Author Archives: Shawn Plumb

I understand how difficult it is as an actor waiting for auditions. You might see other actors getting more auditions than others; it may be because they have a more commercial look. What it comes down to, you have to trust your agent is advocating for you. If the trust isn’t there, then it might be time to get a new agent.
Rest assured my actors, I am on the breakdowns from morning until night. I also have a very dedicated team that helps out when something comes up, for instance, like moving for the 7th time in the span of a year. When was the last time you have checked your profiles, and are they current? It is your job as an actor to keep your photos and profiles current, that allows us (and me as your agent) to hustle you in and take advantage of opportunities as soon as they are available. The actors that have current up-to-date head shots, resumes, reels and slates are usually the ones that get continuous auditions. If you are an actor that switched agencies, you need to update everything on breakdowns, including the slate.
Being an actor is difficult and you must really be dedicated and have a passion to be successful. The challenge is paramount for teenaged female actors- probably the most difficult age range for females in the industry. There are not many auditions for you. Mainly because casting directors want an 18-year-old female to play teenage roles for a variety of reasons. #1 reason is because they can work longer hours than a younger minor adolescent. Another challenge is your physical stature; if you are tall, you can’t play in a younger role. It comes down to this: all agents submit you for the same roles. The agents decide based on head shots, resumes and experience. It’s kind of like Tinder, but for acting roles.
                “No, No, No… hmm, Yes…”
If you are that ‘Yes’, and be willing to ask questions. The truth is sometimes you have to wait for a part that fits your character. In the meantime, you should be training at a reputable school, community theatre or participating in indie films. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is not a redundant phrase, especially when it comes to being an actor. There is always room for improvement, and gaining experience/knowledge.
The first step is showing up. If you are not involved in the visual arts community, and you are sitting on the couch hoping something will come to you, you will not be brought in by any casting director for an audition.
I highly recommend reading the book, “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” by Marina Calderone. She has great tips, tricks and suggestions that will help you with every action and every beat. Her tips will make you marketable as an actor, provided you follow her advice. There is also an app you can download on your mobile or tablet device for instant access.
Acting after all means, ‘to do’, so what are you doing?
At a show a parent came up to me once, and told me regardless his daughter is singing and training, she should have a real life plan; like go to University and become a lawyer. I looked at him, and explained, “There is no backup plan- she is going to be an actress.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Reid and supportive mother of 4 young actresses. 

Being an artist is not an easy career choice, but if that is what you want to do, then the first step is showing up. Have no regrets about your journey. Go where the work is; go to the industry parties, attend the workshops where you can meet casting directors, and meet other actors that will inspire you to go for your dream.

It is your job as the actor to do the work. Build your resume starting with indie films or community theatre. Take workshops. You should always be training. It should never stop. I do not want to hear the words, “I’ve trained enough.” All professional actors when they are not working- they are training.

Photo Credit: Dayna Miller one of the many actresses on my roster that train extremely hard!

Getting an agent is the key to success as it will open doors to get auditions for TV, Films and commercials.  I’ve had some very interesting approaches from actors.  If you have little relevant experience on your resume, no professional headshots where you appear ‘pretty’, you are not ready to approach us. You will never get an audition. You should consider modeling instead.  Take the time to build your resume before looking for an agent. We are looking for professionals. If you write your resume on a napkin, you will not be given the time of day.

When you get an agent, make sure that you communicate with them. If you do not, they may feel that you are not taking your career seriously or have little interest. An agent will be less inclined to get you auditions with that kind of attitude. It is your job as an actor to update your headshot, resume, reels, experience and training while your agent is out there trying to get you auditions. If you are not doing this, it is a big problem while agents are busy hustling all day. Agents need to hustle their top clients. Become their top client by growing as an actor.  You should be checking your Casting Workbook and your Breakdown account weekly. 

Photo Credit: Roseline Mouana a professional actress and has been on speed dial.
She has been constantly booking monthly. She shows up.

Two accounts: Casting Workbook and Breakdown.

