Saturday, November 28, 2009

While You Audition - 3 Little Known Ways To Beat Not Having A "Real Job"

Are you like me, stuck waiting in between not having a "real job" with a 401k and hating every serving job you get to pay rent?

While being stuck out in the middle of nowhere (Las Vegas), I am forced to wait out the horrible economy that happens so often when a democrat is in office. *sigh* Alas, I digress...

If you want to act, but live in Nevada, (or outside of LA), you NEED to move to LA.
Sorry, but the sooner you get over this horrible, inconvenient truth, the better.

However, until then, you have to survive.

As an actress (or actor), you have to do more than that. You must be healthy, active, and continually evolving. Even while you wait under the Hollywood radar, you better be paying off credit cards, working out, or learning something useful for when you do come back.

Here is how I get around having extremely limited resources that come from not having a "real job" (i.e. health insurance, paid vacations, 401k & room for advancement):
  1. Dental Plans. Can't have a killer headshot with a jacked-up grill! Nevada (as well as other states) have dental PLANS which help you to get your teeth x-rayed, cleaned, and fixed. Dental Plans are different from Dental Insurance in that you do not pay a monthly fee, nor do they act as an insurance by taking care of certain costs. Dental Plans will allow you to see (a provided list of) Dentists. The catch is you must pay same day, you cannot bill it to your insurance, because it isn't insurance. Dental Plans give you a discount on normal procedures. I paid about $138 for both my husband and I to get the Avia (recommended to me by a friend, so that's why I chose that plan) Dental Plan. Our coverage is for a year, we can change dentists if we want (as long as the dentist accepts Avia Dental Plan, which a lot out here do) and there is no waiting period! A regular cleaning is about $70. Avia Dental Plan got me a cleaning for $16. Rates vary, but it is still very helpful. You can get your teeth cleaned, cavities filled, even get braces, at your own pace. More info:
  2. Free Clinics. As a woman, you have more needs medically. As an actress, you don't need to stress about how long you can make it without a doctor's visit. You can almost always find a free clinic to get preventative healthcare. Like, for example, get tested for STD's, HPV and pregnancy for free at a planned parenthood location. If you tell them you are unemployed or broke, they make everything free or discounted (they will not give annual exams: pap, breast exam or birth control for free, but they can make it very affordable.) I recommend also checking out your college if you are going to school, they will usually give out cheap flu shots, vitamins and test for illness. You do not need Health Insurance for any of this! More info:
  3. YouTube. Do you need to look a cut above the competition? Of course you do. I used to love going to Gold's Gym in LA. While I'm out here in the desert, I do NOT want to go outside more than I have to. Plus, I need to save money. As an actress, you need to stay in shape if you want most leading roles. is the second largest search engine after Google. Why? because people want to SEE how it's done. I constantly google quick work outs that don't require equipment. You can change it up and work out on your own time. My favorite personal trainer for quick but challenging work outs on youtube is this european chick who is actually really nice despite her Maxim-appeal:
What are some ways you have kept a 9-5 job at bay while auditioning, or waiting to audition again?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quick Tip: Camera ready

Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't have much time but just to let you know we're still alive here is a quick tip for actors and actresses.
*Don't wear all white or busy prints to an on camera audition, it looks bad on camera.
Here are 2 examples from old photos of me and my man, sorry, not professional, but you get the idea. I would never wear this to an audi!!
See this fabulous-chiquita-banana dress I used to rock? You don't wanna distract from your face like this. ^
See how I blend in the white background? You will to. Chances are, you will be reading in front of a white wall.

*Stick to neutral or flattering solid colors, pink (looks good on every skin tone) blues, greens and black all usually look great. Also note unless you are a blonde you will probably look washed out in yellow. And everyone looks hung over in grey. Unless you really did get sleep the night before your big audi, avoid grey.

Hope this helps! Also I joined! If you're an exhibitionist like me, check it out, it's free:

What's your quick tip for looking better on camera?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Be happy for others, kids!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to congratulate ijustine (of internet fame. If you don't know who she is by now, wiki/google her or go to!

I met ijustine on the set of a MTV real world: The Island challenge and Buffalo Wild Wings commercial last year. She was quiet, sweet and helpful around set. We spoke briefly and she said she wanted to be a TV host, not an actress. I think that's great. She knows what she wants and goes for it. She has done a TON of online hosting, youtube videos and has a great teen following. She went to school and learned to shoot edit and make her own videos. I really respect that.
Not everyone is naturally as fearless as she is, but I just wanted to use her as an example.
She caters to a tech-loving, young, goofy online crowd. She keeps all of her work PG (that must be extremely hard, I couldn't do it.) and it has gotten her a lot of opportunities. Most recently she guest starred on one of my favorite shows, Law and Order: SVU. The episode airs in November and the rest of the info is on her video:

Congratulations ijustine! Please continue to root for fellow actresses success.
(whether it's TV, theater, radio or a news anchor, we can be supportive of others by sharing the good news!)

