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Overcoming Stage Fright

Dr. Howard Gluss is a Clinical Psychologist, Author, Speaker, and Radio and Television host. As a Psychologist, Dr. Gluss’s focus has been Psychological Assessment (Neuropsychological, Biopsychosocial and Forensic), Executive Coaching, and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. His  “Dr. G: Engaging Minds – The Podcast”  has been broadcasting in the U.S. since 2006 and brings insightful conversations with experts and thought leaders to look at our world from a “deeper, more psychological point of view.”

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by Alex Dejdarova, Professional Makeup Artist

In the past, there were strict rules for the type of make up you would wear for film, TV or stage auditions.  Many of these rules have blended together, now there are similar makeup rules for all types of auditions with a few exceptions.

First Rule:  Makeup should look natural and you must look as much like your headshot as possible.  The casting person initially used this headshot to select you for a call back after all. Be careful of applying too much makeup, it will make you look older than you are.  Although some casting people prefer a person auditioning to be in character from the time they walk into the audition space, be careful, many casting people prefer to see “the real you.”  Try to find out prior to audition what the casting people actually want.

Skincare  – Have a good daily cleaning, exfoliating and moisturizing routine which will produce healthy and glowing skin.  When going outdoors even for 5 minutes be sure to wear a good sunscreen to help delay wrinkles and/or skin cancer.  Also, drink lots of water which is great for your skin and you will save you lots of money on beauty products.

Primer – Apply primer prior to foundation which give you a much smoother look and the foundation will last longer.

Foundation – Apply foundation with either a damp sponge, foundation brush or CLEAN fingers.  Apply to face and neck and blend well to prevent streaks.  Foundation must match your skin tone. Do the color test on your jaw line with natural day light.  Cream base foundation is great for stage/dance auditions but not good for camera auditions when all make up needs to be as matte as possible.  Remember to use a setting powder and a finishing spray as final step.

Concealer ...no more than one shade lighter then your complexion…make sure it’s not an obliviously different shade than your foundation.  Concealer can be used to cover any imperfections on your face such as acne and rosacea or to lighten dark skin spots and dark circles under eyes.

Colorless blotting loose powder – Use after applying your foundation for a matte look if you don’t want a dewy/shiny look.

Blush – Use a pink or peach or bronzer matte shade for camera and cream base if a dance/stage audition.

Eye Brows – Apply a clear gel to your eyebrows then comb eyebrow hair upwards.  Eyebrows should be same color or slightly lighter than your hair to bring out your eyes.

Eye Shadow – Avoid smoky or overly dramatic eye makeup.  Before applying eye shadow use long lasting shadow base coat. The easiest way to apply eye makeup is to use 3 color palette. Under eyebrow and inner eyelid corner apply light color…not too pale.  Apply medium color over main part of lid and darker color apply just on the outer corner of the eye and slightly up to create more open and younger looking eyes.

Brown eyes:  use beige, tan, bronze, gold or violet 

Blue eyes:  pastel shades of purple/blue, or bronze

Green eyes:  all colors work with green eye color 

Try to avoid gray and colors with too much pearl shine or sparkle. 

Eyeliner – Avoid using black eyeliner. For a better, less dramatic look use dark brown or dark gray eyeliner depending on shadow color. 

Mascara and False Eyelashes – Curl your eyelashes then put on a lash primer and then your mascara. Make sure mascara is waterproof as some auditions might require you to cry or you might perspire during a dance number.   On camera, you can wear false eyelashes but make sure they are applied correctly and not too long…a fuller, shorter lash works best for that natural look.  Do not wear false eyelashes for stage/dance auditions

Lipstick – Always use a lip liner pencil or brush for a clear outline.  Lip liner needs to be the same color as your lipstick.  Lipstick can be a shiny lip gloss with slight color or regular lipstick. Just be sure that the color is not as bold/dramatic as your eyes.  When your eyes are dramatic, your lipstick must be light and less dramatic.  Remember draw attention to your eyes OR mouth but not both.

Hair – Hair should be clean and shiny with bangs away face.  During a dance audition, your hair needs be tied back.  Hair should never be a distraction from your face.

