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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.

How to Navigate Zoom

By Marci Liroff

Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon

Since many of us are pivoting to online teaching, coaching, and casting meetings, learning video etiquette is essential these days. I’ve got some tips on how to best prepare for a Zoom call. In order to have a smooth experience, I highly recommend working on these technical details ahead of time. You can use a friend or family member to test them out!

I recommend logging on about five minutes before the beginning of the meeting to ensure all your technical details are in working order. Close out unneeded applications on your computer to keep the video chat running smoothly; clear out the barking dog, screaming kids, and naked husband; set up your laptop at eye level; and adjust your camera so we can see you—but not too close. We don’t need to see your nose hairs or that your roots have grown out!

Concerning your eye line, this is one of the few times as an actor that you should look into the camera. It will be more personable for those that you’re speaking with. Just as with a good self-tape, make sure you’re not backlit. Natural light is fine, as long as you’re facing the light. Otherwise, there are many lighting devices available for purchase online.

If you’re the host, make sure you introduce everyone if you all don’t know each other. Proper business etiquette should still be adhered to. Do a quick summary of housekeeping rules for the chat; you can request that participants mute their mics when they’re not speaking, or do it yourself! The meeting’s host has the power to run the show. To better dictate a speaking order, use the chat box feature to talk to others and physically raise your hand to speak or use the raised hand icon.

However, you should know that your privacy in the chat room isn’t always protected; a host who records the session may be able to see your private chats, depending on their settings.

A pinned video allows you to disable the active speaker view and only view a specific speaker.  It will also only record the pinned video if you are recording locally. Pinning another participant’s video will only affect your local view and local recordings, not the view of other participants, and it will not affect cloud recordings.

When you’re on the call, treat it like a meeting! Dressing professionally will make you feel more professional. But if you decide to be business from the waist up and party from the waist down, be sure you know exactly how low your webcam is pointed if you know what I mean. Many reporters have been caught wearing only their boxers during Zoom interviews!

As far as other distractions: Keep them minimal! Avoid noise pollution from overhead fans, window air conditioners, and more. And take a beat to listen yourself. Talking over each other in this medium just causes confusion. Don’t multitask, either; the temptation is huge, but your focus should be on the call. And mind the clock. Stay on task and don’t waste others’ time. Zoom fatigue is real for those working from home with a schedule full of meetings.

With that last point in mind, only invite those people who are essential to the call. If you can loop someone in with an email with bullet points rather than have them sit in, you probably don’t need them there. Fewer participants make for a smoother meeting.

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.

This Advice Could Either Crush Your Dreams or Set You on the Path to Greatness

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!) Check out the info here.

Spoiler alert, actors! This is as likely to crush your dreams as it is to set you on the path to greatness.

I get this question all the time: “How do I audition for film and TV when I don’t really have professional experience? What can I do to get noticed?”

If you shifted this question to any other job sector, it would be apparent that you are approaching your job search all wrong. For instance, “How do I perform heart surgery when I don’t have any professional experience? How can I get picked for surgery?” Or, “How do I fly an airliner with 400 passengers when I don’t have any experience flying planes? How do I get chosen to do that?” Sounds ridiculous, right? Depending on the circumstances, it’s pretty scary to think that someone would think they could do something without the proper training and practice.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” he posits that for a person to be successful in their chosen endeavor, they need to acquire 10,000 hours of practicing and pursuing the endeavor. When you think of this in terms of being an actor, you realize that you need to have a lot of time and hard work under your belt before you start to book auditions.

If you do get an audition with little or no training or acting experience, you haven’t been properly taught how to make the most of your time in the room.

You could very easily burn bridges with the casting directors and others for whom you’re auditioning by not knowing proper audition room etiquette.

Skill set aside, you’ve effectively shot yourself in the foot! Professional experience should start with acting classes before auditions.

The second part of the question, “What can I do to get noticed?,” is also premature. You shouldn’t try to “get noticed” until you’re ready to be noticed. Not to beat a dead horse here, but if you have no professional experience, you are not ready to get noticed!

Once you have a strong foundation in acting through watching the masters at work, reading the quintessential texts, and training in a college program, acting classes, intensives, improv groups, movement and voice classes, and more, that’s when you can put your toe in the water and start going out on auditions, which becomes a training ground in itself.

When you’re ready, throw yourself into the pool with gusto. Get some good headshots and put together your résumé. Don’t fret that it has a lot of white space. The most important thing I always look for is the training; I look for which acting teachers people have studied with and what theater companies they’ve worked with. I even look for special skills that I can use in my projects. I can immediately tell when I’m looking at an actor new to the field, and I encourage them to keep up with their hard work. (Pro tip: One way to start fleshing out that résumé is to send your materials to local colleges and film schools. Acting in their short films can be a great way to get experience on set.)

So, if your dreams haven’t been crushed by this dose of reality, buckle up, and good luck out there.

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.

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