I wish there had been something like this when I was getting started as an actor….
I met Ingrid Torrance the other day at Biz Books when Cat asked me to come down and shoot some interviews with her. Ingrid, you see, has written a book, and Biz is hosting the launch party. The book is called ACT! A Step by Step Guide to Starting your Acting Career. I immediately recognized Ingrid as a kindred spirit (she’s writing about the business!), and asked her if I could do an interview for my blog.
RC: Tell us about ACT! Who exactly is this book for?
IT: Act! is for anyone of any age who is interested in becoming an actor as well as those have are already begun. If getting an agent, finding a class or coach, writing a letter to an agent, doing up an industry-friendly resume, auditioning, confidence or what your hit is; are questions you have, then Act! is for you.
I also think this is a great book for parents who want to get their children (of any age) into the industry because it gives them answers to where to go and how to start. An understanding of the business of acting will help everyone!
RC: Anyone who’s an actor probably has had lots of people ask them “how do you get started?” Why did you decide to write a book about it?
IT: I decided to write Act! for 2 reasons. First, I always have people asking how they can start out in acting and because I love the industry so much and have had a lot of good fortune in acting, I always want to help as much as possible; second, the students I teach would always want coaching with photographers for headshots, finding an agent, writing a letter, resume… and I thought, wow, there’s a lot of people needing this information, someone should write it down!! Then it occurred to me that I love writing, I have the personal experience of 16 plus years as an actor and as an acting teacher; maybe I should write it down!!
RC: Who is Ingrid Torrance?
IT: Ingrid Torrance; actor, coach, producer, director and author has appeared in numerous movies and television series since 1994. She has also been an acting teacher since 1995 and an on set and off set coach since 1998. Ingrid has worked on such shows as Andromeda, Smallville, The Outer Limits, Blade: The Series, Stargate SG-1, The 4400 and Higher Ground. She has appeared in such films as Double Jeopardy, Act of War, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, The Auburn Hills Breakdown, and Driven to Kill. Ingrid has been nominated for a Leo Award as Best Actress and was featured in Entertainment Weekly as a “Breakout” Actress. Ingrid has coached many actors for both performance and dialogue, such as Karina Lombard (of The 4400, Legends of the Fall), Cameron Bright (of New Moon, 11:11, Birth), Devan Sawa (of Final Destination), Greyson Golka for Men in Trees and Cheng Pei Pei, Henry O for They Wait.
RC: Who is Ingrid Torrance, really?
IT: I’m actually a hermit; I know, no one ever believes me when I say this. I spend a lot of time on my own and I’m quite shy. I come out of my shell when I’m doing something that I feel I do well or something that I really believe in, so acting is kind of a funny choice and in fact this personality trait comes out in my work too; if auditioning for something I don’t feel I do well, I can often get very shy about it. Something I’ve had to work on because you’re always faced with different roles and you can’t always pick and choose the roles you think are right for you. It’s been, and continues to be an interesting journey; and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
RC: So many of us (and I am often in this category) just want to make our art. We just want to act/paint/play the piano. Why do we have to deal with the business? Can’t we just get an agent or a manager to manage that stuff for us?
IT: I believe you need to embrace the reality of any craft, which includes understanding that there is a business side to any craft. With all the viral media out there, I think a personal touch is important; people want to hear from the artist directly, to have access to that person. Once you start, it’s really easy to keep it up and I look at it as a celebration of my work; you can take it or leave it, but if I don’t celebrate it, how can anyone else celebrate it. I’m sure everyone has the experience of someone’s work; painting, writing, performance, song, dance etc, having made a difference or impact on your life somehow, if it wasn’t made available to the public, then it couldn’t have made a difference to someone else. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your talent, your art, with the world; it doesn’t make it less wonderful or creative.
RC: Can you share with us three tips for actors starting out?
IT: 1) Find a class that’s right for you; know what you’re after, (scene study, improv, audition, theater training…) and find that type of class; find a teacher that you connect with who teaches in a way that works for you; audit, audit, audit those classes before you sign up!
2) Believe in yourself! No one is going to believe in you until you do! You can effect so many things; the way you approach something, the way people view you; even the energy in a room, all with your belief in yourself. As an actor, you need to be strong, you need to believe in yourself and you need to know why you’re doing it because there are a lot of “no’s” in the industry, you need to be the yes!
3) Learn about the industry; watch movies, read trade magazines, read plays, read scripts; know the industry!
You can buy a copy of Ingrid’s book, ACT! A Step by Step Guide to Starting Your Acting Career at Biz Books, and you meet her in person at the book launch there on May 13, 6-8 pm.
Check out a video I made for Ingrid here.