Please know the facts and learn about the business BEFORE TAKING THE PLUNGE INTO AN ACTING CAREER!

AAAAACTINGCARREThe number of people who “dream” of being a professional actor are in the millions. There are no official statistics published regarding the number of people who “actively pursue” acting jobs over the course of a given year, however the number is likely in the upper hundreds of thousands worldwide. This is a staggering number considering that there are roughly 50,000 acting jobs in a year, mostly comprising of small one-day roles. This figure also includes actors who worked on cruise lines, theme parks, summer festivals, and other non film and television jobs.

SAG-AFTRA is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG-AFTRA represents over 160,000 performers. Although a small number of popular actors earn millions of dollars each year, the average income of the majority of SAG-AFTRA members is less than $5,000 per year. Most actors find that work is extremely sporadic, and they must supplement their incomes by working other jobs. Out of all the SAG-AFTRA members, only about 50 might be considered “movie stars”

Becoming a member of SAG-AFTRA is no easy task to say the least. There are currently only three ways that an actor can join the union:

1) Proof of employment. Employment must be in a principal or speaking role in a SAG-AFTRA film, videotape, television program or commercial. Proof of such employment may be in the form of a signed contract, or original pay stubs.

2) Background Actors (Extras) may join SAG-AFTRA upon proof of employment as a SAG-AFTRA covered background player at full union rates and conditions for a minimum of three work days. Employment must be by a company signed to a SAG-AFTRA Agreement under which the producer is required to cover background actors. Proof of employment must be in the form of original pay stubs or a payroll printout faxed from the payroll house.

3) Employment Under an Affiliated Performers’ Union Performers may join SAG-AFTRA if the applicant is a paid-up member of an affiliated performers’ union (ACTRA, AEA, AGMA or AGVA) for a period of one year and has worked and been paid for at least once as a principal performer in that union’s jurisdiction (also known as “TAFT-HARTLEY” in the business).

There is also the issue of costs. To become a SAG-AFTRA member, the current national initiation fee rate as of April, 2015 is $3,100.98 (the initiation fees may be lower in certain states) plus the first semiannual dues. Each SAG-AFTRA member pays annual base dues of $201.96. In addition members pay 1.575% of all individual earnings under SAG-AFTRA contracts between $1 and $500,000.

To the audience watching performances, acting appears to be glamorous work. However, actors work under constant pressure. Many face stress from the difficulty in landing their next gig. Actors work very long and irregular hours with all night and weekend work a common part of an actor’s life. They may do one show at night and another during the day. They also travel often and are away from home for lengthy periods during many productions. Actors must often tolerate heat from bright studio lights, endure working in all sorts of unfavorable weather. Huge egos exist in abundance on film and television sets.

In order to have any decent chance of working on a regular basis, an actor needs to be represented by a talent agent. Finding a legitimate agent to sign you can be a seemingly impossible task. A couple of decades ago, a SAG (now SAG-AFTRA) member could send out photos and resumes to a hundred talent agents and get a response from at least several of them (that was my experience in the mid-1980’s). Now a SAG-AFTRA member would be lucky to get a single response after sending out hundreds of photos and resumes every month for a year. Most talent agents sign clients through industry referral only. Even after you sign with a highly reputable talent agency, auditions may come very infrequently. Casting directors for mainstream film and/or television projects look at submissions from these reputable talent agencies, and those agencies represent talent who are in the right location AND are ready to be booked. The rest of the submissions are a long-shot to ever be looked at… kind of like winning a state lottery. Having a hard-working reputable talent agent in your corner must be a priority for all working actors!

I have just scratched the surface with some of the realities of pursuing a professional acting career. If you have a clear understanding of the business and still have a passion to move forward with this career choice, then you have the first quality that is required to be successful. George Clooney made the following statement to an audience of SAG-AFTRA members at an event that I attended, “if you can not even slightly be reasonably happy doing any other form of employment, then and only then should you attempt to become an actor”.

Make absolutely certain that you take the profession seriously before pursuing a career as an actor. Learn everything you can about the business of acting. Do not expect to make a profit as an actor in the beginning. And never give up on your dream. Only then can you succeed!

