Your Actor’s Access profile should tell a story.
That’s the takeaway from a conversation I had with Blair Hickey, actor and founder of the website CastingAbout.com, which tracks the movements of casting directors and associates through their various projects. The site now operates as a division of Breakdown Services, Inc., which of course we all use in the form of Actor‘s Access.
“We’ve heard repeatedly from casting that when they come across the profile of an actor they don’t know, a disconnect in the story told by that profile can cause some hesitation,” Blair said. “If something feels mismatched and leaves them with too many questions about who this actor is or what they’re going to bring, they’re more likely to move on to another actor. On the other hand, if everything lines up and looks consistent, that makes them feel more comfortable meeting someone new.”
First, what does it mean to tell a story with your profile? An actor’s profile is made up of a few elements. There’s a headshot (or maybe a few to choose from), a resume, a place to post reels and clips, and something called a Slate Shot.
Headshots and resumes are tools we’ve used for generations. Reels are a more recent tool in our actor toolbox, but casting actually prefers that we post clips instead of reels. If a reel is two minutes long and consists of three scenes from different projects, a clip is just one of those scenes. It’s easier for casting to find what they’re looking for if we have several short clips posted, especially if you give them a title and description that makes it clear what each clip features. For example, replace “Demo Clip” with something like “Indy Slasher Film: Intended victim who turns the tables and kicks some ass.”
Finally, there’s the Slate Shot, which is Breakdown’s way of giving actors an opportunity to introduce themselves to casting. They’re similar to the slates we sometimes do with our auditions. For actors who don’t have reels or clips, it’s the only way casting can actually see you move and hear you speak.
Profiles with a Slate Shot actually improve the actor’s chances of getting seen. More on that in a bit.
All of these elements work together to tell a story. Telling a consistent story starts with knowing what we bring to the party as actors. If you see your bread and butter as being in hour-long drama, all your profile elements should match that aesthetic. You’d select a more serious main headshot and have clips that showcase your dramatic chops. Hopefully you’d have some resume items that lean more toward the dramatic end of things, and your Slate Shot should make sense in this larger context. For our drama actor, having a bright, smiley Slate Shot would seem out of place, especially if all the other elements of the profile tell the story that that actor is more at home in drama.
The same thing would be true for a comedic actor. “If comedy is where you mostly live, you don’t want to have a dark and mysterious element in your profile, because it’ll just confuse the casting director,” Blair shared. “They’re looking at hundreds, or possibly thousands, of profiles for a single role. Maybe they only have a few slots for actors they’ve never seen before. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to get an idea of who we are by uniting all of our profile elements.”
Should you go through the effort to tape a Slate Shot? Yes. “When casting gets their first look at the submissions, the default is for them to be randomly displayed. But casting directors want and need to see actors move, so profiles with Slate Shots and demo clips attached get moved to the top of the list,” Blair says, “You definitely want to have those.”
Things are slow in the industry right now thanks to the looming writer’s strike. This is a good time to take a look at your Actor’s Access profile and see if it’s telling a consistent story. As readers of Acting In Chicago, 4th Edition know, an actor’s job is to control what we can control, and our profile is a great example of that.