With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to give a Thank You to those who’ve helped your career. This includes your agents and managers, casting directors and directors, publicists and attorneys, acting teachers, coaches and whoever else had a hand in helping your dreams come a little bit more true. Because whether we like it or not, Hollywood is a gift-giving industry, but knowing what to give isn’t always easy. I’ve been helping actors decide what to give their agents and managers for years. I’ve also been closely listening to other agents and managers for clues on what they like to receive. And before I make it sound like we’re ungrateful for your show of gratitude, let me explain. All my industry peers agree that we don’t need gifts, because if we needed something, we would simply go out and buy it. But the gifts come anyway and it’s joyful to receive something that we will truly enjoy. So how can you make sure to master this annual endeavor?
Commercial acting techniques and the fight for what’s right
On another sunny and beautiful Los Angeles afternoon, I was headed to meet with Killian McHugh, owner of Killian’s Workshop. It’s the go-to acting school for anyone interested in learning the unique skillset necessary to book a Pepsi or Kleenex commercial. Although we’ve never met before, I’ve been sending actors his way for years, as it’s almost a rule in Hollywood that when you take a class with Killian, you book a commercial. (I want actors that book commercials!) So I was excited to finally meet the man behind this frenzy to discuss how he became such a standout in his field. I wanted to know what made a commercial actor book and if it was really a craft that could be learned and improved. I also wanted to discuss Killian’s recent public stand against so many of the ads that are non-union. He’s been actively pursuing SAG-AFTRA for answers and coming up with solutions on how to make lasting, positive change. I was proud to hear his passion on the issue which effects so many in Hollywood. Please join me in reading about Killian McHugh and the fight for what’s right.
WILLIAM MORRIS ENDEAVOR PARTNER TALKS ABOUT THE PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE OF FILM AND TELEVISION
Tim Curtis works at one of the biggest and oldest talent agencies in the world: William Morris Endeavor. As a partner and agent for celebrity endorsements and voiceovers, he represents some of today’s biggest stars including Dwayne Johnson, Christian Bale, Alison Brie, Ellie Kemper, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Mandy Moore, Tina Fey, Halle Berry. The list goes on and on. And while many would assume an industry player of his caliber would be oozing of that Ari Gold infamous Hollywood persona, Tim is anything but. In the last few years of our friendship, I’ve almost had to force any sort of business talk or fun details about his 75-100 set visits per year out of him (a true rarity in our obsessive industry). Instead, he talks about the 10 Broadway shows he just saw on one of his frequent week-long trips to New York. Or, all about the times he fully produced a mini 2-day Amazing Race competition for a group of his friends complete with cameramen recording the entire experience and perfectly branded clues. He also throws one of the best Oscar-watching parties in town—a 20+ year tradition that I’m determined to finally place Top 10 in next year. So although Tim’s accomplishments of being a top Hollywood agent are obvious, he caries a silent wisdom that speaks for itself. I’ll continue trying to squeeze more industry knowledge out of him, but for now, enjoy our lunchtime conversation from the beautiful insides of Neiman Marcus, Beverly Hills.
