Author Archives: Shawn Plumb

Are you a professional actor or do you do it for fun?  What’s the difference between a professional actor and someone that does it as a hobby?


If you constantly regret your auditions…REGRET? You don’t want to be a professional actor. Being a professional actor means you show up to every audition unless there are extreme circumstances for why you can’t go.  If you are always regretting why would any casting director want to see you? They will consider you unprofessional.
The first step to networking is to show up.  If they see you going to all your auditions they know that you are working hard to prove yourself in the room.  It will also make your agent very happy. If you regret all the time why would they even bother submitting you for jobs? Show up to your auditions.
Okay, so what if your not getting any auditions? You feel that you should be seen more. Review your training. Have you done any training? Have you met the casting directors? Have you done their workshops so that they can see you? Do you go to their events so you can meet them and introduce yourself? Don’t be creepy and follow them around their event. Think the power of 15 minutes. Introduce yourself and give them their space. I’ve had actors that wanted an agent follow me around parties for the entire night. It’s just really creepy. Don’t be that person.  Show up for training and be seen at events.
Many actors feel that they shouldn’t do student films or indie films since it’s not paid work. The funny thing is that those are the actors that are sitting on the coach. Don’t you want to be seen by future directors and producers? Aren’t they the ones that may hire you in the future? Would this be valuable for you? Would gain more experience doing lead roles? Would you gain more on camera experience? Would you be able to build a stronger demo reel?  Every actor should have a demo or some video material on their casting workbook and breakdowns. If the casting directors can’t see what you can do why would they give you auditions? They want to see what you look and sound like on camera. Even if it’s just a small clip. Show up on camera whenever there is a good and valuable opportunity.
With social media being such a powerful tool how about writing a blog, doing a website, Facebook page, Twitter or my favorite Instagram. Start up an actors journal and talk about what opportunities you have been doing and training. You never know what director or producer will see when you have an online presence .  Sometimes directors will google your name. If nothing shows up and you are a professional actor it doesn’t look great. Just remember to keep it all positive and clean. Bad social media can also ruin your reputation.  Show up on social media. 
In the end you have to decide what kind of actor you want to be. Do you want to be this person?
Or this person?
Hope this helps you on your acting journey.
Lisa Meuser
Talent Agent
My dad always told me to write what you know.  I feel it’s the same way when it comes to acting. Act what you know and draw from your own personal experiences.

Do you remember your first boyfriend?

Do you remember your first real lost?

What are your happy thoughts?

When you can draw from your own personal experiences to bring other characters to life they become more real on camera. Directors don’t want to see you acting. They want to see you present.  When going through sides and script you need to think about an experience and how you can relate it to the character. It will help show realism in your acting.

Consistent training is important. It is never a bad idea to train.  How else do you master your craft? Workshops with casting directors are the most valuable and instructors with a vast amount of experience in the industry.

SPECIAL SKILLS though are just as important.  Lots of characters require very specific skill sets. If you have these skills it will separate you from other actors that don’t. I have had many actors that were hired just based on their special skill sets. Every professional actor should of their license.  Do you know how many characters require that?  What if they need you to drive suddenly for your character on set? Be prepared. If you don’t have it. Go get it.

Funny enough they do ask at least once a month for a character that is able to drive a bus. I wonder if Sandra Bullock had her bus license?

I’ve had many actors that are able to do their own stunts in movies or hired based on the ability to do stunts.

Jessica was hired based on her swimming and stunt experience. 

Michelle trained and certified in stunt work. She could jump off a roof and did her own stunts in the feature film she was in. Not to many women are stunt certified. If you get that it puts you ahead of the game. 

Kenneth certified in stunts. Was hired based on his skills for a music a video.

Just some examples on how your special skills can land you a job.

Here is a list of special skills that you may think about learning that come up regularly on breakdowns. Remember these skills could set you aside from your competition.

Special Skills:

  • Horseback Riding
  • Shooting a Gun
  • CPR
  • Martial Arts
  • Stunt Certification
  • Singing
  • Whistling
  • Driving 
  • Stunt Driving
  • Juggling
  • Swimming
  • Gymnastics
  • Jump Rope
  • Dancing mostly Ballet, Tap and Hip Hop
  • Russian Accent
  • British Acent
  • Irish Accent
  • Greek Accent
  • Scottish Accent
  • Different Languages: Russian, Spanish, French, Greek. Mandarin and Arabic are the main ones that come up.
  • Classical Theatre Training
  •  Archery
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Skating
  • Skiing Down Hill and Cross Country
  • Fencing 
  • Improv (Second City Training-they ask specifically for that)
  • Sketch Show Experience
  • Cry on Demand
  • Able to scream
  • Patting Your Head and Rubbing Your Belly…kidding..Can you do that though?

