Keep It Real!

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Be in the moment…moment to moment. Phrases familiar to almost every actor. I find that many actors give lip service to these phrases. Yeah, sure, be in the moment, got it, but they actually aren’t. Most acting classes teach traditional methods handed down by Stanislavski, Strasberg, Adler, Meisner and Hagen. They want the actor to be in the moment after script analysis, notice the first half of the word “anal”, working on beats, figuring out the emotional moments ahead of time, trying to determine the arc of the character which the author has already established. Hamlet dies!


Actors like to be in control of their performances. However, I find that for the most part they are watching and judging themselves while acting to see how well they are following their pre-determined emotional roadmap. If you intellectually determine beat by beat what you think your emotional roadmap should be, by definition you are not in the moment because you have figured out the moment ahead of time. It can be tempting to do this but I believe it will leave you “acting” and not in the moment. Letting go of pre-determination and trusting how you actually feel takes courage. It means giving up the security blanket of knowing exactly what you “think” each moment should be in exchange for being in the unknown. If you make one singular decision of what you “think” a given moment should be, you have taken away the infinite responses we as human beings may have at any moment. Think of it as one possible response against the infinite.

In life we are never totally certain of how something will affect us until we experience it. If we are truthful with ourselves our emotions are not in our control. If we cannot control them in life, how can we control them in performance, unless we ignore them? Emotions need to flow naturally, spontaneously. This makes for an exciting, unpredictable performance. There is a quote I like by Clint Eastwood that states “this is the method of acting where you empty your brain and everything else is spontaneous.”

I think the fun of acting is in not knowing exactly what you are going to feel until the moment happens. In sports, would playing the game be as much fun if you knew the outcome ahead of time? Of course not. I believe that acting should be the same way. Then the moments aren’t right or wrong, they are just truthful or not. I believe that acting should be as life like as possible. If you know who you are in the scene and what you want and commit fully to the “circumstances,” your emotions will follow. Just like life, they may surprise you, making your performance deeper, richer and more exciting than anything that you may have mapped out in advance.

At my studio I truly emphasize being present. Being in the moment. Remember “it’s never what you think it is, anything can happen.”

alanfeinsteinheadshotAlan Feinstein teaches on-camera, scene study and true cold reading classes at his studio in Los Angeles and online.

About Alan: Alan has most recently starred in Traces an A.F.I.  short entered into the Berlin Film Festival and appeared in Nip Tuck, Crossing Jordan and N.Y.P.D. Blue. He has appeared in over 100 television productions, including series leads in The Runaways, Jigsaw John, Berrengers, Second Family Tree and more than 800 episodes of daytime drama.  He has co-starred opposite Peter Strauss and Peter O’Toole in Masada, Lindsay Wagner in The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan, and Vanessa Redgrave in Second Serve.  He also co-starred opposite Diane Keaton in the feature film Looking For Mr. Goodbar.

His roles on Broadway include his debut in Edward Albee’s Malcolm, and was picked by Tennessee Williams to play Stanley in the 25th anniversary production  of A Streetcar Named Desire.  He won the New York Drama Desk Award as Marco in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.

He has starred on stage at the Guthrie Theatre in The Price after having auditioned for playwright Arthur Miller.  He also starred in productions of Herb Gardener’s Conversations With My Father at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre and the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City.  Alan has also performed at The Old Globe , The Long Wharf  Theatre, The Williamstown Summer Festival, The Alley Theatre, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, and was a member of the New York’s famed Circle Repertory Company.  Los Angeles appearances include Talley’s Folly at the Grove Theatre Center, David Mamet’s Lakeboat, directed by Joe Montegna at the Tiffany Theatre, Tina Howe’s One Shoe Off, the world premiere of The Sisters at the historic Pasadena Playhouse and Ghetto at the Mark Taper Forum.  He has also received 3 Los Angeles Drama-logue awards for  Cold Storage, Dancing in the End Zone, and for his performance as Jamie in Long Days Journey Into Night.

CBS Launches Drama Diversity Casting Outside of LA and NY

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CBS has launched a Drama Diversity Casting initiative, and is seeking new talent for their current series as well as upcoming pilots. So, from October 13-28, actors ages 18 and up are encouraged to submit self-taped monologues through their website

According to the site, the CBS Diversity Casting Initiative is a nationwide program geared to find new break-out talent, and is specifically designed to provide opportunities for underrepresented talent. “This initiative is focused on increasing exposure for people who belong to groups that have traditionally been under-represented, including African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, LGBTQ actors and/or performers with disabilities,” the network states.

