Being the Parent of a Young Actor (Part II)

Being a parent of a young actor in the entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart, especially
when 90% of auditions are self-tapes.
Auditions are a primary part of all actor’s journeys. However, over the course of the last 2 plus years,
audition processes have changed. Here are my top five tips for your young actor (or any actor, really)
for a successful self-tape.


Tip #1: Location
When deciding where to film your self-tape remember: Location! Location!! Location!!! You don’t have
to spend hundreds of dollars to have a great home audition space. Here are a few essentials that you
need for successful self-tape.
● A Wall – a neutral, solid color wall in your house that has indirect lighting or a space for some
additional lighting. Find a space in your house that does not have books, pictures or any other
distracting elements that could steal focus from your performance. In my house, I have a grey
sheet that I pin up along one wall in my house, and use that as my backdrop for self-tapes.
● Lighting – Natural light is great as long as it is indirect. The goal with lighting is that we can see
you. A good rule of thumb when filming is – can Casting see the color of your eyes? Ring lights
are great if you still need some additional lighting in your space. An inexpensive ring light will
work just fine, two will be even better as you can position them on each side of your camera
which can help to eliminate “ring light eyes.”
Again, remember – expensive does not necessarily mean better. Your self-tape space also does not
need to takeover an entire room in your house. An easy setup is always a less-stressful self-tape
process.


Tip #2: Filming Your Audition
I’ve had clients spend a lot of money on a camera to use at home. However, the camera on your cell
phone is usually more than enough for your self-tape needs.
● Any reliable device that captures a clear picture and good quality audio will successfully get the
job done. iPhone, tablet, digital recorder, etc. Once you have a tripod to mount your camera,
you are ready to go.
● Don’t worry about a microphone. Unless your young actor is auditioning or booking voiceover
work, there is no need to spend additional money on a separate microphone. I have a nice
microphone setup in my home studio for voice over auditions, but have never had to use it for
self-tape auditions.


Tip #3: The Actual Audition
Lights! Camera! Action! Now that you have everything setup, it’s time for filming. Here are a few things
that I have found make for a very successful audition.
● Slating – Generally speaking a slate will consist of name, age (if under 18), height and where
you are based (location). Where you’re based is very important due to Covid filming guidelines. Even if you live in Las Vegas and can get to Los Angeles in four hours – you want Casting to know that you are based in Las Vegas. Your slate is given directly to camera.
● Dialogue/The Scene – Unless your young actor has a series regular audition that’s ten pages
and they want it by the end of the day, actors should have their lines memorized. When you’re
filming from home, Casting knows you’ve had the opportunity for multiple takes. So memorize
and work on your scene.
● Sightlines are important. During your scene do not look directly at the camera. Your sightlines
should be just to the left or right of the camera. If you’re talking to multiple people in a scene,
place one on either side of the camera and make sure you’re never being filmed in profile. If
you’re in profile, Casting won’t be able to see your reactions.
● Props/Pantomime – Props can be distracting – pantomime even more so. When in doubt, less is
more. Most physical activity in your sides doesn’t need to be done in your self-tape, unless
Casting asks for it specifically. For example you don’t need to pantomime eating a sandwich or
hugging a person that isn’t there. The only exception I have seen across the board is the use of
a cell phone.


Tip #4: Follow Directions
The things we have discussed so far are the generally accepted guidelines of a self-tape. However,
different casting directors may have additional requirements for self-tape audition submissions. Please
make sure to read the entire breakdown before filming.
● Be sure to know your angles – close-up shot, medium shot, wide shot
● Have they asked for two takes? If so make sure they are both strong choices
● Make sure you label your audition correctly. Casting usually included details instructions on how
to label and upload your auditions.