More updates to come soon!



Monday, October 5, 2009

Beauty on a Budget

Frugal beauty tips for the struggling actress...

One thing I've learned from my 5 years pursuing acting and trying to make ends meet, is ways to cut back spending on beauty products.

It's INSANE how much we spend on keeping ourselves "audition ready"! From expensive haircuts and highlights, to manicures, to fake tans, to teeth whitening... money depletes FAST when you're trying to look good... so I've found some ways to consolidate my beauty products budget...

Friday, October 2, 2009

You know you're a struggling actress when...

You know you're a struggling actress when...

You have an array of solid colored tops just for auditions and headshots.

You know what color looks best on you.

You know your "best angle".

You have waitressing experience.

You don't have a savings or health insurance.

You know AT LEAST one creepy guy you keep in contact with only for networking purposes...

You know how to flirt with the whole room and still go home alone (a very good skill to have)...

You know what "cheat", "slate", "improv", "sides", and "off-book" mean.

You have your go-to 3 to 5 actresses that you always name when someone asks who your favorite actress is...

You have your 3-5 TV shows or movie roles that you name when someone asks you your ideal role...

You've done at least one project that you hope will never re-surface when you become famous...

You write-off make-up, clothing, headshots, printer and ink, acting classes, and anything else you can think of when doing your taxes...

At least one time you have dressed up and drank champagne at home while watching the Oscars on TV... admit it!

When you meet someone who JUST moved to LA to pursuing acting, you secretly size them up to see how long they will last...

Many numbers in your phone also have the one-day job that you met them on, so you'll remember who they are...

You don't know how people got jobs before there was a Craigslist!

You hold onto old clothes you'd usually never wear, but you think that MAYBE there will be a role that calls for overalls, studded jeans, a corset, or cowboy hat... just maybe.

You've tried smoking at least once just to be closer to the director or celebs on their smoke break...

You try to remember the celebrities you've met/seen so you can tell people back at home...

You think aspiring actresses or actors who go on reality shows are sell-outs!

You've heard of Stanislavsky, Hagen, Adler, Strasberg, and Meisner, but you can't tell all of their techniques apart...

You dread memorizing monologues and it stays on your To-Do List until an audition comes up asking for one and then you freak out!!!

You know what Samuel French is, and it's Heaven if you've been in one...

You know the difference between SAG and Aftra, and you know how to become either...

You've done extra work.

You've looked for your small head in the background on a TV show.

Just some of mine. Feel free to add yours!
- Cassie

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to make an acting DEMO REEL!!!

The blog post you've ALL have been waiting for!!!!! (myself included!)

DEMO REELS!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Dun dun duuuuunnnn.....

It's a great mystery, and just like a documentary on Sasquatch, I'll do my best to inform you on the information I've gathered, but this DOES NOT MEAN I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS!

With that said, I'll tell you my personal take on how to make a decent demo reel, and I will show you the one I've come up with for myself, as well as other actress's demos on youtube...

So, first, we have to clarify the objective of an actor's demo reel. The purpose is to show a casting director, director, agent, or manager (in 5 minutes or less is best) your acting range, emotion, different looks, how you interact with other actors, and your overall film "presence".

The key to a good demo is getting to the point! Pacing is important. If you linger too long on one scene the viewer will get bored because they've already seen what they needed to see from that character and situation... move on to what else you have to offer.

Demo Reels can range from 1 minute to 5-6 minutes... rarely over or under that amount.

Once you've accumulated all your footage (and don't hesitate making a demo just because you think you don't have enough footage... a demo is ever-evolving... it'll never be perfect and it will never be your last demo...)...

So, once you have all your footage to date, find an editor! A lot of people try to screw you on price so make SURE to shop around and compare prices, I wouldn't pay more than $300 for an AWESOME demo... and make friends with all editors and that way you can pull favors. I've had 3 demos made before from friends for FREE, and my latest demo I made myself because I learned how to edit... it's not as hard as it looks!

Show the editor all your footage and pick out what you think best shows your range, look, emotion, different characters, and the best quality of films you've been a part of. Some of my favorite acting performances had terrible quality and I had to cut them all together. It sucks, but it's better to not be associated with that bad of quality.

Rule of thumb: put your "biggest" job first on your demo. If you were on a popular TV show, in a good movie, or acted with a recognizable actor, put that first or second in your demo.

Also, in every scene you use in your demo, try to be the one dominating the scene. This may mean cutting other actors lines short or out completely, so that it looks like the scene is all about you.

Some people choose to do montages of footage with music in their demo. I like doing this because I can show various "looks" faster without having to show the whole scene. I definitely recommend always putting the music and montage at the END of the demo. Some people do it in the beginning, and most casting directors don't like this because they just want to get to the meat of the performances. That's why you should always show your best work first and go from there.

