WHAT DOES IT MEAN
TO BE AN ACTOR CEO?

AUTHORED BY MICHAEL MORENO, HOST OF THE ACTOR CEO PODCAST

It’s a truly special thing to be in training as an actor. Whether you’re in a high school program, college or beyond, that growth and incubation period is important for developing your craft. 

But then you graduate…and immediately become a business. That’s right, you become a creative entrepreneur, the CEO of YOU – THE ACTOR, and your success over the years is based very much on you operating from that perspective. You are in charge of the marketing, pitching, relationship building, improvement and direction of your business from day one! And it’s hard to get that education in school. 

This education is where The Actor CEO Podcast comes in. With over 150 episodes with industry pros reaching 14K followers around the world, the podcast and ActorCEO.com are focused on helping actors treat their career like a business. It’s what has kept us rated as a Top Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks and has allowed me, Mike Moreno, to host the show, write articles for Backstage and Stage Milk, coach actors and bring these teachings to schools and programs around the country. 

One program I teach (now virtually) to college and university acting classes is called Actor to Actor CEO: 5 Keys to Building Your Acting Business. The 5 keys I think every actor must master to create a sustainable creative life (even in a pandemic) are:

  1. Know what you’re great at right now.

  2. Find your audience.

  3. Never be afraid to pitch yourself.

  4. Master your messaging.

  5. Build relationships.

I’ll dive into two of these keys, Know what you’re great at right now and Never be afraid to pitch yourself, in detail here. If you want more details and discussion on these 5 keys please feel free to reach out so we can share this program with your school or actor training program.

Know what you’re great at right now: Don’t be that actor who says “I can do everything.” It’s bad for business. It may be true, but you should find what one or two things you can do best right now and focus on them to build some momentum and foundational relationships with the people you want to work with.  The 80/20 rule works well here. Most likely, when you really think about all the roles you’ve been cast in or found that they came easy to you, there are probably about 20% of your roles that lead to 80% of your bookings, castings, rave reviews, and best results. That’s a profitable ratio and it makes things easier for you. You’re not wasting your time stressing over an audition, job, training, or trend that falls outside that 20% of roles that you can NAIL 80% of the time. You literally stop engaging, looking at or submitting for that work. It’s outside of your focus. You instead spend a year or two focusing and improving that 20% gold mine.

Never be afraid to pitch yourself: Knowing exactly who you are, what you do, and having a succinct way of telling someone can open incredible opportunities. What is your elevator pitch? How can you answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with “I’m a (sarcastic best friend with biting wit and a heart of gold) who (stands her ground and always brings her best).  You can see how that immediately allows someone to know who you are and what you do best. Now they know how you can help them in the future and it took you six seconds to make that impact. 

Quick story – Elizabeth Maxwell is an actor I had on the podcast, and she started out as an actor in LA then moved to Austin and things were moving slowly, she felt, in her acting career. She started to get interested in voice over, made her own VO demo in her closet from scratch by researching the VO demos of other working actresses and recording stuff she thought worked for her, THEN she also went to animation conventions to meet the people who were creating the work she wanted to be a part of. She did meet some people, got connected, got some contact info to follow up and she did. FOR MONTHS. “Professional persistence.” And one of those contacts finally had the time and space to get her in on an audition for an upcoming project that she booked and that started her journey into the world of voice over which she has been doing consistently for the last 10 years, because she pitched what she did best – non stop.

No matter what happens in our industry (recession, pandemic, changing trends) the fundamental fact that YOU are the chief creative decision maker and do not have to wait for permission, acceptance or validation from another to push your career forward will remain true. In fact, with more content out there than ever before and more platforms making it accessible directly to the audiences who want to see it, there is less preventing you from reaching those goals than in our entire artistic history.  

So empower yourself to own your space, your voice and take action every day that builds your business and pushes your dreams forward. 

 

MICHAEL MORENO
Creator and Host – Actor CEO Podcast

 

Michael runs The Actor CEO Podcast and ActorCEO.com (a Top Rated Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks), connecting thousands of actors around the globe to industry pros, tools, and resources to help them treat their career like a business filling the gap between training and building a sustainable creative life. Michael empowers modern artists by contributing content to multiple online outlets, teaching industry business and marketing classes in drama schools around the country and coaches creative professionals.

