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Advice from an acting coach for finding roles now

Advice from an acting coach for finding roles now
Advice from an acting coach for finding roles now


Editor's Note: As part of Deadline's ongoing coverage of Hollywood's ongoing contraction, we asked Sam Stiglitz — a former casting director who now coaches solely on professional recommendation — to weigh in on the shortage of roles and how actors should protect themselves.

Are the actors in difficulty?

I hear the concern from the agents of the big three companies, and I hear the concern from the development players who are fighting to book their first television co-star.

This worry is simple but pervasive: where are the jobs?

When the SAG/AFTRA strike ended, I tried to caution my clients against believing that the workplace would reopen and the hearings would flood in. But even with managed expectations, no one predicted the current landscape.

Due to the pandemic and last year's SAG/AFTRA strike, Hollywood has slowed to a crawl. In past pilot seasons we have seen over 100 pilots ordered. This year, the number of drivers was down to double digits.

Additionally, the rampant growth of streaming and over-the-top networks has caused instability. Customers regularly add and cancel subscriptions, forcing networks to remove content and tighten their belts.

Do the math, fewer shows = fewer jobs.

Additionally, the threat of an upcoming IATSE strike has the industry on alert.

We've also seen a trickle-down effect when it comes to “naming” actors and their willingness to perform on television. As movie stars move to television, “proposed only” actors are now looking for roles. Actors who once read now hope to audition. What about the actors co-starring in one line? Well…it’s not pretty.

What does all this mean?

Auditions have always been hard to get, and they should be. Acting is a skill. A casting director's job is to select actors for a project's director and producers. If everyone was allowed to audition, the cost would be prohibitive and chaos would ensue.

For stakeholders, the current system no longer works properly. Auditions and jobs were eliminated. We can remember past pilot seasons where actors had four auditions a day; now the working actor was jumping for joy during four auditions one week. Jobs are minimal. The “active” actor no longer moves easily from one series to another.

Those “reserved and busy” actors you see on the internet? Smoke and mirrors.

Actors are desperate to find their way through the system.

Enter the programs.

For every player, there are numerous coaches, membership organizations, and classes that claim to have the “secret” and “solution” to breaking into this industry. Each claims to help new actors book that elusive first co-star or go from co-star to guest star.

I see the operators of these programs on social media saying that it's not a bad time for the industry:

“Why yesterday I had two auditions. If only you had taken my course…”

“My clients book more than anyone else. I have the cheat code, the hack, the FastTrack”

“If you just pay $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, you will succeed.”

These programs attack new players by promising success.

What poses a problem for these “experts” or their clients, there are still undeniable truths:

The industry is in a bleak situation. It's harder than ever to break in. There are no secrets, no cheat codes and no FastTrack answers. Each job, each role, each actor is different. There's no One Way an actor books a job.

Take, for example, a co-star from a single-line network. With up to 7,000 applications from agents and managers, a casting director could view hundreds of tapes, and the chosen actor still needs to be approved by the producers, studio and network. If this is the process of choosing who gets to say a single line on television, imagine the in-depth audition and approval process for a bigger role. Who can credibly claim to have a hack or secret formula for this? Nobody can. Actors must open their eyes to this reality.

So, what should actors do to avoid these programs and keep their hard-earned money?

Basically, players need to understand and stay current with the industry to stay afloat. To do this, each actor must read the professions. How can an actor be expected to know the industry without keeping up to date with industry news?

Additionally, stakeholders must vet all “experts.” With social media, anyone can give advice without credentials. Search everyone on IMDBpro.

Additionally, actors should join a reputable acting class in order to be as sharp and competitive as possible during these auditions. It also helps create a network of doers and creatives, which is as important as a support system. Include writers, directors, and people from all walks of the industry in your support network.

And finally, stakeholders should avoid all solution-based crash courses. They particularly prey on those with little or no knowledge in the industry. Be aware.

Success in this industry sometimes requires a combination of luck and timing that no one has control over. But success can also be the product of courage, talent and passion – which can be controlled. Be smart, be thorough, be attentive. Keep your eyes open.




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