Some people choose to add the title of the film at the bottom of the screen when the clip is being shown. I find this distracting (especially when it's an unrecognizable film, that has no real notoriety), but still many people do this, and it's just a matter of preference...

General note: always start the demo with your name in CLEAR text and end the demo with some kind of contact info, whether it's your agent/manager or your website info. Refrain from putting your personal info (email or phone number).

Okay, without further ado... let's see some examples!

Here's my personal demo reel (I JUST made... today). Please comment and tell me what you think (what works and what doesn't, etc... it's ever-evolving...)

The strongest part about this girl's reel is that she has big stations (NBC) and big actors involved. That's always the best way to lead your demo reel. Start with the most recognizable show or movie, or anything with recognizable actors, and it automatically makes you look like a pro.

This girl's demo is good considering the interaction between the different people. For whatever reason the quality doesn't seem the best, which a lot of times is out of your control. And I noticed she doesn't really have any close-ups on her face, which would be ideal, but if you don't have the footage, you don't have the footage! No worries, just work with what you've got...

This is probably the best demo of all. Great pacing, great scenes, shows all the best parts, and simple. No fancy effects, no fancy transitions. VERY VERY nice. The reason these long scenes work is because they are high-quality, are mainly about her character, and they're with recognizable actors. If any of those things were not true, then the length of the scenes would be too long. Everything works in this demo!

This girl is just a fabulous actress which makes the reel all the better, of course. I do think some of the scenes could be shortened, but that's just an opinion. The great thing about this reel is you know exactly the kind of character actress she is, and she has great range within her character.

The beauty of this demo is the length, 1 minute 30 seconds. Quick and to the point! Good variety of characters and all of the footage seems to be good quality. Not bad at all...

This one is pretty long with footage that is not very necessary (example,: the first scene should be cut after she dies, no need to still be showing her motionless for that long). After the first scene, the pacing speeds up nicely and she has a good variety of footage. The end is an example of a montage of footage with music and no dialogue. Her montage could have been drastically shortened, since there is some footage repeating itself.

Okay, there's a lot I want to say about this one, but I'll try to keep to the basics. Putting her acting aside, and just looking at the edit job: The transitions with the title and where the film can be seen are unnecessary and time-consuming. The crazy "special effects" transitions are very distracting and just in bad taste. Simple is better when it comes to transitions. I'm not sure if the editor added some of the music, but it was over-powering a bit. As a general rule, if you already show a certain character from a film, don't show the same character again, unless they're in a different extreme situation. Example: if you show being a ditzy blonde in one film, don't show a ditzy blonde from another film again, unless it's a totally different or extreme emotion being shown with that character. A casting director's time is valuable and they just want a slice from all the different ranges you have. Oddly enough, with better editing, this girl could have an AWESOME reel. Seriously!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Utilizing the Internet to Market Yourself

Hello "kids" ;)

I made a video blog (aka. vlog) of finishing my first feature documentary. It's just cheesy rambling and whatnot, but I thought I'd share anyways.

Which, while I'm on the subject. I HAVE to say that you girls are entering a different age of pursuing acting then when I moved to LA in 2004.

Believe it or not, A LOT has changed from 2005 to 2009, and in order for you girls to keep up with the competition, you have to know what the competition is doing.

So what are they doing? THEIR OWN VIDEOS! Whether it's acting out their own written scenes with friends, making their own music videos, spoof videos, vlogs, how-tos, or just simply dancing to the latest music.

I am a strong advocate for being consistent with your "image" (for example: if you're marketing yourself as a dramatic actress, don't go making an SNL spin-off).... BUT I'm also a HUGE advocate for getting yourself OUT THERE! And in this technological age, there are MANY ways to market yourself, and remain true to who you are.

A couple examples:

- Facebook (befriend EVERYONE you meet on set immediately... being fresh in their mind could lead to your next job)

- Twitter (it's not for everyone, but if you have something to say, say it on twitter! And here's a hint: be positive. The better your outlook on things, the more people will want to work with you.)

- YouTube (if you have a camera and know how to use it, THEN USE IT! And shockingly enough, many people have gotten acting jobs just from youtube videos, whether they're acting in the video or not. Casting Directors can sense if you have a good on-screen presence. Plus, bonus tip: if you have a special skill {i.e. a sport, musical talent, weird talent, something not a lot of people can do} FILM IT! You may just get cast, or "discovered" from it!)
*** If you have iMovie or Final Cut Pro and don't know how to edit (and you're like me and hate reading manuals) I suggest watching tutorials on YouTube! That's how I learned most of everything I know about editing.

IMDb is a HUGE marketing tool. When you get your name on IMDb, INSTANTLY put an avatar (profile picture) up, it'll be the best $35 you ever spend online. Just make sure it's a good picture, because it's another $35 if you want to change it. Also, I would highly suggest getting IMDBpro because you get special features such as "in production" castings, job listings, and career advice, as well as access to all message boards and just overall better information so you know the ins an outs of what's going on. Totally worth it.

