Exciting news! My acting book, How To Be a Successful Actor: Becoming an Actorpreneur, is now out in print. It has been selling well and has had some rave reviews. It is everything I have learned in over ten years in the acting industry. Here are some of the reviews:
“The daughter of a friend of mine is in her second year at drama school. She’s good: can sing, can dance, can act – particularly in comedy. So, she has it all? Trouble is, so do so many of the rest of her year group. And so do all of those other aspiring actors in all those drama schools across the country. She’s beginning to ask how she can show she’s different, that she deserves to be remembered from one audition to the next. How she can avoid annoying someone whose off hand influence can close as well as open doors for her?
I’m going to give her a copy of this book. It may be the single most useful thing I ever do for her. How To Be a Successful Actor: Becoming an Actorpreneur by Catherine Balavage is one of those practical, down-to-earth guides which doesn’t try to hide the obstacles and difficulties of choosing an actor’s life but does give solid and sensible, practical, advice on making the best impression and avoiding the worst pitfalls. Equally valuably, Balavage makes suggestions for networking, for working with others to help each other through teamwork (e.g. helping film each other’s showreels), working for nothing except getting your name out there, remembering names, and never, never, never forgetting to say thank you – even when you don’t land the part. She is upfront about the chances of success in acting: ‘Only act if you cannot do anything else. It is the hardest and most competitive industry you can go into. Your chances of success at making a full-time living for the rest of your life are small.’ And then she offers clear and straightforward, practical advice about how to shift the odds just slightly in your favour.
This book seems, at first glance, rather plain, with no images and most chapters simply divided into paragraphs with explanatory headings, or questions followed by responses. I like this format. It’s no-frills and underlines the fact that this is a handbook. A ready reference tool which will be highlighted and annotated by anyone who uses it regularly. The pages of useful contacts and Top Tips are invaluable. I also liked the interviews with others in the profession: the replies to questions overlap with each other in ways which reinforce what Balavage has already said. This reinforces my conviction that this author really is writing from experience and passing on advice distilled from her own hard work. Which I really hope my young friend will take.” Penny Deacon.
“Balavage has written a well balanced exploration of how to succeed as an actor. I am an author, not an actor, but having read How to be a Successful Actor, I feel the two precessions are closely allied. Balavage clarifies the positives and negatives of the profession, and then proceeds to walk us through the ups and downs, giving anyone interested in becoming an actor the tools to maximise their chances.
The basic ingredients, it seems to me, are to utilise common sense and good manners. After all, you will be meeting the the same people on the way up, and then, when times are hard, to be nice out there..
But more than that, we are led by the hand through the nitty gritty of whether to train, or not to train, the virtues of hard work in the face of lack of progress, the need to be glad of any chance to gain experience, and exposure. She explains the need to acquire the necessary skills through classes, and the value of networking.
As I also advise my writing students, Balavage advises actors to watch and analyse their craft, on stage, radio and screen. She emphasises the need for actors to BE their characters, to acquire accents, to keep fit. She moves on to marketing, to the virtues of mobile phones and the internet for spreading the word about YOU,
There is humour: remember to avoid the stunt co-ordinator’s elbows, there are detailed tips: what to do if your mouth dries up (read the book and find out) , there are a forest of useful addresses.
No wonder it took Balavage 4 years to write this book, because she includes a plethora of interviews with experts in the field. What comes across is that Catherine Balavage considers an acting career to be a project, one that needs to have: a firm foundation, on-going development, marketing skills, research, realistic self-belief, and a hell of a lot of luck. This book needed to be written. It was Catherine Balavage with her clear sighted view of the profession who needed to write it. Bravo!” Margaret Graham.
“This really is an excellent guide book into the terribly difficult, but potentially rewarding life of an actor. Balavage tackles the often ignored questions that surround the inexperienced and/or young person who wonders what the best road to take is? She starts with the basics that encompass questions about whether to train at drama school (and thereby find the money to do so), or go another route by getting involved with fringe theatre and/or film school films. Throughout she weighs up the pros and cons in a highly informative and intelligent manner that are also highly credible as she is writing from first-hand experience. Her own entrepreneurship into film-making is included and offers fantastic tips and empowerment, to what is often a dis-empowering profession. She also demystifies the perceived ‘glamour’ of working as an actor and says it how it is. A good wake-up call for those out there that crave instant fame!
Her approach is wholly professional and fundamentally knowledgeable: she interviews working actors, alongside well-known casting directors who give an insider-view into what is required to get ‘ a foot in the door’. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in becoming an actor.” Clea Myers.
“I found this book to be an excellent companion to Bonnie Gillespie’s ‘Self-Management for Actors’, which I am also currently reading. The first half of Catherine’s book does a excellent job of distilling a seminar’s-worth of material into a manageable bit. The second half, the interviews, felt more conversational. What was clear, the recommendations made in the first half came, in part, from these interviews. This is an excellent technique, since it reinforces the validity of the recommendations as having come from entertainment professionals who have achieved a perceived level of success. (I like that the definition of “success” was open for discussion, since it can mean different things to different people.)
As an American reading this book, I did find some UK-centric resources and references. But, in this era of global Internet access, I found just as many that were valid for US readers. I was able to take this in stride and see this as a valuable tool in my self-management as a working actor.
Thanks, Catherine, for writing this excellent guide.” Tom Shafer.