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By Bruce Edwin

IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT. There is a Hollywood hot spot I regularly go to, and they recently put on new door knobs on some of the doors. The problem is however, the former door knobs worked just fine, and the new ones, look as tacky as can be. On top of that, one was about to fall off. Models and talent can learn from this. If you are doing something that works, don't stop it, until you replace it with something better that you know is better upon evaluation.

CONSULT WITH YOUR REPRESENTATION BEFORE CHANGING YOUR LOOK: Don't change your look drastically for example, including your hair, without consulting with your agent or manager. It might make you less marketable. I had one model that I had signed, partly because of her long, beautiful hair, and height. When she acted bratty with me one day, and canceled an appointment, right after she had chopped most all of her hair off without consulting with me, I dropped her. Since then, she has apologized, and I'm taking her back, but, she now has at least one strike against her. In the modeling business there is the strike system. Most agents allow three strikes, which are signified by a colored dot or hole punch on a models top zed card on the wall. As in baseball, three strikes and you're out! This goes for actors, and bands as well.

Another model dropped her self. She ended up getting tons of poorly drawn tattoos, and face piercings, gained a lot of weight, and got a bad hair dye job after chopping most of it all off. When I had signed her, she was the perfect girl next door look. Now, she wasn't clean enough for the girl next door look, but she also didn't look natural as a punk or alt girl either. I told her my concerns, and she spun further out of control, never to be heard from again. Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you try to make it better, consult with your agent or manager, they are after all, the ones working on getting you work, and their opinions and what they want should mean something to you. If it doesn't mean much to you, then don't expect them to rep you for very long if they have any integrity or professionalism about what they do.

NEW IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. I can't tell you how many actors have came in to my office, and when I ask them what method of acting they know, they try to tell me all proud and excited, the name of some guy or lady with some rinky dink school somewhere in town, that no one except them and their classmates have heard of, talking as if they are the world's answer to bad acting. By method, we mean the basics, Shakespeare, Stanislavski, or Meisner. Uta Hagen probably deserves to be in there as well. Don't get sold on a name of somebody who is a nobody compared to the masters and originators, just because they are new. If you aren't learning Meisner or Stanislavski, you owe it to your self to at least learn the foundation, before you try some new application which evolved from the standards any way.

KNOW THE RULES, BEFORE YOU BREAK THEM. Some of my film instructors told us this often, that we could break the rules of Hollywood filmmaking, the traditional Aristotelian plot curve with the three act structure for example, or the establishing shot, or such, but we had to be able to know we were breaking the rules, which rules we were breaking, and be able to justify why it was a good, aesthetic choice for doing so. The same is true of acting, or any of the arts for that matter. A true master of their craft can break the rules, but one should be skilled enough to know what they are doing. After all, a part of the fun of breaking them any way it to know you are breaking them. But don't just break rules for the sake of it. The end result should be that it is the smartest thing to do, and that it ultimately makes you and others better off because of it.

DON'T ADMIT MISTAKES. If you are doing a read, whether it be from sides (lines of a script), a cold read (lines handed to you on the spot that you have little or no time to prepare for), or a monologue (lines you choose yourself and memorize in advance to recite), and if you mess up a line, don't stop and apologize. Pretend like you did fine, and keep on going. Don't draw attention to your errors. There are times and places to be humble and self deprecating in the world. An audition or interview is not one of them. The same is true if you are a singer performing live. Sometimes however, a rock band can come off looking better, if their attitude is to look super cool, but they make fun of their own rare mistake in front of the crowd. This can show their fans that they are human, real, down to Earth, and not too conceited to make fun of themselves. Sometimes, it can make the crowd love them more. There is a fine line as a live performer between coming off as a loser, and using a mistake to gain love and sympathy from the audience. Things like this can not be taught easily. They must be organic, natural for a great performer.

DON'T CRITICIZE YOUR SELF. Don't point out your faults or errors to people in this business. They are looking for them enough them selves. Why make it worse for yourself? I have had many models or talents point out things to me that they felt they did wrong, that I would have never even thought about had they not told me. Draw attention to your strengths, not your weaknesses or errors.

HOW TO TALK TO AN AGENT OR MANAGER: I recently spoke with a potential model who had a lot of potential. But she failed miserably on the phone. I was all set to invite her in to the office, but she failed in a way that really shocked me. After telling her about our company, what I could possibly offer her, and the like, I asked more about her, and what she was doing now. Was she in school? Studying acting? Did she work? Where? This question is important to an agent or manager obviously, because if one is working as a yoga instructor, versus working in a doctor's office, or a lifeguard, or a waitress, or whatever, these things will affect who you are as a talent, your schedule, and on and on. This potential model went on the offensive. Bad move.

"Yes, I work," she said. "Great, where at?" I inquired. "I work in a restaurant." She replied. "Oh, OK, cool," I said, "so you have some flexibility. Which one?" I asked. "Yes,' she answered, "It's a restaurant in Santa Monica." She answered. "O.K., great!" I said, "Which restaurant is it?" "It's on the Promenade," she said. "OK, great," I replied, "Does it have a name?!" You would have thought I asked her the size of her bust, waist, hips, and weight, which by the way, is another question you need to be prepared to answer if you want to be a model. "Why do you need to know that?" She demanded defensively. "Well," I replied, "I don't 'need' to know any thing. I don't need to invite you in my office, but I was going to. My office is where I work, so you know where I work and spend most of my day, and I don't know you either, so I want to know where you work if I'm inviting you in to my office. It's a public place, right?" She continued to be defensive and said she did not feel comfortable telling people that over the phone. Now, maybe this model was employed illegally, but what was more likely, was that she was just really paranoid. If you are that scared to tell an agent or manager where you work at, then don't bother giving your info to their scout, or talking with them at all to begin with. My scout by the way, could later tell me where she scouted her at, at her work. Duh!

Now, giving out your home address is another story. You should not give out where you live to an agent or manager except on an application after you have gotten to meet and trust them. Treat this process like you would applying for any job. Be prepared to give out your correct age, height, weight, and measurements. If you are too shy or uncomfortable to give these out, then you are not ready to work in Hollywood. In the next issue, I'll cover the rules parents need to know for minors working in the industry, basics of the recording industry, and pilot season. Don't miss it!

Bruce Edwin is a model and talent manager, and film producer. He confidentially represents and works with numerous stars. His article 'How to Succeed In Hollywood' is his free gift to models and talent, to get free knowledge that is usually not shared with performers. Back issues can be read in the archives section. His office can be contacted at 310-226-7176.

How to Succeed In Hollywood, © 2009, The Hollywood Sentinel.