And eventually you'll want to get your own website ( Why? Just because it looks more professional. No other reason, really. Well, there are some reasons: putting up all your photos, resume, demo reel(s), contact info, bio... it's good to have, when you have enough to put on it.

If you need a reliable website company: I got mine ( through Great prices, and he's on top of things. I've been with him for almost 3 years and he's never let me down. I'd definitely recommend him.

Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Cassie

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Preparing a monologue

Being that I live in the middle of nowhere, theatrically speaking, a girl has got to take what she can get.

That being said, I have rarely come across a casting in Las Vegas (where I am currently stationed, for the time being) that not only pays more than the gas it takes to get there but also seems fun.

I came across an odd posting on (where else?) under tv/film/radio jobs. (which believe me, this section is USUALLY blank.)


  • Location: Las Vegas
  • Compensation: $100 - $150
So being the gloriously unemployed aspiring actress that I am at the moment, I took this little gem. A chance to actually prepare ANY monologue I want? Heck yes. 
I am looking for a creepy, scary, 20-25 yr old role. I am looking through some of my favorite monologue sites from high school (the only time I've ever actually needed a monologue) and need some help deciding what to do. Here are some favorite monologue sites of mine:

1)  - They update this every year with new monologues and even have some really hard to find movie scenes, and sometime you have to email the owner and ask for them, but 99% are free for reading on the site. No made up monologue crap from a creative writing student. All real movies. No theater here, though. But you're not actually auditioning for film, are you? Where do you think you are? NYC?

2)  - They have a great organized monologue selection, separated by classical and modern, dramatic and comedy. Very good older, classical selection. They also have a section for kids I have no explored. Mostly play monologues here. (As you can imagine, at 5'9 barefoot, I don't get a lot of disney auditions...)

3) Another great resource is Borders. Got to the literature section and there is a small section of monologue books, monolouge book sfor women, for men, for kids, from classical plays (not much from movies though.) and from different decades. My go to book, and most useful monologue book is a little purple paperback book called "100 women's stage monologues from the 1980's".

For this audition I'll be choosing a film, and a horror or thriller genre. My problem here is I don't watch scary movies. Because they scare me. (Don't judge me!) So I don't have much point of reference. I am looking for a girl in her 20's who is creepy or scary. I'm not going for the damsel in distress, but the villain. 

Any suggestions?

I'll put up the final 2 or 3 I choose up here when I have some good choices.

email me or Direct Message your suggestion to me on twitter (!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

John Robert Powers. Those Dirty Bastards.

Let me tell you about my lil' friend, John Robert Powers.

When I first came to LA to act, I didn't know where to start. I didn't know about,, or even NOWcasting. So I looked in the newspaper for acting jobs. I came across an ad looking for new and fresh ("No experience necessary!") models, singers and actors. It said something like, "OPEN CALL for undiscovered talent for TV shows on Disney and Nickelodeon!" I went down all the way to sunset blvd to audition for something I had no idea what it was really about. Upon entering, I noticed similar surroundings from trying to get an agent as a child (and also being scammed): A big lobby full of movie and tv posters with no connection to each other. There were several children toys and magazines for the moms. (A typical casting office is usually bare and small, with a few chairs and a desk with a clipboard.) After I filled out several forms with all my contact info on it (I never noticed that there was no place to put my agent's info, because they were banking on me not having one.) I was escorted into a huge classroom.
 There were rows and rows of chairs for all the overly excited parents and children to sit and listen to how successful John Robert Powers is and how every one of the posters in the room had been cast  by them or one of the actors from their classes had gone on to make those shows.

One by one, after having us watch a VHS (Yes, a VHS) tape of how awesome John Robert Powers is, they had us file into a line to meet with their executive "Casting Directors". I noticed sad faces and crushed dreams walk out of that room before me. I thought, wow, they must be really picky! (See: the parents didn't have enough money to pay for the several thousand dollar classes they had to join to become "famous".)

I entered the room, the only thin, young teenager there with previous modeling experience and they told me they loved my look, and they wanted to hear "My story". I gave them a brief bio of myself and how I wanted to start acting in film. All three smiled encouragingly and told me there were acting classes available for me! 
Wait. What? How is this an audition? 
"I thought this was an audition for a tv show... " I said. 
"Oh we are having auditions for several TV shows! But you aren't ready yet, honey. But the good news is we just LOVE your look, I think you would book TONS of commercials and movies!" (Movies? What self respecting industry professional calls films "movies"?)
So I say,"OK, cool, I like acting class, I guess.... How much is it?"
Enthusiastic "casting director" said "The acting classes start at $800 for a 4 week class or if you really want to act, we might be able to fit you in to our 2 year program for $6,500." (I am not positive on how many thousands of dollars they were charging, it was a couple years ago, but I know it was almost the cost of a legit college.)
I teared up and said, "But there is no way I can afford that!"
"What about your parents?"
"No, they can't afford anything."
"Well, we might be able to work out a financing plan for you."