I hope that thinking about obtaining some of these skills or even brushing up on them will help you on your actors journey.  Best of luck!

Lisa Meuser
Founder & Talent Agent of The Meus

Been seeing some amazing self tapes. Many actors can get callbacks from them or book directly from them. What are some things to keep in mind when doing a self tape?

Step 1: Find a color background or wall. Color stick outs. Black and white can wash you out on camera. You can always go get some material from the fabric store.

Step 2:  Lighting is important. If the director can’t see you act. They probably won’t give you the job. Let us see your pretty faces and your acting chops!

Step 3: A good camera and sound is important. There are always resources around if you don’t have have these things. Make friends with actors that do or friends that aren’t actors or go to a coach. Be resourceful. Again if  they can’t see or hear you. You probably won’t get the job.

Step 4: On camera auditions are as important as go to auditions. These are not optional. Do not make excuses for not getting them done. IF one of my actors can do it on a vacation outside of a jungle and can get a job….Just do it. But since you’ve already done the other steps before this step …You knew that,  didn’t you?

Step 5: Memorize your script. You are professional actor.

Step 6: Get a reader that is the right gender for the role.

Step 7: Please don’t wear something like this.

Yes. Avoid patterns. Black and white wardrobe.

Also don’t wear RED! No matter how hot you think it makes you look. DON’T DO IT.

Step 8: Follow instructions. Every video audition usually requests something different. Make sure you read the instructions and if something is unclear ask your agent. Usually, slate instructions vary per casting director or producer. If they don’t request a slate. Don’t do it.

Step 9:  Frame. You should be in the centre of the frame with the bottom of the frame at the centre of your chest and the top of the frame slightly above your head. Don’t try to go all artsy fartsy on me. I know you guys want too!

Step 10:  Tape your scenes individually or just flow through them. Don’t edit fancy transitions. They want to see your acting ability…not your editing ability.

Step 11: Take your time. Allow yourself to capture your best work. Come across as natural as possible. Don’t act. Be.

Step 12: Book part. If not, don’t think about it and focus on your next audition. Remember if you show them excellent work on your selftape they will be more inclined to bring you in for in person auditions.

Hope this was helpful this morning! This is what happens before your agent has coffee. She rants about useful steps!

Remember how I remind actors to put up their slate shots and how important it is to update their profiles? I met with a few of my casting director friends in Toronto to walk me through their step by step process so you guys can get a better understanding.  Even with a deferred paid job there were over 3,000 actors applying. Your profile needs to be top notch. 

Casting goes off of first impressions. They would categorize each person directly from their headshots. That’s why they are so important!  You need to create an image that really POPS! Sometimes in their first, large group of considerations, they would be narrowing down 1,000 submissions for a role to about 70 candidates. Then they would go through and really watch the slate shots (this is so why it’s important to have it up), then they would take a quick look at their reels and look at their other headshots. From here, they would narrowed the pile to about 25 per role. Then the casting directors would go into take a deeper look at the actors reels, watching more scenes and really analyzing if we saw them as the character or not, narrowing the pool to about 15-20 per role. Sometimes even less. That’s why it’s important to have all the key components in your profile. As an actor your goal is to be shortlisted. 

Things To Keep In Mind With Casting Submissions

1) Have a killer HEADSHOT that makes you stick out and look professional. No trees in the background, or brick walls.  BRANDING is important. Think about your brand when you do your headshots. 
2) REELS should match your brand. Don’t do a funny reel with a dramatic headshot. That just doesn’t match.  Remember your reel should not be about other actors it should be about your acting and your brand only. 
3)SLATE SHOTS are free and you reap benefits from it. 

 “Slate shots are the 5-7 second clips that you can attach as part of your headshot that casting can see right from their breakdown thumbnails without having to click on your profile individually. Actors with slate shots DO go to the top of submissions; with that being said, make sure your slate shot matches the essence of what your headshot is telling us. If you are submitting for a fierce politician, make sure your slate shot matches that.  Actors with a slate shot + reel are at the top of the submissions, followed by actors with reels only, then actors with slate shots only, and then lastly, actors with no slate shot or reel.”

Some Key Modeling Tips To Keep In Mind For Print Work From Aileen Images

Three tips for models starting off in the fashion or photography industry; Modeling can certainly be difficult especially when you are first starting off, today I am going to provide you with three tips to keep you confident, and feeling fabulous in front of the camera.