Tip #5: Be Prepared
Making sure you are ready to film is important. Even more important is being prepared for your
audition. In addition to memorizing your sides, make sure you understand what the scene is about and
what your character’s truth is within the scene.
In most cases, an Acting Coach can be a great first step in your self-tape audition process. An Acting
Coach will help you learn how to make strong, truthful choices in your audition and, in some cases, will
be able to record your self-tape for you at the time of coaching. I coach many of my clients and we
record the takes that can then be directly uploaded for the audition.
However you decide to set up and film your auditions, remember this should be fun!


Stephanie Lesh-Farrell has been a professional acting instructor for working actors in LA for the past 15+ years. Her clients can be seen in numerous TV/Film, commercial and theatre. Including The Avengers, Man of Steel, Benjamin Button, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and many TV shows: THe Magicians, Arrow, PEN 15, Teen Wolf, Everything Sucks, Bella and the Bulldogs & Criminal Minds to name a few.

Much of her coaching success comes from her on set knowledge as an actress. Stephanie can be seen in several shows including: Dirty John, Greys Anatomy, Veep, Lucifer, Scandal and The Office.

For more information on coaching and classes please go to her website at https://tigle3.wixsite.com/stephanieleshfarrell/reel  or email her at stephanieleshfarrell@gmail.com.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Performance Critiques

I have to confess, that even after forty-three years producing music, and multiple Grammy awards, I still get a touch of anxiety when someone evaluates my music productions.

How about you? Do you get anxious when playing or singing in front of someone who will judge your performance? Some say it’s like having “butterflies” in your stomach!

I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that having a bit of anxiety is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes, at the top of our game. I asked a bunch of well-known performers about this very thing, and it turns out that they all have that small sense of dread when they are being judged.

And, of course, our industry is 100% judgmental, 100% of the time! 

So what can you do?

First, and probably most important, believe in yourself. Validation comes from within, not from the comments of others. Remember that “Belief Is Contagious!” If you believe in you, others will, too. Just watch what happens!

Believing in yourself doesn’t mean evaluating your own performances. If you do, either you’re going to think you’re amazing or you’re going to think you’re horrible and want to quit right then and there. The truth is probably somewhere in-between.

And, don’t ask your parents, whatever you do! They’re either going to tell you you’re amazing or they’re going to think you’re horrible and ask you about your Plan B.

What you really need is a neutral third party with enough experience to communicate with you effectively without making you feel miserable about yourself. Someone with experience can be a  life-saver for you. That person, who shouldn’t have a hidden agenda, should be able to tell you the truth in such a way that it lifts you up rather than drags you down.

For me, when I evaluate a performance, I am only interested in one thing – did the performer make me believe him or  her?  Was the performer authentic? Did the performer commit to the lyric in such a complete way that the listener was drawn in to the emotion of the song.

For me, performance is perfection – not technique and certainly not technology.

Remember that a critique is simply one person’s opinion. It is not the final word on anything. And, if you ask five people to evaluate your performance, you will, most likely, receive five completely different opinions!

Along the way, ask yourself who are you singing the song for. A live show? A talent contest? Your sister’s birthday? This really assists you in song selection – a crucial component in the success of your performance.

And, finally, regardless of being judged, ALWAYS sing as if it’s your last day on this planet, and your performance will cement your legacy in the minds and hearts of your family and friends. The size of the audience doesn’t matter. The size of your heart does.

(If you see me at a future WCOPA, please come up and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you!)

About Jeffrey Weber

Jeffrey Weber has been a widely-recognized music industry professional for over forty years. He has produced over 200 albums with releases on just about every major label as well as a host of independent labels. Along the way, his projects have yielded two Grammys, seven Grammy nominations, at least seventeen top ten albums, two number one albums and an assortment of other honors. He also produces large, multi-day music festivals and is an author with four books to his credit.