Clothing – Business casual….avoid prints of any kind…..wear bright colors that match well with your complexion  …avoid wearing jewelry.   Clothing/shoes should be comfortable and must match the type of character you are auditioning for.

I hope this will help you and encourage you to be confident with your personal presentation. Getting your look right and feeling good about it will help you so much. You want everything to support your talent and nothing to get in the way of an audience or a casting director from seeing it.


Is your Child/Teen Performer trying to Tell you something?

Being a child or a teen performer can be very stressful with high levels of anxiety for both parents and the performer.  The passage  of time between childhood and teenage years and teenager to adult is also a difficult and emotional transition.


Your young performer maybe very talented and love to perform but is unable to handle rejection, stage fright,  competition and/or working in a group.  As the parent, you need to make sure that your child wants to be in show biz as much as you want them to be in show business, or that they maintain their love for the art.   Some children may want to please their parents and get their approval more than they actually like to perform.


Here are some warning signs that your child may want to leave the entertainment industry to pursue other interests or is unable to handle the stress.

1.School grades start to fall. 

2. Procrastinates before getting ready for an audition or forgets to bring items they are responsible for to bring to the audition.

3. Has stomach cramps or are too tired to go to audition.

4. The child tells you their acting/dance instructor picks on them.

5.Never wants to practice….always has an excuse, it is never the right time.

6.Stays in their room more….wants to be alone.

7.Easily angered and more argumentative.

8.Signs of possible drug/alcohol usage.

These warning signs need to be addressed and here are a few ways to find the right solution that meets your young performers needs and desires.

1.Have a meeting with their teacher for their assessment.

2.Talk with acting/dance/vocal teacher to see if they are having difficulty with your young performer.

3.If there is a talent agent/manager, talk with them about any changes of behavior.

4.Thoroughly check their room for drug/alcohol which can now be deadly.

5.Have a doctor do a physical for drug use or other medical complications.

6.A mental health professional could be helpful.

7. Have a grandparent or close family friend try to communicate with the child.

8.Last but not least, sit down with your child and inform them that you will love them whether they are a performer or not.  It is totally their choice.  Not everyone is cut out for the life of a performer, just as not everyone could be a doctor or a math professor!

Nancy Bianconi:

Nancy has worked in many different capacities within the arts and entertainment industry from being a dancer in New York to operating a school of performing arts in Los Angeles to producing 3 Off Broadway musicals.   Nancy was contracted by the City of Los Angeles to create the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood to develop the district as a mecca for young performers to learn their craft.  She has counseled hundreds of young dancers, actors and vocalists in training choices combined with career guidance.  Also, Nancy has been with WCOPA for 20 years focusing on the WCOPA Boot Camp and Judging division.


Actors & Agents

Representation is a word that brings with it elation and agony, success and futility and auditions or obscurity.

I have had relative success with agents over my thirty years career. The only time I didn’t have an agent was for about three months when I came out to LA from New York. That was because my agent in New York told me that he was coming to LA and I should follow him shortly thereafter and he would represent me. I did come out to LA after a few months and he was nowhere to be found. So, much for loyalty.

My experiences in New York with representation was quite different from LA, I was always able to meet casting directors in their offices twice a month along with any other actor.  At the time I first started my acting career, I was living in Fairfield County, Connecticut and I took the train in the morning with the regular commuters and spent the whole day in New York going to auditions, chatting with casting directors, and visiting the SAG building. I would then take the last train out of Grand Central Station and head back home. When I was in New York, I had several agents. There were no exclusivity clauses when you signed up with an agency. I just had to remember to credit the right agency when I signed in. I also self-submitted through Backstage newspaper, SAG work posts, and sometimes walking into a certain casting directors office at the most opportune time and getting asked a question like, “Are you available tomorrow at 6:00 am.” I actually booked two films that way. Ah, those were the days.

When I got to LA, things were so different that I went into a kind of show business culture shock.

LA was huge and you had to drive a car to get anywhere. In those days, we had black and white headshots that I would drive around town delivering to hard plastic bins at the oftentimes, locked doors of casting directors, production companies, and commercial houses. Using the good old United States Postal Service meant that I would have to head to Kinko’s and staple my resumes on the back of hundreds of headshots, place them in  large Manila folders, place a stamp in the upper right corner and send them off to agents, casting directors, and submissions from a magazine called, “Backstage West”.  Such was the endless days of an actor trying to get hired.

