How To Make Your Web Series Go Viral

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Nowadays shooting a web video is as simple as having a low-budget digital camera, a bootstrap crew, or even just a few willing friends and a cell phone. Given the wide-open nature of the digital media space, it has become more and more difficult to make a mark in web series content. However, there are some simple tricks that you can employ in order to take an average series and make it go viral. Ideally, this newfound fame will open lots of doors for your actors and the creators behind the series.

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Attach a celebrity, and lacking that, the best actors possible

It might be easier said that done, but having celebrities as part of your web series will guarantee at least a few hundred thousand views outright. Reach out to managers and agents once your first script and/or sizzle reel is completed and see if they’ll have their clients star. If you hit a wall, then cast up-and-coming talent or unknowns that are amazing actors. At the very least, this will make your web series watchable and get your concept across for later distribution.

Pick the largest platform possible for distribution

Instead of just posting your series on YouTube and hoping for the best, consider if other outlets (Buzzfeed, Vimeo etc.) might be better homes for your series. Reach out to the heads of PR at video platforms and see if they’d be open to featuring your work.

Promote on social media. And promote often.

Before filming even begins on the first episode of your series, you should have a Twitter account and a Facebook page announcing it. Sharing and saturation of the marketplace via social media are the bread and butter of a viral series. Every time an episode is released or the show is mentioned in the press there should be a mention on your social sites. Another way of achieving reposts is by getting a blog to feature your web series. Make friends with PR representatives at major websites and make sure you tell them when your episodes are released.

Invest in music

Nothing lends a polished look to a piece of content more than good music. If there’s anything to go over-budget on it is your sound-mix/music. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated for a comedy web series, but comedy without music is suddenly FAR less funny to the viewer.

Try and sell your series to a larger broadcaster

Once your web series achieves a high level of success, the best way to continue its growth is to make a deal with a major channel or over-the-top distributor (Netflix, Amazon etc). Some examples of shows that did this are BROAD CITY (HBO) or GENTELEMEN LOBSTERS (Seeso).

The main takeaway however, should be that your content must be something you believe in deeply. The path to a successful web series is long nights, big edits and many re-writes. If you don’t love the project in the first place, you’re better off not trying to achieve viral fame.

 

The Process Is The Product (part 1)

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When you hike up a mountain you have two choices. You can enjoy the changing sky, the view below, the flowers along the path, the struggle up to the top, the breeze, the sun through the trees, the smell of pine. Or you can focus on lunch at the end of the trail and miss the beauty, the adventure and, most sadly, the actual trip.

The adventure is the journey, and the process as it happens is the actual experience of acting. The product of the performance is being engaged in the moment without focusing on how it comes out. Your goal as an actor is to live honestly in the experience of the moment. If your attention is on the end result, you will sabotage the journey.

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When you attempt a scene, many times you have a predetermined picture in your mind of how it will go. You practice in your bedroom, you give an award-winning performance and you know that in your heart, when you get to that audition, it’s going to blow everybody away! Then, in the actual audition, you watch yourself in the reading and wonder, “What is happening?! This is nothing like I rehearsed at home!”

There are two main reasons for this phenomenon: expectation and concentration.

Expectation

When you were at home in your bedroom, you were caught up in discovery. You were in the richness of your imagination and could visualize it all. You were seeing and experiencing what the character, in that moment, was seeing and experiencing. Then, when you actually auditioned, you attempted to recreate the result of that bedroom performance instead of the imagined elements that got you there in the first place. Attempting to recreate a performance always puts you in your head because you judge everything against an ideal, and you can never measure up to that kind of expectation.

Another aspect of this expectation is your unique instrument. There is no one in the world like you. And because your approach to the material hasn’t ever been done before, there is a potential shock when you observe your own performance. Doesn’t your acting always sound and look better in your head? All of those judgments in acting can take energy away from your effort.

