Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Auditioning for TV when you don't live in NYC or LA (Submitted Question)

This is a question submitted as a comment on a previous blog, and I am very happy to answer!:

Anonymous asks:

How would I got about auditioning for tv shows? It kind of makes it hard because I have two small children and live two hours from the city on Long Island.

TAE Responds:

This is a great question! Unfortunately, it is difficult to get auditions if you don’t live in the immediate area, but it is possible. First, take some time to learn about which shows shoot in the closest big city (in this case, New York.) You can look in “Ross Reports” or on the SAG website to find out what is in production. What shows match your personality, or have people who match your style of humor or drama? Once you know that, there are two main ways to find TV auditions:

Obviously, the best way to gain access to television auditions is to have an agent submitting you. It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for agents to sign actors who do not live in the city. The more easily you can arrange to get into the city, the easier it will be to find an agent to represent you. There is such strong competition for representation that the agents can be very picky when it comes to availability. They want to make sure that if there is a last minute audition (for tomorrow or even today) that the actor they have been pushing will be available at a moment’s notice. So, in your case, not only is the commute and issue, but it is possible that finding last minute child care might be a concern. I am not sure of your exact situation, but if you are serious about pursuing an acting career but don’t want to make a move closer to the city, I would suggest having a plan in place for last minute situations. Once you have that, you could probably start seeking out an agent. (Learn more about agent submissions here.)

Casting Directors
A more direct way to try to get into the TV audition room is to send your information to the casting director yourself. With your copy of the Ross Reports (or another source) you can look up each production to see who handles the casting. Then you can send your headshot and resume to them, with a cover letter explaining your interest in their specific program. One other, very effective, way to gain access to the casting office is to take a class or do a networking seminar with them. This is a really good way to start a relationship with them, and if you develop it in the right way you will be front of mind when a role comes up that is right for you. Casting directors have no problem calling in unrepresented actors, as long as they have met them before (or have seen their work) and feel they are right for the role. If you book the role, the casting director will often help the actor get representation by make referrals to agencies.

If you get cast on a TV show, you most likely will start off in one of the smaller roles and then work your way up (getting recurring roles, or getting larger roles on other shows). In these cases, you will likely have 1-2 weeks between the final audition and the first shoot date, so you have plenty of time to arrange for child care. But as I mentioned above, the audition process is tiresome and unpredictable, and can take a toll on the actor and their family, especially when such a long commute is involved. So, I would recommend you talk it over thoroughly with your loved ones to find a plan that is best for all of you.

Now, there is no magic potion for TV audition success- you could do all of the above things and not get a thing. Or you could get lucky and land a contract/series regular role on your first time out. There are no hard and fast rules in this business. But looking at things realistically, I do believe that with hard work, tenacity, and passion you can build yourself a fun (if not comfortable) career as an actor (especially if you are willing to do other mediums- film, theater, voiceover, etc.)

By the way, I mention all of this assuming that you have a background/training in acting. If not, I would recommend doing what you can to build your skills before you seek out an agent or auditioning for TV. The competition is fierce, and you want to make sure your first impression is a good one. There are a lot of solid acting programs through local theaters and community colleges. You may also want to see if there is a local film program or community theater that needs actors for their projects so that you can sharpen your skill set.

My very best wishes to you- good luck!

Have a question? Ask one by leaving a comment and I will answer it in an upcoming blog!

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