How To Become An Actress – Whitney Avalon Interview

Bio

Whitney Avalon is an actor, writer, singer and comedienne who makes her living in commercials, film, television, stage, new media and voice over. She’s appeared in series including The Big Bang Theory, Days of Our Lives, Monday Mornings and Perception.

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Whitney has also been prolific in theatre, performing in hundreds of productions. Web videos in which she’s appeared (some of which she also scripted and produced) have had dozens of millions of views. She’s most well-known for her ‘Princess Rap’ videos which have garnered national news coverage and sky-rocketed her Youtube account.

For more on Whitney visit: http://whitneyavalon.com

Summary

I’ve always loved watching Days of Our Lives whenever I visit my relatives in South Africa. We don’t have it here in England. So I am thrilled to have an actor who has starred in some episodes on my website!

Whitney also starred in an advert for the Cheerios breakfast cereal, which was brilliant and a reflection of our multicultural society.

Here she talks about the acting life and gives lots of insider tips that will be useful to budding actors. I look forward to watching more of her talented performances on TV and new media.

Interview Questions

1. Hello Whitney and thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with Inspiration for Creation! OK, let’s start at the beginning, at what age did you start acting and what inspired you?

Hi Lindi. It’s my pleasure to be here. I’ve been acting on stage since age 6, though I was a ham long before then. Although I’m not certain how I knew at such a young age there was a profession wherein I could play pretend for a living – probably thanks to my awesome mom, who had done some theatre in school – I took to it immediately and have never stopped!

2. You majored in theatre at University. How did this influence your career and would you recommend this as a route into your profession?

I had a great time training in college, but professional acting is atypical in that for the most part, if you are the actor who best embodies the role, the casting team won’t care if you have a degree or not. That said, however, it’s important one way or another to study not only the craft (so you can consistently give a solid performance) but also the technical elements of the various branches (knowing your way around a film set, for example). So while I wouldn’t say a rigorous conservatory program or even a more liberal arts degree is for everyone, I would emphasize that it’s important to know what you’re doing before you try to compete with professionals who are already working regularly in the industry. Gain as much knowledge as you can, from teachers who know the current state of the business, and then learn the rest as your career advances.

3. It’s well-known that getting an agent is tricky, what process did you follow to get yours and what advice would you give to those looking to find a good agent?

There are many smaller cities where actors can connect directly with top local casting directors and projects, but if you are in a major nexus, the system is set up in a way that only by having a reputable agent (and/or manager) can you get auditions for high-profile jobs. As much as everyone newly-arrived to a big city hates to hear it, the real answer to “how do I get representation that loves and supports what I do?” is to go out and do incredible work that they can see: whether in new media or on stage, self-produced or with a team, create evidence of how wonderful you are. Eventually folks will take notice (and, of course, you can point the agents you’re targeting towards what you’re up to). You’ll have been building your reel and experience, both of which a rep would need in order to consider you anyhow. It takes time, but talent does often shine through the gobbledygook. If you’re an extremely unique type, like a 7-foot-tall Eskimo, or a well-trained 14-to-20-year-old model, submitting your professional headshot and resume directly to agents for consideration is more likely to pay off right away.

4. What was the experience of your first acting role like?

Though I was only six, I remember loving every minute of it, taking my blocking, choreography, and emotions very seriously, and making sure I did everything just like the older kids. (I was by far the youngest cast member.) The joy of making people laugh and cry and think has never left me.

5. Can you give us some insights on the life of an actor, what’s your typical day or week like, what most appeals to you about the acting life and what are you not so keen on?

Working actors have to leave their weekdays open for auditions, which come in right up until the night before and sometimes even the day of! The magic of this life is that every day is different: one day someone might be at a studio doing a dramatic role for a TV procedural, the next making faces in a commercial audition, then in a booth voicing outrageous animated characters. It’s never the same challenge twice, and I love the adventure of it! Of course, the downside is never knowing when precisely the next pay check will arrive, but that’s an issue artists of all types and levels face.

6. Your roles have been very eclectic, how do you decide which roles to go after?

There are movie stars in the world’s spotlight who go after particular roles – and even they don’t always get the ones they chase. At this stage in my career, I’m just delighted when I get to create, whether a character I’ve written or one by another author.

7. Has there been a role that required you to do a very large amount of preparation?

I played Catherine in a production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof several years back. It’s a gorgeously crafted show that meditates on genius, insanity, and where the two overlap, and my character grapples with everything from hallucination to advanced mathematics. So in addition to learning my lines, I certainly did research into the types of mental illness the characters reflect and as many of the math terms as possible. It was a joy diving into the world David Auburn wrote.

8. With the wide variety of roles you have taken on, you must have a great deal of experience of auditions, so what advice would you give to other aspiring actors on both getting and nailing auditions?

It sounds impossible, but desperation – that “Oh, please, please let me get this job!” feeling – is visible and distracting in the audition room. Until you’re at the point where you’re getting so many appointments there’s no way to worry afterwards about each one, do whatever preparation you have to in order to be able to walk in confident but not cocky. And when you’re done, leave the room itself quickly, but leave the building slowly; they’ll often discuss you right away and call you back into the room, which is impossible if you’ve run out to your car as fast as possible.

9. In addition to remaining open to opportunities, what personal qualities do you think a person needs to become a successful actor?

Becoming a successful actor requires a mad mix of undeniable talent, unending perseverance, indestructible creative drive, spectacular luck, and thorough business-minded organization.

10. You have generally used music alongside the acting or comedy you have done. Do you harbour any ambitions to make this the focus of one of your projects and form a band or make an album?

Albums seem all but defunct for any but the most famous label-signed artists, so while I’d love to spend a year in a studio making a full hour of music, I think my current system of releasing singles on iTunes and the attendant videos on YouTube works for now. I’ve always loved singing, especially music that’s smart but doesn’t take itself too seriously, and will continue that as one facet of what I do.

11. Can you give advice on writing your own content and on producing them for release on new media?

I’d recommend that any up-and-coming artist (actor, musician, director of photography, painter, etc.) use the incredible technology so widely available these days to create his or her own content. Find a team of like-minded folks and make something you’re all proud of, even if it’s just with an iPhone and a microphone to start. Figure out what shows off your talents, make sure it can be clearly seen and heard, and create videos that you would want to watch if someone else had made them. There’s no real shortcut to internet virality; keep making content that’s both brilliant and reflective of your sensibilities, and people will take notice.

12. What would you tell young creative people facing challenges?

Everyone has roadblocks in his or her way: health issues, money issues, family issues, motivation issues. There will always be a reason NOT to create. Forever. But if it is truly the thing that your life will feel incomplete without, find a way to ‘make good art’ anyway. Start with the resources and time you have.

13. What are you working on at the moment and where you are likely to pop up next?

I always have new silliness in the works! Several new videos and songs are currently in post-production. Those who want to keep up with the latest news can do so on Facebook http://facebook.com/avalonwhitney, Twitter http://twitter.com/whitneyavalon, YouTube http://youtube.com/whitneyavalon, or my monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/l5Q1r.

Thank you Whitney for this fabulous interview!

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