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The Business of Acting: Learn the Skills You Need to Build the Career You Want

Book Review from Backstage West
June, 27, 2002

Review by Jamie Painter Young

Brad Lemack's The Business of Acting is a must-read for any actor who is starting his or her career. A Los Angeles-based talent manager, publicist, and professor, Lemack offers readers a valuable gift: true insight into what managers and agents look for in potential clients and expect of their clients by way of professional conduct. He also explains the casting process: how it really works, how actors need to conduct themselves, and how not to get bitter in the process.

Most important, the author highlights the importance of building a career - one that involves time, hard work, a healthy attitude, constant evolution, and professionalism. A beginning actor's goals should not be to get an agent or join the Screen Actors Guild; he or she should be more concerned with trying to be the best actor possible - whether that be by taking classes, doing a play, or starring in a student film. Experience, continual learning, and, especially, the development of strong business skills, says Lemack, are the keys to generating the opportunities you need to further your acting career.

The Business of Acting can also be a wake-up call for those actors who, no matter how talented they think they may be, are frustrated and quick to blame others - agents, mangers, casting directors - for the stalling of their careers. According to Lemack, actors have no one to blame but themselves if they are unhappy with their profession. The author explores ways actors can empower themselves and affect the way they are viewed by decision makers. As Lemack writes, it is not about getting the job or getting the agent; it's about making positive impressions and connections. Actors need to understand how they are perceived by others and, when necessary, change their behavior.

Broken down into 14 accessible chapters, including "A Casting Director's Perspective," "The Art of the Head Shot," "Unions and Actors," and "Emotional, Physical & Fiscal Fitness for Actors," this book covers just about everything related to the business of being an actor - from building your resume to creating enticing cover letters to sending postcards to tops on auditioning to saving receipts. Lemack is thorough in his advice.

The only complaint I have is that the author is quick to recommend certain photographers, photo labs, and acting teachers, a potential conflict of interest. While I'm sure his recommendations are legitimate and high-quality, I find it problematic that he suggests only a handful of professionals. He also offers certain opinions that I think might be misconstrued as fact, when they are just that - his opinions. For example, he dismisses digital photography as unsuitable for headshots, which I would disagree with, as would many top-notch photographers who take great digital headshots.

Still, this is a great book for anyone starting out or for actors who aren't happy with where their careers stand. While it is only one manager's opinions on the business of acting, his advice is sound, and his shared insights are worth the read.

IIngenuity Press USA, 2002, $19.95.

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