A prominent casting facility manager recently told me an inspiring story about a would-be young actor who had approached him asking for tips on how to break into the commercial casting biz. First of all, this young man struck the manager as being particularly genuine, courteous, and appreciative. “I told him what I tell all actors who come to talk with to me. First, you have to get your headshots and reel together, and get them up on your Casting Frontier profile. Then I can pass along your profile link to industry professionals.” The studio manager made it clear that although he’s helped steer many newbies in the right direction, he also noted, “Often when I tell people what it takes, I just don’t hear back from them. Maybe they find the work involved is too much of a hassle.” But in this case, the young man did exactly as he was advised; in about two weeks he returned with headshots, a reel, as well as a Casting Frontier profile. “So I passed his information along,” the facility manager said. A professional photographer who caught a glimpse of the headshots remarked, “These are not quality headshots. I could do a much better job. Look how unflattering the light is,” pointing at the harsh reflections of light on the actor’s forehead. Likewise, the studio manager noticed that the young actor’s subpar reel featured one commercial job as well as a shaky video clip from his personal life–speaking as the valedictorian of his class. And while it did reveal that the young man was indeed a beginner, the reel definitely achieved its purpose: it demonstrated his essence as a speaker, and it showcased his exceptional personal qualities.

With all the competition in the entertainment industry, experts all agree that professional headshots are a must, as well as a professional reel. But, this young actor did the best he could with what he had at the time. For this, as well as his own personable and engaging qualities, he stood out. Lo and behold, one of the most distinguished producers in the business took notice, and passed the young man’s profile along to a top-notch agent. So, in less than a month, this aspiring actor landed an impressive agent. Now, he’s been with this agent for a few weeks and hasn’t booked his first national spot; but, judging from his progress, I’d say he’ll be there soon enough.

While it’s absolutely recommended to put out polished, professional headshots, reels, and resume, it’s just as important to eschew the myth of impenetrable obstacles in the acting field. It’s really a matter of doing the necessary work and taking the required steps. Hit back and let us know about the work you’ve been doing to get to the land of raw milk and organic honey!