See you on the Big (or small) Screen!

-Alan Baltes

New Disney Channel series ‘Camp’ casting call

The new Jessie spinoff series Camp is now casting series regulars to star alongside Peyton List and Skai Jackson. Disney Channel casting director Howard Meltzer is now auditioning actors for series regular roles on the new 1/2 hour multi-camera television series Camp. The show is a spinoff series to the hugely popular live-action comedy show … Read More

Disney Channel casting call for series pilot ‘Stuck In the Middle’

The new Disney Channel series pilot Stuck In the Middle is now casting talent for various roles including series regulars. It’s a Laugh Productions will begin production soon, and the casting directors are looking for actors to fill several roles, both adults and children. The extras will be cast at the start of production, and … Read More

Free Casting Director Labels and Free Subscription to Backstage Newsletter

The National Casting Editor and Senior Vice President of ‘Backstage’ has provided me with an exclusive link for all of my Website followers. This is for a free subscription to the Backstage Daily Newsletter which lists casting notices, auditions, etc. You also get FREE Casting Director and Talent Agent Mailing Labels. I highly recommend taking … Read More

Disney Channel casting call for new series ‘Best Friends Whenever’

The first Disney Channel casting call is now posted below for the starring roles in a brand new show called Best Friends Whenever. It’s a Laugh Productions will begin shooting on the new Disney Channel 1/2 hour multi-camera comedy series Best Friends Whenever starting in March, 2015. The Disney casting director for the show is … Read More

Disney Channel casting calls for ‘I Didn’t Do It’ season 2

Disney Channel casting calls for ‘I Didn’t Do It’ are now underway for season 2 of the Bandwagon Entertainment produced series. Casting directors have sent out the first casting calls for ‘I Didn’t Do It’ season 2, and they are seeking kids, teens, and adults for various guest starring and recurring roles. The show is … Read More

Disney Channel casting calls for ‘Jessie’ season 4

On May 20, 2014 Disney Channel announced that the live-action comedy series Jessie was renewed for a fourth season. The Disney Channel casting director has sent out casting calls and is auditioning talent for guest starring, recurring, and day player roles. The extras are cast throughout the season as needed. The series uses a multi-camera … Read More

Disney Channel auditions information for new series ‘Fairest of the Mall’

Disney Channel has given the green light for a 1/2 hour live-action comedy pilot called Fairest of the Mall, and auditions are getting underway in Los Angeles. The two-time Casting Society of America ARTIOS Award winning casting director has sent out the first casting call for series regulars and guest starring roles. Up for grabs … Read More

Disney casting call for ‘Once Upon a Time Story’ video

A Disney casting call has been sent out seeking real Hispanic families with kids and grandparents to star in an amazing Disney Video. Disney casting director Heather Heinz is conducting an international talent search seeking Spanish speaking families to tell their ‘Once upon a time story’ Have you ever dreamed of what it might be … Read More

Reminder about the Disney Channel Open Casting Call July 12, 2014

Reminder to all who are interested…. OPEN CASTING CALL, Official Disney Channel event in Los Angeles on Saturday July 12, 2014! This is for real, kids 10-17 years of age welcome, NO fees or expenses other than maybe parking. Union and non-union welcome, NO acting experience necessary. Again this is an OFFICIAL Disney event! Take … Read More

Casting Calls for Disney Channel Original Movie ‘Bad Hair Day’

Muse productions is now in production on the Disney Channel Original Movie Bad Hair Day, and casting for day player actors and extras is currently underway. Bad Hair Day is shooting in Montreal, Canada through August 7, 2014. Bad Hair Day is a comedic buddy adventure about a high school tech whiz who’s bound and … Read More

Official Disney Channel open casting call in Los Angeles July 12, 2014

Disney casting directors will be holding an open casting call in Los Angeles on Saturday July 12, 2014. The network is looking for new faces to be cast in starring and co-starring roles on Disney Channel and Disney XD shows and movies such as Teen Beach Musical 2, Liv and Maddie, Girl Meets World, Kickin’ … Read More