You should have access to both of them to update. Make sure that your demo reel and clips are on both, and all clips are ORGINAL. You do not want to copy anybody else work, otherwise there would be legal infractions to consider, and casting directors will compare you to other actors. They want to see what you can bring to the table. For instance, DO NOT film a movie scene or theatre monologue that has already been done. You can put up clips from indie films (if it is quality footage and quality acting). If you also have a professional voice reel, make sure you have them on both sites as well. The demo reel is very important for an actor to market them. Do you think casting directors will watch the entire reel? NO! It is for you and for marketing purposes. All actors should have one, but what we need on Casting Workbook and Breakdown are genre clips.

? a clip of you doing commercial work
? a clip of drama
? a clip of comedy

Directors are more inclined to watch clips related to their project. If it is a comedy, they want to see your ability to do just that. Not several clips together.  Keep the work original.
If you are sitting on the couch and watching TV, auditions will not come to you. You must be hungry for the work and be proactive. Being an actor is a lot of work, just like any profession. You have to DO the work.

Remember, any kind of work is work. Do not complain if a part is ‘too small’.  You never know who will see you on set, so SHOW UP.  TRAIN hard like an Olympic athlete, but for the screen and stage. Update you reels, headshots and resumes.   Let start there.

How does an actor become successful? Magic? Luck? No. The success of an actor is based on hard work, talent and integrity. It is unwavering commitment and the relentless pursuit of passion. At first, it seems daunting and yet there are thousands of actors working full-time worldwide. Their stories are similar; they all worked very hard to get there.
Our first experience was in 2010 on the set of Immortals, a Hollywood film directed by Tarsem Singh, starring Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto and Mickey Rourke. Surreal. My daughter Zelia, eight years old at the time, was cast as a Young Priestess, playing the younger version of High Priestess Ayisha Issa. What an honour. 
Zelia got this role thanks to my own intuition, resourcefulness and perseverance. We had no agent at the time so here’s how it happened: Kenyon Wells Casting in Montreal posted a call for new faces on Facebook to play the young version of Freida Pinto. I researched the agency by asking friends who worked in the film industry either as makeup artists, set designers or screenwriters. It was unanimous, they all said “Go for it, this is one of the top agencies in the city affiliated with Hollywood!” Really? Still hard to believe, but we went for it. 
I submitted Zelia’s photos by email and got no response. We went on vacation and when we returned, there was a voice message saying that Zelia had been requested to audition. I called the agency and the receptionist said: “It’s over, they’re no longer looking.” That’s it? Something didn’t feel right. So I called back immediately. Someone else answered. New to the industry, it didn’t make sense to me that they would call her for an audition to then say “We don’t want to see her anymore.” So I explained that I wanted to understand how the process worked. Little did I know that this naiveté and thirst for knowledge granted us a second chance. We were asked to submit photos by email again and got a call within five minutes: “Yes, we would absolutely love to see Zelia.” 
The audition process went well. They explained that this first step was a recording they would send to the director and production crew. After decades of Zelia repeatedly asking me  “Did you hear back from the movie?”, they finally called. I had explained to her that there was a possibility they may never call so when they did, it was a big deal. “The director wants to meet her.” 

So we traveled to Montreal again. At the time, we had no car, so I rented one. We brought our own snacks. We practiced lines during the drive. We got lost in the maze of Mel’s Studios. I was way more nervous than she was. In the waiting room, fellow “Movie Moms” were hounding each other, comparing notes on their children’s recent features and auditions. It was intense. We stayed quiet and kept to ourselves. I coached Zelia on her lines, how to convey emotion through her eyes and be as natural as possible. Once she was done her audition, one of the Assistant Directors came out to speak with me. “She did really great, I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.” 
We were truly honoured that she had been called for a second audition. It was such a thrill. I explained to Zelia that this was something to be immensely grateful for and that we could not control what would come next. Bravo for a job well done. The End.
And then she booked for the role! We were ecstatic. I had no experience coaching an actor and since we had no agent, now was the time to chat about professionalism on set: listening, being polite and following direction. Mission accomplished. I was so proud. If I had not persisted and asked questions during the audition process, none of it would have ever happened. 