CBS Casting Executives will join together with casting directors from Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Miami, and San Francisco to work with the selected talent during callbacks in these five cities. Actors will then rehearse scenes with the casting professionals before being taped. Please note that interested actors should only apply if they’re able to travel to one of the five regions, and pay their own expenses.

Here are the locations and dates of the Callbacks:

  • Atlanta, Georgia on November 7-9
  • Austin, Texas on November 3-4
  • Chicago, Illinois on November 2-4
  • Miami, Florida on November 10-11
  • San Francisco on November 10-11

After that, 14-16 actors will be selected from these callbacks. CBS will fly those fortunate few to Los Angeles for a screen test. For this reason, it’s important that talent only apply if they’re able to travel to Los Angeles during the week of December 12, 2016. These actors will be given opportunities to be cast in current network series, pilot season, and more.

“This outreach is a real opportunity for CBS to discover actors located across the country, outside of Los Angeles and New York, who haven’t had the chance to meet or be seen by network casting executives,” the president of CBS Entertainment, Glenn Geller said. “We’ve had great success with our CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, which launched the careers of numerous actors, and we are confident this will do the same.” 

Indeed, CBS had received criticism over the years, but especially this fall when its new fall series lacked diversity among the lead performers. That’s when the network pledged to take action to cast more diverse actors.

CBS’s Sketch Comedy Showcase has been going strong for eleven years now, and is likewise designed to highlight diverse talent through the CBS Diversity Institute Talent Showcases. To date, it has featured 354 actors who have been on thousands of auditions, and landed over 600 roles. The upcoming annual Sketch Comedy Showcase is set for January 2017 where selected talent will perform before a packed theater of agents, managers, studio and network executives, and Hollywood tastemakers.

If the new launching of the Drama Diversity Casting Initiative succeeds as well as the Sketch Comedy Showcases, then it can be a great opportunity for aspiring talent. After all, past sketch comedy participants include Justin Hires (Rush Hour), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Geoffrey Arend (Madam Secretary), Eugene Codero (Crazy Ex-Girlfrind), Masi Oka (Hawaii Five-O), and more.

Audition with Confidence Using The Wallace Audition Technique

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Actors who want to regard the auditioning room as a place that brings out the best in themselves as opposed to a “necessary evil” in the casting process will want to strongly consider attending Craig Wallace’s classes to learn The Wallace Audition Technique. Craig’s clear, wise, knowledgeable, and caring voice consistently shines through whether you hear him speak or read his written word. He created the technique 17 years ago to give actors the skills and confidence to audition at their highest level in pursuit of television and film work.

Wallace classes are intimate, instructing small groups of eight or nine students. A large emphasis is placed on experiential learning whereas verbal instruction takes about 20-percent of class time.

“In a TV or film audition [casting professionals] don’t want to see a character; they want to see ‘you,'” Wallace says. “They want to see the particular set of possibilities that you, and only you, have to offer. So my technique gives you a way to go inside of yourself, to discover, and then to access these specific qualities that have the strongest resonance for any role that you’re auditioning for.”

Craig believes a severely under-taught, if not ignored, portion of acting instruction is how actors present themselves in the room. For this reason, he specifically covers the subject matter of how to run a room. “You have to be a strong presence in the room. You have to give the people in there the confidence to hire you.” After all, he believes an actor’s compelling presence determines 50-percent of the reason he or she lands a role.

Classes include Fundamentals to learn strategies to discover and cultivate your unique qualities; Master classes for a more deep and highly personalized approach to auditioning; and Casting Session classes which create a “real” casting environment accompanied with in-depth playback analysis. In addition, Craig offers by-appointment private coaching classes as well as career consultations to help actors efficiently and effectively achieve their short- and long-term goals.

You might recognize Craig Wallace by his many insightful online articles discussing a wide array of topics pertaining to auditioning. He also authored a highly reviewed book entitled The Best of You–Winning Auditions Your Way. Wallace drew his knowledge from many years of leadership experience with various top entertainment companies, specifically pertaining to talent and script development.

Here are some reviews from students who completed coursework with The Wallace Audition Technique:

“Craig is an amazing teacher. You can tell he genuinely cares about the students which I feel like is really rare. You’re not just a number. He actually cares about you as a person and an actor.”

“I think because he’s such a beautiful person, and teaches in such a beautiful, personal, specific way that the people that are attracted to classes are really lovely, genuine people.”

