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How Actors Should Use Instagram – According to Casting Directors

By Marci Liroff

Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon
In light of the pandemic, I am offering special pricing for my private coaching (remotely of course!) You can buy a steeply reduced package now and use it later (must be used before the end of 2020) Check out the info here.

With Instagram running lead on social media these days, let’s take a deep dive into how an actor can best use the platform.

There is much discussion and debate over whether to have just one account or to have a personal account (otherwise known as a “Finstagram,” or “Fake Instagram”) and a separate account for professional actor business. Whether you have one or multiple accounts all depends on what you want to share with the public. Some choose to keep their personal account private, for friends and family and not for public viewing, and have a second, public account for career- and industry-related posts. Or you can just do it all from one public account (like Reese Witherspoon and Demi Moore appear to do, for example).

First and foremost, social media is all about great content. So, what makes great content? That’s subjective, of course. I like to see a nice mix of work photos along with life photos. Not “lifestyle” photos like those sponsored posts you’d see on an influencer account; I mean real-life photos of friends, family, colleagues, and the kids (once they’re old enough and the family has agreed their image can be shared), behind-the-scenes photos (#BTS), images and perhaps quotes that move and inspire you, and things that are generally cool and uplifting to share with the public.

A good example of an actor who nails this balance is Lacey Chabert (@thereallacey) of “Mean Girls” and “Lost in Space” fame. Chabert consistently has an interesting IG feed filled with photos of herself on set, clips of projects she’s starring in, her baby girl, and her friends and family. It doesn’t feel like she’s trying to sell something to her followers—she’s just sharing a small peek into her life.

When it comes to engaging others on Instagram, I don’t like when someone tags me to get me to look at their feed.

Unless we have a relationship, don’t tag me; to be honest, I’ll just block you.

I also think it’s very strange (and stalkerish!) when someone likes about 100 of my photos all at once. Again, this is a lame attempt to get me to look at their feed, and there’s usually nothing worthwhile to see on the other end. Don’t do it. 

To gauge other casting pros’ opinions on Instagram etiquette for actors, I spoke with a few of my casting colleagues. Here’s what they had to say:

Rachel Imbriglio (“9-1-1,” “Light as a Feather”): “What they should not do is make an off-topic comment about themselves on a casting person’s IG posts. If they want to follow, great.”

Joy Dewing (“Rent” and “Kinky Boots” national tours): “Put your goddamn contact info on there! I’m not gonna slide into your DMs with an appointment!”

Cara Chute Rosenbaum (“American Crime Story,” “The Mindy Project”): “Be specific and purposeful about tagging. If you’re going to tag a CD in something, it should be content they can watch or a picture with info about the shows you’re in, how to reach you, etc.—not just photos of you hanging out looking cute. And make sure that the CD you are tagging is someone who engages with or allows themselves to be contacted or tagged on social media. If it’s a CD with a private account, respect that boundary!”

Tineka Becker (“X-Men: Apocalypse”): “Keep in mind that we often don’t have time to catch IG stories or live feeds before they disappear, so make sure you’re posting to your feed as well. I much prefer posts where I can see your personality (i.e., videos or candid photos of you experiencing life) as opposed to selfie after selfie after modeling shot after selfie.”

Make sure to check out my online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.

An Ode to Actors

Photo courtesy Ian Schneider

By Marci Liroff

I posted an inspirational tweet the other night on Twitter, Instagram, and my business Facebook page.

It got more reaction (and interaction) than anything I’ve ever posted.

The only other thing that came close was when Robin Williams died and I posted something about depression with a suicide hotline. And I didn’t even write it! I was quoting a former actor:

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life—the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment—to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart.

In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be

And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

What’s the takeaway from this?
One: I have a large actor following. Two: People like to be honored for their hard work. And three: People like to be inspired. But I knew there was more. I went directly to the source, writer David Ackert.

When was this written?
I wrote this in 1998, almost 20 years ago. Since that time, it has taken on a life of its own. It has been quoted all over the internet, in numerous books and publications, and has been translated into several languages and repurposed for singers, dancers, musicians, and painters.

What prompted you to write this?
In 1998, I was madly in love with a woman who was not an actor. She couldn’t understand why I was dedicated to a profession that was so unstable. One day I’d be working on a TV series, the next day unemployed. It was scary for her that I had so little control over my financial security, and clear to her that I wasn’t about to change professions, so eventually she ended the relationship. I was devastated, and wrote the passage to remind myself and anyone else struggling through a similar hardship that an artist’s relationship to their art is a uniquely precious experience, and while it comes with many sacrifices, it is ultimately worth pursuing.

Why do you think this has resonated with so many?
I believe that artists have a wholly unusual experience of life. They are dedicated to a dream and will pursue it at any cost. Most people don’t know what it means to believe in an irrational idea that’s so powerful that it completely defines them. That’s why the artist’s journey is simultaneously blissful, heartbreaking, and deeply lonely. I think the quote resonates for artists because it reminds us that we share that same swirl of juxtaposing feelings. And it is my hope that the quote inspires artists to pursue their self-expression without apology or regret.

What work are you doing now?
I retired from the entertainment industry in 2009 when I discovered that I could create, perform, and produce original content in the business world. Once I learned how to broaden my definition of success, I gained access to opportunities that were much more attainable than Hollywood stardom. Now I channel my creativity on my own terms.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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True Confessions of a Casting Director

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By Marci Liroff

What did you do for your career this week? Seriously, what have you done? I ask this question at the beginning of every class in my three-night Audition Bootcamp series of classes. What, exactly, have you done this past week to further your career?

The class responses vary from “I got new headshots taken” to “I checked breakdowns and submitted myself on three projects” to “I took a workshop” or “I had an audition.” It also counts if you do this: “I went down to the bus station to observe people.” This exercise each week keeps students accountable within the class, with their peers, so that they will hopefully be motivated to do several things each week to further their careers. Also, in so doing, we share useful information like online tools, websites, and other resources.

The peer pressure alone makes sure that they have something to report each week! During these weekly discussions, I realized that I hadn’t been practicing what I preach. Remember that as an independent casting director, I have to look for work, too. I’m out there like you are—auditioning for the role of the casting director. It struck me that I’ve become more than a little burnt out looking for my next job. As an actor, you must feel this way, too, at times.

This weekend I went out of town on a much-needed getaway with friends. I had just put my 10-and-a-half-year-old dog down and was quite blue. Because my brain was over-exhausted and not very clear, I forgot to bring my computer and iPad. When I arrived, I went into a kind of mini meltdown. For those who know me, they know that I’m pretty addicted to technology and the Internet. I was now going to get a 48-hour, cold-turkey experience.

Funny how life conspires to make you face yourself head-on.

I remembered that balance is everything. You’ve got to have balance in your life, or you’ll become a shell of your former self, and your work will suffer. Keep your life full and stay interested in your craft. If you stop being interested in your craft, know that it’s OK to stop acting until you get your juices flowing again. You need to be living your life. You’ve got to find balance and actually have a life in order to draw experience and emotion for your work.

Finally, I realized that it’s more than OK to unplug when you need to and not feel guilty. We’re all in this together. Let’s come at our art from a healthy and joyful place.

What do you do to find balance in your life? Please share in the comments below!

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Glad you’re here!

Marci

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