The talented actor, the motivated artist and how to be both
Amy Lyndon is an acting teacher, studio owner and author of The Lyndon Technique. I’ve come to know her through many of my actors who have raved about her teaching method and classes. As a booking coach, Amy has over 40 network series regulars and thousands of working actors around the world. Besides her amazing ability to make my actors book, she’s possibly the most entertaining person to be around. She knows the facts of the business and doesn’t bullshit, so if you can handle truth, you’ll fully enjoy this lively, proud, slightly eccentric Hollywood woman. On a rare rainy day in North Hollywood, after catching up about the terrible dating scene in LA, we finally got to business…
Working with casting directors, why actors get dropped and how pilot season is different
I’ve been working with talent agent Laura Thede of DDO Artists Agency for several years now. As head of the DDO Kids division, Laura has worked undeniably hard at growing her department and cementing a strong reputation for the ever-expanding DDO name. She clearly loves her job and the enthusiasm is contagious. Actors signed to Laura get the love and attention that is rare in this industry, and although I work with many talent agents, the email chains involving DDO Kids may or may not be my favorite. Finally, amongst pilot season craziness, Laura and I found the time to grab some Sunday brunch to catch up on everything Hollywood. The conversation went a little something like this…
How to become a casting director favorite, what to prepare for a commercial audition and why some agents get all the appointments
I’ve always been fascinated with the commercial world because while most actors come to Los Angeles to pursue work in film and television, many get into auditioning for commercials as a way to supplement income and get experience. I love when my actors call me after their commercial auditions to describe what crazy things they had to do to convince the casting director and clients (advertising execs, brand execs) that they were right for the role. I also know that the commercial industry is a high volume, super fast-paced, high-stake industry, so when I was introduced to Laurie Records, I couldn’t wait to ask her all the juicy questions. Laurie is such a joy to be around and I can see why her great reputation precedes her. She’s a beautiful, intelligent woman running her own commercial casting business with McDonalds, SONY, Nike, Jet Blue, Infiniti, Range Rover, Toyota, FedEx and American Express being a few of the campaigns on her resume. Since we’re both DTLA residents, we met at my new favorite restaurant, Manuela, and got to talking…
How a casting director goes through thousands of submissions, what it’s like casting for LOST and how to stand out in auditions
Farrah West is a casting director in Los Angeles with projects like LOST, What About Brian and dozens of feature films on her ever-growing resume. She has impeccable taste in talent especially because she recently cast one of my actors, Tom Plumley, as the lead actor in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters, a super fun, adventurous video-game feature film that’s currently filming in Phoenix, Arizona. Working with Farrah on casting my actor was easy and exciting, which isn’t always a given in our bottom-line-obsessed industry. I could tell she took a deep interest in protecting the talent while also being passionate about the project and its possibilities. I was so excited when Farrah wanted to sit down and be interviewed on Actors For Lunch—check it out!
The secret language casting directors use, how to identify your bullseye and why you shouldn’t use another actor as your description
I stumbled upon Bonnie Gillespie’s book, Self-Management for Actors, several years ago when researching literature I could recommend to my actors about showbiz and their careers. Immediately after reading SMFA, I knew I found the holy grail and have been raving about it to actors ever since. It’s a complete how-to for actors in any medium, any location. Going from a child actor, to an adult actor, to a journalist interviewing hundreds of casting directors for Backstage and then a casting director herself, Bonnie has collected and published incredible wisdom into several books. Today, she casts independent projects and coaches actors on how to tackle the business most effectively. Join me in learning more about how Bonnie is demystifying this business by bringing her knowledge of the industry front and center.
How spirituality ties into acting, the traits that make an actor successful and how online casting changed the industry
When deciding what kind of Hollywood professional I wanted to interview for my first blog post, I immediately thought to start with the foundation of the industry: the craft of acting. Without it, what could Hollywood ever be? So, to answer my questions about what acting is and what makes an actor good, I thought of Zak Barnett, teacher and studio-owner of Zak Barnett Studios. He’s digging deeper with his ‘Spirituality, Entertainment, Activism’ approach to the art. Also joining us for our mid-day meal was John Rushing, teacher and new Director of Development at ZBS. What I thought would be a simple lunch interview about acting and actors, turned into a profoundly informative, philosophical and open dialogue uncovering new layers to something I thought I knew all about. Find out how actors really transform into some of your most beloved characters with Zak Barnett and John Rushing here.
As a talent manager in Los Angeles, my calendar is full of scheduled lunches with every type of person in the Hollywood industry. We eat (mostly) good food and talk about actors–and perhaps, a few other things, too. Join me in reading about some of the people I meet with, what we talk about, and of course, what we eat. But before we dig into my life over lunch, I’d like to share my life in a day. Perhaps mostly for my friends and family (whom I’m not sure fully understand what I do), I’d like to introduce…