month. In the meantime I’ve gotten lots more professional experience, which I think is important as well.

    More on my agent experiences here:
    https://starsintheeyes.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/tales-of-tinseltown-getting-a-foot-in-talent-agencies-doors/
    https://starsintheeyes.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/tales-of-tinseltown-hollywood-agents-beaches-birthdays-at-sunset-blvd/

    • zakk

      Thanks for those links
      I was wondering do you happen to have an email I might be able to send messages to you through I m still little nervous about saying some stuff :\

  10. Please write more tips how you can move to L.A =)

  11. plamedi

    omg thank you cause i wanna start my career and share my talent with everyone i been praying for this oppurtunity thank you so much

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