A few years ago, I turned to my girlfriend and said something like, “You know, someone should write a book about acting in Chicago.” She said, “You’re right. Do it.”
So I did.
Since the book was published in 2010, a lot of people have asked how it came to be. That’s pretty much the whole answer, though I’ll admit there was a lot of work between points A and B. At that time my personal life was in for quite the shift. Not long after she suggested I stop talking and start writing, my girlfriend became my fiancee and in 2009 she became my wife. Before our first anniversary we became parents of twin boys who were born twelve weeks prematurely. We spent the next three months living in the hospital waiting for our babies to grow enough to head home. When they did, our lives were permanently altered by a schedule that I can only describe as incredibly labor intensive: Feed, burp, change, clean up, rock, put down, repeat. Sleep was elusive. Writing? It could wait. Eventually I found time for the book, and it was published in late 2010. I’m honored to say that a lot of actors have read it. It’s used in at least one college course that I know of, and might be used in more. Many people email me saying nice things about it. My favorite way to hear from readers is when we’re working together. Whenever I’m shooting something with a lot of actors on set, someone always comes up and says, “Hi! I read your book, and it was really helpful.” That makes me feel good.
I wrote Acting In Chicago because I wanted to open some doors for actors. This business can be insular, and reliable information can be hard to come by. Asking questions can sometimes lead to biased answers, incomplete information, or sometimes answers that are just plain wrong. Before I wrote the book I was amazed at the things my students didn’t know. Basic things, simple aspects of being an actor that you absolutely have to grasp in order to have a career, were being completely misunderstood. Many people didn’t know the difference between an agent and a casting director, or understand the steps in the casting process. Most wondered what to wear to an audition. Virtually no one knew how much they might be paid for any given job. I realized that these things aren’t easy to pick up on your own, and they’re not always being taught in university acting programs. I figured someone needed to spill the beans about this stuff.
What lies in the pages ahead are the answers to those questions, and many, many more. This edition has been updated to reflect changes in the business since 2010. There’s a new union for actors, new rates for some union work, new TV shows being made in Chicago, and we’ve cleaned up some of the trickier concepts so they’re easier to understand.
More than anything, I hope the book gives actors the ability to see which path is right for them. Every actor wants something different out of their time in the business, and while it would be impossible for the book to shed light on EVERY actor’s desires and goals, I hope it provides a road map that most can use.
Okay, enough of all that. Onward.