Zelia loved her experience and in the end, the scene was cut from the movie. The cool thing is that it was on Blu-ray and her name also appeared in the credits. As a bonus, I got to see a top Hollywood director in action, the exemplary enthusiasm of the ladies working on hair, costume and makeup, the exhilarating immensity of the set and crew, and how everyone works in symbiosis. The strange thing is that when I first walked on set, I felt at home.
Uh oh.
What did this mean? Why did I feel so much affinity with a massive warehouse space, an exhausted crew and countless takes? A film set is a hub for the creative process. After years of performing on stage as a ballet dancer, being in school plays, working on the radio and graduating university as an art director and graphic designer doing minor sound and video editing, after numerous people from the industry telling me I should “try it too,” I felt compelled to explore this thing they call show business. 

Three years laterthat’s how long it took to convince myself I took classes, workshops and auditing in Ottawa, Toronto and New York City. I loved it. It felt natural. This learning process came with doubt, fear, frustration and reluctance, and I got an agent and head shots regardless. In 2013, I booked my very first audition. I worked on Motives & Murders and appeared briefly on television. Amazing for a first time, I thought.
After that, and for almost 18 months, everything went blank. No auditions, no roles. Zero. I had technically turned my back on everything because even though I intuitively knew my agent was not a good match, I stuck with her. In 2015, after inquiring with acting classmates, I signed up with Lisa Meuser. It took seven months from the time I first contacted her to the time I was actually was on the roster. I didn’t let lost time deter me, and was tenacious in re-connecting with her knowing how busy she was contributing to many actors’ exposure. I went for it again. New head shots, more determination, more focus. And I made sure to communicate this clearly to Lisa: “I love this work. I’ve never felt so empowered. Let’s do this.” “You will be busy,” she said. I didn’t believe her.
Fast forward to today where I booked 10 times in seven months. I have auditioned way more than 10 times and there’s no point taking any lost personally. It’s disappointing, of course, especially after driving back and forth to Toronto from Ottawa in the same day, sometimes twice a week, but I do not let any results define me. And besides, if someone would have told me two years ago “You will be in a commercial that will have over 5 million hits on YouTube” or “You will book two feature films within three weeks,” I would have never believed them. Why? Because even if the universe is clearly showing me that I’m on the right path, the work and discipline persists. I actually feel motivated to work even harder.

I must underline that I would have never pursued everything with so much passion without the expertise and encouragement of my current agent. Lisa understands the industry. She has strong insight and knowledge. She’s very motivating and this is so empowering. It feels great to see things coming to fruition and now I have proof that persistence pays off. There are other reasons I have pursued acting and spent less time worrying if I will ever return to work as management in the corporate world, but that’s another story.

Acting is not inaccessible or impossible, it’s a job. And like any job, there are tricks to the trade. There are many articles out there about the technical aspects of acting. What about the personal side? When you walk into an audition, you’re showcasing who you are, sharing your range, your character, the concept of YOU.

Here are a few tips to succeed in this exciting industry:

