I get asked for advice. A lot. I tend to stay vague, simple. There are very, very few with whom I discuss my true feelings and thoughts on a precious subject.
I live in Salt Lake City. There IS a professional scene here in town, but it is small. Very small. Obviously. On one hand, the NYC scene seemed small to me too. I began seeing the same people at auditions, but Salt Lake is it's own thing.
Let's talk theatre. I know actors who say it's too hard to have their equity card here, that there is no work. Others have asked if I think they should work towards getting theirs. Because we live where we live, this is a very individual thing. Taking my equity card, knock on wood, has been the best move I could have made. I have done at least two plays a year since and had great insurance that made very expensive prescription affordable when I needed it. I like being a professional. I like being taken seriously. I like working on a different level. To those wondering if they should, I'd say work at every professional theatre in town first. Make sure you know you can get cast there. If you are a straight actor as well as a musical theatre performer your chances at working more are much better. There is so much more opportunity to work professionally as a straight actor in this town, but we have more musical folks. Make sure you get roles first. Actual leading roles. No need to take your card if you're always chorus. You just won't work.
Training. Okay, this is touchy. I don't want to offend anyone, so I'm not sure how to say this. I trained and graduated in NYC. It was absolutely invaluable. I couldn't have come this far without it. Too many people in this town do not train. In my experience, and I've been doing this a long time, it is a VERY VERY VERY rare person who does not need to train. A workshop through a local agency is NOT sufficient. I'm not even going to comment on what I think of some of Utah's local BFA programs. This is why I stay out of conversations on acting, technique, etc. with most of my fellow actors. I'm over that part of it, at least for now. I lived that in NYC for years, and day in and day out that was ALL any of us could talk about. Now I'm more interested in who actors are if they AREN'T talking about acting. I feel what I've learned is from another world, and I'm on my own here that way. As I think back on the performances that blew me away, that forever changed me and made me want to do this in the first place, they were by polished, trained performers. Down the road I believe that the best form of training is doing it, but formal training is the starting point.
Now let's talk film and modeling. I have the best agents in SLC. Do I work a lot? Not a lot as it's not LA. Have I booked jobs? Yes. Is it worth having representation? Yes. What blows my mind is how many "actors" I come across who think they don't need representation, who think they can do it all on their own. I guess it's one thing if this is your hobby, not your career and it's worth your time to go out with a group of "filmmakers" and collaboratively shoot your student film. If you don't want to make any money or work professionally, then by all means knock yourselves out. But it's just playing pretend. It's not serious. Look at it this way, don't you at least want to get sent on auditions that you wouldn't know about otherwise? Isn't opportunity what we're all looking for?
Modeling here is nuts. Any and every girl seems to call herself a model because they've got a Model Mayhem page and have done a few TFCD shoots. That's great to build up your portfolio...and hell, I'll still shoot an occasional TFCD if the photographer is great and can offer me something I've yet to do, but please. There are "models" in this town who, I'm going to say it, don't look anything like models. Try your hand at the biz anywhere else? A big city? You'd be in for a rude awakening. I am surprised to see how many people there are playing "pretend". Doing shoots, uploading mediocre photo after mediocre photo, from mediocre photographer after mediocre photographer. I guess if it's all in good fun and again, a hobby, it's okay. But there are people I've come across that take it all WAY to seriously.
Again, "filmmakers" who don't have a reel to show you?! Who talk a big game but don't have a script for you to read. Who have learned a few lines from their Acting 101 manual that they can toss you to "entice" you.
There are so many bogus agencies here, and the fact that they're in business and suckers keep on falling for it BLOW MY MIND!
It's hard to have tolerance, patience.
I have decided to become even more selective with who I work with and the connections I make. I work too hard, I've built to much to let others share in it who don't deserve it.
I'm not trying to be a bitch, just smart. Professional. An adult.
One persons opinion. You know how it is, "one persons opinion" is what we tell ourselves in this business each time we don't agree with something. :) We are all narcissistic (yes, we are or why would we chose this path?) we all think we're right.
So there you have it, folks. My personal opinion.
A personal opinion from someone who does this as a career...not a hobby.
xo Deena Marie