“[The classes have] a small, intimate vibe, and very safe and very comforting.”

“You feel like you walk away with a lot every time.”

Interested actors can learn more about his classes on The Wallace Audition Technique website.


Adam Scott Talks About Audition Room Nerves

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Adam Scott’s career has grown consistently yet somewhat sporadically over the course of many years. But since portraying characters like the ultra-confident, jerky Derek Huff in Step Brothers as well as the brilliant but socially awkward Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation, the actor’s career has taken a leap forward. Indeed, his career is currently hitting full stride. In a recent interview with Sam Jones on The Off Camera Show, he spoke about audition room nervousness he’s long battled as well as the effect these jitters had on the kinds of roles he landed.

“I auditioned for ‘Scream,’ and for ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ and all those…I just didn’t get any of them. I was always so nervous,” Scott admits. Describing himself as pretty bad at auditions, he adds, “But I’d be good if the character was supposed to be nervous. So for a long stretch, I would get all these nervous guys.”

When he first arrived in Los Angeles to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, Scott quickly auditioned for a part in the movie Wild Bill. Much to his astonishment, he was invited back, but this time to read with the lead, Jeff Bridges. “I came back and I mean the nerves were insane. Jeff Bridges…in full ‘Wild Bill’ character–it was amazing. I was 19, I guess, standing there going, ‘If I get this part, a lead in a Walter Hill-Jeff Bridges movie, like what’s going to happen? I just got here.’ And I choked tremendously.” He is certain that Walter Hill took pity on him. “And I always wonder like how different would my life be if I actually like sucked it up, and figured out how to relax and do a good job there.”

But being able to voluntarily relax when you want is not so easy for actors or non-actors for that matter. In the long run, what helped Scott turn down the volume on his audition room nerves was to use what had long worked for him–in fact, ever since he was a kid. Even after being introduced to a number of different acting approaches, Scott largely relied on his natural acting instincts, which he describes as “basically doing what I used to do in my bedroom as a little kid: pretending.” The habit of watching hours on end of TV shows inspired him to love make believe–and the thought of becoming an actor for that matter. And pretending was what helped him in the audition room: He learned to fake self-assurance before casting directors. Soon, he wasn’t a sure bet for the “nebbishly, nerdy loser” types, but was instead cast as what he describes as “overconfident a–hole types.”

But he still insists, “I still get nervous on TV sets or movie sets.”

Nevertheless, in 2015 he starred in the film Black Mass alongside Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch following the career of the infamous mobster Whitey Bulger. Scott’s upcoming projects include portraying a disabled person in My Blind Brother; and he has roles in Netflix’s biopic film The Most Hated Woman in America, a spoof on the X-Files called Ghosted, and he will star in a coming-of-age feature Flower.


We All Need Affirmation! (part one)

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When I was an agent in New York, I found that many of my young clients lacked the confidence they needed to book the job. Even though they were trained actors, something inside them (some negative voice or event) made them second-guess themselves, which interfered with their acting work. As much as I told them to “believe in themselves,” the seeds of self-doubt kept creeping into their conscious minds. I decided to take action. So I taught them the power of Affirmations.


Affirmations are positive thoughts you speak out loud. They are designed to alter the way you think and feel about yourself. Affirmations invigorate you, encourage you and pump you up when you feel uninspired, deflated or defeated. There’s a lot of power in “thoughts”…positive ones and negative ones. Before I get to the positive ones, let me talk about those destructive, negative thoughts that attack your confidence level. Let me show you how to get rid of them.

Negative thoughts begin in your subconscious. They were planted there by past negative experiences or events. You could say your negative thoughts are a by-product of your negative experiences. These negative thoughts are formed into damaging statements that you say to yourself or speak out loud (sometimes in front of others):

“I’ll never be happy.”
“I look ugly.”
“I feel unworthy.”
“I’ll never be a good actor.” “I’ll never succeed.”

Do any of those negative thoughts or statements sound familiar? Are they part of your vocabulary? The problem is, when said often enough, your subconscious mind believes these negative thoughts or statements to be true. They become true only because you consciously believe them to be true. That’s how the vicious cycle of self-doubt begins and never ends. It’s these negative thoughts that prevent you from achieving your career goals.

First, you need to consciously stop planting those negative thoughts in your mind.

