Film Courage: On one of our videos Choice, an actor left a comment and this actor put “I don’t know how to find work and an agent won’t work with me because I don’t have experience.” What would you tell this actor?
Choice Skinner: Pursue a manager because it seems like nowadays they’re easier to gain. But…it’s not like how it used to be. So when you get a manager, you get an agent, then you go out and audition and stuff. You can do a lot of it yourself, you can build your body of work by submitting and creating content.
Actors have this tendency of just waiting around or if they get an agent or a manager “Oh…okay. Everything is okay.” No, it’s not.
Agents or managers are like the last person they see is the last person they remember. So if they met you five people ago (or five persons ago) now they’re not even thinking about you and they have to stay in their mind.
You can do so much more nowadays especially being non-union because there is a lot of projects that are non-union. Actors tend to get caught up in this thing of my career is not going anywhere unless I’m doing it.
But then it goes back to that money thing again. They get into it to make money and the money is not the key. You can make money doing a lot of other things. If you’re in the entertainment industry (specifically acting), you’re in it in order to live your dream. You’re in it to be able to create great content that’s going to change lives. That’s just my opinion. But I would top it off (cap it off) by saying create your own content because you can even become SAG that way or SAG eligible that way or submit, submit, submit. Submit yourself for anything and everything. Find out who the casting directors are on projects. Let them know “Hey listen, I’m here, I’m available to do stand-in work. I’m available to do extra work.” Because I started out as an extra actor and it opened up doors for me.
The first extra gig that I got, I got camera time. I didn’t get any voice work but the camera was on me over and over again. So there were little signs that told me to keep going and that’s what I would say to anybody who is an actor. It’s like don’t just depend on getting an agent or a manager. You’ve got your own resources. The Internet now is a hive of different types of resources to submit yourself. There are so many casting type of opportunities.
You know, listen…you may not become the lead in the film but at least you get in next to the person, next to the person. What’s wrong with that?
Film Courage: And talking about observation [earlier], it’s a great way to observe how the set works, the feel of it, the protocol, you can see a lot.
Choice Skinner: Extra work, background actors, whatever you want to call it. My first job on set as an extra was FREEJACK. And I got to meet Emilio Estevez and Renee Russo. It doesn’t get any better. In Atlanta, it was the best weekend ever! We were there for the Prince concert and after that we were riding by and we saw this area and we were like “What’s all this happening here?” And so we went over to the area where the video village is at…I don’t even know how we got over there, we just parked and walked over there and I’m asking this guy “What’s going on?” And the was like “They’re filming a movie with Anthony Hopkins and Renee Russo and Emilio Estevez.” And we were like “Really!?” And he was like “Yeah.” And we said “What’s that lady doing?” And he was like “She’s looking for extras.” And I said “What’s an extra?” And he said “You get to be in the movie.”
So I didn’t know the particulars for it. But I just knew this is something cool. And so I go over they said “Just stand there and look good because she’ll pick you.” So she comes and picks me and my friends. And we are in this movie and this is before I come out to Los Angeles and do my first, first work (where I knew exactly what I was doing).
But where I am at there is this car that keeps going back and forth and they put us right there and out pops Renee Russo, out pops out Emilio Estevez. We’re standing there, we’re talking, we’re having a good time, we take pictures. Emilio and I are singing HAIR songs (songs from HAIR). It’s crazy and I’m like “This is cool. This is great.”
I get to LA and do my first bit extra work job. And it gets to the point where I need to become SAG. And I’m like “Man, how am I going to do it, I need vouchers.” I go look in my box…guess what? That voucher that I had gotten from FREEJACK was a SAG eligible voucher. So I had been Taft Hartleyed and didn’t even know it.
Film Courage: And that was just from driving by, not calling a casting office?
Choice Skinner: Driving by, didn’t know anything about it, it’s all about random fortune, stoke of luck, got out, went over and applied yourself. And that’s what I think people should do, I think you should apply yourself. Don’t be afraid to do extra work. Sometimes if it’s meant to be for you, maybe it will align. Managers and agents can’t do that for you.
Question for the Viewers: What was your first acting job?
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