Self-management for Actors: Getting Down to (show) Business

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Cricket Feet Pub., 2009 - Performing Arts - 519 pages
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For beginners or polished pros. Actors need representation: they need managers to help guide them through the process of becoming working actors. Or do they? Self-Management for Actors guides actors through the process of taking control of the business side of their careers. There is no secret method, no password entry system to the Working Actor's Club. What does exist is a simple, self-management concept that allows any actor to handle the business of an acting career without losing the ability to be a creative artist. Balance is key, and the tips in Self-Management for Actors will put every actor on the way to having the best manager they deserve: themselves!

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This is my very first review on Google. It's time I spoke out.
To the happy readers who left 5-star reviews, I have one question: Have you read this book?
I have. In fact, I'm in it. I'm also in her earlier book, a compilation of interviews with real, working casting directors. But lately, I'm embarrassed to be included in either.
And to echo a fellow 1 star reviewer, my experience and history in Hollywood is extensive, and I am informed by my background when I write this review. Over the past 29 years, I have been a producer of several films; I have been a screenwriter, an actor, and a teacher at the Lee Strasberg Institute. And I have been a casting director on hundreds of movies, TV shows, commercials, music videos and theatrical productions. I have known thousands of actors at all stages of their careers, A-Listers and wannabes alike. I understand why actors tend to fail, and why they tend to succeed. I have been a member of the Casting Society of America since 1992.
And I can say with all confidence that this book does little to help actors to learn how to manage their careers.
It is an amateur exercise and is not "foundational", as suggested by some reviewers. It's filled with much subjective advice, and sadly may present more of a roadblock for aspiring talent than a path to a successful career.
It's written as if addressing a high schooler, often condescending, seldom clever, and it provides a rather sleepy read from a woman who exhibits considerably more talent in promoting her brand than she does as a writer. In fact, much of the writing in this book is embarrassingly pedestrian, and generally appeals to those actors who don't know the first thing about the entertainment business. Unfortunately, those are the most prone to blindly believe what is written in this book.
Following in the footsteps of other more famous self-help gurus, with this book, Gillespie has mastered the art of convincing the nervous, na´ve and uninformed actors of the world that there is enough valuable information contained in this book to justify its cover price. There is not.
Don't get me wrong. Beginners need guidance. This book, in my opinion, does not offer that guidance. I understand how actors who know no better might hop on the Bonnie train, and buy the book because they believe that it will carry them forward in their careers.
I don't think it can.
The book is unoriginal and derivative. The author has compiled a cut-and-paste book, with a disparate and confusing array of observations that are sure to leave actors unfulfilled and confused - or simply spinning in circles. She has culled hundreds of tidbits of advice from dozens of industry guests who often seem to point actors in opposite directions. The chapter on coaching and teachers is especially baffling. Every contributor chimes in with his or her opinions and favorites (including me). In the end, the actor is left to wonder who he should believe, or whether he should even study at all. It's dumb and does little to really educate actors about how to get educated.
That being said, I am not at all surprised by the overwhelming number of 5-star reviews for this book. It seems that Ms. Gillespie has developed quite a following - a cult, if you will - that hangs on her every word. But do your own research. While these positive reviews are certainly valid, all from eager and earnest thespians who want a leg up in this tough and often disheartening business, don't allow yourself to be fooled by clever marketing into believing that this book is anything but a convoluted and confusing roadmap to the middle.
Poor actors! This is just another book that cashes in on newbie actors' insecurities and na´vete and the "do-it-yourself" phenomenon. Actors are the most vulnerable members of the Hollywood community. They are fleeced by every snake-oil salesman who is just smart enough to convince them that they have a secret fairy dust that will lead them to success. It's crystal clear

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About the author (2009)

Bonnie Gillespie has been named in the Back Stage "Best of Los Angeles" Issue for her casting and writing. Her weekly column, The Actors Voice, is at ActorsAccess and her podcast, The Work, is on iTunes. Her books include "Casting Qs," "Acting Qs," and "Self-Management for Actors," which was named one of The Top Ten Best Books on Acting Ever Written. Bonnie facilitates seminars based on her books and has demystified the casting process and the business side of pursuing an artistic career as a guest instructor at colleges, universities, and private acting studios all over the world.

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