Concentration

When you have an audience, the pressure to entertain becomes very real. It takes more concentration to create and hold onto your given reality in a scene. If your preparation is not strong enough, the pressure from the audience can overtake your attention, and you will then watch yourself. Great acting is participating in a given reality and not focusing on what your audience is witnessing.

Know that an audience will always have an energetic influence on the actor. This is natural. We pick up vibes from anyone in our immediate space. Have you ever felt a stranger looking at you prior to you noticing? Often we can feel the energetic pull of any attention we are getting.

Part of the actor’s job is to accept the audience without sabotaging the performance. The audience’s gaze is part of the magic of performance, and every audience will experience your work uniquely. When an actor allows the audience to be a witness, the performance improves. The vibes you pick up in the room have the potential to inspire the best in you.

Know that your performance is created and lives in the moment and can’t be fixed in place or held in time. The skill of acting is the ability to live truthfully in an ever-changing experience. The key is to not judge yourself, but to accept yourself in the process.


Kimberly JKJ-3-11-RT2-cropentzen is a multiple winner of Back Stage Reader’s Choice Awards: “Favorite Acting Coach,” “Favorite Acting Teacher” and “Best of: Acting Coach”. She has directed and/or developed over a dozen plays, including Yolanda King’s critically acclaimed homage to her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Achieving The Dream. Kimberly won a Best Direction award from the Actors Film Festival for Reign. Reign went on to win nine awards including Best Short and Audience Favorite from the Louisville International Film Festival and New York Independent Film Festival. She also garnered awards for her film, Of Earth & Sky. She is the author of Acting with Impact and Life Emotion Cards, available at Samuel French Bookstore and at Amazon.com.

 

Jon Hamm’s Early Struggles with Landing Roles

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For any actor who thinks that the dream will never happen, consider Jon Hamm. The ridiculously handsome leading man who shot to fame as the boozing, womanizing, free-wheeling ad executive Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men certainly had his share of struggles along the way.

After moving to Los Angeles from St. Louis in a 1986 Toyota Corolla and 150 dollars in his pocket, Jon ended up on his aunt and uncle’s doorstep. But unfortunately, it was thanksgiving and nobody was home. Legend has it the aspiring actor went to an orphan’s dinner for a much-needed Thanksgiving meal.

Hamm spent years waiting tables, teaching, trying his hand at set design, and auditioning.

“I rode the bus and then when I got near where I needed to go, I would rollerblade,” he confessed on the Conan O’Brien Show. “There’s not a worse look in the world than a dude skating down Highland Avenue to an audition to try and sell soap. Roll in sweaty and stinky, skates on–I’m here!”

And even though he had very few credits to his name–certainly not any legitimate credits–Jon came to be repped by none other than the William Morris Talent Agency. He said, “They took me on because they saw a guy a guy who could work.” Such prestigious representation would be a coup for any up-and-coming thespian, but after three years of not winning a single acting job, the poor guy was summarily dropped.

At that point, Jon gave himself a deadline of sorts. If he didn’t make it by the age of thirty, he resolved to quit the business and move on with his life.

“You either suck that up and find another agent or you go home and say you gave it a shot. But that’s the end of that. The last thing I wanted to be out here was one of those actors who’s 45 years old with a tenuous grasp of their own reality and not really working much. So I gave myself five years. I said if I can’t get it going by the time I’m 30, I’m in the wrong place. And as soon as I said that, it’s like I started working right away.”

Indeed, Jon worked steadily for the next ten years, but a genuine breakout role eluded him. However, after years of bit parts and supporting roles, Jon landed the role of troubled mad man Don Draper at the age of thirty six.

According to Wikipedia, “Hamm’s ‘Mad Men’ castmate Eric Ladin had said that one of the reasons he admires Jon is that while he ‘made it’ later than most actors, Hamm never gave up on acting.”