I was so upset I nodded and left. Going home, I thought, why wouldn't they say on the dang Ad that they were charging money, not a real audition for a real tv show? I was so indignant and confused. I knew one thing, I didn't need John Robert Powers. I needed a real audition. 
Granted, this was WAY before I knew I even needed a resume or headshot, etc... but I still knew something was wrong with that place.

There are plenty of people out there who have unfortunately gone through the John Robert Powers scam. And if you are curious, or don't believe me, please research for yourselves!

*Fast forward 3 years.*

I have recently moved to Las Vegas to save money for my wedding. I miss LA, but there is no money to be made there right now (So if you are thinking about moving to LA to act, now is not the best time. I would suggest saving up a couple thousand bucks to live off of for at LEAST 6 months, because there is no work out there, acting or regular. Unless, of course, you have very rich parents who have no problem supporting your for 4 years while you break into acting, then go for it!!)

I have been surfing the las vegas craigslist for work recently. No luck yet on finding any acting auditions. well, unless you count a "sexy busty blonde babe" type for a short film for NO pay. There are plenty of those "castings" in Vegas. (PLEASE FLAG THAT CRAP!)
I came across this ad:
Casting This Saturday
LA Casting Director is coming to Las Vegas to seek new talent for two upcoming films. 
All ages are welcome.(if under 18, you must be accompanied by an adult) 
For more information, please contact Mary Zaragoza either by email or phone. 

So I sent in my headshot and resume. I thought something was weird about this posting, but I wanted SO badly for it to be legit work in Vegas, so I emailed to find out more about it:
I am a 22 yr old actress from LA, recently moved to Vegas and would love to know more about this casting and what it is for! I have attached my headshot and a link to my imdb page. Thanks!-Amber Pxxxxxx
She emailed me back a very air head response, asking me for my info all over again:The Director is searching for new talent for her upcoming movies. She will be here this Saturday at 1pm. She is looking for all ages and types. You may audition if you would like. I just need a little bit more information from you such as:
Client name:

two phone numbers:
You don't need to prepare anything for the audition. You just need to come in dressed nice. ( no jeans or t-shirts) You will be given a script, but you don't have to memorize it. 
I need your information so I can put you on the list. The audition will be held at the following address: 1:00 p.m. For 2 movies.
8879 W. Flamingo Rd. Suite 101

(Between Durango and El Capitan)
If you get lost or need more directions please call either (702)466-6482 or (702)364-9900.
There will be a sign in sheet which will ask who invited you, you will put my name (Mary Zaragoza).
I hope to hear from you soon with more information about you and if you will be attending. Thank you! Sincerely, Mary Zaragoza

Confused and annoyed, I responded with the same information I already gave her and asked a few questions to try to understand what she was casting, and what the production company was:

Hi Mary,

Does the director have any experience? Is there a production website or imdb credits I could look at? 
Again, my name is Amber Pxxxxxxx, I'm 22, I only have one phone number (my cell) xxx xxx-xxxx.
She never responded. 
Well I got a call this morning from a 702 area code (THAT'S VEGAS, NOT LA! LIKE THEY SAID THEY WERE VISITING FROM). It went something like this: 
"Hi Amber! This is Mary from John Robert Powers! How ARE you!!"
"I'm good."
"We just wanted to make sure you could still come to our movie casting today! You see, we have a top LA casting director visiting today casting for new movies! Yup, so you REALLY don't wanna miss that! Oh I really hope you can make it, this is gonna be HUGE! Here, let me give you some contact numbers in case you get lost, ok?"
(I pretended to take the several numbers down and said yeah I was pretty sure I'd be there at 1pm.)
I hung up and was so glad I caught that before I wasted my time going to that stupid audition!! 
The point I'm trying to make (and I'm sorry for this being so long!) is:
-Know your enemy: Beware of John Robert Power "castings" that are really ads. As well as anything else that makes you pay for anything. (unless acting classes are recommended by a working actor or legit agent who gets you work)
-Always try to find out as much as possible about the casting before committing to it! Some things to always know are who is the casting director, or the director/writer? What kind of work can they show you they have done? A youtube teaser trailer, or production website, or imdb credits, or personal references from actors they have worked with in the past are better than nothing! 
-If they are professional, they will understand the request for information, and respect you for being interested.
Also check out one of my good director's blog about what he looks for in an actor and let us know if it is helpful!
Whew! had to get that off my chest!

Act From Experience

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened,
vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Helen Keller

I want to share some advice that took me a while to sink in.
I am the type of person where: when people tell me what to do and give me great advice, I don't FULLY understand it until I experience it for myself. I learn more through trial and error then I do from me just following people's advice. So if you're like me, then I'll tell you this advice and it may not register for a while. But if you are the type of person who learns from other people's experiences, then here's what I've learned:

I was star-struck when I first got to work with actor, Rider Strong (who played Shawn Hunter in "Boy Meets World", a show I grew up religiously watching). We worked in "Cosmic Radio" together, and we got to get drinks one night and talk for a bit.