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT –
CLAREMONT HS

Authored by Krista Carson Elhai, Theatre Department Chair

The Claremont High School Theatre department, currently celebrating our 59th year, is an award-winning program with over 500 active members and three instructors. We have performed our productions at the California State Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival. Our students have won honors at local, state, and national levels, including hundreds of awards at the California State Thespian Festival.

 

 

What was the last production you did before the shutdown?
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

What is the first production you will do when you are able to put on a live performance again?
None. I am retiring in June and won’t have any more live productions

If you could share one thing with theatre educators about teaching virtually, what would it be?
Temper their expectations about how much can get done and focus on community

If you could share one thing with students learning theatre virtually, what would it be?
This time will be a blip in your life. Consider a journal or photo collage about your time during remote learning and use that information to create future art.

What about your theatre program makes you most proud?
The wide range of students involved in our program-Special Needs Students, AP & IB students, and three season athletes. Also, we are heavily involved in a great deal of community service -from face painting to toy drives to canned food collection. This is a requirement of students in order to become Thespians.

What are you most looking forward to when you able to have all your students back in the classroom?
Hearing happy chatter in the theatre.

How has your program adapted to the quarantine?
We have transferred almost all aspects of our program to virtual including the 7 shows, community service, and attending festivals and competitions.

What are the biggest challenges your program has faced with the quarantine?
How to involve our technicians. We have three sections of technical theatre and hundreds of technicians who are missing all of the construction and hands on aspects of our program.

What makes your theatre program unique?
The size. We have 25% of the student body involved in some aspect of the theatre program.

Any words of wisdom to share with Projects with Jason members?
Never underestimate the impact you are having on students. Some of them won’t realize it for many years, but what they are learning in theatre will give them an excellent foundation for just about anything in their future.

 

GETTING FIT FOR THE NEW YEAR
Authored by Kristen Sutton-Traina MS, DPT, OCS, ATC

As we enter into the New Year, we may be looking for ways to make healthy lifestyle changes. First, we need to ask ourselves what does it mean to be “healthy.” There are a number of factors that contribute to being healthy, and the importance of each factor may differ for each person. Both physical and mental health must be considered when evaluating our overall well-being. Our mental health involves how we cope with stress and how we manage our emotions. Nutrition, exercise and recovery must all be taken into account when considering physical health. The food we consume assists in fueling our bodies to provide nourishment and energy. Movement and exercise throughout the day strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health.  Finally, recovery, especially sleep, allows our body time to heal and prepare for the next day’s challenges. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I specialize in movement and exercise. Although this is only one piece of the big picture, it is important, especially for performing artists. Exercising regularly, and in a healthy manner, helps prevent injuries, enhance performance, increase energy levels and even improve mental health. 

As a performer, movement is an essential part of life. However, exercise is different from movement. It is important for performers, dancers included, to cross train in order to maintain a healthy body. Cross training encourages the use of different muscles, which will promote overall stability and strength. There are four main types of exercise: cardiovascular (aerobic and anerobic), muscular endurance, muscular strength and power. Cardiovascular exercise can be divided into aerobic and anerobic training. Aerobic exercise, which is typically known as “cardio”, is anything that can be sustained for > 20 minutes and requires at least moderate exertion; this may include walking, steady running or biking. Anerobic exercise involves shorter bouts of more vigorous activities, resulting in a higher heart rate for shorter periods of time with longer recovery intervals and includes exercises like sprinting. Muscular endurance is a type of strength training, which includes resistance bands, weights or body weight, but is performed with higher repetitions and shorter rest periods. Muscular strengthening is performed with heavier weights, fewer repetitions and longer rest intervals.  Finally, exercises which train for power involve explosive type movements, such as plyometrics. To maximize the benefits, power driven exercises are performed with fewer repetitions, greater intensity and longer rest intervals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes guidelines to help inform the public on recommendations for exercise. (see images) Based on the ACSM guidelines, muscular endurance or muscular strengthening exercises should be performed 2-3 days per week and cardiovascular training should be performed 3-5 days per week depending on the intensity of the workout. 

Pilates is a form of exercise that has become very popular among performing artists. Pilates typically combines muscular endurance training with flexibility while integrating the concept of core stability. Depending on the equipment available, individuals may use a jump board to integrate low impact power training as well. Pilates is performed lying down or seated using springs as a form of resistance. Performers enjoy the low impact nature of Pilates, and the focus on proper form in combination with core stability. Pilates is a great form of exercise and can be performed using equipment in studios or at home on a mat. To maximize the benefit of this type of training, it is important to progress slowly through each exercise and do not attempt movements that are too advanced.  