Good thing he kept himself in the game. Jon Hamm went on to win the Golden Globe award in 2008 for best actor in a drama series, and is currently working on three films: Nostalgia, High Wire Act, and Libby and Malcolm. That’s a pretty busy schedule for someone who once got his car repossessed because he couldn’t pay his many parking tickets.

 

 

Bollywood’s Biggest Star: Shah Rukh Khan

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Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan recently gave a charming Ted Talk in Vancouver addressing a host of topics including fame, the scrutiny of social media, and the importance of prioritizing love in all we do. As he spoke he showcased his witty sense of humor and wowed his multitude of fans. If you are among those who don’t recognize Shah Rukh Khan, keep in mind that a popularity survey once stated that 3.2 billion people across the globe know Kahn more than they know Tom Cruise. The 51-year-old romantic star and singer, also known as SRK, told the Ted audience, “I sell dreams and I peddle love to millions of people back home in India who assume that I’m the best lover in the world.”

SRK fondly recalls the relative simplicity of his upbringing in New Delhi, saying, “The framework of life was very very simple then to be honest. I thought you just ate what you got, and did whatever you were told to do…Most importantly, you were who you were, and you said what you thought.” In his twenties, he moved to the most populous city in India, Mumbai where his acting career quickly flourished. In fact, the movie roles poured in so consistently, he says:

“By the time I was forty, I was really flying. I was all over the place. You know I’d done fifty films by then and 200 songs. And I’d been knighted by the Malaysians. I’d been given the highest civilian honor by the French government…Humanity was soaring with me. We were both flying off the handle actually.”

Eventually, when the internet became popular, SRK became active on social media. Indeed, he currently has 24 million Twitter followers! However, Khan soon became sobered by the online outlet. He says: “Everything I said took a new meaning. Everything I did–good, bad, ugly–was there for the world to comment upon and judge. As a matter of fact, everything I didn’t say or do also, met with the same fate.” He tells of a disturbing false story that was reported about his children that was hurtful to his family. “And I started to feel that I could not be who I wanted, or say what I actually thought,” he admits. Overall, Khan says of the internet and humanity, “We had expected an expansion of ideas and dreams. We had not bargained for the enclosure of judgement.”

Continuing, he sees a lot in common between his personal struggles and mankind as he says, “Humanity is a lot like me. It’s an aging movie star, grappling with all the newness, wondering whether she got it right.” And he concludes his talk elevating the importance of love by insisting, “Mankind will never be the wiser about its future unless it is coupled with a sense of love and compassion for their follow beings.”

Besides acting and singing, SRK also produces film and is a television personality. Later this year, he will be hosting a TV version of Ted Talks in India called “Nayi Soch,” or “New Thinking.”

Here is a Khan performing in one of his many popular roles.

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Steve Martin Teaches Comedy in Master Class

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Aspiring comics hoping to develop their wisecracking skills can tune into the wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin for an online Master Class on comedy.

The legendary comedian, actor, and writer teaches via a 25-video program. It includes a downloadable workbook and “office hours” enabling students to upload videos of their performance that might be selected for critique. “Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your comedic voice to nailing your act,” the website says. He breaks down his unique process in creating his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines, and delves into how to perform, write, and edit comedy.

Martin started as a comedic writer and soon became a stand-up comic sensation on TV shows including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live. Indeed, audience viewership on SNL would spike whenever he appeared on the show and this popularity lead to the release of Grammy-winning comedy albums Let’s Get Small and A Wild and Crazy Guy featuring tracks such as “Excuse Me” and his song “King Tut.” Although Martin packed houses on his national tours, he now insists, “I never actually thought I was funny. You may think I don’t have any talent. I guarantee you: I had no talent. None.”

