Allen Levin

Much like your acting resume, year after year, your special skills section should be growing. Always list your best skills first. Expand outward. More and more your special skills section should get better (there is a balance in all things, don’t have more than 5 single spaced full lines, ultimately. Continue to refine and replace with new and more cast-able skills). Acquire skills that will get you booking specific roles. If you look like an athlete and you’d like to work as an actor, get involved in some sports. It’s ok if you are a beginner. Being a beginner in something new is fantastic for any artist. We’ll speak more on that in a minute. You are meant to expand your capabilities. Let’s begin with your casting and expand outward.

Do you look like a lawyer? Take a law course. Observe some court cases. Interview a couple lawyers (take them out to lunch) that may be family friends. You can list in your special skills “jurisprudence” which means the theory or the practice of the law. Those casting lawyers may appreciate that word. You just might be brought in for more lawyer roles. What about those of you that look like cops? Get in on a ride along. Take a class. Interview a cop or two (take them out to lunch). In your special skills list “policing.” Do you look like a cowboy? Better learn how to ride a horse. Horseback skills can be listed on your resume along with these others. What about those of you that look like swimmers? Get in the pool! List “competitive swimmer” or even “long distance swimmer.” Simply “swimmer” can even get you some auditions.

OK. So we see where this is going. Now, once you have the special skills Hollywood wants from you, let’s begin to expand outward. Try new activities and learn from scratch:

Being a beginner is so very good for your brain. Challenges are fantastic for actors.

Have you yet to learn the guitar? Let’s begin! Take a lesson. Learn a few basic frets. What about singing? Take a vocal class. How about pottery? What about painting? Have you ever wanted to play the drums? Begin learning ping pong or tennis! Allow yourselves to become “addicted” to these new activities. Really get involved. Learn about equipment. Read about the best in the country and in the world. Try out the technique.

***Don’t overwhelm yourselves by doing too many new activities at a time. Remember that none of this replaces the need to rehearse. Acting remains the number one priority. While you are acting, pick a new activity (one that you could play in a moment’s notice should Robert Redford offer you the role). One new undertaking every 6 months is plenty as long as you get proficient enough to be able to convince a casting person that you do this as a part of your life.

If you have very few special skills on your resume this is particularly important for you. Let’s expand. Let’s get more calls (particularly for national commercials) to audition. Testing yourselves as a beginner and reminding yourselves that you can learn and acquire new skills will keep your old skills sharp. It will keep you from growing complacent or worse yet bored. For some of you, expanding your special skills list may save your artistic life. It may actually keep you excited and keep you from quitting. Quitting is death for an artist.

Let’s expand our special skills. Let’s boldly try something new, no matter our age.

Another great benefit to becoming used to being a beginner, letting go of any pride, and starting something brand new: If you are cast in a film to partake in a discipline that you don’t, you won’t hesitate to learn the new skill. You’ll know that you can learn new skills quickly because you’ve improved on the skill of building a new skill from scratch.

Go ahead. Pick something new. Begin today. Let’s add to our special skills list.

Onward and UP.


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