Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bonnie the Great!

I first found out about Bonnie Gillespie a few years ago when she was a judge at a monologue slam put on by my alma mater. I was dying to know what working casting director had time to come judge our event. I remember thinking “How on earth am I going to find out more about her?” So I googled her and found the treasure trove that it The Actor’s Voice. Holy Shit. If you don’t know - The Actor’s Voice is a column Bonnie writes for Showfax that breaks down the business side of things for actors. I mean, she breaks it all the way down. To the ground, y’all. It’s that serious.

For the next few days, I went into a worm hole of reading her earlier articles and was blown away. About a week later I looked at showbiz differently than I ever had before – and I’ve never looked back.

Before long, I bought the 3rd edition of her book, Self Management for Actors. It is a bible for all actors, whether you have an agent/manager or not. Not only is it filled to the brim with excellent advice and quotes from industry professionals but it also lays out advice on specific subjects such as character type, headshots, mailings, how to get on the radar of casting directors, and even what clothes to wear [and not wear!] to auditions. It also talks about specific things to do to – like making a show bible. What it does is help actors who are willing to do the work develop a business plan so they won’t remain stagnant and jump to the next tier.

This kind of information completely clears the mystery that surrounds the business of acting and reminds us that we have so much more power than we think we have and that we are in control of much more than we thought we were. The book is so good that acting schools put it on their reading lists. Schools even hire Bonnie to come to their city and do workshops live and in person. Hell, even Team Tom Cruise has SMFA on their list of acting resources on his website – and it’s the only book on the business they put on that list.

Before I had the book, I had thought I was ready to perform in films and on television, even though I hadn’t performed in a while. Hahaha. With the help of her writing [and serious self-reflection], I realized not only was I not ready to perform at that level, but I wasn’t really even ready to have an agent. So I spent a year doing plays, web series and small showcases. And you know what? Thank god I did! I was able to make strong choices and fail in the safe space of rehearsal, not in an audition room. Or worse – on set. That would not be the best way to be remembered by industry professionals. Instead, I was able to re-acquaint myself with my technique. All the while, I was getting stronger as a businessperson to make sure my tools were in place and that I was ready when the opportunities came. To quote the ever-prolific Jay-Z, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!

And when I did finally get repped, you know what happened? I signed with an agent I was excited to work with, and who was excited to work with me. We understood each other; we had flow. And did I book? I booked the second audition she sent me on, and it was for a guest star role on a hit sitcom. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have booked that [and many roles after] had I not spent/still spend time with Bonnie’s wisdom.

Before you get your credit card out, don’t buy the book just yet. Bonnie is busy writing the fourth edition right this second. YES. And she needs your help. For the book to be in print – and we want it in print, to be able to highlight passages and write notes in the margins – she’s set up an indiegogo campaign to pay for the publishing of the book! As of right now, it’s a third of the way to its goal. Your donation would be instrumental in keeping this book in print and up to date with the current realities of showbiz.

The best part? The perks! Any donation $25 and over includes a hard copy of the book itself, which btw, is cheaper than the third edition cost on Amazon! Seriously. Check out the perks, you won’t be sorry. In fact, maybe you’ll be so happy that one day in the future you’ll be standing on a stage, holding a shiny award and you’ll feel the need to thank Bonnie for all her awesome advice!

Crazier things have happened…

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