1. You Are Unique
There is no one like you. Rejection is not personal. The industry is designed with a specific idea in mind. It’s also all about timing. And no matter how much talent, aspiration or passion you have, remember that ego is a turn off and confidence is sexy. Believe in yourself! Be patient and humble. No one likes a diva. Being pretentious or self-doubting makes everything heavier for no reason. It’s important to build a solid, reliable reputation for yourself, even with your peers. If you love this work, go for it.
2. Be Prepared
Head shots, resumes, workshops, research. Have everything ready and up to date before an audition and when you’re not called in, work on your craft, take classes, read about what’s going on in the industry, join Facebook groups, ask questions. If you’re auditioning often, being prepared also means showing up with your head shot and resume each time; have a few printed in advance and ready to go! Other great ways to prepare is to travel with healthy snacks, have a full tank of gas, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and that you bring your charger, arriving 10 to 20 minutes before an audition, or whatever you need to do to feel at ease. Preparation is key.
3. Be Fearless
Take risks. Driving back and forth to auditions in the same day, investing in professional head shots, going to an audition even when you “don’t feel like it” or you think “it won’t be worth it”… Make it happen. No fear. No excuses. Take a deep breath and put yourself out there. Is this not what acting is all about?
4. Contact Your Agent 
This is important. A good agent is a manager, a networker and an administrator. If you’re as lucky as we are, your agent becomes a friend. Keep in touch, let your agent know where you’re at, ask questions about industry trends and next steps. Be mindful and respectful, your agent is not a therapist, your agent is a professional connection that helps boost your career! A great agent works hard behind the scenes and if you don’t keep in touch, they might start to wonder if you’re serious about acting. 
5. Be Balanced
Good food, sleep, exercise. This sounds logical but so many actors dismiss the basics and wonder why things derail. Your body is your temple and your look is what gets you in the door. Your character, your talent, and your entire persona is what gets you hired! Honour yourself, no matter what age, shape or size. If you’re showing up at an audition stressed, famished or exhausted, don’t expect great results. Directors need reliable actors that follow direction without any glitches. On set, time is money. There’s no room for imbalance or special requests. Be focused, stay healthy and be easy to work with. Staying balanced is another great way to ensure you’re prepared.
6. Work Hard
Professionalism, resilience, perseverance. Don’t give up! Be alert and observant. You never know when you’ll be called in. Show up, stay calm, be disciplined and be consistent. Don’t compare. Acting is a profound, personal investment, and no one cares about your personal life. So stay classy. Have a certain sense of decorum and a great a sense of humour. Work on being the best version of yourself. Success is hard work! The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. 

Hold on to what is individual about yourself, do not allow your ambition for success to cause you to imitate the success of others. You’ve got to find it on your own terms. – Harrison Ford

When I began working for the talent agency about five years ago, gathering a team was a challenge. There was a high turnover rate. It is not easy working from home or doing freelance work. You must to be motivated and determined. You cannot afford to passive, otherwise you will not make money. The entertainment business is a challenge to break ground, but once you create a solid foundation, it is a rewarding.
I started hiring people that I met from Algonquin College. They were determined with great work ethic, but lacked closing sales. Unfortunately, those promising individuals contact tapered off, and then appeared to fall off the face of the earth.
Luckily, Rivers and Lauren came on board my team.
Rivers is a well known local actress in town and helps me with admin work and the website. We have become very good friends over the years. I think our first interview was at Buster’s Bar and Grill in Britannia. She would talk so passionately about her dreams, and would love to help in any way with the agency. I snatched her up. She has been training extremely hard over the years and went from zero experience, to working with Christopher Plummer artistically. You may say that it is luck but it really is not. There is a lot of hard work involved. She never regrets an audition. One of my favorite moments is that I had her on call one weekend as I went up to a cottage with no reception. Typically, no one will get an audition on the weekend; however, that weekend we had eight audition calls. I instructed Joyce, trying to reach a signal by tip-toe at the edge of dock to get reception. I was surprised I did not lose my phone.
Although Lauren has moved on, she is a very good communicator. She could talk a casting director and convince them into seeing an actor. It was amazing. I also tasked to her many calls that I did not want to handle because she is a skilled sweet talker. Lauren did some amazing work and recruited some fabulous talent. I met Lauren when I was twelve in our grade seven orientation. She could not stop talking and neither could I. We were kindred spirits, and continue to be good friends today.
As my company began to grow and become more successful, my significant other at the time decided to quit his job and work for me. It did not work out as the greatest idea. But how could I say no? Just remember, being an agent is all about commission and if you are not good at sales, you will not bring in any money. I decided to put him in charge of sales; I should not have made that call because many of you know I am the ‘talker’. Perhaps I overstated how much money to anticipate coming into the business. Eventually he had to find another job, which I helped him find. I supported him by helping him find something that he loved, becoming a train conductor. We were relocated to northern British Columbia, Fort St. John which was unexpected but we looked at it as an adventure.
As I cringed on the idea of leaving, I know I am lucky that most of my work I can do from home. I packed up my bags, and prepared myself to live six hours from the Yukon. Who could run the operations in Ottawa and how would I accomplish this challenge?