At the time, I was still a newbie, and trying to soak up as much information as I could about the industry. So I asked Rider, "if you have any advice for a young aspiring actress like me, trying to break the glass ceiling, what would it be?"

I was expecting him to say "make sure you find a good agent" or "get into acting classes" or even "it's all about networking, who you know"..... at least with that kind of advice I feel like I can work towards and ask people for help with.

But, in fact, his expert advice was... dun nun nuuuuuuuuun......

"Go out, experience life, meet many people, travel, live, love, learn. An actor's job is to know the most about life as possible, because we are translating these real life experiences onto film, and sharing it with people who don't have the opportunity to see all of the world and do everything there is to do."

When he told me this, I'll admit I was kind of bummed. I was thinking to myself "I don't want to travel, go get my heart broken, go experience risky time-consuming things... I want to be in LA, auditioning, filming, networking... and that 'experiencing life' stuff seems like a lot of work".

Yes, that's actually what I thought.

Fast forward to 3 years later (right now), I see what he was talking about.

How are we, as actors, supposed to convey these emotions on screen, if we've never experienced them ourselves? We have the absolute privilege to teach millions of people about these true life experiences, we should know what we're talking about. It'd be like an News Anchorwoman reading the stories off the teleprompter, and yet, not even know anything about the subject. Sure, you can slide under the radar and hope that no one ever finds out you don't know what you're talking about... but believe me, they'll find out. If not now, then later.

Now, I'm not saying you should go do drugs if you're supposed to be a drug addict in a film, or go experience prostitution, or be in a gang... NO. But know about the subject. Research! You can actually google true-life stories of prostitutes on the web. I did it yesterday because I auditioned for a girl who was a prostitute yesterday.

Be well-versed in any subject you come across. If you only read acting books, then you're not doing your job. Expand your mind, expand your experiences. It's our job (as actors) to live life to the fullest so we can translate our experiences onto film for others to learn from.

So, go out: LIVE, LOVE, LEARN!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prepping For Commercial Auditions

It's very important to do as much research as possible before every audition, but prepping for a commercial is a little different then prepping for a film or tv show.

I have a Ross Commercial audition today, and there are no sides and no explanation of what I'm going to be asked to do. So how do I educate myself before this audition? 

You Tube! Just by searching Ross commercials on I can see that ALL their commercials are just people dancing around, smiling, and having fun. So l will most likely be asked to improv something like this at my audition.

I can also see how they dress, do their hair, makeup, etc... Your image and how you present yourself at commercial auditions is one of the most important deciding factors for casting directors (next to letting your personality shine). 

I encourage you to always watch previous commercials from that company before you audition for them: iPod, Geico, Verizon, Fruit of the Loom, Doritos.... they all have different "styles" of commercials, so educate yourself!

I auditioned for this Listerine commercial before, and I had to practice swooshing mouthwash in front of a mirror... it's actually really hard! But at least I knew to practice!
Break a leg!
- Cassie

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Actress Check List

Helloooo! Cassie here again. I just went to an audi this morning, and when I was in the car I was thinking how I should write a blog about all the "actress supplies" I keep in my car for any last minute audition situation. So here are some tips on things to have in your car at all times and different supplies to invest in for your acting career!

Things to keep in your car:

- Plenty of headshots in a hard folder (to keep them from getting bent)

- Plenty of UPDATED resumes already cut to 8"x10"

- A small stapler to attach your headshots to your resume and a small box of extra staples
 (I don't staple my headshot to my resume until the day of the audition because if you do it in advance, you may attach old resumes to updated headshots or vice versa, and then have to take the staple out later when you update it... so just keep them seperate until the day of your audition)

- Highlighter (for your "sides", aka script)

- Heals (you may be out running errands and all of a sudden you get a call from your agent for an audition in an hour across town. It's a sexy girl role but you're just wearing jeans and a t-shirt... add heals to any outfit and you're automatically "dressed up"... keep a black pair of heals in your car)

- Tape recorder (*optional - I use a tape recorder to memorize lines if I don't have someone else to read the other part for me. I'll tape myself reading the other part and leave a blank space for my character's lines. That way it's like I have someone else reading the lines with me. My tape recorder stays in my glove box at all times)

Actress Supply List:

- Paper / Printer / Ink 
(for your resumes and scripts, you'll be printing ALL THE TIME! Don't rely on Kinkos!)