Second, you need to stop saying them out loud (be diligent in catching these negative thoughts). Finally, you have to reprogram those negative thoughts that have already taken up residence in your subconscious. The only way to reprogram them is to change them in your conscious mind.

Exercise: I am… 

Your first Affirmation is meant to uncover your negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts. Choose a negative statement you find yourself saying and change it to a positive statement. Make sure you start your positive statement with the words, “I am.” Those two words are very powerful and serve as a command meant to lead you to a positive outcome. Make sure you write down your positive statement in your Actor’s Journal.

For example, using the negative statements I mentioned earlier:

If you say, “I’ll never be happy,” change it to “I am happy.”

If you say, “I look ugly,” change it to “I am beautiful.”

If you say, “I feel unworthy,” change it to “I am worthy.”

If you say, “I’ll never be a good actor” change it to “I am a good actor.”

If you say, “I’ll never succeed,” change it to “I am succeeding.”

Positive affirmations need to start with a positive declaration. Look at what you wrote down and say it out loud. The more you say it, the more you’ll train both your conscious and subconscious mind to believe it.

As in acting, make sure those words, and the feelings behind them, come from somewhere deep inside you. Concentrate on what you’re saying and feel the negative thought leave your mind and body as you let the positive one in. Each time you say it, believe that you are truly letting go of your negative thoughts and the feelings that are attached to it. Believe in the positive words you are now saying.

SeditaImgWhether you’re auditioning for a co-star or a series regular on a half hour comedy, sitcom guru and acting coach Scott Sedita will teach you The Sedita Method of sitcom acting, which comes with it’s own terminology, coined phrases and unique glossary.

Scott’s internationally best-selling book, “The Eight Characters of Comedy. A Guide to Sitcom Acting & Writing, 2nd Edition” has sold over 100,000 copies and has become a “bible” to Hollywood comedy writers, directors, producers, and actors and is used as a textbook in over 100 colleges and universities. Find Scott and his staff of professional actors, teachers and coaches at

Four Questions You Never Ask In An Agent Meeting

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1. “I’m looking for an agent to really work hard for me.”

Reason not to ask: The agent will more than likely believe that you have unrealistic expectations of how often you should be getting auditions, and will become a nuisance by calling and emailing them every day. The agent will also believe that you should assume that every agent would work hard for you as it’s the only way for both of you to make money.

2. “How many clients do you have?”

Reason not to ask: How many clients the agent has should not matter to you. Some actors are on an agents’ rosters but they are not active, being booked out, on maternity leave, sick, on tour,or just not getting auditions as often, because they are not getting enough callbacks per audition etc… The fact of the matter is that the agent is expressing interest in YOU by calling you in to a meeting to discuss representation. The agency is not going to reduce the number of their client roster to make you feel better about your position with them.

3. “What casting offices do you work with?”

Reason not to ask: The agent will more than likely say, “All of them.” Then, the agent may turn the question around and ask you, “Now, which casting offices are familiar with your work?” Possibly putting you in an uncomfortable position. If you do your homework properly and know who the top agents are to pursue, then you will know the agent you are meeting with has great relationships with major casting offices, eliminating this question.

4. “How many actors do you have that are my type?”

Reason not to ask: The reason you don’t ask this question is similar to the reason in question 2, but it’s a more specific question to you, so it needs to be addressed. If the agent is calling you in for a meeting, they are interested in possibly signing you. Whether they have plenty of your type or don’t have your type at all, there’s some need for your look at their agency. It’s even possible that they have three of your type already, but one has several national commercial conflicts. The other is always booking out for whatever reason, and another gets avails, but never actually books the job. How many of your type the agent has is irrelevant. What matters is their interest in you and the casting opportunities they provide you once you are signed.




Booking Coach Mike Pointer of Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! Has helped thousands of actors over the last 17 years book hundreds of national television commercials as well as television and film work. Coach Mike, a successful commercial actor for over 28 years himself, teaches outstanding, cutting edge strategies that has helped hundreds of actors quit their day jobs, and build a successful career in TV commercials. Coach Mike’s powerful on-camera techniques and outstanding business strategies has set a new standard and cutting edge approach in the on-camera commercial training industry. These classes are highly recommended by top commercial agencies as well as top Managers, and Casting Directors that also teach classes!

Sarah Paulson Is Glad She Didn’t Succeed When She Was Young

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Sarah Paulson’s celebrated portrayal of Prosecutor Marcia Clark in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson just earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. The 41-year-old star is also known for her assorted creepy roles on American Horror Story as well as playing Mary Epps in 12 Years a Slave.