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Acting in the Age of Covid

How An Actor Can Still Practice Their Craft

I get it. I am just as you are with this pandemic. Like you, my life as an actor has been dormant for almost two years and the job if an actor has gotten more and more challenging. But, all is not lost. I am here to tell you that there are plenty of things you can do as an actor to improve your craft and continue growing as an artist. It was apparent to me in the beginning of the shut down. In some ways, I welcomed the break from chasing down acting opportunities through online submissions. I could do with the traffic going to and from the set, theatre, or casting meetings. Be careful what you wish for. After about a week, I was ready to grab my mask and head over to each of the major studies in town and demand to read for any part. Then came Zoom. An opportunity to still participate in the pursuit of acting jobs was just an iPhone, iPad,  or MacBook away.

Online casting wasn’t invented during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, most every audition I attended was either recorded or stream to directors and producers on location. The difference with using the internet for casting as the only way to cast actors, would become the norm. What about acting classes, performances, and films. Zoom was the home of comedy improv, plays, and even online coaching sessions. My frustration grew, but so did my perseverance as an actor to envelope myself in my craft.

I figured that this pandemic and being an actor would be a formidable challenge to overcome. So, I decided to focus my energies in things I could control. I watched movies and television shows specifically to study and reverse engineer the brilliance of my favourite actor. Their commitment to character and the engagement the actors had with their scene partners and their own scripted arcs. I read plays and practiced monologues. I would use my iPhone to record myself performing monologues and then put my performance under the same scrutiny that I afforded Streep, DeNiro, Cumberbatch, and Coleman, to name a few. I also ventured into online I would also use FaceTime to connect with fellow actors and do scenes or chat about the craft. To be the passion alive I also felt that “being in class” was another avenue to explore. Online acting classes or coaching sessions were available and still are. I was, at first, a bit sceptical. I taught classes in person with a room full of people performing in front of me. I brought in concepts and exercises that were dependant on an in person experience. But, what I have now found out is that these online acting experiences can be beneficial. As of this moment it is the only game in town, but the doesn’t mean we can’t benefit as actor by this experience. The other thing to consider is that whomever is watching you through their screens are watching you perform on camera from anywhere in the world. If you are contemplating a career in front of the camera, this is an opportunity to see how believable you come off on camera.

There are enough challenges in an actor’s life not to consider all aspects of acting and learning your craft. We cannot wait for the virus to dictate our passion for storytelling and inhabiting interesting and relatable characters. An Online experience isn’t a replacement for the in person experience, but it is the best we got at this moment. 

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Javier Ronceros has worked with numerous award winning actors, producers & directors over a 30 year career in Television, Film and theatre.  He co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in the 2019 film “Instant Family.”  He  has taught Acting at the SAG Conservatory Los Angeles, American Film Institute, privately for many years and is also a Director and Writer.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1242146/

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Getting ready for your performance 🎭

The tricks to great stage makeup

It is so easy for us to get caught up in what looks good in our daily routines but stage makeup requires us to think outside of the box! Stage lights can be hot, bright and unforgiving, but with the right makeup you can overcome these obstacles and shine like a pro for your performance. Here are some simple and effective tips to stage makeup from our experts at Red Lip Ink

  • Do use foundation and concealer
  • Always set with powder
  • Waterproof your look
  • Blush and bronze
  • False eyelashes are a must
  • Opt for a brighter lip
  • Don’t treat it like everyday makeup

Using foundation and concealer

Foundation and concealer are used to even out the skin tone, hide blemishes and reduce harsh shadows from stage lights. While there are different levels to performance and different foundations required, applying foundation is always necessary for looking flawless on stage.

Make sure you choose a color that blends seamlessly into your neck. Any differences in color will show even more under stage lights.

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Always set with powder

Setting your foundation with powder is so important for several reasons. Not only does setting your makeup with powder help fill in pores and hide blemishes  it also helps to hold all of your makeup in place during your performance. Whether you are singing, dancing or standing on a stage it’s important that your makeup stays in place. Stage lights can be hot and setting your face with powder helps prevent you from looking like a melted candle on stage. So don’t forget to set your makeup in with powder.

