Brian O’Neil’s “Acting as a Business” is packed full of helpful bits of advice for the working actor. At the beginning of the book, I wasn’t sure how helpful/useful/how much I’d enjoy it. O’Neil filled one of the beginning chapters with various names of well-known actors and gave examples of the work they’ve done. I wasn’t particularly interested in hearing a laundry list of actors and their work since I wanted to get to the real meat/content of the book. But much to my satisfaction, the majority of the book is well written, thoughtful, and incredibly helpful for beginner/mid-career actors.
This reference includes lots of helpful advice on headshots, resumes, cover letters, contacting agents, and ways to break into the industry for actors who are not yet represented. There are also useful tips that I never would have thought of – for example, I thought it was interesting that O’Neil mentions that breaking into the film/tv industry via the soaps is a great way for actors to acquire eligibility for the unions.
When it comes to the arts, often times the business side is neglected during the artist’s training. That’s why giving this book a read was helpful in giving a perspective on the other side of the art of acting – the art of promoting your work. I liked how O’Neil presented the profession realistically and by mentioning that through persistence, an actor can open up more doors to opportunities. You never know what may happen if you don’t put yourself out there.
O’Neil shares info on how to approach agent interviews and office auditions. I especially liked his comment about how you should “make the most of yourself” – that an actor should present his or herself in a positive light, to find a way to pull the positive from your work experience and training. He also touches upon how an actor should be ready to perform at any moment because you never know when you’ll be put on the spot to audition.
Overall, his realistic yet encouraging tone was very refreshing and made the book an enjoyable read. And if I don’t say so myself, I’m now feeling pretty motivated about looking for auditions and contacting agents. I also must say that thus far, this has been the most useful book I’ve read on the business side of acting.