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Michele Deradune

Close Shots: LA Style Acting in Texas
by Michele Deradune

April 2002

Recently I took a free acting class from an LA actor whose advertisement billed his class as teaching "LA style acting." This really got me curious. In class I asked, "What did you mean by that? What is LA style acting?" The response I got was similar to a diatribe I have heard from nearly every acting coach from which I have heard in Austin. In LA, acting is treated as a business. One is not late to auditions and one certainly would never miss an audition without making every effort first to be there and second, if necessary, to call and cancel the appointment in a timely manner. And he makes a good point that I have heard made by others. If you are not willing to treat this as a business, get out of the game altogether. Please. You only make yourself look bad, and it's not fair for the actors who are truly working their craft and being professional.

I was kind of surprised, though. I was waiting to hear about some secret STYLE of acting that LA actors had that we didn't know about here. But of course that was silly. It's not a geographic style. When it comes to "LA style," I have heard many stories about LA actors being highly competitive to the point of mean-spiritedness. That's a big reason I have no desire to move out to LA, jobs or no jobs. Actors purposely trying to make other actors look bad while waiting for auditions, for instance, will try to get you to talking it up out in the waiting room so that you will be seen as unprofessional, thus eliminating you as competition. I have heard stories of the casting staff coming out to the waiting area and sending people home before they have had a chance to audition because the actor was chatting it up rather than sitting or standing nearby and acting professionally (quietly reading their sides in readying for the audition). Some casting directors even have hidden cameras out to the waiting area just for this purpose of weeding out those who act unprofessionally when they think no one is looking. This is a big argument for taking it to heart when it is said that "LA style acting" means treating this as a business and putting an emphasis on acting professionally. Remember, big movies equal big bucks, and this is something that is taken very seriously indeed. Business, after all, is about MONEY. No one wants to stake their monetary investment - not to mention their time and efforts - on the unreliable.

I have heard about LA actors purposely misleading other actors in order to eliminate competition. Cut-throat is a term I have heard more than once about the biz in LA. Telling of lies is another. "They want a Southern accent" sounds like a great tip until the actor finds out, after the audition, that the director was looking only for Midwest and Russian accents. This kind of mean-spiritedness is part and parcel of the current LA legend. Not so in Texas. There is a kindness and hospitality of spirit here that some LA-to-Texas transplants find truly refreshing. But really if we are doing things the way we are supposed to be doing them, this should not be a problem. We can act professionally in the manner expected and refrain from conversation while waiting to audition. We can listen carefully, take notes and learn to rely on the information given to us by our agents. If our agents are giving us inaccurate information, we should confront the problem and try to work it out so that it will not happen again. If it happens again, we should look for another agent. It is important to have an agent that acts professionally and takes care to give complete and accurate information to talent they are sending out.

I have a responsible streak. It doesn't take a passion for acting to make me reliable and on time. I guess a lot of people act responsibly only when they have a job that is guaranteed to pay the bills. Auditions are like job interviews, and we all know that only one in perhaps hundreds or thousands will actually get the paying job. But if we are auditioning for a paying job, it necessarily follows that we must be responsible in this arena as well. In this respect we would do well to follow the example of LA actors of being on time, dressing appropriately and acting professionally. Bring at least two copies of your current headshot and resume and keep extra ones in your car in case you are asked for more. Treating this as the business, because a business is what it is.

Is there some reason you are not going to make an appointment for an audition? Hopefully it is a good reason, otherwise it would have been better you had not made the appointment at all. You woke up with something contagious and don't want to be barfing it up before a casting director? Good call. But do call! Cancel that appointment, and in a timely manner, just as surely as you would cancel an appointment with the dentist who charges a twenty-five dollar minimum for no-shows. If you don't show up for an audition, and didn't even call in advance to cancel, why should that director or agent or manager want to or agree to deal with you again? I wouldn't. Not without a good reason to change my mind. Talent with no follow-through is not talent that you can take to the bank. If you are Texas talent, be responsible. Otherwise you will only make yourself look bad. Worse, you make Texas actors look bad. There is a lot of good - not just good, but GREAT - Texas talent who are willing to - and do - treat this as a business.

Don't get me started. Oh well, that's enough for now. To end this on a fun note, here is a quote from a thoroughly enjoyable actor, Barry Corbin (perhaps best known for his role as Maurice Minnifield in the TV series NORTHERN EXPOSURE):

"Film acting is sort of like the priesthood: you don't choose it, it chooses you. No matter how good you are, you got to have enough humility to observe other people. We're all observers. You've got to have the egotism to say what you've got to say. Nobody else can say it as well as you can. You've got to be a peculiar type of person to do this. If you're not that kind of a person, then you better do community theatre and just enjoy it!"

Cheers, Michele


Michele Déradune is a film actress and voice talent in Austin, Texas represented by Liz Atherton at Ciao! Talents. Her credits include a principal supporting role as the cheating wife in SNAKE TALES (winner of Best Independent Film Comedy Award given by the Chicago Institute of Art in the summer of 2001 - and which can be rented at Vulcan Video and Waterloo Video), being filmed by KEVIN SPACEY in an unscripted movie, as the English dubbed-in voice of Sakura's mother, Wakana, in the yet-to-be released Japanese anime SAKURA WARS 2, and as an invited regular call-in voice on 96.7 KISS FM's "The Tony Fly Show." See Michele's online résumé, including a picture of her sensuously plump figure and new tattoo by clicking on the link for "actor's resume" at http://www.deradune.com.

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