Although Pilates is effective, it is only one type of exercise. Other forms of exercise should be incorporated into weekly workout routines to promotes overall strength and body awareness. Exercise videos and programs may be found in Applications or online, especially on YouTube. Circuit training is one great way to combine muscular endurance and aerobic exercise. A circuit may consist of performing any exercise you choose, for example, choose 4-6 of your favorite exercises (example: 15 squats, 8 push-ups, 8 lunges and 10 mountain climbers); then repeat the same exercises 2-4 times with minimal rest between sets to promote cardiovascular endurance. When focusing on muscular strength simply perform exercises using weights to increase the difficulty and perform fewer repetitions. Make sure to integrate adequate rest in between sets while performing muscular strengthening. Circuit training can also involve plyometric training to promote improvements in power. Circuits can focus on leg, arms, core or a combination of different body regions. Alternate days of focusing on muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular training for a healthy balance. 

Walk-run programs may be used for cardiovascular training. If running is a new activity make sure to start running using a walk-run program. Start by walking for 5 minutes, running for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total workout time of 20-30 minutes. Try to increase the time spent running as your fitness level improves.      

There are countless options of different exercise programs, especially with the use of the internet. The keys to a good exercise program:

  • MAKE IT FUN. Whether you add music or video chat with a friend, make workouts enjoyable.
  • When performing a new exercise, make sure to perform the exercise correctly. Exercises are only beneficial if performed with proper form.  
  • Start simple and progress to more challenging exercises. 
  • Almost every exercise should be a core exercise. Make an effort to actively engage core muscles.  
  • Stop before complete fatigue and only exercise until “form fatigue”. (Form fatigue is when the body begins to deviate from proper alignment and exercise technique due to muscular fatigue with exercise.)
  • Always use supportive foot wear and proper flooring to prevent injury.  

Remember, exercise is only one component of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition, recovery and mental health must also be considered. As you begin a fresh start in 2021, create long- and short-term goals to set more reasonable expectations and ensure success for a healthy and happy New Year.  

Kristen Sutton-Traina, DPT, MS, OCS, ATC is an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist specializing in performing artists medicine since 2006. Her research interest is in the area of dance medicine; specifically, she has been studying the effects on long bone morphology on lower extremity range of motion and function; and recently took part in data collection investigating conservative treatment for FHL tendinopathy.  She completed her Residency and Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. Kristen completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology and Athletic Training at Michigan State University. She began her academic career at the University of Florida where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Health and Performance and Athletic Training.  Kristen worked with professional dancers in Orange County and Los Angeles assisting with preventing injuries through screening, therapeutic exercises and manual therapy.

 

MAINTAINING A HEALTHY VOICE FOR ACTORS
Authored by Tamiko Washington, Professor of Voice and Movement,
Chapman University

The desire to be seen in front of an audience is generally characterized by an insatiable need to be recognized as a performer, an artist, an actor, and as a person who is seeking the essence of a sacred space that can only be achieved through an actor-audience relationship.  This relationship is sought by many aspiring actors who desire their talents to be enhanced and shaped through training offered in a K-12 setting, a university/college four-year experience, or in private coaching sessions from theatre and film industry professionals.  This training tends to focus primarily on acting techniques that center around objectives, beats, tactics, focus, concentration, listening, truth, believability, working on one’s self, and character development.   The one aspect of training that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the importance of vocal training for actors.

Vocal training is the key that unlocks effective communication when an actor is given the privilege of speaking the lines of a playwright on stage in character.  Effective communication is simply the ability of an actor to transform a memorized piece of text into clear thoughts, ideas, and images that are communicated in moments involving fluid exchange of emotion and reaction-action responses.  The “voice” is the only direct communicative mechanism in the body to achieve this goal.  The question to ask is, “How is it achieved?”  The answer is acquiring knowledge of the anatomical structures of the vocal mechanism, understanding its physiology (function), learning and practicing vocal exercises and techniques that allow actors to demonstrate a free natural voice, having a conscientious acting instructor make physical adjustments (tongue, lower jaw, throat muscles, shoulders, upper torso) to eliminate vocal tract tensions when actors are incorrectly executing exercises and techniques, and applying vocal exercises and techniques to the communication of heightened language/text (Shakespeare, Greek, Poetry).  It is also imperative that a competent acting instructor approach vocal training with a sincere commitment to helping actors acknowledge the importance of practicing vocal exercises and techniques with ease, simplicity, patience, and specificity, as well as ensuring actors create a vocal warm-up to maintain a healthy vocal mechanism. 

