This information is totally essential to anyone working in performance or the public eye.
This post applies to several industries, not just acting.
Whenever I am working, I look around the room to see if anyone is working harder. I always have to be one of the hardest working people in the room. If I look around and see someone with more energy, enthusiasm or drive, it motivates me to be on that same level! Working principal acting and background roles for over a decade allowed me to amass a solid set of tips to make sure everyone wants to work with you again.
Follow these tips to be the real star of any show…
Talk Minimally – If you are in ‘holding’ with everyone else, keep your conversations quiet and to a minimum. Ask yourself if what you are about to say is a) related to work or b) relevant. Choose your words carefully. If you are preparing for a scene or in between takes, the worst thing you can do is start talking. Between takes is when production is likely blocking/framing/reviewing the shot and it can be disrupting for production when noise chaos breaks out between every take.
Keep it Simple – If you are bringing your life to work or set re-think this strategy. Relying on co-workers to weigh important life decisions is not necessary. Listen to your soul. You are good enough. You have everything you need inside of you to manage, manifest and control your own life. Pay attention to what you talk about on set. Mind your business! Avoid talking about others, too! Keep talk to a minimum behind the scenes and for sure do not talk on set.
“Scents” – This boils down to respecting a room full of fellow crew and actors. For some, scents trigger migraines, headaches, sinus issues or annoyance. For others, smells can be an assault on senses; to be in close proximity to someone who has just splashed their skin with spritzes of their cologne may not be high on everyone’s priority list.
Speakers (unless in your own trailer) – If you are held with other actors awaiting your scene, avoid making noise. This includes blasting your favorite hip hop jam over your bluetooth speaker in background holding. As fun as music is, no one wants to hear yours while waiting on the call to action. Obviously if you have your own trailer you have more freedom to do what you like and a speaker is encouraged!
Mingling – Your goal on set should be to deliver. When that director calls action you owe him or her something. You are there to do your job and do it 110%. Stay focused. In between takes or elsewhere it is not advisable to look for your next date or chat up the on-set waitress. Someone is always watching you. Maintain your composure and refrain from hitting on co-workers. It is one of the most unprofessional things you can do on set. Same goes for any trash talk / body references / crude comments. Just don’t.
Mime your words – When action has been called, unless you are a principal actor with actual lines, there should be no whispering whatsoever, only miming. This means moving your mouth but absolutely no sound is coming out of it. No laughing, not even a smack of your lips should be heard. If production has to re-do a take because they picked up your whispering or laughing – your co-workers won’t be impressed and you risk not being called back. Understand that there should be no talking or whispering once action is called.
Hair/ makeup chair etiquette – It might be early and you’re drinking coffee. Be mindful of your colleagues. They are working hard to make you look the way you should. Put your drink and your bagel down while the Hair and Makeup artist work on you so they can get their job done quickly, efficiently and easily. See all my beauty pageant tips to win, if you’re in a pageant this etiquette also applies!
Cell Phones (Hair & Makeup Chair continued) – How can someone effortlessly do your makeup if you are staring down into your phone the entire time? Once you sit in that hair/makeup chair your phone is no longer a priority – being a good actor is. Look up and into the lights for whoever is working on you and they will thank you. When people enjoy working with you, you get called back!
Avoid Fixing Your Look After Hair and Makeup – Trained hair and makeup artists are often under strict protocol and guidelines for how you should look in your role. When you are done in hair and makeup avoid changing your look yourself. Be thankful, be grateful, own your look and be happy with the work of these talented artists. See all my beauty pageant tips to win, if you’re in a pageant this etiquette also applies!
Maintain your fresh hair, no hands on your makeup – I once watched a background actor lay on the ground while resting her face in her hands. She was effectively wrinkling her dress, flattening her freshly curled hair and smudging the makeup that had just been put on her face all at the same time. She wasn’t feeling well, but regardless, this is a major no-no. Once your hair/makeup/wardrobe is set – respect the work that has gone into this and be mindful of your clothing and look. Avoid eating in your clothes or cover your clothes if you have to eat in them. Eat carefully so you do not ruin your lipstick. Don’t rest your head in your hands or touch your face or rub your eyes. Avoid pressing your phone against your freshly painted face. Definitely do not lay down on your fresh hair if it has just been styled. Maintain composure at all times!
Hang Up and fold everything nicely for wardrobe – Don’t bring a pile of clothes to wardrobe when you change back into your own clothes. Find hangers, carefully fold items that can be folded and ensure that the clothes are returned to wardrobe neatly and precisely. Wardrobe has a big job! Be courteous and help them.
Avoid Posting Photos – Always wait until an episode or movie is released before posting any behind the scenes photos. All images/content are owned by the show. People have been sued over this!
NO Excuses – A very wise and successful Hollywood actor/director once told me, “ I don’t want to hear an excuse,” He’s right. No one wants to hear your excuse for anything. If you have an excuse you do not have much else, including credibility. Own your actions, own your behaviour and deal with it. You have everything when you do not have any excuses! True professionals in the film/entertainment industry maintain this mantra “No Excuses,”
Thanks for reading my top tips for professional actors.
These tips can be transferrable to other industries too.
Thanks for following Theresa Longo on Twitter www.twitter.com/theresalongo
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Filmi was founded in 1999 and is the premiere South Asian festival in North America. The festival was created to promote South Asian independent films from around the world. Theresa Longo appears on the big screen in short film ‘To No Man’s Land’ directed by Khizer Khani at Filmi 19.