I got my first LA agent quite by accident.

I was in rehearsals for a play and my co-star and I decided to meet up during the day to run her errands as the characters in the play. When we got to her agent’s office, she called a time out. I followed her in and waited in the reception area while she was chatting up her agent. After a few uncomfortable moments, my friend emerged from the office with her agent in tow. My friend made the introductions and the agent asked me if I had representation. I told her I was with a couple of agencies in New York, which she knew and then offered to represent me based on my affiliations with those agents. It turned out to be a ten-year relationship. Since then I have had half a dozen agents and the one I am currently with will have been my agent for going on fifteen years. I recently had a meeting with my agent and we reminisced about all the casting directors and agents that are no longer in the business for one reason or another. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

There is a saying in this town that ‘a bad agent is better than no agent’.

There’s another one, ‘nobody is ever truly happy with their current representation’, not even big stars. My experience has been that it is always my own job to find work any way I can. Whether it is a relationship with casting directors that you read for and that keep calling you in or the self-submissions that are so much more possible these days then they ever were in the old days. The way I look at it is that your agent gets only 10% of the commission so that surely means I have to do 90% of the work.  Agents negotiate contracts, I book the work. She can maybe get me in the room, but my performance in the audition gets me the callback. It is truly a partnership. In LA, agents represent many, many clients, we get one agent (sometimes two if you have a commercial agent and a separate theatrical agent). I had for a very brief time a “manager” when my career looked like it was going to take off. When it didn’t, it was my manager tat took off.

Do you really need an agent in this town? If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said yes. Now, with managers doing a lot of the work and actors being able to find auditions on their own, I’m not so sure. All I know for sure is that you are the best representation you will ever have.

Be professional, be great, and always be a pleasure to work with and make your own luck.



Part 2

Welcome to the second segment of a four part series on the poison contained in a major label record deal and how you can level the playing field once you understand what’s really going on.

A lot of what happens in the music business occurs behind closed doors, and this series is dedicated to young performers (like you!) who want to know just what they are dealing with.

True Story

One of my clients was courted by a major label. As a condition of the deal, the label sent this request to the artist – in writing!!! “Because we intend to spend so much more money marketing and promoting your record than the cost of the recording, we would appreciate it if you would pay the production costs to record the album.”

Ok, we thought – no problem. So we went back to the label and said, “Prove it. Put whatever it is that you are going to do and whatever the amount is that you are going to spend into the artist’s agreement. After all, we just want to quantify your written statement into actual dollars and actions. You know, put your money where your mouth is, kinda thing. They 100% refused. Then, they had the gall to say something to the effect that, “We’re a major label. Of course we’re going to market and promote your record! That’s what we do! Ah, yes…

But wait…there’s more!

There are clauses in the agreement that indicate that should the label decide to promote your product, you will have to pay for it! All of it! Yes, if the label outsources the promotion, marketing and publicity to any third party, you, the artist, is responsible to pay for it completely. 100%. Right now, major labels outsource just about every promotional activity to a third party. Should the label decide to make a music video, you get a break here – you only pay half the costs! Whew!

Every major label contract is filled with terms and conditions that the artist must adhere to. But, upon closer examination, there is not one single thing that binds the label to do anything for the artist or spend one single penny on your project. Yes, the label will not commit, in writing, to spend one single penny on your career or your project. Forget about what they say, they can talk until they’re blue in the face – if it isn’t in the agreement, it ain’t happening!

This is not an indictment. This is simply their business model. I’m not angry. At least I know. But, you have your own business model, too, and all you want is a level playing field.

True story

Although rare, sometimes a label wants to “license” a recording, rather than pay for it themselves. Think of it as renting the master from the artist. The label will rent the project from the artist for a specific period of time, usually three to five years. The artist maintains ownership of the masters and simply allows the label to market, promote and distribute the product. The artist receives a small advance and a royalty based on sales.

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Part 1 by Jeffrey Weber

Welcome to the first of a four part series on the poison contained in a major label record deal and  how you can level the playing field once you understand what’s really going on.

