Recently, I was asked what does it take for an actor to get started in today’s Hollywood, or working as an actor in general?
It’s a question that I have been asked consistently since my first series regular client on the ABC Network way back in 2001. While traveling on planes, sitting on entertainment panels, and even phone calls from old friends I have been asked to advise people that I have never met more times than you could imagine. I always appreciate the sentiment behind the question but I have to admit I smile slightly each time I hear it. You see, in addition to my work as a talent representative, a talent manager for 20 years my superpower is that I am able to see what will make the individual actor successful. I build personal strategies for actors. And that work is very specific. What will work for one person can always be tweaked differently for another. Aww, there is a real value. In building these strategies I like to take into consideration who you are and what makes you tick. But for the sake of wanting to give people a bit of information that will satisfy the question asked, I have listed 3 basic steps that everyone can take.
First I insist on everyone developing a clear idea and image of what they want to do and achieve. With a great sense of direction, you know where you want to go. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to land. This way your focus acts as a laser beam that is always guiding you toward your main goal. When circumstances arise that are out of your control, you still maintain your overall direction.
Secondly, listen to what you hear from every other actor with a healthy dose of skepticism. This is not to infer that other actors are not completely correct in how they have accomplished their goals. On the contrary. It just means that most likely your experience is going to be very different from theirs. They look differently, they have a different background story, and even had different people representing them. When you listen to them, pay close attention to the core points that they make. Consistency, dedication, collaborating with other professionals. Be patient with yourself.
And lastly, seek out mutually beneficial financial relationships. Often you will hear an actor say that they are looking for someone to represent them that will believe in them. In life we all want this. Your representation wants a great relationship with you as well. The more successful you want your agents and managers to become, the more you will work to make that happen, and they will do the same for you. I have found that those clients that wanted to see my financial success as much as their own produced far more jobs than those that only focused on what they were getting for themselves. When you both win, you are on your way to an incredible career.
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Addison K. Witt
Manager | Director | Actor. ... Before becoming known as a talent manager, Addison was first an award winning producer and director, stage actor, commercial actor, equal rights advocate, mentor, and noted acting teacher. His clients have been recognized as award nominees and winners by Emmy (Breaking Bad), Golden Globe (Transparent), BAFTA (The Lovely Bones), GOYA (Miss Bala), People's Choice (Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?), SAG/AFTRA (Sideways), and a Peabody, again for (Breaking Bad).
In 1998 Addison Witt founded Witt Management and became a personal talent manager. He ran a talent management and recruitment company, giving thousands of young actors an opportunity to grow in the entertainment industry. In 2002 his young client, Leah Pipes, best known from the vampire series, “The Originals,” booked Witt Management’s first TV series, “Lost at Home” on ABC. That was the beginning of a steady stream of TV series, actor discoveries, and a cadre of young committed talent who are recognized by their peers as industry stars. And for 20 years he has spent his life representing actors in episodic television, feature films, new media, and stage productions around the world. His own work as an actor and businessman, has also taken him around the world with reality series in the US, the UK, and Canada.
His management style has been reminiscent of Hollywood’s former studio system. He developed actors through Studio 1, an acting studio he created, placed them with respected talent agencies, and set specific goals for accomplishing series’ stars, leads in film, and preparation for handling press and interviews. Former clients of Studio 1, and later, Witt Entertainment Management, Inc., have been nominated for, and winners of numerous awards including, SAG, Emmy, Golden Globe, TV critics, Family Television, People’s Choice, and a Peabody. In 2007 Addison organized a traveling panel of actors that he called, Beyond Diversity; the time is now. The group of young and diverse actors talked about their own diversity in Hollywood and how they believed they were making an impact.
Two of the venue’s where the actors spoke are The SAG Foundation and the American Film Institute. The panel included clients, (RJ Mitte from “Breaking Bad,” Nikki SooHoo from “Stick It,” Sierra McCormick from “Ant Farm,” and the late, Nick Fowler from “Confession.”