Martin continues, “Everything you see, hear, experience is usable. Whatever makes you unique as a performer, do it. And know that there’s room for you.” Indeed, Martin incorporated innumerable aspects of his life into his stand-up routines. Whether it be his love of banjo playing or early experiences of doing stand-up at drive-in movies where audiences honked if they liked a joke, Martin threw it all into the mix. Other ways Steve incorporated his life experiences into his routines include his early work at Disneyland where he performed tricks, juggled, and created balloon animals for the customers. These skills would end up in his performances over the years, starting with his first TV appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Although he first aspired to be a theater performer, as fate would have it, he ended up majoring in Philosophy in college. Inspired by his studies, Steve contemplated becoming a professor instead of an actor-comedian for some time. As he once described it, “In philosophy, I started studying logic, and they were talking about cause and effect, and you start to realize, ‘Hey, there is no cause and effect! There is no logic! There is no anything!’ Then it gets real easy to write this stuff because all you have to do is twist everything hard–you twist the punch line, you twist the non-sequitur so hard away from the things that set it up.” He eventually transferred to UCLA and switched his major to theater.

Steve’s rockstar-like comedic popularity took him by surprise and he describes it as “just an accident” on his way to pursue acting. He later would go on to star in movie classics like The Jerk, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Roxanne, and Parenthood.

Pre-enrollment for Steve’s online class is open now for a $90 fee.

Writers Guild Strike Averted

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The writers strike that could have begun this past Tuesday has been narrowly averted. Fortunately, Hollywood’s steady flow of scripts will not be stopped. Although the marathon negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers remained rocky up until the final hours of the previous contract’s deadline, the two sides reached a three-year tentative agreement in the knick of time.

Gains for the writers include increased studio contributions to WGA members’ health plan, and a new definition for short-order TV series that will pay writers more for episodes that take longer than 2.4 weeks to produce. Additionally, the deal includes job protections for members on parental leave.

According to Variety, an exhausted WGA West executive director David Young summed up the deal saying it was “the art of the possible.”  He continued, “We did the best we could. It’s got some important new things in it, and an important old thing: the health plan has been taken care of.”

WGA and AMPTP, which represents TV networks and movie studios, began negotiating a new contract in early March; but, when no agreements could be reached, the talks were discontinued March 24. On April 25, WGA members overwhelmingly voted in favor of striking if an agreement couldn’t be reached. However, they resumed negotiations that same day. The WGA sought to more fairly compensate writers, arguing, “In a time of unprecedented demand, TV writers are, illogically, earning less.”

After reaching an agreement, the guild’s memo to its members stated:

Your Negotiating Committee is pleased to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that we can recommend for ratification.

In it, we made gains in minimums across the board – as well as contribution increases to our Health Plan that should ensure its solvency for years to come. And we further expanded our protections in Options and Exclusivity.

We also made unprecedented gains on the issue of short seasons in television, winning a definition (which has never before existed in our MBA) of 2.4 weeks of work for each episodic fee. Any work beyond that span will now require additional payment for hundreds of writer-producers.

We won a 15% increase in Pay TV residuals, roughly $15 million in increases in High-Budget SVOD residuals, and, for the first time ever, residuals for comedy-variety writers in Pay TV.

And, also for the first time ever, job protection on Parental Leave.

Did we get everything we wanted? No. Everything we deserve? Certainly not. But because we had the near-unanimous backing of you and your fellow writers, we were able to achieve a deal that will net this Guild’s members $130 million more, over the life of the contract, than the pattern we were expected to accept.

That result, and that resolve, is a testament to you, your courage, and your faith in us as your representatives.

We will, of course, provide more details in the next few days. But until then, we just wanted to thank you – and congratulate you. Your voices were indeed heard.

Now, as long as the agreement is ratified, Hollywood can freely continue creating new content.

