It’s true that the beginning of the year brought with it an extended hiatus for the major TV studios’ SoCal productions due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. Los Angeles-based actors may be left feeling unsure of what they can be doing in the meantime. But in reality, the start of every new year offers the opportunity to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. It might have been hard for actors to find the time for this in previous years when they had to jump straight into the busyness of pilot season after the holidays. This January will most likely be slower than normal for actors in every market, though, which offers the opportunity to evaluate certain business and marketing aspects of their careers. Keep reading for a list of things you can be checking during any extra downtime so that you’re ready to put your best foot forward when auditions start coming your way in full force again.
1. Check your casting profiles.
Whether you’re self-submitting or your rep is submitting you, it’s critical that your casting profile be up to date. This includes your skills, with many sites such as Casting Networks® offering a wide range of abilities that you can select, as well as a rating system to reflect your level of expertise. Take a look at all your casting profiles to make sure that they honestly reflect your talents. Remove skills that you can no longer confidently perform and check to make sure that recently-developed abilities are reflected on your profile. “Quarantine hobbies” may seem trite, but they can actually translate into marketable talent. So if you picked up rollerblading and can now cruise with the best of them, mark it on your profile. Besides updating your skills, take a look at the stats portion of your profile that cover physical appearance. Common areas of change include hair length and weight, and it’s important to keep everything current.
2. Check your headshots.
As mentioned above, it’s important to accurately represent what you look like. One of the quickest ways to burn a bridge with casting is to submit an old headshot and then show up on the audition tape looking completely different. So firstly, check to make sure that your pictures are up-to-date. After that, take a hard look at if they’re working or not. COVID-19 has of course affected productions, but even with that consideration, do you feel your headshots are helping you get auditions? There are a number of other factors that affect momentum in that area, but if you feel like things have been slow, evaluating your headshots is a good place to start. It may be worth a conversation with your rep, and if you do decide to take new shots, now’s the perfect time to thoroughly prepare and plan out all the looks for your shoot.
3. Check your reel.
Maybe you have some great footage, but it’s edited in a way that doesn’t showcase you well. Or perhaps you have new, more relevant material that hasn’t made it on your reel yet. Whether you do it yourself or seek professional assistance — one service offers help from actual casting directors — consider working on your reel. That could include making some of your own content, which also allows you to flex creative muscles during slow industry times. And regardless of if you end up needing to make any changes, it’s important to take some time to analyze the quality of your reel to make sure it’s displaying your talent in the best possible way.
4. Check your casting connections.
If you don’t already have one, it’s advisable to create some sort of system that allows you to keep track of casting directors you’ve met or for whom you’ve auditioned. Check to make sure it’s updated and shared with your rep, especially if it includes connections that were developed before signing with them. Agents and talent managers have their own professional relationships, so it’s ideal that you can be working together to best utilize everyone’s connections. Going over the list of casting directors you know is a great reminder to reach out if it’s applicable and appropriate, whether their preferred method of communication is snail mail, email, or social media.
At this time last year, you may have been busy running around town from one in-person audition to the next as you engaged in the busyness of pilot season. You likely didn’t predict that in January of 2021, a surge in the novel coronavirus would pause LA productions. At the beginning of 2020, you probably didn’t have an upcoming pandemic on your radar, in general. But if last year taught us anything, it was the importance of just doing your best and being kind to yourself when circumstances are outside your control. So while actors living in LA, as well as in other markets, may be feeling the effects of COVID-19 on the industry, they can use this time to their advantage. Do your future self the kindness of preparing for the better times ahead so that you can hit the ground running when they come.