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Career Counseling

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING: available to entry level performer members and seasoned professionals alike. Counseling is provided by HOLA staff, offering expert guidance on: choice of photographs and résumés, union matters, training, discrimination issues, and agent relationships.

"Cena Para Dos" (Dinner for two) by Santiago Moncada, with Alicia Kaplan and Hugo Medrano,
Gala Theatre, Washington. D.C.

Caveats for the Working Actor

THEATRICAL PHOTOGRAPHS: Always maintain an up-to-date theatrical photograph of yourself available to submit with an equally up-to-date résumé. It is the mark of a professional actor. Never accept a package deal from an agent or manager that offers you a special deal on a photograph session along with talent representation. It is not their business to provide theatrical photographs. You can be sure they are getting a kickback of any fee you have to pay. Seek out fellow actors and check their pictures. Shop around for photographers. Check a photographer’s book of photos, or body of work. You want to make sure that a photographer’s style will work with you. You will be able to find a good photographer at a reasonable price. Competitive prices in today’s market range from $150 to $750 for a session that includes 72 to 144 exposures. You are then entitled to at least one to two black & white 8x10 prints for mass reproduction. Also, NEVER PUBLISH HOME TELEPHONE NUMBERS FOR MINORS OR FEMALE ACTORS! Home answering machines are great but it is optimal to subscribe to an answering service that offers an option for you to have a beeper, usually offered as a package for $25-$35 a month. If you can afford a cellular telephone, all the better. The answering service will relay all messages to your cellular telephone.

Auditions: Always show up to auditions fully prepared. No “sorry, I forgot my pictures or I got caught up in traffic.” Casting directors really want you to get the job. If you are lucky enough to obtain an advance copy of the script or play, read it thoroughly and then fully familiarize yourself with the audition scene. In most cases you are not expected to have it memorized. Just have the intent of each line down and then a quick glance will remind you of what you have to say. If you know a good coach use him or her. The one truism that cuts through time in this business is: a good audition is like putting money in the bank, you will collect with interest. [Editor’s note: I auditioned for “Law & Order” and didn’t get the part. I was personally requested for an audition about a year later and I booked a role. Apparently, I had a good audition.] Never call a casting director to ask if you got the job. This is a big no-no. Always call your agent. It’s their job to keep you informed. Best thing is to put the audition behind you as soon as you can. If you were called directly by a casting director, the advice is still the same. Don’t call! They know how to get a hold of you when they want you. Never crash an audition! If you are at an audition center and notice an audition is taking place that you feel you are right for a role, offer to leave your picture and resume for their consideration. Always keep audition appointments. If you find that you are going to be late or cannot make it, call your agent. Short of a force majeure there is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

AGENTS RELATIONS: NEVER PAY A FEE IN ADVANCE TO OBTAIN WORK! Industry customs and practices permit a 10% fee (commission) of session rates and residuals (re-use fees) to be taken by a performer union-franchised agent. Franchised agents* (see below) are allowed to deposit checks made out in your name into special talent accounts. The agent will then issue you a check less their commission. Qualified managers charge 15% of your session and residuals over agent fees for the life of the job they’ve obtained for you. Background work, whether commercial or theatrical, is not commissionable except when a 10% surcharge to the producer is negotiated. (*At this time there is no franchise agreement between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the industry’s two major talent agent associations. There are franchise agreements with independent agents. If you are a union actor, be sure to contact your union office before signing any agreement. Actors who work in nonunion environments should inquire with local or state regulatory agencies with regard to percentages on commissions. In most cases, an agent that has been franchised is obligated to maintain the same fee structure discussed above when representing nonunion talent in nonunion areas.)

IF YOU EXPERIENCE LONG DELAYS IN RECEIVING PAYMENT (10-21 working days for the paymaster and an additional 3 days for an agent), CALL YOUR AGENT AND ASK TO SEE IF PAYMENT IS FORTHCOMING (always respectfully). Usually this will correct the problem. If it does not, you may, in writing and by registered mail, instruct the paymaster or payroll agency to send all future gross payments directly to yourself. Of course it is then your responsibility to immediately send a commission check to your agent along with copies of payment statement. Always keep in mind that you are the “talent” and agents & managers are in effect your employees. Never let yourself be pressured, threatened or bullied by anyone who offers to obtain you work. If you are a viable commodity (yes, it is a business) with varied abilities, especially fluency in Spanish or Portuguese or French or Italian, you are going to work. So always respectfully call the shots. Keep in mind that the industry is in continual need of competent talent. They will respect you when you are aware of your professional rights and obligations. BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS WHEN SIGNING A CONTRACT. CONSULT A LAWYER OR YOUR UNION BEFORE YOU SIGN! We suggest you offer to freelance for a period of six months, this way you can judge whether there is syncronicity between yourself and your prospective manager or agent. If they refuse this arrangement, don’t work with them. It’s that simple.

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION DUES: always maintain your union status up-to-date by prompt payment of your dues. If you find that you cannot continue pursuing your career and are a union member, ask for a temporary withdrawal of your union status. There is no shame in this. This is a very hard field to make a living at and there are times that one might need to go back to life’s drawing board. Otherwise, by not paying your dues for three (3) dues periods, the union will terminate your membership. Of course, always maintain your HOLA dues up to date.

COMPUTER SKILLS: In this day and age, computers are an intregal part of our lives (and livelihoods). More and more, agencies are asking for e-mail photo submissions or to please communicate with them by e-mail. The unions are cutting back the production of printed publications and are sending an electronic version via e-mail. Actor-related announcements of all sorts are being sent via e-mail out instead of by regular (or snail) mail. If you do not have a computer, you will be left out of the loop. HOLA is experiencing an inordinate amount of bounce-back (or “Mailer-Daemon”) notices from internet providers indicating that HOLA announcements cannot be delivered because client mailboxes are over quota. That means that some HOLA members are not checking their e-mail on a regular basis and are missing out on important casting notices. Some e-mail accounts reject HOLA announcements because of imbedded pictures. That means that your e-mail program considers HOLA mail as “spam” or junk mail. You need to adjust your e-mail preference controls to accept HOLA e-mail. Consult your internet provider on the procedure. It’s not too difficult and entails your typing in our holagram@hellohola.org e-mail address into the preferences folder. But check with your internet provider for the specifics.

IMMIGRATION SERVICES : HOLA provides "written advisory opinions" for O-1 visa applications as required by the Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Applications must be submitted to HOLA in a letter form by a bonafide employer and immigration attorney. Applications should indicate demonstrated need on the part of the prospective employer and/or exceptional abilities on the part of applicant talent as indicated by Homeland Security. Please include a full curriculum vitae and print media reviews. A processing fee will be charged. Acceptance of submission materials in no way obliges HOLA to affirm a positive written advisory opinion.

Submit to:

Executive Director
Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors
107 Suffolk Street, 302
New York, NY 10002

212-253-1015
holagram@hellohola.org

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HOLA programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts;
The City of New York, Department of Cultural Affairs; NBC-Telemundo 47; Univision;
private donations
and dues-paying members of HOLA.