When creating a vocal warm-up, actors can incorporate breath awareness (allowing breath to naturally “fall-in” and “fall-out” of the body), spinal roll-downs and roll-ups (easy spinal alignment), physical jiggles (relaxation), simple jaw release exercises, and the Lee Strasberg Chair Exercise (relaxation) as a basic vocal warm-up regimen.  Consider that a good performance is only as good as an actors’ preparation, and a crucial component to that preparation is implementing vocal training that is consistent with the practice of maintaining a proper vocal warm-up.

TAMIKO WASHINGTON
Associate Professor – Voice and Movement, Chapman University

Professor Tamiko Washington holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of California, Irvine.  Her seventeen-year history as an accomplished actor, voice, and movement teacher lead her to originate American Noh Theatre based on the traditional movements of Japanese Noh Theatre and Suzuki Master Tadashi Suzuki.  Her proven effective vocal methodology can be accredited to her extensive study with Linklater and Fitzmaurice specialists such as Dudley Knight, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Isabel Kirk, Dennis Krausnick, Tina Packer, Christine Adaire, Keely Eastley, Margaret Jansen, Lisa Wolpe, Adrienne Johns, and Louis Colaianni.  She continues to perform her (twelve-year) highly acclaimed one-woman show (Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, OC Weekly, Logan Daily News, Kansas City NewsIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (adapted for the stage by Deanna Sidoli and Kent Kirkpatrick) with help from the Irvine Foundation and Pacific Bell Telesis Foundation.  Her performance of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet with Shakespeare Orange County in 2007 won critical acclaim in the Los Angeles Times.  She also has appeared in notable Actors’ Equity Association performances at South Coast Repertory, the Old Globe Theatre, the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Orange County, Stages Theatre, the Vanguard Theatre, and Pacific Theatre Ensemble, among others.  Her television credits include co-starring and guest artist roles in the television shows Pensacola, Silk Stalkings, High Tide, Extreme Blue, and Vanishing Son, and two Lifetime Movie Network films, Two Small Voices and Kidnapped.  

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

 

ERIC SATTERBERG

Eric Satterberg has appeared on over a dozen TV shows including HBO’s Silicon Valley, Showtimes’ Shameless, and NBC’s This is US to highlight a few. Eric is also one of the busiest commercial actors in L. A., having booked a dozen commercials a year since 2013 for a variety of major brands including McDonald’s, Turbo Tax, AT&T, and has a number already booked this year. You can see him next on Hulu’s Orville, Paramounts Yellowstone, and Warner Bros. Feature The Little Things opposite Rami Malek and Denzel Washington. 

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Working on the Halo Top ice cream commercial campaign. I remain very proud of how they came out. 

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
“Do it again but ‘good’ this time.” – Every Director I’ve worked with. 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Very young. I remember when I saw Cirque du Soleil as a kid. The costumes, the dancing, and the music completely seduced me. Even though I would never pursue that style of performance,  I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of right away.

What’s the phone app you use most?
YouTube 

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
American Dad. 

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
American Dad with over priced ice cream. Peanut butter is involved. 

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
A booking. 

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate peanut butter crack from Gingers. 

Current obsession?
Disinfectant. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Loud noises. Loud noises from Motor cycles.

What is your dream role/job?
Working w Paul Thomas Anderson.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
TGIF. 

What career advice would you give your younger self?
My life got infinitely better when I became sober in 2015. 

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
At the end.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Getting a golden retriever. 

What makes you feel at peace?
Listening to the “Crono Trigger” soundtrack as I drift asleep.  

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Cough in public.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Telepathy 

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Pizza.

THE HEALTHY CREW
Authored by Vanessa Martinez, Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

We couldn’t let this healthy new year edition of our newsletter go by without offering some tips and tricks to some of the hardest working people in any theatre – the crew! Often some of the first to arrive at the theatre and the last to leave, these are the people who do whatever it takes to make a performance spectacular from behind the scenes.

However, this “whatever it takes” mentality can take its toll. Late nights, long days, hurried work, last minute catastrophes, the list goes on and on. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s so important for the people working behind the scenes in the theatre to put as much focus on their health as the ones standing in the footlights. 

