Acting is doing.
This is one of the first lessons every actor will learn. It may very well be the fundamental tenement of acting performance.
“To act means to do, so you must always have something specific to do… or you will immediately stop acting.” A Practical Handbook for the Actor
Acting is also about overcoming obstacles in order to get what you want on stage and off. With the current global pandemic, there are numerous obstacles outside of our control. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t continue to face the obstacles and overcome them.
Here’s where 2020 (and the foreseeable future) comes in to play…
“What must the actor do, when the obstacle they must overcome, is that it’s not safe for them to do anything?!“
We asked some of Chicago’s top talent agents what they suggest, and here are 5 specific things actors can do during Covid.
5) Submit for representation
If you’re looking for industry representation, you may be wondering if now is the best time to submit to agencies.
All of the agents we interviewed said, “Yes!”. Even during this time, actors can and should still be submitting for representation.
“Why wait to submit until after the pandemic! Who knows when this will all end. There is work happening now.”
Sam Samuelson, Agent, Stewart Talent.
Maryann Zeisch, president of Actors Talent Group, explains that changes over the last few months have caused some actors to leave Chicago. Because of this, many agencies may have holes in their rosters for certain types of actors and might be looking for talent like you to fill those spots.
If you’re interested in pursuing industry representation right now, go for it! Just know that, with everyone working remotely, many submission processes have changed. Be sure to follow the updated submission instructions on each agency’s website!
4) Do Virtual Productions
With live performances out of the question for the foreseeable future, more and more actors are turning to virtual productions as a means to hone their skills, tell stories, provide entertainment, and foster community engagement.
Much like the phrase “social distancing”, the term “virtual production” is a new one for all of us in 2020. And, as we’re all well aware, new things come with a lot of unknowns.
Because of this, we asked agents for their opinion on virtual productions, how they felt about seeing them on resumes, and if they’re worthwhile things actors can do during Covid.
All the agents overwhelmingly agreed… “A credit is a credit!”
With no live theatre happening right now, agents feel that a virtual credit is something to be proud of, as it shows that you’re committed to the craft and dedicated to your work.
“At this point in time, we have no choice but to do virtual productions. Times are changing, so this is becoming a new normal for now. The fact that we can even do something is exciting!”
Virtual Productions are a completely new category of performance. It’s an experience much different than that of being on set or acting in a fully produced play.
The weight a virtual production carries on a resume varies, and greatly depends on the actor, the production, and the creative team involved.
“Every resume is different and uniquely tells an actor’s story. If an actor is inexperienced and this is a significant credit, or there are really great people involved…list it on the resume”
Dawn Gray, President, Gray Talent Group
Regardless of their significance, virtual production credits are sure to stand out on most resumes. All the agents we asked, agree that these interesting credits can be used in future cover letters, or as talking points with agents, directors, and casting associates.
3) Keep your skills sharp
Acting is a muscle and – like 7 months of sitting at home and watching TV has taught us – muscles have to be exercised in order to stay strong and be ready for when we need them.
“Actors can be ready to go right now. Work is slowly coming back and auditions are virtual.”
With that said, it is encouraged that actors use some of this time to practice and refresh their material, as well as hone their skills by taking classes.
Similarly, another thing actors can do during Covid is put their newfound time and energy towards practicing and perfecting some of the special skills on their resume.
2) Perfect your self-tapes
Every agent we reached out to couldn’t help but stress the importance of a good self-tape. This is especially true nowadays, as virtual auditions become the new, Covid-conscious, industry-standard.
Needless to say, mastering your self-tapes is one of the most important things actors can do during the pandemic.
Once you’ve perfected your self-tapes, the next step is to work on making them even better. For more self-tape advice, check out our recent blog post, “5 Virtual Audition Tips From ASC’s On Camera Pro’s”.
“The big change/shift we are seeing in our Covid-mindful reality is the importance of self-tapes. You don’t need to spend a ton of money for your set up, but having decent lighting (ring lights are awesome!), and a nice background or clean wall to film against will go a long way.“
Bailey Haymen, Agent, DDO Artists Agency
1) Practice good self-care
The most important thing an actor can do during Covid is to take care of themselves. Our physical, mental, and emotional health are most important. After all, work is our life, and our life is work right now.
“The emotional balance and value you can find outside of this business will keep you connected and grounded for the business. Managing your emotional well being is the best skill set to work on as an actor.“
Sam Samuelson, Agent, Stewart Talent.
So there you have it! Chicago agents on the top 5 things actors can do during Covid.
Thank you to Chicago agents from Grossman & Jack, Stewart Talent, DDO, Actors Talent Group, Paonessa, & Gray for sharing their advice!
Curious for more advice from some of these agents? Check out our previous webinars featuring conversations with Bailey Haymen and Donna Simon Dunn!