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Waterproof your eyes

Now that you have done your foundation and set it in place with powder, let’s not ruin your hard work by forgetting to waterproof your eyes. Stage lights ( I know I have said this before) are hot and bright meaning

  1. There is a high chance you are going to sweat and smudge your eyeliner and mascara all over your face.
  2. The bright lights will show your makeup running down your face which is not flattering for anyone. Unless that is the look you are going for ( horror theme) ?

It’s ok though not to panic! The easy fix for this is to make sure you choose waterproof eyeliners and mascaras. It sounds like simple enough advice but it’s easier to forget about this than you think. This is your reminder.

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Blush and Bronze

Between the bright lights of the stage and the distance between you and the audience, believe me when I say you NEED to put a little extra color onto your face. Have some fun and bronze and blush your face to perfection. Bronzer and blush will both add color and dimension to your face. This is so important to give depth to your face and prevent you from looking sickly or like a ghost. Bronzer is used to give a sun kissed look to the skin and also adds dimension and depth to your face so the audience can better see you from a distance. Blush is typically applied to the apples of the cheeks and adds a rosy glow to your skin that really freshens and brightens up your look. You cannot omit this step if you want to look your best on stage.

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False eyelashes are a must!

As a performer you need to accept that false eyelashes are just a natural part of performing on stage. Wearing false eyelashes will elevate  your performance to the next level. False eyelashes open up the eyes making you more visible from a distance. When the audience can see your eyes that means they can also more easily read your facial expressions which is essential for a performer who is trying to reach their audience. Even if you have naturally thick and long lashes, you still need to apply lashes to compensate for lights and distance.

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Brighten up your lip

Wearing a pop of color on your lips is such an easy and effective way to stand out and get noticed on stage. Your everyday perfect nude may be beautiful for daily wear but under the lights will disappear and can make your skin appear washed out. When you don’t wear enough color on your lips it makes it hard to see from a distance and when your audience can’t read your facial expressions your performance can get lost. Remember to look for long lasting, smudge proof lipstick that won’t smear during your performance.

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Don’t treat it like everyday makeup

This is probably the best advice I can give you. When you are getting ready for the performance of your lifetime your beauty routine needs to match the energy you want to portray. This means go for it! Give it your all! The night of your performance is the time to wear the primer, foundations, powders, lashes, color, lips glamour! Don’t be afraid to step into your best and boldest self. Pick the brighter lip, add the extra blush and most of all have fun! You are a star!

Hair and Makeup on model by Kristina from Red Lip Ink http://www.dripbook.com/Kristinamakeup/
Photo by Shelli Wright https://www.shelliwrightphotoworks.com/
Model Maya Pauline from https://www.exmodeltalent.com

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How To Land a Job On a Cruise Ship

Part II

So – you were chosen for the job . . now what? As mentioned in Part I, you will probably be required to rehearse at a land-based facility (many Cruise Lines are U.S. based) and for this you will be flown out and accommodated. You will require a valid Passport and you may require a medical examination prior to leaving your home – this latter is to determine that you are healthy and physically capable (once onboard, you may be required to become part of the Ships’ Safety Crew and, in the unlikely event of an emergency, you will be trained in your role but the Ship will not want to employ someone who may become a liability in such a case). You may also require what is called a ‘Seaman’s Book’ before joining – these details will be explained to you by the Company and may include addresses of medical facilities near you that work with Cruise Lines, etc. Once the appropriate documentation is in place, you will receive flight details and pretty soon, you’re on your way! Upon reaching your destination, you will typically be met at the Airport by a Ships’ Agent who will take you to either your accommodation or directly to a Vessel – you should, essentially, be hand-held as a Company does not want the liability or additional expense of having someone wandering around an unfamiliar City and potentially missing the Ship.

