So you want to be a professional actor… SO MANY THINGS TO DO! CAN’T FOCUS ON ANYTHING. NO PROGRESS. NO SUCCESS. What do you do to take a steps forward?
Create daily lists. Daily, Weekly and Yearly. Remember success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes one step at a time, and one of those steps is conquering your list.
The first step is the hardest part. Is figuring out who YOU are and what YOU want to do. If you could write one line that describes yourself, what would it be?  If being an actor isn’t one them… you may want to rethink the “actors list for success” and maybe do the “construction workers list to success” or whatever it is! DO YOU!
What you want to think about, is what you want to accomplish yearly. As a talent agent, one item on my list would be to book one of my actors in a continuous role on a TV series. Last year, my goal was to book one of my actors on all the shows in Canada. I actually accomplished this and knocked off one show at a time. Lucky my team is exceptional! These are just things to think about, but when you write it down it becomes more real (I also put places where I’d like to travel too; I haven’t taken an actual vacation in about 5 years!!)
When you outline your yearly goals, you can determine what you should be knocking off daily or weekly to achieve them.
I like to make the following schedule, which helps me stay on track:
Firstly, I outline the WEEKLY SCHEDULE. Then I put what my WEEKLY PRIORITIES are. APPOINTMENTS and then COMMITMENTS. Been really busy this week too, especially since my brother’s wedding is in a few days and of course, TIFF is coming up soon!
What are TODAY’S Priorities?
Make a list and check them off when you are done. Here is a sample:
Check in with Talent Agent
Check Casting workbook make sure resume and head shots are current
Check Breakdown make sure resume and head shots are current
Check to see if current Slate is up on breakdown
Look for student or indie films to take part of to add more to demo reel and to network (these are future producers and directors – many of my actors that participated in these got hired for future roles)
Send casting director a thank you note for the latest booking
Drink lots of water
Go to the gym
Take an hour to read and get offline. No phone! No computer!
Cuddle puppy/kitty
Do an improv show
Go to TIFF networking events
This is only an example, but imagine if you did this every day? You would get so much done, and be much more focused. Make those lists! Get those bookings!  Stay Focused!

Being a creative person isn’t an easy thing. So many people tell you that it is impossible, and every time a person says that, a fairy dies… I’m kidding, I don’t believe in fairies.

It is so important to surround yourself with positive people that will encourage your crazy artistic ideas; whether it is a short film, a podcast, a creative painting or a travel blog. When you surround yourself with beautiful people, the creativity flows and you’re inspired. You become a better person because of it. You want to be with people that support your dreams. In a sense, you want to find your muses.

Again, the creative path isn’t an easy one, but you have to do what makes your heart full. Sometimes even family can be a negative influence. I remember a time when I went to go watch one of the kids I represented in a show, and her father turned to me and said, “She is just doing theatre for fun. This isn’t what she is really going to do. She will get over this hobby.” I almost died right there and then. My whole mission in life is to make artistic careers possible, and when someone just bluntly says, “Nope!”… A fairy died then. I turned to the father and said, “Anything is possible,” and smiled.

I am so fortunate to have a group of friends that support me in all my crazy projects. Some people may think, why would you make a zombie movie if there is no money involved, and others would be like, why would you make a zombie movie? My tribe are the ones that say, “YES! MAKE A ZOMBIE MOVIE!”

Be with people that support you. When you are surrounded by positive people you are more motivated to create and act. Being an actor is honestly the profession of being rejected. You may get hundred “Nos” before you get one “Yes”. To be fair, being any sort of artist is the profession of being rejected. That’s why having a group of people who support you is very important. Get rid of the negative scum and sweep it away. Life is too beautiful and full of art to even bother with people that don’t support you

The truth is: be true to yourself and don’t let ANYONE tell you what you can’t do.

 Also, I do believe in fairies.

Toronto Casting Director Jules Fitzsimmonswas in Ottawa for the successful second annual Eve Film Festival and I asked her if she could meet some actors from The Meus’sroster and share her insights on how the casting process works.

Jules casts hundreds of roles a year and sees thousands of live and taped auditions, headshots and CVs. The actors she met, mostly women, ranged in age from 10 to 65 and from novices contemplating the business to actors who are regularly cast in principal roles.