Girls weekend came along; I love my ladies and we all decided to go camp out in a Yurt in the middle of nowhere. As I was drinking wine by the fire, I met Nicole Veins. Maybe a few glasses in I was explaining my situation to her. How am I going to manage the money when I live in the middle of nowhere? To which, Nicole quickly responded, “I love doing these things!” She was hired on the spot. I could not have been more grateful for all of her work in operations. She tracks payments and schedules like you would not imagine. She may be a super human. I am so grateful to find her as we have been increasing business since she has come on!

As the chapter in Fort St. John came to an end, I met some amazing people and friends for life. It has been a happy experience in this town, but grateful to come back to my home.

I ended up in Cochrane, Alberta. Where I started to expand my business. It was a great opportunity and we ended up doing some amazing bookings for Heart Land and Hell on Wheels. It was amazing an amazing experience and loved hiking through the mountains during the weekend. As I fell for another boy I ended up moving to a farm closer to Calgary. Pretty amazing to be surround by such beauty and horses, but something was missing.

When I came back to Ottawa and went to Digi60 Film Festival, Jith Paul talked about how we made a film almost 8 years ago. I love the Ottawa film community as small as it is. I missed it greatly and missed being close to my clients. The Calgary chapter was closing and I was packing with my friend Lorina, she labeled everything and made everything organized. I said that it was too bad that I cannot keep expanding out west since I started and she said, ‘I would be interested.’ She was hired then and there. She has been amazing to work with so far (I could tell she would be with her packing skills) and I am excited to see what she will do out west. She has already started to do her open casting calls and build her roster.  It seems like I hire people either moving for a relationship or moving away from one. It seems to be the trick in finding the most amazing people to work with oddly enough. 

People are familiar with stories of actor showcases where people and/or parents are asked to pay thousands of dollars and their dreams will come true. There is always a catch phrase, in particular to parents where false promises of getting their children in Disney productions. What a brilliant hook and the mindset of ‘shut up and take my money!’ ensues.
In fact, I did believe it, I was a child filled with ambition, wonderment and naivety. Fortunately, for me, I happened to be picked up by four different agencies; each agent informed me that I did not have to pay any money to get an agent; all that was required was a head shot, resume and demo. Fast-forward some years ahead and all of the information I have applied as an agent the last five years would have been beneficial at my tender young age those years ago.
I have seen some positive, but predominantly the negative side of showbiz when I was younger; parents pushing the dream of stardom on their children and often times after a showcase, none of those children are selected or landing agents. Perhaps during that time, potential Canadian talents were not well educated on the reality of showbiz and I plan to be a part of that change.
I wanted to become an agent so I can bring out the positive side of Canadian showbiz, and amplify the success for our homegrown talent. The process is not easy, it is a huge challenge that I plan to rise to the occasion. If it is your dream and you work hard for it, you will reap the rewards.
Before I became an agent, I was in band management for Keyotone and Ian Quick for shows. It was fun to tour with the band, and experience their shenanigans; I was the ‘damage control’ and ensured the band did not get into too much mischief, at least until after shows. I thoroughly enjoyed booking The Horse Shoe Tavern in Toronto in 2009. Through the band management endeavor, I discovered I have the gift for gab; I was able to help artists find gigs, which made me a valuable asset.

In 2011, I started working for Top Talents Inc. and Tiny Talents. I was hired out of Vancouver from a phone interview. I had no idea how to start being an agent, but through research and application, I learned on my own. The beginning was a challenge starting out with only five clients, but it has been very rewarding. Many are still with me now in 2016, and I have moved on to full ownership of my own agency; The Meus. Each one of my clients from novice, to seasoned actor, have booked TV series and the sky is the limit to their careers. I could not be happier for them.I become very emotional when I see them perform. I am proud of their accomplishments and I am so grateful that they have trusted me all these years as their agent.
Now I have an amazing team which I’ll talk about in my next blog and represent 137 people. I even hired another agent Lorina Herbert to manage out west as we are slowly building there.

The most important value for my company is to keep it positive and keep it like a family. We all work together whether it is carpooling from Ottawa to Toronto, rehearsing sides, or helping out in video auditions. We are a team-based company. All of us have been working very hard in the beginning of 2016 and I can’t wait to see what we will all accomplish next.

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