Alan Cumming on ‘The biggest crime in acting’

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“I really hate the word ‘process.’ I will say I’m not a cheese; I have no process.” –Alan Cumming

You might remember Alan Cumming as the eccentric evil villain and children’s show impresario in Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids trilogy; or maybe you recognize him as the volatile Eli Gold on the CBS television series The Good Wife; or perhaps you recall his scathingly cheeky performance opposite Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Regardless of your particular reference point, Alan Cumming has been working consistently in film, television, as well as theater for close to thirty years. And he’s done so in a seemingly effortless fashion. Alan’s secret? “Mostly, when it comes down to it, I just pretend to be someone else and mean it…and that’s not that difficult.” Alan believes that actors, particularly American actors, overthink the process and muddle the craft. In fact, he goes as far as to say, “Overthinking is the biggest crime in acting.”

Cumming began his acting career at the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. “When I graduated from the academy, I just started working and I’ve never stopped,” he says. The Scotland native admits that others find his ease into the business to be annoying. He says, “I get asked, ‘How did you deal with your struggles and how did you deal with your periods of unemployment?’” In response to this line of questioning, he comes clean: “I didn’t have any.”

And a good deal of Alan’s success has been achieved in America where he’s been the go-to guy when you need a nebbish or clown or prankster or villain–or any number of outrageous characters. But the eloquent Scot is not necessarily a fan of American-born acting. “Especially in America, this over-mythologizing of acting has really made people very selfish sometimes in their performances. And they’ve forgotten that it’s a collaborative thing–it’s not just about you,” he asserts.

Conversely, Cumming is a fan of the dynamics of play when it comes to the craft. He considers acting to be “very much like kids playing.” He continues, “I always go back to the idea of play. Actors used to become players. It just means you play. You look at kids when they’re making up characters and if they pretend to be a dinosaur and you go, ‘Oh gosh, yes, your breath is so fiery.’” According to Alan, “That’s all you need to do.”

That is not to say the Scottish actor with a glint in the eye doesn’t do his due diligence. “If a character needs to do sign language or if there’s a certain job that I don’t know how to do, obviously I research that. And I research things,” he insists. But at the end of the day, the mercurial actor believes the craft of acting comes down to a very simple formula:

“All I try to do–aside from learning anything that is relevant to the character–I just let it soak in, think about it. And then when I arrive on the set, I just engage with other people, and just try and play, and be authentic.”

How about you? Been overthinking the craft lately? Or have you overthought roles in the past? It’s not difficult. With your passion on full display and your career on the line, things can get a little tricky. Please share your thoughts and experiences!

The Roles That Burt Reynolds Let Get Away

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Burt Reynolds, legendary actor and notorious bad boy, is still working in Hollywood at the age of 81. Presently, he is promoting his new film Dog Years which details the trials and travails of an aging movie star. In a far-ranging interview with Katie Couric, Burt lets forth about his tumultuous love life, his love of football and teaching, his many regrets including screwing it up with Sally Field and marrying Loni Anderson, and the roles that got away.

According to IMDb, Reynolds’ numerous achievements have been recognized by his having been named America’s Favorite All-Around Motion Picture Actor (People’s Choice Award) for a record six consecutive years; the Most Popular Star for five years running; Star of the Year (National Association of Theatre Owners); and #1 Box Office Star for five years in a row–still an unmatched record. He was honored with the 2007 Taurus World Stunt Award for Lifetime Achievement for an Action Movie Star and received this special citation from the Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You would think with a resume like that a star of Burt’s caliber would be happy and satisfied with his legacy, but that’s apparently not the case. Reynolds laments turning down the role of the randy astronaut Garrett Breedlove in the award-winning drama Terms of Endearment. Jack Nicholson went on to win the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role and the film itself won five Academy awards along with numerous film festival awards. Burt also turned down the role of the wise-cracking, fearless yippie ki-yay John McClane in the blockbuster action film Die Hard. The role, of course, went to Bruce Willis–and the rest is history! It’s hard to imagine a better player for the iconic role, but if anyone could outBruce Bruce Willis, it would be ole Burt Reynolds.