“The first thing to know is that the casting team is going to have 400 to 800 potential actors that fit the breakdown and may, if lucky, be able to put 10, more likely 5, up in front of the production team. If you’re not invited to audition, it’s not a bad reflection on you or your agent.”

How do actors improve their chances of being invited to audition?

“First, the basics, the ones that your agent is always reminding you about: Make sure your résumé, photos, slates are complete and up to date. The more complete your profile, the higher in the list your name shows up.”

“Second, make us look forward to seeing you again! I’m already curious about you, so show me that you can show up and you’re happy to perform for our select, little audience. Remember that we have lots of other parts to cast besides this one, both right now and in the future. Also, be professional with everyone at the audition – we assume you won’t behave better on set than you do in the waiting room.”

What do we do if we don’t get the part?

“Don’t sweat it! You got to act this week! My job is to get the biggest and most diverse set of capable actors for the production team to choose from. All other things being equal, they may want to go with the proven actor. It makes me sad when they overlook a new performer who would do the job as well or better. Fortunately, there are only 365 days a year, and that proven actor can’t appear in everything that shoots everyday.”

How much latitude do we have on the age range posted in the breakdown? Some of us are prematurely grey, some of us are baby-faced…

“Your agent already knows this about you and is submitting you accordingly. We don’t ask adults how old they are, of course. If the part appeals to you, ask your agent if they would pitch you.”

I’ve been told I shouldn’t put training and workshops that I’ve attended on my résumé?

“Well, if you already have a full page of work in recognizable roles listed, maybe there’s no need. But if you’re starting out and only have a few roles, maybe amateur, sure, list the workshops and training that you’ve done, too. Casting Directors recognize the good trainers and it reassures us that you’ll audition well. Again, take your agent’s advice on the content and format of your résumé. If you’re not in a role, I expect you to be working on your craft. That includes workshops, training, volunteering at festivals, anything that shows that you’re learning as much as possible.”

What are the big no-no’s for the actor who wants to get as many auditions as possible?

“Well, failing to show up is sadly common. If you accept, show up. If you must decline, tell your agent why, promptly and politely, so that it doesn’t reflect poorly on you.”

“Also, “no hating, no grumbling” especially not on social media. Don’t lash out, privately or publicly, at the actor who got the part, the producers, the casting director, or your agent. Your social media presence should imply that you’d be a pleasure to work with.”

I really wanted to meet Jennifer Cooper, who casts 5 TV series in L.A. and is probably one of the busiest casting directors down there. The way I met her was pretty funny, I disguised myself as an actress and did her workshop in Toronto. She knew I was coming as an agent but I had to pretend to be an actress to keep it a safe zone for all the actors. I wasn’t there to recruit but to get insight on what she looks for in the actors she chooses. I was so embarrassed when she asked for everyone’s head shots and I didn’t have one (something I always tell my actors to have on them. Not just one copy but a few.) She kept making jokes throughout the workshop how agents were the worst, knowing that I was in disguise. It was hard not to laugh or cry.

Before Jennifer was a casting director, she wanted to be actress, which is something that I can relate to. I won’t even tell you the number of plays and musicals I was involved in. I loved showbiz but what really drew me to it was the business side of things. Being an actor is the hardest job in the world. You have to really want it. You have to wake up in the morning and be dying to do it, otherwise you just won’t last. Being an actor is a struggling business. You really need to ask yourself. Do you love this? I remember my last audition that I did in maybe first year University, the director asked me,  “You don’t want to be here. Do you?” The truth is I never wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be the person behind the table. This moment was the beginning of me becoming a talent agent. I wanted to help people get those parts, get those opportunities that they never thought they could get.

I remember Jennifer talking about how casting directors are rooting for you to get the job and to never think that they are against you in some way. If they bring you in, they want you to get the job because if you don’t, they have to keep working to find someone else and that could be an all nighter. Remember they want you to get the job. If you remember that going into an audition it will help you calm your nerves. Just remember to not do anything ridiculous. She talked about how one actor decided to do a back flip randomly in the room. Don’t do that. If you act crazy you will also not get the job as it is their reputation on the line.

When it comes to submissions she talked about the one liners. For a one liner auditions she would get up to 2000 head shots for one role. When it comes down to actors roles it’s not necessary about acting but what you look like so you better have good head-shots. The one liners is a good starting point. If you do amazing on that they will keep bringing you in as you build your reputation. Remember that it isn’t a fast process. You have to prove yourself. You have to build your reputation. You have to build your relationships.