Once you arrive dockside, your documentation will be processed and now it’s “to the Gangway” and you’re finally boarding. You will be met and signed into the Ship’s records then taken to your Cabin. This first day is usually a long one – rising early morning to be shuttled to the Ship, then paperwork and meeting your department head (Cruise Director or Entertainment Director), along with other members of the team then you’ll tour the Ship in order to familiarize yourself with your home for the next few months. You’ll see Passengers disembarking as you embark then the Ship will be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for a new set of Passengers, who will embark during the course of that day before the Ship sets sail (usually early evening) for your first Cruise. The excitement of a Sail-a-way Party, concentration during the ‘Boat Drill’ (this happens on the first day of every Cruise, where Passengers and Crew muster to their emergency stations then Lifeboat stations to ensure everyone knows where to go), grabbing meals, seeing the Ship on her first evening with all public venues open and busy . . it’s exhausting and particularly so if you’ve travelled halfway around the World the night before!

Rehearsals will begin almost immediately, in order to bring everyone into the Shows as efficiently as possible. Rehearsals on the main stage can only be done when the venue is not required/scheduled for Passenger use, so you may find yourself at late-night rehearsals but definitely on Port-Days, as there are usually very few Passengers onboard; not with a cool, shoreside experience awaiting them! Don’t worry – you’ll have the chance to visit these Ports, but don’t forget you’re working, and the focus is on bringing the Entertainment up to par as quickly as possible, so be prepared to see your first Ports of Call from the Ships’ rail! Once the team/cast has settled into the Shows, extensive rehearsals are not usually required and you’ll be free to wander the Ports with your new-found friends. A word of caution: Always take note of the Ships’ sailing times and ensure you leave plenty of time to be back onboard before she sails! The Captain will not wait for you. Docking in a Port is a very expensive event and the times have been pre-arranged many months, if not years ahead. Even Passengers won’t have the luxury of a Ship waiting for their late arrival . . . they’ll ‘simply’ have to fly to the next Port of Call (assuming there aren’t many days at sea between Ports). On longer itineraries, there may be several days at sea (think Atlantic Crossings or Los Angeles-to-Hawaii, for example . . . these are voyages that take several days with nothing but the Ocean in between), so prepare yourself accordingly.

It might seem obvious, but when the Ship is traveling the ‘rolling’ is noticeable. Naturally, Cruise Lines tend to schedule itineraries that don’t coincide with Storm Seasons and the Captain can often re-navigate around rough weather but note that it’s not all completely smooth. For Dancers, this will have quite an effect on how you handle the choreography as, depending on whether the Ship is on a ‘rock’ or a ‘roll’, any lifting or leaping will require adjustments! This can be fun, but awareness will help you remain injury-free. There is an extensive Hospital onboard most vessels, with Doctors and Nurses manning a sophisticated facility – usually, there are Crew Hours for non-emergencies.

The bottom line is this: Working onboard a Cruise Ship can be a wonderful, rewarding experience where Crew and sometimes even Passengers become lifelong friends. You will definitely gain an education and become more World-Wise . . . whilst being fed & paid! “Bon Voyage!”


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We recently sat down with Dancer, Choreographer, Director, Actor Eartha Robinson to ask her to share some of her thoughts with us about the Performing Arts business. Originally from Harlem, New York, Eartha studied at the ‘famed’ High School of Performing Arts. After performing in the original cast of The Wiz on Broadway, she moved out to Los Angeles with the cast of the popular TV series Fame! and went on to perform, choreograph, etc. with many established Artists, on Award Shows, Music Videos, TV & Film. Currently, Eartha still works in ‘The Industry’ but is the Founder and co-Creator of a Performing Arts school called THE H.E.ART (Heartfelt Education through the ARTs), located in the ‘H.E.ART’ of our North Hollywood (‘NoHo’, for the uninitiated!) Arts District.

We started our conversation by asking what was the secret to her success on Broadway and elsewhere?