As well, the sleeper hit Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts has Burt Reynolds embedded in its collective folklore. Burt turned down the role of robber baron Edward Lewis because he didn’t like the concept; and consequently, Richard Gere–already a big star–got even bigger! Mr. Reynolds doesn’t seem to mind that miss so much as he said, “I couldn’t have done the job [Gere] did.”

However, the role of James Bond is another story altogether. Burt deeply regrets his decision to turn down the iconic role in 1970 and believes it’s one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Remember, this is a guy who said yes to three Smokey and the Bandit movies, two Cannonball Runs, and the inimitable Stroker Ace, but he couldn’t say yes to Bond…James Bond? And the reason he gives for his disappointment concerning the missed opportunity? “I would have done a good job.”

It’s important to keep in mind that Reynolds has famously said he based his movie decisions on “location and the female lead.” For someone with the golden touch of Burt Reynolds, the strategy has–for the most part–worked out. But for mere mortals, it’s essential to give serious thought to each role and each project. Every character and every film or web series should serve in furthering the agenda of becoming a working actor and a going concern in the film industry. Even the work done for free or the work done for reel should be carefully examined. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the work.

As for ole Burt, “I’m going to keep working until they shoot me and take me off and bury me,” he says. “And I hope they film it.”

Burt Reynolds in the 1972 film Deliverance.

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Remembering ‘Happy Days’ Star Erin Moran

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Beloved actress Erin Moran passed away over the weekend at the age of 56. Police received a 911 call about an unresponsive female in rural New Salisbury, Indiana. When responders arrived, it was too late; they determined that the woman, identified as Moran, had deceased. Officials have revealed the likely cause of death to be complications from stage 4 cancer.

Moran skyrocketed to fame when she was cast as Joanie Cunningham, the feisty younger sister of Ritchie Cunningham (Ron Howard), on the 1970’s popular sitcom Happy Days. Erin started on the show at the age of 13 and audiences got to watch her grow up amidst a seemingly innocent backdrop of 1950’s Milwaukee. The show was a hit, running eleven seasons between 1974 and 1984. And it inspired the short-lived spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi in which Moran starred alongside Scott Baio.

In a 2009 Xfinity interview, Moran expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the latter show, saying, “I don’t have any favorite episodes from ‘Joanie Loves Chachi.’ I liked working with the people. But I didn’t even want to do it. I was talked into it. I wanted to stay on ‘Happy Days.’ They were running them at the same time.”  Elaborating on her Happy Days costars, she continued, “What happened with all of us was like we were this family. It was so surreal with all the cast members. There was another moment where we forgot we were doing scenes. We forgot we were acting. They were my family, get it?”

Born in Burbank, Moran’s mother supported her daughter’s interest in acting by signing her with an agent when she was just five years old. Soon thereafter, Erin was cast in a commercial followed by roles in television shows including Daktari, GunSmoke, and Family Affair.

After Happy Days, Moran appeared on several shows including The Bold and the Beautiful, The Love Boat, and Murder, She Wrote. She was also featured on VH1’s reality show Celebrity Fit Club in 2008.

However, Moran’s later years were riddled with hardship. In a 1988 interview, she revealed she struggled with depression and was unable to attain acting roles. Various media outlets have tried to piece together aspects of Moran’s personal life over the years. For example, TMZ reported Moran’s Palmdale, California home had been foreclosed on in 2010. About two years later, ABC News reported she and her second husband, Steven Fleischmann moved into Fleischmann’s mother’s trailer in Indiana so Moran could act as her caregiver. And in 2017, Variety magazine said she had “fallen on hard times in recent years. She was reportedly kicked out of her trailer park home in Indiana because of her hard-partying ways.”

Since Moran’s passing, People magazine reached out to Erin’s neighbors. They remembered her as a friendly, energetic, and down-to-earth member of their mobile home community although she became more reclusive in recent months.

Many condolences from Moran’s costars have been pouring in.

Scott Baio wrote a heartfelt Twitter post saying, “May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin. My sincere condolences.”

