Helen Gallagher said to me recently "I wish you'd been around in the good old days. You'd be working non stop!"
Times have certainly changed and I would love to be living in a different era in so many ways. I am old fashioned. But, in some ways, I am not. I was born in 1975 and I came to New York in 2008. My apartment may have a murphy bed from the 1930s but that is as close to I get to the old New York lifestyle. We are not living in a Gene Kelly movie and we are not going to be discovered sipping a milkshake in a diner.
It is expected now for us to have an online presence. I recently met a broadway actress for a drink. We had been in touch via email and were meeting to discuss a new project. She said "Oh, I know you're an actress: I googled you." Online presence is a given now (especially if you're starting out). Facebook, twitter, IMDB, YouTube, Actors Access, Backstage, etc.: these places are your friends and part of the puzzle to help you get in that room. That said, you cannot just post willy nilly everywhere and expect that to make you a star.
You need to be smart online and make Smarter Online Submissions.
We might not like it, but if we want to audition, we have to accept the changing times. Of course, there are people who do not tweet, do not use facebook, have not accepted the ice bucket challenge and do not submit on Actors' Access. And, yes, some of them work all the time. But they are not the norm. We can wonder how fellow actors might get a lucky break and then we have a choice: be bitter or be pro-active. Agents and managers can help, of course, but we are our own best advocates. Yes, there is luck involved, but we cannot rely on that in either the good or the bad sense. Do everything you can for yourself so that when the luck comes your way, you're ready.
No matter how good your representation, if casting directors do not know you, there is not much they can do for you.
And it does not have to be impersonal. You need to be professional, of course, but Casting Directors want to see a real person. And, even actors who have done Broadway shows and been on T.V. are finding new struggle with the business because it is always changing.
So what can we do? I am an actress. I have the same successes and struggles you do. Most of all, I try to practise what I preach. I submit regularly. Sometimes that can be several submissions in one day, sometimes just one or two in a week. You have to learn about what to submit for and when. What is right for YOU? I sent in 2 submissions this week on Actors' Access and received 2 cmails.
2 for 2. Pretty good odds. Why? Because I know how the system works. I have spoken to so many casting directors and the great people at Actors' Access. I can give you strategies to help you stand out from the thousands of other submissions. I'm not saying I can book you a Broadway show tomorrow. I am not saying I work all the time, but I think that is what makes my class work. I am real person with the same issues you face. I have faced them and continue to face them but I have set in place practical tools that can help actors submit successfully and with confidence. I started teaching these classes because I saw a need for them among my circle of friends alone. As I talk about in "Here's to us..." And now it has grown and grown and I am thrilled to share. Everybody needs a friend out there.
Take Polly's Classes about learning how to use Actors Access, as well as other submision tools to its greatest advantage!
Polly McKie was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of five children. Her father submitted the birth notice “Suddenly as the result of an accident...”. The newspaper refused to print it, so here it is for all to read now. A sense of humour is a prerequisite for being part of the McKie family. A family who is passionate about the Arts. Thanks to her parents (both teachers), she was lucky enough to be a regular visitor to the theatre: everything from local pantomimes to Shakespeare, Greek tragedy (her father is a classicist) to West End musicals (her mother writes and directs musicals for young children).
After graduating with an M.A. in Theatre and Philosophy, Polly continued her studies and earned her postgraduate certificate in drama education, deciding to take the sensible career path and work as a teacher. The desire to perform never left, though, and she performed in the ensemble of “Sweeney Todd” at The Theatre Royal in Glasgow, understudying Mrs. Lovett (still a dream role today).
In 2004 she moved to Bermuda where she was in several shows and was lucky enough to work with Martin Lowe (Tony award for “Once”) and Brian Kite (La Mirada, L.A.) in “Cabaret”. Her time working in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” helped her come to the decision to move to New York and pursue her acting career full-time. At the end of the 2 week run, the rest of the cast was so happy that it was over. Polly wanted it to run forever.
Now based in New York, as an actress, she regularly employs her “American” voice, but she is proud to be the voice of the digital book of Disney’s “Brave”.