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Knowing Your Worth and Getting Paid: Freelancing

By SOUND GIRLSVirginia Haladynavia I’m going to jump right into the nitty-gritty: payment. First of all, we as women and as creatives often sell ourselves short when it comes to how much we charge and how strict we are about receiving payment. We’ve all been there. You’re spending hours on a song, an EP, an album, and you haven’t even seen half of what you should’ve made yet. I know I have spent hours in front of Pro-Tools working on a mix only to do the math and realize I have made less than minimum wage for hours invested in a project. Why does it give so many of us anxiety to charge what we deserve? I mean this is how we make our living, isn’t it? Now, I will clarify that I engineer for more than just the money. I feel so passionate about this work that I tear up sometimes – especially when I finish a project. I love helping people bring their music to life, hold their project in their hands and share it with the world. Engineering warms my soul. It gives me a strong sense of purpose. I imagine many of you feel similarly, and this is likely the reason we have anxiety about asking for what we deserve. It’s true; we are fortunate to have such a cool occupation – one that sometimes doesn’t even feel like “work.” We’ve all had those sessions we walk away from thinking, “I had that much fun, and I get paid for it?” However, being paid fairly for our work is still essential. It’s taken practice, but I’m better at realizing my worth and charging appropriately. I’ve also learned to make sure I see half of it up front before beginning a project. I always ensure I get paid immediately at the end of a session. I also only take projects that excite me. I’ve stopped taking projects just for the money or because I feel like I have to say yes to everything that comes my way. I’m engineering because it makes me happy. I choose to work on the music and with the artists that make me happy. I hope that is what all of you decide to do this year, too. Here are some key things to have ready to bring up the next time you are talking to a potential client about pricing: Have a contract prepared Make it clear you expect to be paid at the end of a session Have at least three forms of payment accessible for your client (I recommend, check, cash, or PayPal) When necessary, reference the contract during your meeting Before the project begins; be sure to receive half up front (think of this as a deposit) If there is push back about your pricing- be understanding. I am always willing to work with someone’s budget to a certain extent. As long as it isn’t something ridiculous like “Will you mix this song for 20 dollars with three revisions included?” (If that’s the case- walk away) Make sure the project is one you are passionate about because THAT is when you do your best work (and when it’s the most fun) Be confident! You’re good at what you do. That’s why someone came to YOU to help bring their project to life. View Original Article

The New Agreement Recognizing Dancers’ Creative Contributions on Broadway

BY SUZZANAH FRISCIAvia For a Broadway dancer, few opportunities are more exciting than being part of the creation of an original show. But if that show goes on to become wildly successful, who reaps the benefits? Thanks to a new deal between Actors’ Equity Association and The Broadway League, performers involved in a production’s development will now receive their own cut of the earnings. The new agreement, which was made in February, means actors and stage managers will get paid more for their participation in labs and workshops. And, after the show recoups its initial investment, they will split 1 percent of the profits (including any touring productions), for up to 10 years. Traditionally, performers were paid $1,000 per week for being part of a developmental workshop, but those payments ended when the workshop did. Many began to feel that this wage no longer reflected the contributions they were making. “The salaries on the lab agreement had not shifted in 10 years, and the landscape of developing shows had shifted significantly during that period,” says Stephen Bogardus, an actor and the chair of Equity’s show development committee. “When we go into a rehearsal room, we’re giving our ideas to the creative team. We were being leaned on more and more for our contributions, and that wasn’t recognized.” When a show becomes profitable, the union argued, the artists who helped create it (even if they were only involved in the early stages) should reap some of the rewards. The push for profit-sharing began gaining momentum in 2016, when Hamilton became a Broadway blockbuster and the original cast struck a deal with producers to receive a percentage of the earnings. Since then, some productions, like Mean Girls and Frozen, have voluntarily put profit-sharing arrangements in place. The conversation came to a head in January, when Equity members went on a monthlong strike from developmental work. According to the union, it was their largest member mobilization effort in decades. They held 52 cast meetings with both Broadway and touring shows, and more than 3,000 working Equity members signed commitment cards to show their support. As Broadway shows become more daring and complex, the demands placed on dancers—particularly ensemble members—are only increasing. As Bogardus points out, the new agreement will particularly affect those artists who receive the lowest wages on Broadway. “I don’t think anybody works harder than the ensemble,” he says. “No one deserves it more than them.” View Original Article

Take Charge of Your Freelance Career

BY COURTNEY HENRY via When I transitioned from company life to freelancing almost a year and a half ago, “adulting” got real. Quick. In my previous experience at Alonzo King Lines Ballet, details and scheduling of my daily life were decided for me. As I began my freelance career I quickly learned that the simple things we take for granted like call times and physical therapy suddenly become your decision, your responsibility. I know that many freelancers find this part of the job to be the biggest learning curve. Ironically, I find it’s also the most essential part to having success and maintaining a sense of control in this new life that has a forever shifting balancing point. In choosing this unconventional path, I knew that I was ready for the personal responsibility of my art practice and the freedom to work through varying creative processes. Yet I am still continually surprised at how much of freelancing is actually administrative work. Juggling training and performing with invoices and audition details takes serious time management skills. Follow these tips to better organize and focus your day so that opportunities don’t fall through the cracks. Find an organizational tool you love. Unsplash Keep your auditions, rehearsals, performance locations and class schedules all in one place. Maybe it’s an old-fashioned planner (I still enjoy the pleasure of writing things down!) or Google Calendar or ‘Remember the Milk’ app, which syncs all of your devices and calendars to keep track of your daily tasks. Whatever your preference, expect this tool to become your new best friend. It only takes one time of showing up at the right studio on the wrong day to prove that organization is just as much important as the project itself. Stick to a schedule. Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash Having a set time to wake up, even when you don’t have a rehearsal or show planned, is a small but mighty victory in your overall health as freelancer. This ultimately confirms that you are the boss, one who respects their craft and prioritizes a sense of order even amidst the chaos. Staying true to this will help you both during the busy, overwhelming times as well as the lulls in paid work momentum. In my experience, it is always better to maintain a set routine rather than pick it up and drop it every time a job comes and goes. Remember to take days off. Mike Haupt/Unsplash It is okay to say “No” to projects. The gift of choosing the freelance path is having more choice, and yes, freedom! I see many dancers burn out from overbooking themselves out of fear of not knowing where the next project will come from. Rest and recuperation is also part of the job description, necessary for injury prevention and mental health. So be sure to pencil in vacation time just as you would in a company. Make realistic to-do lists. Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash In our addiction to being busy and moving all the time, we dancers are often overly ambitious about all that can be accomplished in one day. While making lists is an excellent way to compartmentalize, don’t put 20 things on the list when you can only realistically accomplish six. This will save you from a lot of frustration and feeling of lack at the end of the day. Trust. ‘TeuxDeux’ is a great app I love for juggling it all. When you make a to-do list for today, but don’t complete everything, those unfinished tasks are automatically moved to tomorrow. You can also create recurring to-do items, personally drag some to-dos to tomorrow, do voice-to-text, and more. Minimize distractions. Simon Abrams/Unsplash We can start off the day with the best intentions, but the call of social media, pets, food and friends can distract us from our tasks at hand. Create a diversion-free zone where you can plan and organize. Whether in your own home (outside of the bedroom, if possible), local library or cafe, find a place that inspires you to feel structured, put on the blinders and get to work. Breaks help, too! Scheduling intermittent outdoor walks or phone calls with friends help to refresh you before diving back in. Set boundaries for yourself to turn off social media alerts and commit to your tasks at hand. There’s nothing more rewarding than self-motivation and the feeling of accomplishment once your tasks are complete. View Original Article

Amber Gray, Tony nominee, on her ‘Hadestown’ audition from hell

BY ASHLEY LEEvia When Amber Gray was auditioning for “Hadestown,” Anais Mitchell’s folk-operatic reimagining of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, she nearly blew it. The actress, who was making her Broadway debut in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” at the time, couldn’t read sheet music but had prepared for the tryout by diligently listening to the assigned song from the production’s buzzy concept album — which had since been tweaked. “The accompanist was giving me all of these dirty looks, and I was so confused,” she told The Times with a laugh. Nevertheless, Gray got her ticket to “Hadestown,” which reimagines the underworld as a factory town. She booked the role of Persephone, who has arranged to spend half of the year with her manufacturer husband, Hades, and his ill-treated employees, and the rest of the time elsewhere. When she gets fed up with the bleak setting, she flees the underworld early, leaving Hades to find solace in the town’s new arrival. “She feels a lot, but throughout the entire show, she fights for what she believes in,” explained Gray of her character. “And she stands up to a man, which is a fun thing to do onstage.” On Tuesday the production collected a leading 14 nominations, including Gray’s first. She attributes the nomination for featured actress in a musical to director Rachel Chavkin, with whom she worked with on “Great Comet.” “Writers are desperate to work with her because she’s like a midwife to new work,” Gray said. “And as an artist, personally, that’s the work that turns me on the most.” While the news of her nomination was a thrill — hundreds of messages from loved ones, champagne and flowers at the Walter Kerr Theatre, and even a curtain-call sing-along of the musical’s number “Way Down” — the recent highlight for Gray was the homecoming of her baby son, who spent the last few days in the hospital because of a harsh cold. “That truly was the best part of my week,” said the actress, 38. “There’s nothing like a healthy dose of reality to keep your feet on the ground.” View Original Article

Entertainment Industry & Economic Survival

BY SOUND GIRLSElana Carrollvia Working toward a career goal in entertainment comes with a lot of baggage. Movies depict a certain sequence of events, ads promise a kind of instant gratification, and our elders say they were able to work their way up the ladder, buy a house, pay for college for the kids and retire. Never mind that movies aren’t real, that ads are intended to manipulate (at worst) and influence (at best) our spending habits, and that the jobs our elders had no longer exist. In spite of widespread understanding of these facts, our careers are still prodded and picked at by well-meaning friends, family, and even other creative professionals. The unspoken assumption is that there is a correct way to build a career, and that if you do it that way then you will predictably meet a series of milestones on your course of upward growth. Maybe there was a golden era of the American workplace in which upward growth was essentially frictionless. My grandfather started at IBM in the 1960s as a computer engineer and worked for 30 years, during which time he bought a house, supported a family of four, put two children through four-year college programs, saved for retirement, and had access to legitimate health benefits. It wasn’t easy, but his job did make it all possible. The people I know whose careers fell on a similar timeline to his have similar experiences. But the years before this “golden era” were similar to how things are now: people with socio-economic advantages are able to move upward at a fairly rapid pace, and everyone without socio-economic advantages is able to exercise upward mobility only after figuring out how to catch up. The college student with a job that pays her rent does not have access to the same opportunities as her classmate whose rent is paid by his parents so he can attend an unpaid internship for a semester. I mention this because we now live in a free labor economy. Companies and individuals in power positions have a bad habit of bullying workers for free labor, even when it’s technically illegal. Perhaps this fear mechanism was born out of the crash of 2008 (when many of the people in power positions were still in college), or perhaps we are becoming exponentially shameless in our power hunger, with each passing year putting greater distance between the richest and poorest among us, and more attention given to the loudest people with the greatest number of followers. It is money and popularity, not skills and experience, that are winning in the job market right now. So what can we do to combat this? Prioritize fair pay in your business. Even if you are relying on the generosity of a friend at the moment, make it a priority to pay them what their work is worth as soon as you are able to. Name your price and back it up. I hope you never have to experience someone in the music business bullying you, but it can happen to anyone. Someone will tell you that they can get someone else to do it for free. Often this is just a negotiation tactic. You’re worth more than nothing, so make a case for you over this imaginary free laborer. (One exception to this rule is when you are being generous to a friend!) When money is tight, consider an exchange of skills instead. Are you an audio engineer who wants production experience? The more that you develop your skills the more bartering power you will have when you want to acquire new ones. Communicate. This is very important. Your communication style will be different from other peoples’, and will likely evolve over time. You want to be as clear as possible. With experience, you’ll be able to read situations quicker and avoid problems before they become too big to solve. Decide what your values as a business owner (and/or colleague) are, and resolve to never be lazy about upholding them. If someone you work with is not meeting those standards, don’t be afraid to talk about it and challenge them to do better. (The flip side of this is, obviously, that you must live by these standards as well!) It is my hope that through the shifting tides of our current economy, we develop new and effective ways to uphold fair business practices. I’m always curious to hear from others about their experiences doing this (positive and negative), so please feel free to email your stories to me at Jordan Cantor engineering and myself producing at Killphonic Studios in Los Angeles last year. (We are in our second year of her engineering me in exchange for me engineering her.) View Orginial Article

Audition Advice with Casting Director Christine Sheaks

BY CAT ELLIOTT via From “Fargo” to “Boogie Nights,” Christine Sheaks has cast some of the greats. Sheaks took a break from one of her current projects, the “Dramaworld” series on Netflix, to offer her take on auditioning best practices. Is there any advice that you think all actors should hear? “Actors need to know who they are and be connected to it before they get in the room. What makes an actor different is what’s going to get him or her the job; it’s a light that shines brightly. When William H. Macy used to audition, he did this so well. He’d just come in and do his thing. It may not have been for everyone, but it would always be true to who he was. I was the casting associate for ‘Fargo,’ and we had him come in and read several times. He wasn’t a star yet, but he just brought something to the table that really stood out. So, he got the job.” What should actors avoid in an audition? “Don’t come in unprepared. If an actor has 10 auditions that day and then takes two seconds to look at the material, it’ll show. I always tell actors to have their agents call me if that’s the case. If I can give them a later time or another day, I would rather do that than have them come in unprepared. Also, actors should never bring in a prop. The only exception is a cell phone, which is okay because it’s not distracting. During an audition for the series ‘Moonlighting,’ we had an actor take a toy gun out of his pocket, pick up one of my producers and throw him against the wall. Most actors know they shouldn’t do that, but they should avoid bringing a prop, in general, because our focus will be drawn to it.” What should actors consider before they even get in the room? “The headshot is so important, as far as getting them to the room. They want the best possible picture they can get because if I don’t know them, I’m going off their headshot. And a good picture can be ruined by poor composition. For example, if an actor has a black background, a black shirt and a black border around the photo, it’s not going to work. Overall, an actor’s picture should be interesting and stand out from the crowd. I really believe in taking chances. Actors can take chances in how they sell themselves as well as what they do creatively. But they have to believe that they’re going to pull off those bold choices, or it doesn’t work.” Is there an encouraging story you can share? “I can share how I discovered Anna Faris. I came in on ‘Scary Movie’ to replace somebody else, and on my first day, I saw a mound of tapes of actors who had sent their materials in. I literally picked a tape out of the pile, put it in the VCR and knew right then that she was special. I phoned her manager and said, ‘You need to have her come in and audition in front of the director.’ She was going to have to fly in for the audition, so I said, ‘I’ll make you a bet. If she doesn’t get the part, I’ll pay for her plane ticket. But I don’t think I’m going to have to do that.’ And, sure enough, she got it.” Sheak’s time-honored advice reinforces much of the wisdom that teachers, casting directors and agents have been lauding for ages. By coming into auditions prepared and with a solid and personal sense of the role they’re reading for, together with a well-designed headshot, you’ll be sure to stand out. As Sheaks aptly put it, take your time with the material and avoid props when in the room (and certainly never manhandle any of the producers!). Taken to heart, her advice guarantees that, in her own words, you’ll let your light shine. And who knows, if casting loves what they see, they’ll bet on your success and even offer to cover your audition travel costs. Okay. That last part is a stretch, but you’ll still have a powerful ally on your side with an effective audition. View Original Article

15 Theatre Books to Add to Your Spring 2019 Reading List

BY DAN MEYER via inter might still be here, but as the weather starts to change, take on some of these reads – great with a snuggly blanket or outside at the park. 1. Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater, by Kathleen Turner and Dustin Morrow One of America’s most iconic actors, two-time Tony nominee Kathleen Turner looks back on her four-plus decades of work and shares the lessons she learned along the way. The book dives into some of her famous roles, as she discusses, with film professor Dustin Morrow, the techniques and skills she developed to become successful in the craft of acting. Filled with her signature wit (and that gravelly voice narrating in your head), this tome is bound to teach aspiring and established actors a thing or two. Available now from Skyhorse. 2. Plays by Women from the Contemporary American Theater Festival, edited by Peggy McKowen and Ed Herendeen Five plays written by female playwrights have been compiled into this anthology thematically tied to freedom of speech. Each of the works were presented at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. The group of writers represent a diverse range of women, who encourage exploring the sometimes challenging and tough pieces of theatre. Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage writes an introduction, and each play is followed by a playwright interview conducted by Sharon J. Anderson to help readers contextualize the piece and understand its connection to larger themes. Available now from Methuen Drama 3. Introduction to the Art of Stage Management: A Practical Guide to Working in the Theatre and Beyond, by Michael Vitale and Jim Volz Ever wondered what it meant to be a stage manager? Michael Vitale, who has assisted in productions ranging from the Hollywood Bowl to the Barbican Theatre in London, shares his insights on one of the stage’s most influential behind-the-scenes job. Vitale gives readers a guide to develop the skills of a successful stage manager, whether it’s pre-production or running closing night. Not contained to a singular genre, this book looks at stage management for various types of productions: theatre, opera, cruise ship performance, and dance, to name just a few. Out March 7 from Methuen Drama More Than a Scarecrow: Ray Bolger 4. Ray Bolger: More Than a Scarecrow, by Holly Van Leuven The consummate performer brought the Scarecrow to life in MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz. But his prolific career over five decades provides fodder for the first biographer about Bolger. The dancer first found comfort in his tap lessons before running away to repertory theatre and vaudeville on his way to becoming a contracted performer in Hollywood and a Tony Award winner. Out March 8 from Oxford University Press READ: Theatre Jobs: What Does It Take to Be a Broadway Stage Manager 5. Backing into the Spotlight, by Michael Whitehall Back in the day, Michael Whitehall was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. As a theatre agent for U.K. stars like Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, and more, he cast a spotlight on some of the world’s greatest players. Then, his son Jack (who provides the foreward) became a celebrity comic, and Whitehall found himself dragged along as his grumbling but hilarious partner-in-crime. In this memoir, Whitehall tells the hilarious story of his life and how his own career up-ended. Out March 12 from Constable Too Much Is Not Enough 6. Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood, by Andrew Rannells A Tony nominee for originating the role of Elder Price in Broadway’s smash hit The Book of Mormon, Rannells has gone on to be one of the wildly popular actor of across stage and screen. Originally from Nebraska, this memoir chronicles his coming-of-age, “bad auditions, bad relationships, and some really bad highlights as he chases his dreams in New York City.” Described as honest and hilarious—much like Rannells himself—the book pulls back the curtain on the struggling 20-something experience through Rannells’ specific story, before he became the well-known star he is today. Out March 12 from Random House 7. Broadway Investing 101: How to Make Theater and Yes, Even Make Money, by Ken Davenport This Tony Award-winning producer for Once on this Island and Kinky Boots has a lot to share thanks to his tremendous success bringing shows to the Great White Way. From choosing the right show to investing the proper amount and managing the risk, Davenport (also a producer on such shows as Spring Awakening, Groundhog Day) navigates readers through the necessary steps to become a profitable Broadway producer. Whether you’re curious about the business or eager to take the leap, this book will intrigue anyone who’s thought they want to be a producer. Out March 15 through Amazon Digital Services LLC 8. Getting Off: Lee Breuer on Performance, by Lee Breuer and Stephen Nunns One of the most influential avant-garde theatre artists, Lee Breuer arrived to the New York scene in the 1970s and has remained a staple ever since. Breuer created works independently and through his co-founded Mabou Mines company described as unique, challenging, and exciting. In this book, theatre historian Stephen Nunns takes a look at the director/writer/performers’ productions and Breuer’s past interviews to create something that is equal parts autobiography, anthology, and critical insight. Together, it creates an intimate look at one of theatre’s most daring minds. Out March 19 from Theatre Communications Group They Made Us Happy: Betty Comden & Adolph Green’s Musicals and Movies 9. They Made Us Happy: Betty Comden & Adolph Green’s Musicals & Movies, by Andy Propst The writers behind On The Town, Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town, and more get the biography treatment in this lookback at their work, careers, personal lives, and the artists they collaborated with—Leonard Bernstein, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo among them. Plus, Propst illuminates Comden and Green projects that never made it to the stage or screen, including a musical version of The Skin of Our Teethand a Busby Berkeley biopic. Out March 19 from Oxford University Press 10. Rebus: Long Shadows The New Play, by Ian Rankin and Rona Munro Detective John Rebus makes his stage debut in author’s Ian Rankin’s first play featuring the Scottish gumshoe. When a murder victim’s daughter shows up on Rebus’ doorsep, she challenges his detective instincts more than ever before. With his friend, DI Siobhan Clark, the duo set off to solve the case while personal issues threaten to derail the investigation. The book includes the entire script and an introduction from Rankin, along with an interview between him and Rona Munro, who assisted in developing the story for the stage. Out March 19 from Orion 11. The Complete Book of 1920s Musicals, by Dan Dietz Think you know everything there is to know about musicals from the Roaring ‘20s? Even the most knowledgeable theatre fans will learn something new in this comprehensive encyclopedia. It features 300 musicals from the decade that gave us Show Boat, A Connecticut Yankee, and Hit the Deck! and the minds of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. A plot summary, cast list, musical numbers, creative teams, and opening dates, source material, and critical commentary are included for each production. Appendices dive into other shows from the decade, plus discography, filmography and a list of published scripts. Released April 10 from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 12. Opera in the Tropics: Music and Theater in Early Modern Brazil, by Rogerio Budasz While theatre might not be the first thing people think of when it comes to Brazil, music certainly is, and those familiar sounds have influenced the country’s theatre scene since the 1500s. In this historical reflection, Budasz explores influential creators and performers throughout the country’s history. The writer explores works and their relation to themes of slavery, gender, and local departures from national norms. This book will entertain and educate anyone interested in early theatre, Brazilian culture, or Latin American history. Out April 23 from Oxford University Press 13. Waiting in the Wings: How to Launch Your Performing Arts Career on Broadway and Beyond, by Tiffany Haas with Jenna Glatzer After dozens of auditions and consecutive rejections, Tiffany Haas finally got her break in Wicked as Glinda. Along her journey, she learned a lot about the road to becoming a Broadway star. Now, she shares that knowledge with anyone who has dreams of breaking through on stage. This guide will offer advice for auditions, finding an agent who will then find the best role for you, and everything in between. With insider tips, this book is for anyone who wants to have a career as an actor in theatre. Out April 23 from St. Martin’s Griffin 14. Theater of the Word: Selfhood in the English Morality Play, by Julie Paulson Author and English professor Paulson shares ideas on how medieval theatrical works can help us explore the idea of self. Looking at morality plays, the author examines what it means to be a human being through stories anchored in sin and the traditional Christian rites of confession and penance. Looking at this oft-forgotten genre of theatre, readers will learn more about medieval drama and how religious rule affected human actions and performances. Out April 30 by University of Notre Dame Press 15. Something Wonderful, by Todd S. Purdum This book hit our list last spring, but now, the story of Rodgers and Hammerstein is available in paperback! Learn about one of the greatest theatre partnerships of all time, as Prudum takes readers on a journey through Oscar Hammerstein’s and Richard Rodgers’ partnership and how the pair ended created some of Broadway’s most memorable classics like Carousel, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific. Reprinted May 14 from Picador READ: Exclusive Excerpt of Something Wonderful On the Writing of Carousel’s ‘If I Loved You’

8 Must-Haves for a Self-Tape Home Studio

BY AMY RUSS via Imagine you get an email from your agent tonight requesting a self-tape for a huge role that’s due first thing tomorrow morning. How do you react? Do you do your happy dance, confidently record at home with the correct equipment, and send your agent a professional quality self-tape ahead of the deadline? Or do you panic because you don’t have any lights (or other elements you need) and cobble something together that you’ll ultimately need to redo so your agent can submit it? If you’d react in the first way, well done! If you’d react in the second way, you need to up your self-tape game. A self-tape is crucial to your success as an actor and you need to be prepared when a last-minute request comes in. To make sure you’re ready when the requests come in, it’s useful to have a small, professional-grade setup in your home. Here’s everything you’ll need: 1. Camera If you already have a smartphone, this is a one and done! Smartphones have awesome cameras now. Just make sure to shoot horizontally. 2. Lights Good lighting makes a huge difference. If you have the room, you ideally want a three-point softbox set up. Realistically (especially in New York City where space is tight), you should invest in a ring light that’s small enough to store in tiny apartments and will light up your face beautifully. There’s no need for an extra stand because your phone attaches to the inside of it. You can find these in a range of prices, so do your research. If you can, I recommend trying some out before buying. 3. Tripod and/or Light Stand If you use the three-point lighting setup mentioned above, you’ll need a tripod for your phone as well as stands for your lights. If you use the ring light, you’ll only need one light stand. You can find an inexpensive tripod or light stand on Amazon or at B&H. READ: Your Guide to a Perfect Self-Tape 4. Smartphone Tripod Adapter You’ll need an adapter to attach your phone to the tripod or ring light. I learned this the hard way when I couldn’t figure out how to attach my phone during a last-minute audition. Learn from my mistake and buy one ahead of time. 5. Microphone Sound is usually the last thing people think of when doing videos, but bad sound can have a huge impact—and not in a good way. Do yourself a favor and invest in a lavalier microphone. 6. Backdrop A blank wall in a neutral color is the best self-tape backdrop. If you don’t have uninterrupted blank wall space, a blue screen or muslin photography backdrop is necessary. You could also hang a plain sheet behind you, but make sure you iron out any wrinkles! 7. Editing Software You’ll need to use software to edit and export your video. I have a Mac so I use iMovie. If you’re a PC user, try HitFilm. 8. Reader It’s always best to have an actor read with you. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and set up a reader circle. Make yourselves available to read for each other as auditions come up. Once you have all your gear, I recommend doing some practice runs. This way, you’ll be a pro at setting everything up and when that late-night email comes in, you’ll be able to knock out your tape without any added stress. A casting director won’t be able to focus on your acting if they can’t see or hear you properly, so work out these technical elements before the need for a self-tape arises. That way, you can ensure nothing will distract the viewer from your work. View Original Article  

Actor Taxes: How to Prepare for the New Tax Law Changes

BY BAILIE SLEVIN via I’m not an accountant but I am a financial advisor which means I’m one of the professionals people turn to for help in deciphering what could happen with their tax return, especially this year with these new tax laws. The changes are so sweeping and wide-reaching that we still don’t know exactly what the potential problems are and it’s easy to feel like you’re being dropped into a foreign system. So let’s talk about how to prepare, not just financially, but emotionally and practically as we creep closer to April 15. Accept that neither you nor your accountant has all the answers yet. This is the toughest and the most important. You may “know” this, but have you accepted it? Accepting it means that while you may not be happy about it, you also aren’t staying up all night, tossing and turning while elephants wearing tutus made of 1099s dance around in your head. And this isn’t a dig at your CPA—it’s new for them too. If this is your first year with a new CPA, some extra vetting on your part would be prudent. If you’re staying with your tried and true then you already know the level of care you and your tax forms are going to receive. Do what you can. Help your accountant out and give yourself a place to funnel that anxiety. Itemize, itemize, itemize. Since some categories and types of deductions may have changed this year, you can be proactive by making sure you have a crystal clear context for every expense from 2018. So many of our purchases accomplish multiple tasks. It’s possible that one iteration may better clarify an expense’s usefulness with this new code. And your accountant will thank you. They don’t live your life. They don’t know that every meal at Westway Diner is a production meeting. Only you know that. Get a hobby. I’m serious. You’re going to need something to distract you over the next couple of months. Don’t try to find it on the fly. Don’t fall into something destructive. I know many people who, when concerned about money, spend more money. Find a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with your chosen career. It has a far better chance of relaxing and distracting you. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to enjoy it. Plan ahead but don’t act ahead. You may owe taxes. You may not. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you start putting money into a retirement account, talk to your accountant and financial advisor. Taking that step could be over preparing to the point of injury. If you want to prepare, move those funds to a savings account where you’ll still have flexibility; once money is in a retirement account, you have very restricted and limited access. Planning ahead is great, just make sure that plan can bend and grow with you. Commiserate. Plan some time to hang out with your like-minded, super smart, on top of their sh*t friends and talk about how much this sucks. It’s important to have a community and the theater/film/TV community is such a beautiful one. The unity you’ll find is second to none so lean on your peers and let them lean on you. Strength in numbers! Get educated, not obsessed. Unless you’re planning on going into the financial services field, there’s a limit to how much of a time commitment you should make to learning the intricacies of the new tax bill. Not because you shouldn’t be informed—you should be—just don’t overdo it.  Konmari your life on this one. Does tax law bring you joy? Does it make you money? Does it further your career? Learn enough, then let the professionals handle it. We’re all going to get through this, some of us as individuals and some of us as newly formed corporations. But here’s the thing: taxes will always go up and taxes will always go down. New taxes will be created and some old taxes will fade. The ability to deduct has always been a gift, changing year to year. I challenge you to view the uncertainty of this year not as a hurdle you have to overcome, but as an opportunity to engage more fully with your finances and be a driving force in the wave of increased personal financial health. Bailie Slevin is a registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). OSJ:52 Forest Ave., Paramus, NJ 07652. Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY.  PAS is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. Certified Financial Services and Entertaining Finance are not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. View Original Article

You Must Practice Gratitude for Successes Big + Small

BY LEAH NANAKO WINKLER via I am a playwright, and I cling to the love that surrounds me. I try not to bask in my own insecurities because that is dismissive of the people who support me. The world may say “no,” but it’s OK to carry a natural confidence, even if you’re a woman. But I try not to be so obsessed with myself—that’s dangerous. Or with critics—I’ve never been and never will be a perfect wispy darling. But I’m obsessed with my audience. I could die happy sitting in a dark theater with you, my throat tightening at the sound of your sobs, my heart vibrating by your laughter. I will love this feeling of strange intimacy for a lifetime. I will wake you if you’re snoring near me, but I enjoy that, too. How lucky am I to have something I love so much? So, I speak up when I need to for this thing that I love. And I use my voice because I have one. I write from a place of truth because it’s pointless to lie. I try to reflect the world I see, even if it’s not always represented. That’s not an agenda. It’s just the humanity I know. Again, I’m a playwright. And even at 33, some consider me young. This is good; I like being considered young. But because of this, some may say I’m trying to tell you too much. Show you too much. And maybe that’s right. Because there are so, so many things I want to tell you about, and I want to show them loudly and messily and be full of life and wonder. Don’t be afraid to do this. That’s exactly what theater is for. I love theater now the same way I did when I was a kid reciting the best female monologues of 1999 by myself in my room into a tape recorder to feel how playwrights’ words sounded in my mouth. The words felt like a release, but it certainly wasn’t in the realm of my possibility to actually become a playwright. I didn’t even really know what Broadway was! And then, by some sort of miracle, I found myself last night drinking wine at an opening night party for my second Off-Broadway show, “God Said This,” surrounded by collaborators, friends, loved ones, agents and managers I used to only dream of representing me at an amazing restaurant that a generous institution rented out just to celebrate the play we created with a step and repeat and everything. All of my actors are dressed to the nines and hugging each other. They look so happy. My director and I are wearing matching outfits. The associate director who spearheaded my play into production is smiling ear to ear. The staff is celebrating. I looked around this vast open space filled with people I love and flashed back to a moment 10 years ago. I was alone, cleaning candy off the floor of a self-produced festival show that performed to an audience of six. It’s a stark contrast, but I know even then that I would do it again and again. I would tell my younger self that those moments were just as important as the one I had the privilege of basking in now because I worked my ass off—and even if it doesn’t feel like it, anything can be a hidden building block. I’d also say that you’re going to be OK. It might be slower for you, but it’s OK. It’s gonna suck sometimes, but you’re lucky, remember? Look at the love around you in any space you’re in. At the same time, don’t let yourself be underestimated or taken advantage of, and don’t feel like you have to deal with intolerance or jerks of any kind. It’s just not worth it. And don’t suffer fools, but also don’t forget that sometimes the fool can be you. A good collaborator will tell you, and you’ll know they’re right. And most of all, have gratitude for wherever you’re at in your career. Say thank you to your director, who stays late steaming curtains even if it’s not her job; the lighting designer who makes jokes that are actually funny when everyone is tired and waiting for late set pieces to arrive; the stage manager who brings cookies to tech; the assistant stage manager who shows up early from Queens to the Cherry Lane Theatre every single show day with a smile on her face; the costume designer who can turn back time and make you cry with one amazing yellow dress; and your actors—your wonderful actors who work so hard and make their voices and bodies so vulnerable every night. Thank them for feeling your words in their mouths now. They help you better understand whatever you thought you conjured up in your head, whether you know it or not. And say thank you to every person who championed your script or honored you or gave you a prize or a check or a couch or a meal or a drink. Thank your friends. Thank the veteran mentor who called to check in. She doesn’t have to do that. Nobody has to do anything. Ever. And it all means something forever. And most of all, say thank you to the stranger who has come to every reading, 10-minute play, workshop, and full-length since 2006. To the person who hugged you with tears in their eyes because their parent was sick, their sister is sick, they lost their mom, their daughter, they’re going through it now. Thank you for telling me—I’ll never forget it. We’re not alone. Thank the friend who said your show was so visceral emotionally that her body reacted and she shit her pants, and that made you laugh so hard you almost shit yours. Thank the mixed-race student at the talk back who timidly asked questions about your shared identity; the Asian-American girl who thanked you for visibility and rich characters; the audience member who cried start to finish at the image of a Japanese mom in a hospital bed since we’ve only been watching white people fight illness on stage for so long. And thank the countless people who come up to tell you what your play reminded them of in their own unpredictable lives. Thank them. It takes a lot of courage to face each other in this world. And weirdly, the theater is a safe space to step into each other’s light. Don’t deflect these moments. Say thank you. View Original Article