Throughout my years of working in the entertainment industry as an actor, casting director, stand-in and production assistant I’ve learned that a professional working actor is only as strong as his arsenal of materials. I’m not talking about talent or your ability to perform and transform into a new character, but rather the items you as a working actor must have in your possession to streamline the business aspect of this profession.
Far too many actors rely solely on their talent to reach their ideal level of success; however, there are numerous items an actor must have to excel in the business aspect of acting.
Of course, this is not a definitive list; however, these are the items that I could not go without as a professional actor, and neither should you.
As a working actor it is imperitive your agent, manager and other business contacts can easily reach you. Because of this, every actor must have several communication items.
The most important of these is a cell phone with internet browsing and email capabilities. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been on my way to an audition when the audition sides were changed. If it wasn’t for my smartphone, I would have missed the updated audition sides and would have been improperly prepared.
Another communication item is a fax machine. While this may seem a little outdated, many agents, managers and casting directors still use fax machines to send out updated audition sides, call sheets, contracts and other vital information. You can pick up a fax machine for cheap at most pawn shops and thrift stores.
I decided to group the remaining items in one section as they are all typical business essentials. As an actor, you must have a notepad and pen by every telephone in your home, or numerous notepads scattered throughout your home in case your agent calls with vital information. You do not want to waste anyone’s time by searching for a pen and paper to take down vital notes.
Of course, as an actor you should have an ample supply of headshot and resumes on hand. I suggest always having at least 100 prepared headshot and resumes waiting so they may be shipped out or grabbed at a moments notice. Always keep several copies of your headshot and resume with you everywhere you go (I have a folder in the trunk of my car with my materials – you never know when you’ll need them).
Lastly, come business cards. While many actors feel that business cards are unnecessary, I have a completely different opinion. Business cards are a quick and easy way to hand out your contact information (or your agent’s contact information). You never know when a potential business client will cross your path, and carrying around headshots with you everywhere is not only cumbersome, but really quite strange. Business cards can fit in your pocket or purse and may be handed out in a professional and non-pushy manner.