When bodies are young and healthy, we often feel invincible, like we can accomplish anything, anytime. And that may be true… But creating healthy habits early on will help to ensure longevity in your career and a healthy body for the rest of your life.

As an Entertainment Safety Manager, I had the opportunity to create health and wellness programs for all Entertainment departments, and had visibility to any injuries that occurred. Based on that experience, this is a short list of things all crew can/should do to prevent injury:

  1. Condition! Using the cross training that’s recommended in the article above is just as important for the crew as it is for any performer.
  2. Hydrate!  Water is so vital to a healthy body. And remember that caffeine is a diuretic and can quickly dehydrate you. While I would never advise against giving up caffeine altogether (imagine the revolt!), but it is possible to overdue it. We once had a paramedic run for stage manager having heart palpitations from too much caffeine. Drink one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage you consume. And not every donut that gets brought into the theatre needs to be eaten. #justsaying
  3. Use good body mechanics! The way you move can go a long way to protect yourself!
  • Keep your elbows close. The closer your elbows are to your mid-section, the more strength you have. 
  • Point your toes in the direction of movement. This will help to avoid twisting your low back, which greatly decreases your risk of back injury. 
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position. Even when working with tools and in awkward spaces, make every effort to keep your wrists from flexing or extending as much as possible. 
  1. Have a plan! Pre-work planning can do wonders for injury prevention. Knowing what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it is the first step to making sure you have the necessary time and resources to complete the work safely.
  2. Use the right tool for the task. I once found a member of my crew trying to remove a splinter with a Gerber multi-tool… When there was a splinter removal kit in our first aid kit! Take the time to ensure you have the right equipment for the work you’re doing. Shortcuts frequently cost more than they save.
  3. Take regular breaks! Repetitive motion is one of the leading causes of injury. It can be easy to get caught up in the work, but your body needs a break from any prolonged task. Varying your task (with something that moves your body in a different way) for at least 10 minutes every hour is a good rule of thumb.
  4. Don’t work through pain! No matter how crucial or time sensitive a task may seem, it’s not worth jeopardizing your safety! 

Always remember, your health and safety should be your number one priority. After all, you don’t want the show to go on without you!

 

VANESSA MARTINEZ
Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

Vanessa Martinez is a Senior Stage Manager at the Disneyland Resort. She previously worked as an Entertainment Safety Manager and also does safety consulting. She is thrilled to be supporting Projects with Jason in her role as Marketing Manager, and looks forward to continued collaboration with current and prospective PwJ members!

 



 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Projects with Jason Member Donors:
PATRONS
Julia Cuppy
Gloria McIntyre
CONTRIBUTORS
Jaime Brown
Lauren Carroll and Chris Herman
Nick Robinson
El Dorado High School, Placentia, CA, Educator Kathleen Switzer
PRODUCERS
Donny Bryan
Debby Gibbs
Beverly Hills High, School, Beverly Hills, CA Educator Karen Chandler
Carson High School, Carson, CA, Educator Marcia Barryte
Galt High School, Galt, CA Educator Sonja Brown
Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School, Bethlehem, PA, Educator Amanda Pascale
SUSTAINERS
Kyle D. & Kimberly Cole
Matt Conover 
J. Jason Daunter
Philip & Krista Elhai
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
Alma Middle School, Alma, AR Educator Marti Jo Salisbury
Ashland High School, Ashland, OR, Educator Betsy Bishop
Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield, MI, Educator Mary Bogrette
Buford High School, Buford, GA, Educator Kimberly Staples
Charter Oak High School, Covina, CA Educator Nicole Pedroche
Claremont High School, Claremont, CA, Educator Krista Carson Elhai
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin, OH, Educator Pat Santanello
Sam Barlow High School, Gresham, OR Educator Jeff Schroeder
Jesuit High School, Portland, OR Educator Jeff Hall
Liberty High School, Henderson, NV, Educator Sharon Chadwick
Lincoln High School, Portland, OR Educator Jim Peerenboom
Munster High School, Munster IN, Educator Ray Palasz
North Kansas City High School, Kansas City, MO Educator Randy Jackson 
Olympia High School, Millersville, PA Educator Melissa Mintzer
Royal Oak Middle School, Covina, CA Educator Nicole Pedroche
San Juan Hills High School, San Juan Capistrano, CA Educator Cambria Graff
Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, St. Louis, MO, Director of Education & Outreach Dominic Dowdy-Windsor

 

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