Questions as an actor that you should keep in mind:

What would a marketing person say about you?
Who will watch you?
Who is that person watching you?

 “There is nothing that will get you the job but talent.” – Jennifer Cooper

Build your relationships. Build your Brand. Build. Build. Build.

Ambition. Drive. Think of acting as a being a single mom. Think about how much it takes to raise a child and work a full time job. The strongest prevail and the others start to hide away their art. Acting is a world of rejection. Sometimes actors begin to feel worthless, but there is something inside of everyone that is worth a great deal.  Watch Dead Poets Society (1989) for inspiration.  Express your art. It’s not meant to be hidden away. It does take hard work though.

To be a professional actor, as most of you know, you need an agent. An agent pitches you for opportunities based on your experience and portfolio. Agents do get questioned a lot by actors about whether auditions are coming in or not. It is all based on your credentials.  Do you have current training? Do you have credits? On your resume, what were the jobs that you got paid for? To start, it’s good to do as many indie films to build experience, but for bigger jobs it comes down to actual credits and jobs that you were paid for. If you become Union too soon and you don’t have any credits, it will be harder for you to get work. They pick 5 actors out of 500.  Who will they pick?  The ones that have the most experience and training.  

You are what your dominant thoughts are. Keep in mind that with acting you could be rejected 500 times before you get one yes. Trying to stay confident is hard. Try to keep your thoughts positive. Try to send positive thoughts to your agent too. They want you to book the part as much as you do! Put positive quotes on the wall. Have your goals visualized somewhere. Just keep driving.I recently met with one of my high school teachers, Barbra Berry. I started to remember teachers that really inspired me and kept me goal orientated. She was my gym teacher and track coach in high school.
I remember doing the 100 meter run. Yes, short people can run fast.  My legs collapsed and I had to get carried off the track. I was pretty embarrassed and very sad. My competitive nature kicked in and the truth is I hated losing. Afterwards, I was ready to give up. I’m not going to run anymore.

A week later in gym class, I’m standing at the track and Mrs. Barry was timing all the students on their run. She turned to me and asked me, “Are you going to run?”  I can’t even tell you how many swear words came to my head. There was no way I was going to run. I could barely walk. I looked at her and said, “No. I’m not running anymore.” I remember it like it was yesterday, she just looked at me and asked me, ” Well, can you walk?”
“Yes, I can walk.”
“Well, get walking then.”

Everyone was running by me as I walked around the track. I felt ridiculous at first, especially because Mrs. Barry was timing me.  She waited for me to finish with the timer. Even though it was probably an extra 30 minutes or more. At the end she said, “Good.”

I didn’t really know how to respond, but in that moment I became more determined than ever. I would retrain myself to run. I did physio and kept walking around that track until I could run again. I ended up winning some races afterwards too.  At first I thought my accident was terrible, but it became positive in my personal growth. What we can take from Mrs. Barry is when things get hard keep moving forward. Get around that track no matter how long it takes. Continuing to move forward is key, but you have to be smart about it as an actor. Yes, you may have talent, but it’s not just about acting. Acting is a business. Your agent promotes you, but you have to build your reputation.  Being a professional actor is just like owning your own personal business. You need to have a brand, you need to promote it, and you need to market yourself. Why would casting directors bring you in if they don’t know who you are? There are events and workshops in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto that can help you present yourself to key players that bring you in the room.  

If you are a better actor and you are up against a not so good actor that has booked more jobs and has made more money for the producers, who will they pick? The better actor or the one that would bring them more money?  

I really hope every actor has an Instagram account and a blog.  I bet producers google actors now. Having an audience in showbiz is important. The more fans that will watch you, the more reasons they have to book you for a production.  It means they will sell more and the production will be more valuable.  Creating content is key, but make sure it’s quality content. Bad content can harm your career. I’ll say it again. Create content. Create content. Create content. 

A great podcast to listen to is That One Audition with Alyshia Ochse. Very insightful and inspiring to all actors.  
Please listen to episode 045 Allen Maldonado.
The doers are the ones that book.  So go do!

