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Successful Actors Do More than Act: Learn Networking Secrets

Nov 3, 2007
How can you break into the game of show business and become a successful actor or model? Sue Porter Henderson, president of Henderson Enterprises Inc., a New York company providing actor assistance since 1983, former model and actress, and author of Secrets of Successful Actors, feels that the key to success is persistence, presence, and the proper training in the business part of show business. "Being confident and having presence and the knowledge of what it is they're trying to do, is very important," says Henderson.

For many seeking to become discovered, the journey may seemingly end before it begins. Henderson, who went to New York City in 1973 at the age of 23 seeking a modeling career, was no different - turned down at the front desk of a major modeling agency for being "too short" and "too old". After talking with Wilhelmina Cooper, the head of the agency, Henderson realized there was a whole world of options she had not even considered yet. "She introduced me to an area of the business which I knew nothing about," Henderson shares, "I only thought there was one kind - fashion."

Henderson advises to not give up, even though initially you may be rejected from the career option you were pursuing. Persistence is the key to success. Not fitting into one field does not mean you cannot find your niche elsewhere. For instance, although the field of fashion modeling is incredibly strict, there is a space for all people, of any shape or size, in the commercial print-modeling field. "There's many good ways that a person could be successful," says Henderson, "If they can't do one thing, they can probably do another."

The proper training is also important to achieving your career goals. Agencies and talent scouts will not simply sign anyone. To enhance your competitive edge, you must first develop your talent from a hobby to a true understanding of the craft. Start with professional drama courses. Although major universities such as Julliard are recognized for their drama departments, any university with a department can give you the basis you need. Proving your skill through small roles in your chosen path will further enhance your reputation.

Like any major career choice, you must also educate yourself on the specific trials and costs, both emotional and monetary, that you will face. Proper research and consultation is necessary to understand the fiscal burden you may need to bear. Costs such as dental work, hair and skin care, and other physical enhancements can be costly even before you start working, but are necessary for the career. The cost of consultation, and printing and maintaining a portfolio will also exist. It is very important to properly understand the investment you are making before deciding on a major commitment.

There are many acting and modeling agencies that will promise you the world, if the price is right. Without knowing exactly what an agency wants, you may flush money away unnecessarily with no results. Because of this, education in the field is incredibly important. Otherwise, you may spend thousands of dollars, and meet hundreds of people that will do nothing for your career. "There's one thing that you must know and that's not to pay money up front to be represented," Henderson warns, "There's a lots of scams, and of course if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Knowledge also serves to help you find the right places to go. Sometimes, you may think you do not have a chance, when in reality; you are just in the wrong place. For instance, a senior seeking a modeling gig at an agency may pay money to find out the agency only deals with children. "You need to know the business before you get into it," advises Henderson.

Ultimately, how far you go, and what you do are up to the attitude you start off with. In a business where critical comments are common, it is easy to lose confidence, but through persistence, patience, and above all, education and practice, you can achieve your dreams of a career in modeling or acting.
About the Author
Dr. Proactive, Randy Gilbert enjoyed learning from Sue Porter Henderson, acting consultant and author of "Secrets of Successful Actors" on "Inside Success Radio". Listen or get the transcript for free: http://www.insidesuccessradio.com/Guests/Sue-Henderson
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