- Headshots
(Prints usually cost a little less than $1 per photo. I think I got 100 Headshots for $75. I also have 3 different "looks" which I choose depending on the audition. I have a young/natural  smiling look for Disney and commercials; a smokey eye seductress headshot for the sexy girl auditions; and then my straight forward, no smiling, average girl-next-door for leading lady roles. Find your top 2 or 3 characters you'd be auditioning for and have your headshots reflect those)

- Paper cutter
(I invested in this within a month or 2 after moving to LA and I don't know what I'd do without it. I think it was about $20 at Office Depot and it's helped my resumes look so polished and it cuts time in half! Pun intended....)

- Business Cards
(I mentioned this in my last post, but they're very important! Mainly for networking events and while you're on set filming, not really for auditions. It doesn't matter how good, bad, or ugly you have them, as long as you have them with the correct info! Some people put their headshot on their business card, I didn't do that, I just have my name, email, and acting website. Phone number is optional. Just depends on how much info you want floating around out there. Be safe girls!)

Hope this helps! Feel free to email us if you want to add your own actress check list item! Always looking to share good tips!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I wanted to blog about moving to the fabulous Las Vegas...

But I haven't found anything positive yet...

Stay tuned kids.


Friday, May 1, 2009

The First Step in the Right Direction

Hi! This is Cassie, and this is my first post on "Dear Aspiring Actress". Amber and I are here to encourage, inspire, motivate, educate, and hopefully articulate and translate how YOU can make your big break!

Wow. Okay, stick to acting, NOT rapping... there I go again. Yikes!!

So, here are some tips that I've accumulated for girls wanting to move to LA to pursue their dreams. I can always go into deeper detail about specific steps needed to take place for your move, so if you have ANY questions WHATSOEVER, that's what Amber and I are here for. Feel free to comment below and we'll help you out.....

Now, just to let you know: moving to LA will be the hardest and biggest step in the right direction you can make in order to pursue your acting career. It won't be easy, but it IS a necessity.  

Your main focuses will be: 
1. apartment 
2. survival job  
3. headshots 
4. resume 
5. demo 
6. agent 
7. SAG membership  

1. Apartment!  

This is one of the hardest things (I find) to secure, especially if you're planning on having a roommate. When I first moved to LA, I got a studio apartment on "Miracle Mile" (mid-Wilshire Blvd). It was $750/month with no parking space... and that killed me because I ended up racking about 15 parking tickets within the 6 months I lived there. Each about $50! Killer! So... definitely try to get an apartment with parking (that is, if you have a car). Which brings up: you'll definitely want a car in LA. Public transportation is not only dangerous here, but a pain in the arse. Especially with last minute auditions/meetings... and filming that ends at 11pm or later. It's close to impossible to try to be a working actress without a car. I recommend looking around: Hollywood (central to auditions), West Hollywood, Studio City, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood (can be a little seedy, but it's CHEAP), Toluca Lake, Los Feliz, and Silverlake (beautiful and convenient). Santa Monica and Malibu are beautiful and on the ocean, but extremely expensive and traffic is a nightmare. If you want to go even cheaper and don't mind the drive: Glendale or Alhambra seem to be good. is a great resource in finding a roommate or an apartment (or both!).  

2. Survival Job!  

If you're fortunate enough to have an amazing savings account to sustain living in LA without a steady income, then AWESOME! If you're like most actors and need a survival job, then here are your options: 
- most common = waitressing 
- what I do and recommend = Promo Modeling!!! 
- want your SAG card? = extra work!
- don't mind the 9-5 desk job? = Temp work / Temp agency 
- special skills: bartending, go go dancing 
- random jobs: apartment building manager, real estate agent, medical transcriptions (requires schooling)

I say nay to waitressing. I did it for 2 years and it took over my life. They try to advertise that it's flexible and you only work at night, but it wasn't that way for me. If you can't get a shift covered to go on an audition or for filming, then you either miss the audition or lose your job. It was also VERY exhausting for me, that I would get out of work at 2am, and end up wasting the whole next day sleeping in, and then have to go back to the restaurant at 5pm. I made great money, but it wasn't worth it, and my only connections turned out to be people in the restaurant industry (which is a competitive industry in itself!). If you can avoid waitressing, then do!  

Promo modeling is acting like a Vana White for conventions, trade shows, and promotional events. As long as you clean up well and you can talk to people and be friendly, then you're IN! There are different promo modeling agencies. I'm with and, but there's also a lot of freelance work from

***By the way, craigslist is not as scary as people make it out to be! It's like saying everyone on myspace is a pediphyle. Obviously you have those types, but as long as you're cautious and go with your gut feeling, then you'll be fine. If it sounds shady, then it probably is***

Extra work (background) is long, tedious, and boring, but it's worth it for the on-set experience and hopefully getting your 3 SAG vouchers. I'm with Central Casting. There is also Jeff Olan and Sande Alessi Casting, among others. It's like $25-$50 to join and they put your photo in the computer system and then you call a hotline to see what show or movies they need extras for. Also, some extra agencies call you if you want to be on their calling list. I've never done that before because that's usually if you want to do extra work 5 days a week, and I can only handle up to 2 days a week because they are usually such long days (9-12 hours, sometimes 16 hours), but of course you get paid overtime. Always bring a book and a warm jacket to set. A lot of waiting around, and usually on cold sets.  