A lot of what happens in the music business occurs behind closed doors, and this series is dedicated to young performers (like you!) who want to know just what they are dealing with.


First, a bit about me for anyone who is already skeptical. I have been producing music for over forty three years. More than 200 records during that time. Multiple Grammys. Multiple Grammy nominations. I produce large multi-day music festivals. I have a law degree. I have written four books on our industry.


What follows are my opinions, based on first hand dealings with major labels.

Ok, I’m not angry. Disappointed? Yes. Disillusioned. Yes. But once I figured out what was really happening, I stopped being angry.

Believe it or not, being signed to a major label was never meant to be a career move for any of you. No matter what you hear about the advantages of being on a major label, it’s all bogus, and the purpose of this series is for me to prove it to you.

Ok, let’s jump in to the deep end.

Let’s review some basics – a major label is owned by many people. A public company. Each of the owners, or shareholders, has a stake in the success of the label. Therefore, the job of a label, or any corporation for that matter, is to increase the value of the company to the benefit of the shareholders. The more money the label makes, the more money each shareholder makes. Increased shareholder value provides job security for those working at any corporation or record label.

Signing you to a major label is a strategy on their part. Some might say it’s a gamble. But, like all gambling, the house always wins. The label has to win. You must remember that a major label’s business is their business, not your business – if that makes any sense. A recording contract was never designed to be fair or equitable to you. It was never created with your success in mind.

That would be bad for business – their business. Should you receive a bit of success, the label would be forced to provide you with better and better terms, and once the tipping point is

achieved, the label cannot afford to lose you. Then, the label becomes your playtoy! Everything       changes.

For those unfamiliar with the industry, should a major label sign an artist, it’s usually cause for a celebration. Not anymore! While the label may shower you with praise and adulation, feeding your ego, there’s a much bigger play, at play. You, as an artist, are but a small, temporary cog in a much larger machine. Let me repeat – temporary.

Why are you being signed?

Outside of the surface reasons why a major label is signing you, did you ever pause to think why are you really being signed?

Do you really know what’s going on with your career? Maybe you believe you are on your way since you are finally being signed. Truthfully, this is not the case.

Could it be that you’re being signed because the label needs a tax write-off? Ever think of that? It happens constantly!

Perhaps, let’s say, that you are really talented and a major is bending over backwards to sign you. What if you sound and look like someone they have already signed and are heavily invested in that artist’s recordings, their videos, and their marketing and promotion. They’re all in on this artist and you come around and they know that once your record drops, attention will fall away quickly from the artist they spent a ton of money on. What better way to eliminate the competition than to sign you to the label, record your project, and simply put it on the shelf, never to be released. Wait….can that really happen??? Yup. Happens all the time!

What just happened? Well, the house wins. Here’s how it works – Number 1 – you are signed exclusively to the label. Number 2 – Exclusivity means that you are not allowed to record for another label. Number 3 – The label gave you a ton of money for your project, and you cannot hope to buy your masters back to go elsewhere. You’re stuck. The result? Your career is over…!

But, can they really do that?

Did you not see the clause in your contract that specifically states that the label is under no obligation to release your project? The label has total discretion as to when or if they will release your project. Sounds crazy – right? They know that if they don’t release your record, you can sue them and obtain a release from your contract so you can go elsewhere. So, they insert this particular clause.

They spent a fortune to make your recording in the first place, so why wouldn’t they want to release your record in the hopes it will sell and make a return on their investment. See – you’re thinking logically. Big mistake…! Major labels are gamblers, and the sure bet, in their minds, is to stay with what’s been working for them. Part of that thinking is to eliminate the competition, and that means you! It’s a business decision that happens all the time – not just in the music business, but in all businesses.

Ok, but what if the label decides to release your record. Surely, your career wouldn’t be over then, right? Not so fast…! There is nothing – absolutely nothing in a recording contract that indicates that the label is obligated to market and promote your record. What if they don’t? So, with 100,000 tracks being released every day, if your record is released but no one knows about it, isn’t the result the same?

Coming up in part 2 of the series –  True stories of nonsense , tragedy and triumph.

©2022 Jeffrey Weber, Stark Raving Group. Contact Jeff at:  jeffw@starkravinggroup.com