Kevin E. West

Welcome to Actor Business – The Business of Show Business

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The “Business” of Show Business

 

Let me get to it.

I started my professional acting career in 1988. There are aspects of my actor life that pre-date that, but that year is when I moved to Los Angeles to continue my actor pursuit — for money. 

You read that right. For money. 

Make no bones about it. That was the bullseye. Make money as an actor. I would love to tell you that I did that almost immediately upon arrival, but it took time. And over time, I learned some lessons. Most lessons came with a little pain or a lotta sorrow, but all left me more experienced and more knowledgable which later became pearls of wisdom to share with others. 

Sure I could have kept it all to myself. Strut around the actor community and drop some knowledge once in a while, look like a hero and walk away. A real badass gunslinger. 

Whew!

What did happen is that I saw a space where I could work both as an actor and an actor “business coach” (for lack of a better word). It became clear there was an absence of shared knowledge about the for-profit monetary actor pursuits.

This was 1991, people! Despite brick-shaped cellphones in black velcro bags that plugged into cigarette lighters, I decided to start The Actors Network.

To better understand the real “why” I did this, let me flesh out my personal history and accrued philosophy. 

First, some thoughts on this blog. At least twice weekly, I will post my thoughts, experience and practical knowledge to help all actors in this industry and as importantly the 21st Century. I truly want whoever reads this to succeed. 

From the start, it is important that you have a clear understanding of me and it that goes beyond any standard actor-bio you can view on IMDB

I grew up in the rural South. I was a competitive golfer in college and later I started my acting career in Atlanta. As I mentioned earlier, my move to Los Angeles was a financial pursuit, but it, like many of yours, was filled with hopes and dreams. I had limited finances and no referrals or industry connections. 

I share this for perspective. Today, perhaps more than ever, a higher percentage of performers embark on this pursuit with a name or connection that at least gives them an incentive to realize their Hollywood or Broadway dreams. 

If you’re lucky enough to have one or both, good on you! I don’t begrudge anyone who has something — anything — on which they can begin to build some semblance of a career. To make a living as an actor is an extraordinarily difficult challenge compared to a lot of industries. Plain and simple, there are no guarantees!

Since 1991, I have spent a lotta time speaking to and coacing for fellow actor peers! When I founded the award-winning organization, The Actors’ Network, it was important, in an industry sometimes full of empty promises and half-truths, that I stand for integrity, reality and mostly truth. Hard-learned truth for which there sometimes is no substitute. 

You know there is a lot of ‘noise’ in this actor coaching space. Away from the cameras and stage, the business of show business is, sadly, an area where anyone with a handful of credits, or a few years of acting experience, can claim to ‘know it all’. 

To that end, please know and trust that I’m not coming from a place of just lots of years in the business and a long resume. I committed a long time ago to truly learning how to navigate both the business itself and the people in it to ensure that any advice I render — even subjective — has been experienced over and over again by me. In other words, I have lived all of what lies herewith!

If you’re a younger actor or the parent of a young performer, and most of this industry is somewhat new to you, then you might not consider my acting or personal history valuable — but I assure you it is. The beginnings of my career started in my early teens and continue into today — the 21st century. 

Now while there have been a great deal of technological advancements, the very same challenges still exist for 99% of all actors: finding legitimate representation, getting auditions and booking jobs! 

All the websites, apps and even blogs can not help you unless you have sound understanding about how the other side thinks. How do we communicate and engage with the show business decision-makers?  Yes, electronic advancements have made it easier for actors to submit themselves but it has also made it easier for those efforts to be dismissed and ignored. The key for all actors has been and will continue to be…

Do the industry folks really know who you are?

Maybe I can help you!

My career spans many years and has migrated from analog to digital. I have worked with and consulted more than 5000 actors while simultaneously working in television and independent film. All this experience provides, arguably, an extraordinarily professional foundation and industry insight you will not find anywhere else in show business.

And I truly stand by that statement. 

All of us, myself included, face so many challenges in the acting business. At times, there are too many for our own psyches and our ideologies and philosophies are challenged. 

That said, everything that I want you to learn, experience, and use in your acting pursuit starts with your mindset about the business pursuit of an acting career. Do not misunderstand me. I highly value the craft and artistry of acting, but in terms of this blog, it is specifically acting-business focused. In fact, let me be clear and state this now: “To succeed in this industry you must ensure your acting craft is top-notch and ever improving.” 

As I wrap up, let me leave you with a few thoughts: 

  • Regardless of your age – you are not behind! Don’t race into your efforts too fast!
 
  • Right now, someone, somewhere, who looks very similar to you, is working! So whatever your physical body looks like, it is totally fine for acting! 
 
  • Show Business is two words and if you ignore the “Business”, your ability to build a successful acting career WILL be greatly diminished. 
 
  • NEVER FORGET!!! I am ON YOUR SIDE at all times. I WANT you to succeed far beyond me. 
 

Are you ready? Let’s move forward!!