Temp work is kind of like having a desk job, except it only lasts to 2 days to 2 weeks, or maybe in the rare case of a month or two. You need to have good phone and computer skills, and sign up with a temp agency. I'm with Career Group, Inc located in Century City... they're nice, ask for Greg ;) You just tell them when you're available and they will find you a spot to fill in for if a receptionist or office assistant is sick or on vacation. Easy as that, and you'll make about $10-$15 an hour. This is obviously more flexible than having a regular 9 to 5.

I don't know much about bartending, go go dancing, real estate, apartment management, or transcriptions, but I know other actors that make good money doing that as their "survival job", so if one of those interest you, google around, see what's out there!  

3. Headshots!  

The way of Hollywood is color headshots. If you have black and white, then put a stamp on your forehead that says "inexperienced". It's true. I've shot with about 15 different photographers and only paid for one, the first one. I recommend getting on and finding a photographer on there that you would like to do a TFP/TFCD shoot with. Meaning: "Time for Photo" or "Time for CD". You give them your "time" (modeling for them), and they give you a copy of the photos, or a CD with all of the images. It's a great give and take relationship because beginning photographers can't afford to hire a model, but they still (usually... hopefully) produce good photos, and you also learn your angles or best expressions and "looks".  

4. Resume!

Building your resume can be as simple as doing a one day shoot on a student film (obviously for no pay). The trick is, casting directors want to see that you've been in front of a camera, lights, and crew people, while acting out dialogue from a script. That's all it means. It doesn't matter if the line on your resume is from a small college student film, or from a big hit Blockbuster movie. It's all a learning experience. My favorite websites to find resume-building work and acting jobs in general are: 
- or the Backstage West trade paper found in select Borders, magazine stands, and a weekly mail subscription.  

5. Demo! 

There are A LOT of steps that have to take place until you can get the proper footage to add to your (ever-evolving) demo reel! You have to audition, book it, film it, and then bug THE HECK out of the director/editor/production company to give you a copy of your work to add to your demo reel. Getting footage is the hardest part, and it's especially depressing when you finally get the footage and find that the color or sound sucks, and it isn't good enough to even show people. But, with that said, don't get discouraged! The main concern is to have good acting work on film, because your performance is the only thing you have control over (not lighting or sound). If it means you have your mom or friend hold a home video camera while you act out a scene, so be it! Good casting directors should have enough imagination to see your talent shine through the low-quality.

Also, when you're ready to compile your different scenes and footage together, you'll need to get someone to edit your demo reel for you. I cannot stress enough the importance of making friends with EVERYONE (not just directors or casting directors), make friends with the writer, the editor, the sound guy, the PA, the grip, the AD, the wardrobe stylist, the makeup artist, the script supervisor, the animal trainer, the owner of the house you're filming in.... and the list goes on and on and on and on.... EVERYONE! Because you NEVER know what else they do or who else they know. You are bound to find someone who can edit, and will make your demo reel for a steal (which is $500-$800 if you go to a company that makes demo reels)... or they may even do it for FREE! So make friends! Mingle! Exchange cards! GET cards, actress business cards, has some great deals. GET CARDS!  

6. Agent! 

I put demo before agent on this list because most big agents want to see your work on film (versus doing a monologue in their office) before they decide to take you on as a client. How do you find an agent? That's tricky. In my experience, you have to know someone that is with that agent, and then ask for a referral. Ask the fellow actors you work with if they have an agent. Ask them how they like their agent (because having a bad agent is just like having no agent). 

But just to clear something up: don't think that when you get an agent you can just sit back and wait to be called for auditions. You still have to put in 90% of the work even AFTER you get an agent. Keep doing your submissions online, and think of the auditions your agent gets you as "bonuses".  

7. SAG!

Don't let this cloud your vision! Whether you're SAG or non-union, if an agent, director, or casting director REALLY wants you, they won't care if you're non-union. However, on the flipside, if a non-union film really wants you, but you're SAG, they can't take you because they'd get in BIG trouble. So I say hold off on becoming SAG until you've done all the non-union work you want to, because once you're SAG, you're SAG for life! The best position to be in is SAG eligible until a big TV show or film comes a knockin.

Benefits of being SAG? Higher pay, bigger auditions in bigger movies/tv shows, you can get health insurance through SAG.... the list goes on, check out to learn more.  

A great book I got before I moved to LA is called: "Hollywood, Here I Come" by Cynthia Hunter. I still look through it even today! I highly recommend it!  

Amber and I will try to keep updating this blog with more tips and tidbits on the industry from our own experience in what we've done and what we are currently doing as this battle to be a working actress in LA continues...