How to Succeed In Hollywood

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By Bruce Edwin

Musician and singer Draven Midnight of the Undead Hearts pictured here, is successful not only due to his talent, but also due to his integrity, and being a person of good character who strives to do good and cares for others. (Represented by Starpower Management).

I love to write this article. Namely, because I know I can help actors, models and bands so much, and I have so much to tell you, and because I love to teach. I did, like most agents, managers, and casting directors, guard all of this information and never share most of it with my appointments or even all of my clients for various reasons over the years. However, it honestly feels good to now finally share this information, and I hope it will help you for years to follow. If you follow it, I really know it will.

I recently began casting for two of our films; one short, and one a feature that we are producing. The casting I started was by word of mouth only, and with that, I selected just 8 actresses to meet. I had to reject one before we confirmed, 5 did not make it through the door due to not having enough follow through or not being reachable, and one was late so didn't see me. And so out of the 8, only 2 were seen, and only those two still have my interest. So here is a valuable lesson that you can learn from all 8, regarding what to do, and more importantly, what 'not' to do.

1, Do not text a producer, director, casting director, agent, manager or the like unless you ask them if it is O.K. for you to text them. I had to ask one actress to stop texting me two times before she finally seems to have stopped. Phone call is always ideal, and second best e-mail, and then, if they say OK, then and only then should you text.

2, Keep your voice mail box clear. There is little more annoying when calling someone, then not being able to leave a message. In this day and age, if you do not have voice mail, you are in the stone age. Keep your message box clear and open for new messages to be left, and check them often, which means no less then every hour. When you know you have a message, you should check it right away. I called one actress and her mail box was full, which made me immediately lose interest, as I had no desire to try and keep trying to call again.

3, Answer blocked calls. Any actor that complains to me about how they don't answer blocked calls, immediately tells me that they have no experience in dealing with the major film studios or major record labels, who always have blocked (private) lines that are not identified on caller ID. If you are worried about the collection agency coming after you, pay your debt. If you get too many telemarketing calls, register for the 'do not call registry.' If you have a stalker, change your phone number, but answer private calls, otherwise you may miss out on a great opportunity. Another actress missed getting an appointment with us because she did not answer our private line.

4, Never rush someone off the phone that can help you. Give someone all the time they want to give you, if they can help your career, never hurry them.

5, Follow directions carefully. Read directions carefully and follow them. They were prepared for you for a reason. Don't try to re-schedule an appointment. Once you make it, keep it and be on time.

6, Submitting your information is not enough. You need to follow up. If you call or e-mail, you need to call and e-mail again and again until you get the meeting. If you drop your turn at communicating, forget it, you will usually never get the part. Even if you think the ball is in the other person court to contact you, remember, THE BALL IS ALWAYS IN YOUR COURT to start communication. In other words, until you get the meeting, you need to contact, contact, contact, until the goal of the meeting or audition is set. Then, the goal is getting the job and persist completely and forever until you get it. Here too, until the goal is achieved of getting the job, never stop following up, or if pertinent, never stop asking your agent or manager to follow up on your behalf.

7, Don't take things personally. I took a snapshot of one great looking fashion model on my phone that I was going to sign, then told her I would not use it for submittal, that it was just to remember her from the meeting. She got defensive, and demanded why I wouldn't use it. 'The make-up' I said, blurting out the truth of what I think as I tend to do, 'your make up needs done right.' She went ballistic, and yelled how her make up was fine, and that if I knew how to take a picture right, that it would be fine, and was I going to try and sell her the picture and other nonsense. I was in fact going to get her a free pro shoot. And then my photo credits flashed through my mind of Michael Jackson, An Oscar Party, Nine Inch Nails, and others, and quickly thought, "This woman seems very angry and actually dangerous, I need to get away from her, fast!' And I did. "I feel like you are totally running away from me now!" She yelled as I ran off far ahead of her at the meeting I did near a film festival, also keeping in mind how she admitted to me that she only did cocaine 'not very much.' "Of course not I yelled! We'll talk later!" Knowing very well that one could not pay me enough to deal with this one ever again. Don't take things personally, accept criticism with kindness and grace, and of course, avoid drugs.

8, Stay off the drugs. If those of us with any moral standards in the industry (and there are believe it or not quite a few of us) finds out you are doing drugs, you will most likely get dropped, or never get signed on to begin with. This includes pharmaceutical drugs. Avoid them whenever possible. Try homeopathic, herbal medicine instead.

9, Be quick to say you are sorry, and slow to anger. Never blame. One actress above who rushed me off the phone, was late, and could not get in, later also began blaming me that she could not call or text me because I called from a blocked line. I had to remind her 5 times that my direct phone and text line was in the e-mail with directions, stating as such. She kept repeating herself and making excuses, and I kept repeating myself, finally stating to her via e-mail that I had no interest in her because she 'had to be right.' This actress finally wised up and actually only then said she was sorry. Most actors that start out in this banter, trying to be right, usually never back down or admit they screwed up. One lunatic guy actually e-mailed me a very angry e-mail once because "I wasted his time" with a location that did not exist, because his navigator took him to an empty parking lot. In fact the address did exist and 8 other actors made it there fine. These are the types who usually end up going online, and telling others of their kind on gossipy sites or scammy blogs about how 'horrible and mean' we are, or better yet, 'a scam,' when they couldn't even make it through the door.