E:         I attribute my success for Broadway, TV, Film, Theatre – no matter what – on being prepared. Be prepared through training and technique . . . getting the best training & technique is everything. Find out what is going on in your area, keeping your finger on the pulse and never giving up – there is a technique to everything from auditioning to getting the job (and keeping the job!) so you’re always aware of your surroundings & where you want to go. You have to set goals for yourself – where do you see yourself a few years from now? Always want to do more and improve on what you did the day before in your craft. Training is everything – You have to put yourself in the position of always being ready when an opportunity presents itself. Voice Lessons, Dance Lessons, Acting Lessons – take them all. There should be no such thing as ‘I’m just a Dancer’ or ‘I’m just a Vocalist’, for example – it’s all about the bigger picture that is Stagecraft. Technically, emotionally it’s about being ready.

We then asked about the kind of challenges someone might face, as a Performer. Eartha gives out one of her signature infectious laughs.

E:         “No! . . . No!” is the challenge, because someone is always going to tell you “No!” and that, in itself, is a challenge. If you’re prepared, ready to go forward, those ‘No’s’ can become steppingstones in your learning curve, to find a way around that challenge for a positive outcome. Right now, we’re in this unprecedented Covid environment but we have to find a way around it so your heart, the true form of the Artist cannot be held back, and we look for other ways of accomplishing something, expressing something in a different way – perhaps even better than before. Simply put, there are always hurdles that life puts in our path & success lies with those who find a way over or around them – such things force us to think differently, keeping us on our toes and this can ultimately be good for us, challenging us to find another way of approaching something.

On asking about Eartha’s Performing Arts school, Eartha responded . .

E:         Opening up a Dance School was something I hadn’t really thought about doing, but I knew that I wanted to give back. I love giving back, so that’s what I started doing – I love the Arts and I know where it’s brought me from, and where it continues to take me and I want to give that insight and passion to others who may have very little exposure to Arts in their lives. So many of our Kids today have no involvement with the Arts and have no way to express themselves creatively: to discover that they are special, different and that being unique . . . and perhaps a little eccentric, is OK! So, I opened up The H.E.ART (Heartfelt Education through the ARTs) in the hopes that I could share what I have and my dreams for and with others and generally to do my part in trying to make the World a better place. I believe this comes with knowing the Arts & being self-expressive – not being afraid to let your own voice be heard.

Finally, we asked Eartha what tips she might give upcoming Dancers . . .

E:         Training, Training, Training – seek out the best places to train & don’t limit yourself to one thing – for example, HipHop can be informed by studying Ballet, Modern and Jazz techniques, etc.

Never be late – In New York, our teachers, choreographers and directors used to say “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late . . . . you’re fired!”, meaning you have to respect your time and the time of others, showing that you’re committed to your craft.

Find Hobbies – hobbies are good, they help define who you are and they give people a more well-rounded sense of who you are and what you’re capable of.

Find other people to study with. Break out of your usual routines, get out of your comfort zone. Read. A lot! (No, seriously!!)

Be kind to others – take care of people who are working for you & working with you.

Love your craft and keep working on your craft. If you’re doing it right, you should never feel you’re finished and that you’ve learned everything there is to learn – there’s always something more, so you should never, ever stop learning.

Lastly, I would wish everyone has a blessed 2021 –  Come and see us. We love Artists!! Mask-Up/Dance On!

Martin Hall joined Princess Cruises’ Los Angeles offices in 1984, having previously been an international professional musician. Starting by applying his knowledge of music, live entertainment, etc. he came up through the ranks in the Entertainment & Passenger Programs Department, booking musicians and dealing with all facets of the onboard entertainment requirements, including being part of the design team for new ship builds. Becoming a vice president in the early 80s, he oversaw the hiring of on-board staff, including dancers, singers, production staff, social staff, youth staff and guest entertainers. He developed exciting onboard programming – both daytime and night time – from branded passenger participation events to spectacular, bespoke production shows incorporating a cast of 17 along with a live band. In 2004, Princess Cruises also took on managerial responsibility for the historicCunard Line & P & O Cruises, Australia – a fleet of 22 Ships at one point! Martin retired from the cruise industry in 2013 but currently runs a production company in Los Angeles, incorporating its own multiple dance studio and theatre complex.