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​Why Artists Don’t Succeed

By July 20, 2019 No Comments

​Many talented actors and performers don’t succeed in show business because they forget the first rule: Show business is a business.  By understanding the needs and desires of the people who control the money, you can better understand your role in the larger scheme of show business as a performer.

The business of entertainment is simpleYou help others make money, and the’ll help you make money.  But first, you have to figure out how show business really works

​You need to understand the two sides of show business.  On one hand, you have the “show,” which means learning how to act, model  or perform and includes the glamour and fame that comes with being a star. On the other hand, you have the “business,” which includes the money and negotiations to make a profit for everyone involved.  The business side also means treating it as a business, so you can get paid to act, model or perform.  







Every successful talent has to have two skills.  One is a certain amount of actual talent, which usually comes from a combination of natural ability and constant training.  The second, and perhaps the most important skill, is knowing how to market yourself as a product.  ​​


​​As a performer you are a salesperson, and the product you are selling is you.  In order to sell yourself to the people in position to pay for your product (you as an actor),  you need a headshot (so people know what you look like), a resume Talent Downloads(so people know what experiences and skills you have), and the necessary talent to wow a casting director when you audition for a role. 

1. A vacant stare–no matter how great your skin looks or the super shininess of your hair–is a huge obstacle in catching a casting director’s interest.

2. Does it evoke your key qualities and hit your goals for how you want to be perceived? Does it suggest how you might realistically be cast?
3. If it looks posed or stiff, then your natural energy is not showing through.
4. Is it evocative and intriguing? In the context of a dozen other headshots, does it stand a chance of standing out? Grabbing attention?
5. They should be bright and captivating. Look out for eyes that are not quite fully open (in the process of blinking). It’s easy to miss that slightly half-lidded look, and it will dull your energy.
6. Choose the headshot that looks like the roles you are most likely to play, and which effectively markets your personal type.
7. Capture the viewer’s attention with a flash of your personality showing in your eyes. Intrigue them. Transform that flat sheet of photo paper into something multi-dimensional. Make them want to know more.


Ask any casting director, and they will tell you how frequently they see headshots that are not accurate representations of the actors who submitted them. 

Intentional focus and establishing a clear direction for every shoot is the key to achieving “bookable” photos.  Images that  get you booked or at least in the audition room is the the only thing that matters anyway.

  1. Choose a photographer that has a history of shooting head shots that BOOK JOBS!

This means you will have you have to do some research, before just going with the first name that pops up on Google when you search for photographers in your area.  Shooting head shots, specific to actors, is a special skill that a select group of photographers really fully understand.  The ones that do understand will have the portfolio to back it up.  

Another tip: Research working actors, close to your area and similar to your typecast that are booking jobs and look at their head shot.  It certainly wouldn’t hurt to reach out to them and ask who took their photos.  Who knows maybe you can just go with the same photographer as them! 

2.   You want to be an entertainer so ENTERTAIN!!

As a talent agent I witness time and time again wannabe actors and entertainers completely freeze in front of the camera when it is time to capture their unique personalities. 

If you truly want to get in the audition room this is the time to hold nothing back and let the photographer capture who you are!  If you are funny then be funny, if you are intense be intense, if you are playful be playful and if you have multiple personalities then showcase all of them!  Casting Directors are looking for characters so give it to them!

3. Define exactly what you need to accomplish in your session, BEFOREHAND.  

Not all photo sessions will be the same look and feel every time, nor should they be.  Entertainers tend to have have a variety of emotions running through them at all times so  don’t fight it- embrace it!  Use emotions to express feeling during your shoot.  When planning for your session, remember that the primary goal is to capture at least one =photo that represents you as an actor.   As you continue to grow in your craft and get more and more comfortable and experienced then you can begin collecting a range of various “looks” and character types.

4. Study Your Face.

The mirror is your best friend, because it will never lie to you.  It is a part of your job, as an entertainer, to know what you look like while performing!  If you don’t like what you see or don’t really understand the message you’re trying to communicate, then chances are neither will anyone else.  So, practice and study what you look like when you express different emotions and poses.  

Jenn David

Author Jenn David

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