Even if you are right (which this above actress clearly was not), allow yourself to say you are sorry and admit you made a mistake. Even if you didn't, that simple act can save you from rejection for a job or representation. Never shame or blame, be slow to anger, don't show anger to anyone you want to work with or around, and be quick to apologize, even if you think it was partly, mostly, or even all of the other person's fault instead of yours. Your ego will not pay the bills. Winning an argument will not even pay the bills. You've heard of the line from the Bible that goes something like 'what good does it do to win the whole world, but lose your own soul?' Similarly, what good does it do if you gratify your ego, and win an argument, but lose the job? Instead, tame your ego, say you are sorry, admit that you made a mistake (even if you didn't), and those in power that can make or break your career up the stairway to the top will have a lot more patience, respect, and kindness towards you. You may magically find them going out of their way to bend policy, re-schedule, give you a break, or even lose their ego and tell you they are sorry too, like I did for this actress who finally said she was sorry. Like Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." So, "Be nice, and the world will open up to you. Be a little *****, and the world will smack you in the face." Gandhi didn't say that last line of course- I did.

10, Be prepared to show your figure. Unless you are the next Meryl Streep or Sean Penn, and are a phenomenal actor with a great reel, great agent or manager, and are getting a ton of working making a lot of money, be prepared to audition showing your figure in a swimsuit if the job calls for it. As you know, Hollywood is a sexy town, and if you can't act, sing, dance, or walk the tightrope or similar, your final angle to get work, aside from nepotism (who you know), is your sex appeal. Be ethical, have standards, and never get nude for an audition, but also don't be too shy as to not even be in a bikini. 95 percent of models and actresses aged 18 to 30 in Hollywood are comfortable in a scene in a bikini. If you are not, you had better know how to act, and be really, really good, or else you can forget about getting much work. The same goes for guys. Guys, if you don't like your body, or consider yourself out of shape, then unless you want to cut your already small market in a small market to an even smaller market, then you had better be the next Al Pacino or similar, or, hit that gym. And if not then, then you'd better start learning how to produce, or make good friends fast with a top producer.

11, Have your materials ready. If you are an actor, you need a headshot, resume, and reel. Make sure that when you send the materials, such as a reel, that the link actually opens. One actress kept having trouble with her reel, and kept asking me to try it again on her site, when it still would not work. She then sent me her link to a casting site. That too would not work, and she ended up telling me how she was going to sue the casting company due to this problem. Obviously, this actress did not make it through our door. Have your materials ready, and obviously, avoid frivolous lawsuits and insane threats. There is little more despicable than one who tries to sue over petty things that should not be sued over, and is a fast way to burn bridges with the entire industry in general. Can you imagine going to apply for a job at an office, and telling the person interviewing you that you are thinking about suing their neighbor, because they parked in the parking spot you were trying to get into? This is about comparable to what this woman told me. Be reasonable.

12, Never stop following up. Until you get the job, it is your duty to always keep following up on a regular basis on the meeting, interview, audition, and job. Don't ever wait for 'them' to call you, or you may be waiting forever. You need to be aggressive, don't worry about looking desperate, get out of your comfort zone, and be aggressive and follow up. Actors, models and bands have been constantly told over and over that they need to not bother people, not look desperate, or appear untouchable, or other such nonsense. Meanwhile, the hours, days, weeks, months and years pass by as their career stagnates and their ego hardens. Instead, you need to lose the ego, don't worry about how you come off when calling as long as you are professional and polite, and follow up, consistently and regularly. Never consider a 'no' a 'no' if the job is still available. Your biggest role as an actor is convincing the decision-makers to hire you for the job. Actually doing the job should be easy and natural for you. And when you practice enough at getting the job, then this too will become second nature. Always follow up. Four actors missed a chance to be in a feature film with my office simply because they did not follow up or return an e-mail. One got rejected before she got a meeting because she had absolutely no manners, and ordered me repeatedly to call her, instead of asking politely. This was unfortunate, because she had a very good reel and I was strongly considering casting her. If you want something enough, you need to be aggressive and get it, and show that you want it by regular follow through, and be polite.

I want to end this article with the fact that, despite my complaints about models and talent, I love them. I love models, love actors, and love certain bands to the point of their music being a spiritual experience for me. A great film and great fashion photography or amazing face can have the same effect on me, a powerful and spiritual moment. I love discovering new talent, love meeting great talent and beauty, and truly love my job now more than ever. I feel that what we do (you and I) in the entertainment industry is fun, but also important. We educate, we entertain, we touch emotions, we lift the spirit of humanity up, and we give hope and a voice to the often times voiceless.

I don't claim to know everything about anything, and I am certainly not always right, even when it comes to my work as a manager and producer or doing public relations. I know that you reading this can definitely teach me many things, and I know that every other model, actor, musician, singer, writer, producer, director or any one else out there, no matter what level they are at, can teach me something too. With that stated, I do hope you will at least give these 12 points a try, and see if they can teach you a few things too that might help your career in Hollywood to be at least a little bit more easy and therefore successful. If that is the case, then I have done my job here, and I can feel good about that, until our next issue. As always, if I can be service to you in any way, I invite you to e-mail me at the front page of this site with any comments or questions.

This story is © 2014, Bruce Edwin / The Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved