Artists' Search for Work

Jump-Start a career with non-paying acting opportunities

Why act without getting paid? If you have serious intentions of making this your career, you are going to need a great deal of experience in it to move forward. Without some stroke of beginners luck, it is wise to “bite the bullet” and take non-paying work to get a career started. The strategy here is to begin adding credits to what could be an otherwise empty resume. Most non-paying acting opportunities include workshops, student films, scene nights and showcases. Listings of them can also be found in the casting notices section of the trades.

Workshops are often associated with acting schools. Scene night performances can be one-time-only evening of scenes

  Check List for an actor’s search for work
There are numerous skills, tools and breadth of knowledge that contribute directly and indirectly to finding work as an actor, whether it be acting or non-acting work.

Industries to which an actor can apply his/her craft include:
Film industry
Television industry and all sub groupings
Voice-over industry
Commercials industry
Comedy industry
Theater industry
Extra industry
Stunt and action acting industry

Finding and getting an agent (read below).
Knowing sources for auditions (read below).
Understanding the role of casting directors and the casting process.

Producing your own projects, and/or starting your own theater company.

Know the outlets for actor survival jobs, like temp agencies and restaurant staffing.
 Use our communication tools (chat room; message board; messaging tools etc.) to reach others who can provide you with more help and information

 and/or monologues, performed for an audience of non-paying invited guests. Showcases can have audition notices that appear in the trades.

Sometimes actors are asked to submit pictures and resumes by mail. Non-union actors can appear in Equity showcases, an excellent way to be seen, since agents and casting directors are more likely to attend Equity showcases than non-Equity showcases. There are also plenty of non-Equity showcases, but since there are no rules governing them, it is advisable to be aware of the conditions you will be performing under.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA offer free showcases each month in association with the Casting Society of America. To participate in these showcases, actors must be a member of the union hosting the event and be current with their dues. Before you sign up for any showcases, find out which casting director will be attending your showcase and which project that casting person may currently be casting.

Readings and staged readings (especially for actors between gigs) helps keep your name and face in the industry, while also making contacts and connections among playwrights, directors, and producers. Often held in informal settings, dozens of theatres can conduct a great number of roles to be read. For producers, readings serve as test runs, and actors who make time for non- and/or low-paying work in readings and staged readings can boost their odds of being cast later on, whether in that piece or in a different one.

Searching within the industry

The initial task will be to send a photo and resume to the franchised agents and subagents whose names have been taken from the trade papers such as Ross Reports, Backstage, Theatrical Index, etc. Also, go through a list of leads and find the casting directors who regularly cast series, soaps and any other shows that use dramatic talent. Make sure to select only those casting directors who handle the shows you are right for.

There are many ways to create and find opportunities to begin a career in the arts. A variety of careers are available in the performing arts, museums, visual arts, music, and the film industry. Below are some resources to inform you about the various jobs, to help you become active and gain experience in the field, and to guide you in the job exploration process.

Sources to find acting work

Incidentally, whether you have an agent or not, the onus of finding work, and/or networking for it, is still up to you. Its 

Terms to Know

Audition. A formally arranged session (usually by appointment through an agent) for an actor to display his or her talents when seeking a role in an upcoming production of a play, film or television project, usually to a casting director, director or producers.

Bit Part. A small part, usually consisting of a few lines.

Booking Agent. One who finds employment for artists from buyers of talent.

Book Out. A call to all of your agents to let them know you are working, traveling or are unavailable for auditions or a job.

Breakdown Services. A fee-based service provided to agents that offers a daily breakdown of roles for each production submitted by participating casting directors.

Calling Service. As pertains to extras, a company that helps to book them on extra jobs.

Casting. When a casting director puts out the news that he needs to fill a certain role that requires an approximate age range and appearance such as a certain ethnicity, height, build or look.

Day-Player. Someone who is hired at SAG scale (minimum) for the day.

On Hold. A situation that occurs when an actor is contracted to be available for the next day’s shoot but will not have to report to the set until called.

Right-to-Work. Ability to accept employment without joining a labor union, usually referring to states whose labor codes insure that right.

Rush Calls. A last minute call by an agency to an actor for an audition or a job.

Studio Hire. Union term for actors who work in the same area in which they are hired or reside.

Taft-Hartley Law. A law that allows non-union actors to work under a union contract for their first role. After that, they must join the union.

Will-Notify. A call given to actors when call time is uncertain, indicates an actor will work, but no specific call time has been determined.

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For a full glossary listing click here

 

just that in many cases, you can’t break into a major production without the representation of an agent. In numbered check list sequence, there are numerous sources to search out for casting opportunities and audition trials.

  1. Actor directories
  2. Industry tabloids
  3. Regional, Combined Theatre Auditions
  4. The film studios
  5. The television broadcasters
  6. Websites posting with audition and casting opportunities
  7. Commercial Print assignments

Actor directories are book, CD-ROMs or possibly websites, listing actors’ names, photos, contact information, and sometimes a brief mention of some of their more recent credits. The books are categorized by types such as leading man and woman, ingénue, younger leading man, character/comedienne female, character/comedian male, child female and child male. Some actor directories include:

 

Breakdown Services, Ltd.
123 W. 44th St., Ste. 2H
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-869-2003
Fax: 212-869-2004
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.breakdownservices.com/
An information Service for talent agents and casting directors. An excellent explanation of the service can be found at http://www.breakdownservices.com/us.html.

The Link
http://www.submitlink.com/
gives talent representatives the ability to submit their clients? pictures and resumes to casting directors over the Internet for the specific roles mentioned in the Breakdowns.

The Academy Players Directory
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.acadpd.org/

The Players Guide
The Spotlight
1560 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-302 9474
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.playersguideny.com/

On this site Casting News Hot Off The Wire! is a frequently updated column presented on the "Media, Entertainment and Performing Arts Industry News and Events" page, and in the opposite corner is a column focused on production work and musical jobs for singers and bands in film and television. Also, make sure to check the message board of The Actor’s Checklist, since casting directors, producers and agents frequently post casting notices for audition opportunities.

Regional, combined theatre auditions

Regional, combined auditions are a low-cost way to audition for dozens of producers and directors at one time for summer-stock productions, Renaissance fairs, non-equity and equity theatres, Shakespeare festivals, theme parks, dinner theatre, outdoor dramas and even to enroll in graduate level college theatre programs. Every year, in February or March, each of these combined auditions are attended by producers who are looking for talented actors and actresses to perform in live, summertime productions. Some offer year-round positions, school touring, apprentice and intern positions as well. Graduate school programs use many of these auditions to enroll students. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the organizations that interests you. Request information about their auditions and an application. Since the auditions generally occur in February and March, write for information and applications in early December.

 

Illinois Theatre Association
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657-3205
Phone: 773-929-7288, Ext. 18 & 19
Fax: 773-327-1404
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.iltheassoc.org/

Indiana Theatre Association
c/o Clowes Hall, Butler University Theatre
4600 Sunset Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46208-3443
Phone: 317-940-9666
Fax: 317-940-6549
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Lottery Auditions
Contact your nearest Actors’ Equity Association for information.

Midwest Theatre Auditions
Webster University
470 E. Lockwood
St. Louis, MO 63119-3194
Phone: 314-968-6937
Fax: 314-963-6048
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.websteruniv.edu/depts/finearts/theatre/mwta

National Dinner Theatre Association
PO Box 726
Marshall, MI 49068
Phone: 616-781-7859
Fax: 616-781-4880

New England Theatre Conference
c/o Northeastern University Dept. of Theatre
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617 424 9275
Fax: 617 424 1057
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New Jersey Theatre Group
17 Cook Ave.
Madison, NJ 07940
Phone: 973-593-0189
Fax: 973-377-4842
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.nj.com/njtheatre/

Northwest Drama Conference Auditions
University of Idaho - Moscow
Theatre Arts Dept.
Moscow, ID 83844-3074
Phone: 208-885-6197
Fax: 208-885-2558
Email:

Ohio Theatre Alliance Auditions
77 S. High St., 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Phone: 614-228-1998
Fax:
Email:

National Outdoor Drama Auditions
Institute of Outdoor Drama
CB #3240 1700 Airport Rd.
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3240
Phone: 919-962-1328
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.unc.edu/depts/outdoor

Rocky Mountain Theatre Association
Summer Theatre Auditions
Western Wyoming College
P.O. 428/C-564
Rock Springs, WY 82902-0428
Email:
http://www.wwcc.cc.wy.us/Festivention99/p31.htm

Southeastern Theatre Conference
PO Box 9868
Greensboro, NC 27429-0868
Phone: 336-272-3645
Fax: 336-272-8810
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.setc.org

Southern California Educational Theatre Association
SCETA Auditions
c/o Dept. of Drama
California Lutheran University
60 Olsen Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Phone: 805-493-3416
Email:
http://www.sceta.org/sceta.html

Southwest Theatre Association
Auditions C/O Southwest Theatre Association
4712 Enchanted Oaks
College Station, TX 77845
Phone:
Fax:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.southwest-theater.com/SWTA2.html

StrawHat Auditions
PMB 315
1771 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
Phone:
Fax:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.strawhat-auditions.com/

Theatre Alliance of Michigan Statewide Professional Theatre Auditions
Box 726
Marshall, MI 49068
Phone:
Fax:
Email:

Theatre Auditions in Wisconsin
721 Lowell Center
610 Langdon St.
Madison, WI 53703-1195
Phone: 608-263-6736
Fax:
Email:

Theatre Bay Area General Auditions
Theatre Bay Area
870 Market Street, Suite 375
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-430-1140
Fax: 415-430-1145
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.theatrebayarea.org/

Unified Professional Theatre Auditions
Playhouse On The Square
51 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN 38104
Phone: 901-725-0776
Fax: 901-272-7530
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.upta.org/ or http://www.playhouseonthesquare.org/

University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA)
National Unified Auditions
1560 Broadway, Suite. 414
New York, NY 10036
Phone 212-221-1130
Fax 212-869-2752
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.urta.com/

 

Vermont Association of Theatres
& Theatre Artists
c/o Champlain Arts Theatre Company
PO Box 1091
Burlington, VT 05402-1091
Email:

 

 

Jobs outside show business that draw on actor’s strengths

Normally and traditionally, actors seeking survival jobs outside the industry have used their advantages in image projection, characterization, and verbal communications to secure suitable and alternative working opportunities that usually afford them flexibility in seeking audition and performing opportunities. Some of these job categories include, but are not limited to:

acting career consultant; animal trainer and groomer; answering service operator; audio visual coordinator; campaign worker; cashier; coat check attendant; computer consultant/systems representative; computer graphics; beautician/barber; croupier; customer representative; English as a second language instructor; flight attendant; food stylist; foreign language teacher; freelance fund-raiser; hotel and dining room greeter; health club staffer; host/hostess; hotel/motel desk clerk; job developer; massage therapist; patient advocate; personal assistant; personal trainer (independent); proofreader; program director for charity organizations; public opinion poll taker; public relations assistant; real estate agent; receptionist; recruiter; sales positions of all types; sperm donor; substitute schoolteacher/teacher’s aide; theater technical director; theater ticket order taker; tour guide; toy demonstrator; translator; travel agent; tutor; waiter; wine steward (sommelier)

Considering a second career while you wait for your big break

Jobs and careers in the communications and entertainment industry can be good long term choices that keeps you close to the action and networked which might result in a break. These industries can include, but are not limited to:

book publishing; magazine publishing; newspaper publishing; television; radio; movies; special effects; advertising; public relations; new media

 

Relevant Associations & Organizations

Actors’ Fund of America
729 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10019
Phone: 212-221-7300
Fax: 212-764-0238
A nonprofit organization founded in 1882, committed to helping show business professionals in times of need with programs in health, human services and work programs.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.actorsfund.org/

Actors’ Work Program
c/o Actors’ Fund of America
729 Seventh Avenue (48 & 49 Sts.), 11 Floor
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-354-5480
Los Angeles: 323-933-9244 ext:50
Career management and counseling mostly for sideline and second careers; educational grants for retraining and education.
Email (NY/LA): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.actorsfund.org/human/work.html

American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT)
1595 Spring Hill Road, Suite 330
Vienna, VA 22182
Phone: 703-506-3290
Fax: 703-506-3266
Established in 1951, AWRT has local chapters throughout the United States that promote AWRT’s mission: to advance the impact of women in the electronic media and allied fields, by educating, advocating and acting as a resource to its members and the industry.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.awrt.org/

ArtJob
1543 Champa Street, Suite 220
Denver, CO 80202
Toll-free: 1-888-JOBS-232 or 888-562-7232
Phone: 303-629-1166
Fax: 303-629-9717
Search for art jobs: full- & part-time employment, internships, grants, public art projects, residencies -- you can search by region, art discipline, type of organization, and more.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.artjob.org

Casting Society of America
606 N. Larchmont Boulevard, Suite 4-B
Los Angeles, CA 90004 -1309
Phone: 323-463-1925
Fax: 323-463-5753
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.castingsociety.com/

Casting Society of America
2565 Broadway, Suite 185
New York, NY 10025
Phone: 212-868-1260 x22
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.castingsociety.com/

FilmCommissionHQ
The inFILM Network, Inc.
FilmCommissionHQ Division
8491 West Sunset Boulevard, #1300
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: 818-904-0277
Fax: 818-904-2884
Actors can register as a Professional Member of FilmCommissionHQ.com (a not-for-profit organization). There is no cost to register. Among many other benefits, Professional Members may receive a free online profile in their Talent Directory. Producers, photographers, talent scouts, and casting directors will be looking to the local Film Commission in the area they are filming in to find local talent. Your online profile will be available for everyone to see in the Talent Directory of your local Film Commission at FilmCommissionHQ.com.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.filmcommissionhq.com

National Dinner Theatre Association
c/o Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
510 Centerville Road
Lancaster, PA 17601
Phone: 717-898-1900
Fax: 717-898-1546
The National Dinner Theatre Association is an organization of over forty dinner theatres nationwide dedicated to giving you, our patrons the best service possible. The N.D.T.A is a group of professionals who share their insight into the operation and management of the dinner theatre industry. Membership includes some of the top theatrical producers in the country (both union and non-union).
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.ndta.com/audition.html

Non-Traditional Casting Project (NTCP)
1560 Broadway, Suite 1600
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-730-4750
Fax: 212-730-4820
NTCP works to promote inclusive hiring practices and standards, diversity in leadership and balanced portrayals of persons of color and persons with disabilities.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://www.ntcp.org

 For a full listing of helpful associations and organizations