Find your Light

When you’re a new model, sometimes walking onto a photography set can be a little intimidating. Flashing lights, umbrella lights etc. The key is to Find you Light, depending on what you and your creative team have planned for the photoshoot work on angles, ask yourself questions like, What do we want to highlight and what do we want kept in the shadows? Stuff like this will help you and your photographer achieve the image you are after. The same works for outdoor photoshoots facing towards the sun or away, the photography team may also use reflectors to bounce the light on certain areas, work with the light.

Acting Natural- Working with your Photographer

It is really important to work hand in hand with your photographer, normally a meetup or conversation with them at first to get on the same page about the upcoming concept, once comfortable and the day of the photoshoot commences it is extremely important that you work with your photographer, set the scene for the concept, don’t be afraid to approach the photographer and ask to see some of the photos as you progress through your photoshoot. It’s important to see your own progress and to see what does look good on camera and what does not look good on camera. The more comfortable you feel with your photographer the more natural your movements and poses will be.

Practice Posing in the Mirror

Great way to increase your experience and may seem a little vain, BUT practicing in the mirror at home is a great way to increase your confidence in yourself as well as your posing experience, even using lamps at different angles to Find your Light, looking through fashion magazines and mimicking the poses are great ways to boost your self esteem and confidence to start booking more!


Improv skills are imperative when becoming a professional actor. Especially, when starting out. Many non union actor’s auditions are now including less scripts and more improv. Currently, we have about four non-union series happening in Ontario and every audition is based situational improv. Which means it is based on the characters and what conflict they encounter. Some examples include a mother losing her daughter, paranormal activity, and criminal cases.

 I work with lots of comedians and find that ‘Second City’ has the best training when it comes to improv. It is also a recognizable school and casting directors are familiar with the caliber of quality training. If you have the chance to train, take advantage of the opportunity. I’m finishing reading, “Bossypants,” by Tina Fey. The book describes her training through ‘Second City,’ and how she was able to branch out in her career. I highly recommend the read because it’s simple and hilarious. She is a hilarious comedian-writer/comedian, and if you’re not familiar with her work, check her out. The book highlights the reality of having a career in the entertainment biz.

Be prepared to work long hours because it’s not a 9 to 5 job- but we do it because we love it. We do it because it allows us to be creative. Mostly it is because we can be the artist we were born to be.

Here is a reminder for a fantastic opportunity called ‘Improv Fundamentals’ that is scheduled to run October 6- November 10, 2016, 7:30-9 PM every Thursday. Minimum 8 students. Check it out.
Follow this link:

Head shots are your golden ticket into getting you an audition. If you are not getting auditions for anything, it usually means your head shots are not working. Your agent will direct you to switch your head shots, so go and get some quality head shots.
Some rules to follow for getting head shots:

1) Do not take photos behind a brick wall or in a forest. You are not posing for catalogs and you are not fairies. You are actors. Be in a studio with a color backdrop.

2) Lighting is very important. If the casting directors or producers cannot see your face, you probably will not be selected for an audition.

3) Think about what characters you play and dress accordingly; e.g. for parts such as lawyers or students. Look the part.

4) Dress like you would for an audition. Avoid black, whites, reds and patterns. Think about what color looks good on you and wear that. If you don’t know what color looks good on you take some sample photos with different wardrobes at home. Pastel colours are best.

5) It’s a head shot. It’s not a full body or far shot. If we cannot connect with your eyes, why would they call you in for an audition? CLOSE UP.

6) Go to reputable photographers, or get a recommendation. Not everyone with an SLR camera can take proper photos. I recommend Sarah Reid,  Ron Sullivan, Gord Weber, and Jennifer Stanhope in Ottawa. I really like Sam Gatz and Tim Leyes in Toronto and Nick Kuiper for out west.  Sarah Reid also does Toronto as well. There are many more that I could add to this list. The bottom line if you are uncertain, ask your agent for a recommendation.

7) If your agent tells you, you need a new head shot or if they do not like them, they are telling the TRUTH. They see what head shots work and what ones do not. It is really important to listen to your agent and ask advice before you go take the head shots.  If you do not do that and you get no offer for an audition, it is likely because you did not follow direction to change the head shot.

“Follow the yellow brick road and you’ll find the Wizard”. Follow these steps and you will get more auditions.

Photo Credit:  Tim Leyes
Photo Credit: Sarah Reid

Photo Credit: Sarah Reid
Photo Credit: Sam Gatz
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