Now reveling in her career success, she expresses gratitude for the all the challenges and detours she experienced along her acting journey. Things certainly took longer than what she had originally hoped when just starting out. But in a recent GQ interview, Paulson discusses the advantages of succeeding later in life. After all, her first aspirations were to become some version of Julia Roberts, and she equated a successful career as achieving that Pretty Woman kind of mega stardom. But now she reflects:

“If my career had turned out like the fantasy I had of what it was going to be, it would never have made me happy. But I couldn’t have known that until it didn’t happen. I found a success that is so much bigger and deeper and better, and it’s because it happened later. If any of what I’m having happen now–the successes–would have happened to me when I was younger, I would have been ruined. Because when you’re young, and things come super easily to you, and you have success right out of the gate, you’re liable to think that’s how it actually works. You start to think you don’t need to be fully prepared or committed to have these things meet you.”

Rather than roles coming easy to her, Paulson insists, “I muscled a lot of what I’ve achieved by sheer force of will and relentless determination.” Like so many other actors, she experienced the frustration and uncertainty of going without work for extended periods between roles. She watched a promising role dissolve into nothing at all, and witnessed an actor win an Oscar for a part she came close to landing–along with other similar disappointments.

But equipped with her gritty spirit, she kept moving forward until she landed a role–albeit the contemptible wife of a slave owner, Mary Epps–that some of her actor friends had passed on. “To me, I ‘made it’ when I got the part in ’12 Years a Slave’ and played a really hideous woman in an unapologetic way,” Paulson says of the milestone.

But Mary Epps was not exactly the fun-loving Julia Roberts kind of role she would have hoped for in her younger days. Now Paulson asserts, “I was so busy wanting to be Julia Roberts that it never occurred to me that my career could be something else. And that it could be equally rich, and–the most important thing–it would be mine, whatever it was.”

Sarah has certainly continued making her career her own. In particular, the opportunity to play Marcia Clark proved to be a pivotal moment in Paulson’s life. Not only did she receive accolades for her performance, but she formed a strong bond and appreciation for the real Marcia Clark. They are very close now.

You never know where your career detours will lead you. But wherever they do, enjoy making them your own!


CA Passes Law to Fight Actor Ageism

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Did you ever lose a role because the producers and director of a given project “skewed younger?” Did you ever win a part because you pulled off a younger demographic? Perhaps you played a high school student when you were well out of college. Or maybe you played a thirty something in your late forties. And did you ever wish you were younger because the entertainment business is so youth-oriented? Well, being there is nothing to be done about Father Time’s march into the future, we might as well enjoy our aging. And there is some good news!

As of January 1st, 2017 California is combatting ageism in the entertainment industry. Leave it to good ol’ Cali! The law, AB 1687, applies to the entertainment database website IMDb as well as other similar websites regarding an actor or actress’ age and/or birth date. Specifically, if a thespian would like to keep his or her age a mystery, if they’d rather the whole world didn’t know the amount of time they’ve spent on the blue planet, it’s all good! Actors will soon be able to simply request their age be deleted from the online website–or better yet, request their birth date not be published in the first place.

Interestingly, this particular legislation doesn’t only apply to actors and actresses. Producers, directors, writers, DPs, grips, etc. may also opt out of the birthday game. So industry professionals and performers will be able to celebrate the day they showed up on this earth with loved ones, cake, ice cream, or champagne–and not have to publicize it!

Upon the law’s passing, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris announced:

“Gov. Jerry Brown today stood with thousands of film and television professionals and concerned Californians who urged him to sign AB 1687, a California law that will help prevent age discrimination in film and television casting and hiring.” 

Indeed, SAG and AFTRA have been fighting for this change for several years. After all, industry professionals heavily rely on IMDb, some touting it as the “most valuable resource” and “an integral part of the process” for filmmakers.

Among the countless list of casting professionals who routinely use IMDb is Casting Director Sharon Bialy who is known for her work on The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad. She once described her reliance on the site saying, “I have [IMDb] up all day long at the office. For me it’s a tool that even when I’m on the phone with an agent and they suggest somebody…I’ll have the visual of who that is so can immediately discuss it.”

Describing the potential power such websites can have on an actor’s career, Carteris stated, “Many actors have endured age discrimination of some sort throughout their careers. Those isolated, individual cases have now morphed into the almost-automatic age discrimination made possible by the online casting services. The information is put front and center before those making the decisions about whom to audition and whom to hire.”

