There are so many things we don’t talk about in actor training. We get so caught up in the “How” and the “Why” that we feel to talk about the what. I recently gave some lectures to a group of students at a University about acting professionally, and what amazed me was not what they asked, but what they didn’t ask.
Many of them were already assuming success, a typical pitfall of all young actors. They were more concerned with how to get agents and how to avoid being typecast than where to find jobs, what to look for in contracts, how not to get scammed, and how to learn all the hard lessons we learn on our own.
Today’s blog is super simple and super short. What are three practical things you need right now? Are they going to take you from an unknown diamond in the rough to singing “Imagine” with celebrities? No. Are they useful? Yes.
1. A Blue Oxford Shirt
Do it. But it is now. Buy it on Amazon, or Poshmark, or from Ralph Lauren, it doesn’t matter. I have worn the same blue oxford shirt in so many shoots it is insane. Number one, it looks good dressed up or down. Two, it’s considered the all-American shirt, so it works in numerous scenarios. Three, you can wear it for anything in life, and it works.
Also, it’s a tax write off, so don’t sweat buying it. For some reason, actors feel ashamed to claim things on their taxes. Get over this. You need to itemize your expenses. You are a business. Treat yourself like it. Watching movies is research. Books are investments. You are responsible for your own R&D. But a damn blue oxford.
2. A Tripod
Even before quarantine, self-tapes were the way the industry was moving. Why waste people’s times, forcing them to take off work, only to have them come to a casting office for you to realize, “They don’t look like tier headshots.” Ninety percent of my auditions were self-tapes before the virus. While in-person auditions will return, you can bet there will be much more limited time in spaces, especially in cities like New York and L.A.
So stop building a book tower to balance your phone on while you record sides taped to your wall. You can still tape the sides to your wall, but by God, invest in a damn tripod.
3. A suit that isn’t black
First of all, I love suits. I would wear a suit every day, and probably will at some point. But also, lawyers wear suits. Businessmen wear suits. Villains wear suits. James Bond wears a suit, and so does Bruce Wayne. The point is, at some point, you will be asked to audition for a character who would wear a suit. Likewise, you will be cast in a commercial, industrial, or indie film that will need you to wear a suit. Rather than scramble and head to the Goodwill to find something that doesn’t fit, pick something right now that fits you and make sure it is tailored.
Second, make sure the suit is not black. CEO’s do not wear solid black suits. They are for funerals and service staff. Now, as you have decided to be an actor you will probably need a black suit to serve tables or tend bar, but not for film.
Lastly, there are Opening Nights, Galas, business meetings, job interviews, date night, and a million other things you need a suit for. Buy one that fits and wear it with confidence.
One day there will be a whole wardrobe team at your beck and call. In the meantime, you need to build a respectable closet that you can use for short films and commercials. One day you will have your own studio to record in. Until then, you need to make sure you can self-record quickly at home. One day you will have your own personal man on Savile Row. Don’t waste your money on that mismatched polyester job from the department store for the time being.
There are tons of hidden costs to being an actor, but the good news is that it is becoming easier than ever. There are more jobs and more opportunities than ever before. It is easier to get started and work than it was ten years ago. Instagram and Youtube let you share your work immediately, not that it needs to be, but you can share it; however, if you have the three things listed above, then you will have three practical tools to help you in your jobs.
Brock D. Vickers
This is the beginning of a new part of life: a habit: an idea: a routine to dig at what makes a man great.