Sometimes breakdowns get slow. It doesn’t meant that your agent isn’t submitting you. It just mean literally there are no auditions for your character. Sometimes that happens.  During summer actors feel like there is going to be a big rush on things but usually it tends to slow down and picks up more in the fall. It has its ups and downs yearly. Here are 15 tips from people in the industry for encouragement.


Dana Schiemann. Working Actress. 
The most important thing I tell my actor friends when they’re feeling bogged down from lack of bookings or auditions, is to keep going. Rejection is a part of our job! Don’t dwell on it, but think of it as a learning tool. And the best thing we can do for ourselves is to keep a positive attitude and mental state. That always helps. “

Brendan Mertens, the first indie filmmaker from Ottawa to sell a film (GHOSTHEADS) directly to Netflix as an exclusive. Brendan is curtly wraps on his second feature length film (THE MIKE STAND), starring the legendary Canadian Comedian Mike Macdonald, along with Howie Mandel, Andy Kindler, Bob “Super Dave” Einstein and Marc Maron

” Everyone gets a turn on the ride, never be discouraged. Everyone gets a turn on the ride, never be discouraged. Never quit, give up, or meltdown because someone else will grab your role when you do that. Good things are disguised as hard work. You are in the industry of NO, so keep going until you get a YES. “
Joyce Rivera. Working Actress.

“Look at any free time you have between auditions as a chance to develop yourself, take classes and get involved in creative projects. You’ll see how much stronger and prepared you’ll be and that will put you ahead of the competition each time.”

Ron Leach, Casting Director

“Actors need to know that Casting Directors go through slow patches too. For Casting, slow times mean catching up on filing or looking for new clients. For the artist it’s well spent studying; updating resumes; and networking. If you do the work, you get the work! When the busy times return.”


Candice Lidstone. Working Actress.

“I never let this industry beat me down, no matter what. Anytime I’m ready to throw in the towel, something amazing happens that just sucks me back in. I look at it as the universe trying to tell me something. … and let’s be honest – the universe knows best.”


Gloria Mann. Casting DIrector

“It’s not always the busy season. When it is your agent is suggesting you.  When it is slow as it has been for me, TAKE CLASSES AND LEARN YOUR CRAFT. “

Pascal Aka. Professional Actor and Filmmaker. 

“As an artist building your personal and professional brand, you have to remember to keep your roots in the right place, your roots are your passion, and roots are covered in dirt. When you are in the dirt and the storm, that is where you will discover yourself and grow into your own tree. Never give up, your struggles are part of the recipe that makes you.”


Jessica Perez. Professional Hair Stylist.

“Never be afraid to chase what your scared of- reach for the stars.”


John Stevens and Dough Sloan. Talent Inc Canada

Doug Sloan: “The busiest actors I know never stop training. NEVER. There is always something new to add to your actor’s toolbox. That’s why we love offering one-day workshops that are easier for adults to fit into their busy schedules. This still allows actors to build their professional resume without encroaching on their personal or professional lives with too much of a time commitment. So I guess what I am really trying to say is, there are no excuses.”

John Stevens: “I think every good actor should always have a good book about the business on hand. They are great for the slow times, commutes, waiting rooms and holding areas and make good use of downtime. It is also a great way to keep your momentum going even when finances are low. My two favorite recommendations are “No Acting Please” by Eric Morris and Joan Hotchkis and the other book I highly recommend for all actors is more of a workbook and it is called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. “
Richard Groen. Filmmaker and Producer

“The goals you strive for are more rewarding than the regrets you leave behind.”

Sue Beattie. Actress and Voice Artist.

“Always put your best foot forward. You never know who you’re about to meet or who a new acquaintance might know. You very well could be at ‘the right place at the right time’ and not know it!”


Emily Darling. MakeUp Artist and Stylist

“At the end of the day all you have is yourself and your dreams, so be kind to yourself and use the resources you have to follow your dreams.”

“If you smell your own fart and you gag, it’s time to see to see your local physician”


Lisa Meuser. Talent Agent, Filmmaker, and Canadian PlayWrite.

” Love yourself. If you love yourself it will be present in your work and you’ll book more. Always show up and act. Do your art and that will make you happy. If you are a creative person and not doing your art you’ll loose yourself. Color, Craft, dance, sing karaoke, or take class. Do art to keep you sane and live to your fullest. “

Lisa Meuser
Talent Agent

Thank you to everyone that contributed to this!

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