So the passing of AB 1687 is a giant step in the right direction for actors who pass for ages other than their natural age. Now, actors can refreshingly choose to have their presence, photos, and reels demonstrate their passable age.

And for the record, Casting Frontier is not affected by this law. Listing your date of birth is optional for those over the age of 18 on Casting Frontier actor profiles, and talent control all aspects of their profile including their birth date.


3 questions with Donna Rusch | youth & teen commercial teacher at Keep It Real Acting Studios

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was from a manager at a TV station I worked for while in college. His name was Don Johnson (no relation to the actor). He told me, “Never let anyone make you think you’re not smart. They may have more experience than you, but that doesn’t mean they’re smarter than you.”

What does winning a Backstage Readers’ Choice Award mean to you?

Honestly, I was absolutely stunned when I was nominated. When I won, I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude to Judy Kain, that she had faith in me to take on the 4–6-year-olds and later the teens; to the parents who entrust me each week with their children; to my mom who has always supported my dreams; and to my husband who made it possible for our family to move to Los Angeles six years ago. And I’m grateful that God has made a way for me to pass along the joy of acting to the next generation as a mentor and instructor.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to do what you do?

My advice to all people seeking a career in this or any other business is to just do what you have a passion to do! You are uniquely made, so follow your instincts. If you don’t know where to start, seek wise counsel from someone who does what you would like to do and ask them how they got there. Take good notes, and go for it!

Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and Industrial films, most recently for clients such as Sara Lee, Suave, Curves, Farmers and Merchants Bank of California and Reliant Energy.  Donna can be seen in the Ben Affleck thriller Gone Girl” and has a lead role in “The Periphery” now winning awards at film festivals.  Recent television credits include Criminal Minds, Revenge and the new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder”.  Donna has extensive experience working as an acting coach for kids and teens.  She says “I so enjoy my career and find it both a thrill and privilege to mentor the next generation as they reach for their dreams.”  Sign up for one of Donna’s classes at Keep It Real Acting Studios.

Chris Pratt Paid Thousands for a Movie Role in 2003

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When you think of Chris Pratt, you might think: movie star, action hero, making millions per film. He’s the explosive-loving gambler in The Magnificent Seven, a velociraptor trainer in Jurassic World, a Navy SEAL in Zero Dark Thirty, the superhero Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and even a space traveler alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the soon-to-be released Passengers. 

But before he made it big time, Chris was a guy living in Los Angeles, struggling to land roles–even paying for the opportunity to act. Take, for instance, in 2003 when casting calls opened for the love interest of Amy Sedaris’ character in the movie Strangers with Candy. Pratt recently sat down on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, and revealed that he spent thousands of dollars for the part of musclebound high school student, Brason.

“Did you know that movie cost me $3,000 to be in? This is a testament to how much we love doing what we do that we would pay to do it,” he told Colbert.

Trying to stay on budget, the New York-based production opened auditions for the role for local hire only. That meant only actors from the New Jersey or New York area need apply because travel fees and hotels were not going to happen.

But Chris told Colbert, “I was hungry. I wanted the role.” So he opted to pay the airfare himself, flew to New York, and pretended he was a local.

In other words, the aspiring actor was willing to risk losing a significant amount of money, even knowing he would likely be turned down for the role. After all, the only guarantee made to auditioning actors is that there are no guarantees. But, alas, Chris landed the part! And, since the job paid a little something, he hoped to break even after all was said and done.

The bluffing actor tried to keep expenses down while in New York by couch surfing as much as possible, and staying in hotels. But, he said, “It would have broke about even, but in the middle I had to fly home for one weekend.” Apparently, he had a warrant for his arrest and needed to pay an insurance ticket.

Now Pratt insists, “It was still worth it.” He had the chance to act with legends like Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Stephen Colbert–among others–who were cast in the movie as well.

Strangers with Candy was released in 2005, first screening at the Sundance Film Festival. It received mixed reviews, and lost about a million at the box office. And now Colbert jokes that it’s considered “a cult classic.” 

A few years later, Pratt landed the part of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation which gained him a lot of attention and advanced his acting career.

Actors face many decisions in the course of their journeys. Which roles are worth pursuing? Which roles come with some sort of a price tag? Strangers with Candy didn’t seem to be much of a critical or box-office success at the time, but clearly Chris Pratt has no regrets. He made the most of this and many other opportunities that came his way–and it’s certainly paid off!