Henry Winkler who played the leather-clad greaser “Fonzie” on Happy Days tried to get Moran a role in his comedic TV series Arrested Development when he perceived she was going through hard times. This weekend he tweeted, “OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely.. too soon”

Her television brother, Ron Howard tweeted, “Such sad sad news. RIP Erin. I’ll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up tv screens.”

Willie Aames wrote, “I’ve known Erin Moran since childhood doing ‘GunSmoke’. More recently as a troubled soul. So saddened to hear of her passing. RIP ERIN”

While many people in social media have reacted to Moran’s death by calling out various contacts from her career, child actor advocate Paul Peterson who starred in The Donna Reed Show has come forward stating that “at least six” former child stars attempted to reach out to Moran and help her. Peterson wrote, “I am proud of our efforts over the years to help Erin Moran whose troubles were many and complex…Don’t doubt for a moment that we tried…sincerely tried through time and treasure…to give comfort to one of our own…Erin had friends and she knew it.”

 

Kate Winslet Shares Lessons She’s Learned Along the Way

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In a recent BAFTA Guru interview, Kate Winslet spoke about several lessons she learned over the course of her career. The English actress has built a celebrated and eclectic resume for over 20 years now. In return, she has received a whopping seven Academy Award nominations, winning one for her portrayal as a former concentration camp guard in The Reader.

The star recollected a lesson she learned from her father the day before she auditioned for what would come to be her film debut. Driving to get the script of Heavenly Creatures, a 17-year-old Kate excitedly said, “‘Oh my God, Dad! It’s an audition for a film! Wow! Do you think like I might get it?’ And he just looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, you will.'” This assurance struck the aspiring actress. She continued, “I remember thinking, ‘That’s it, isn’t it? I’ve got to absolutely believe that I’m going to get this part…And I do remember thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to somehow give them no option but to give me this part.’ And of course a part of that is remaining incredibly calm.” So she consciously tried to appear “not too desperate.” Indeed, Winslet landed the part of the obsessive, fantasy-gripped Juliet Hulme. Kate insists she was lucky to land such a good part so early in her career especially because critics took note of her performance and her name became immediately known in the industry.

The following year, she received much praise for her portrayal as the plucky Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, but it was her role as the passionate socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater in the epic romance Titanic that thrust her into stardom.

In her many roles, Winslet has made a point of accepting everyone in the cast and crew. She admits, “Actors can be quite weird. They all have their sort of ticks and ways, and it’s such a privilege to see how odd everyone is. But at the same time, it can really affect your day and how you’re playing a role if you allow yourself to be caught up in someone else’s stuff or process.” Also, to feel like she’s part of a team, she goes out of her way to learn the names of all the crew members and makes a point to “really join in.”

Winslet’s biggest challenge on set is to stay focussed. She says, “You can rehearse, and you can plan everything, and you can think you have a framework that you want to stick with or a few ideas that you want to remember to keep in your back pocket. And sometimes the craziness of an on-set environment can be so intense that you can find yourself forgetting all of those things that you planned.” In response, she makes sure to find quiet places to check in with her thoughts amidst the hustle and bustle.

After preparing for a role, Kate insists, “It’s so important to let the preparation go because you can get stuck in this little sort of tunnel of your own.” She makes a point to “leave so many sort of blank spaces for other people to fill by way of the director, and the other actors, and the things that they think, and also what they are bringing to the project through the roles that they’re playing.”

As far as advice to aspiring actors, she says:

“I think what I would honestly say to people just starting out, you know, it is difficult. It is definitely a hard job to do. And you do have to keep working at it. You do have to keep practicing things. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes. Make them. Rehearse in your bedroom. Try not to look in the mirror too much because then you rehearse a scene in front of a mirror and you like the way you said something or done something and all you will do is keep picturing yourself doing it the way you liked rather than being completely present in the moment…And if [acting] is the thing that you really believe you want to do with your life you will get there.”