Interview: American Idiot’s Trent Saunders Talks Life on the Road, St. Jimmy and Belting Out Green Day Songs
Trent Saunders, who is currently playing St. Jimmy in the touring production of Green Day’s American Idiot, has the life.
When I talked to him for this interview, it was the middle of the day in Baltimore, MD (my home state!) and he and his cast mates were set to play laser tag right after he got off the phone. He’s traveled to Europe – where he said he had a blast – is criss-crossing America and best of all, he gets to sing Green Day songs every night. Like I said, he’s livin’ the life.
I saw American Idiot when it was on Broadway and liked it a lot. The set and lighting design was amazing and if you’re a fan of Green Day, you’ll absolutely love it.
I talked to Trent about his life on the road, how he got the part and cell phones in the audiences. I haven’t heard how his laser tag expedition went, but if I do, I’ll let you know.
You want to learn how to become an actor? Join the club! Most everyone at one time or another has probably thought about becoming an actor.
They watch their favorite shows and movies and think, “I can do that!” They think it’s easy and glamorous.
But what most people don’t realize is that it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a huge amount of fun but yeah, it’s work!
It takes a special kind of person to want to become an actor. They have to be determined, unafraid of rejection and willing to work hard to consistently get better at their chosen craft.
This isn’t a site on how to become famous. This isn’t about becoming a star because odds are, you won’t. Hopefully you’re here because you want to learn how to be the best actor you can be. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York, Ohio or Colorado, you absolutely can make this happen.
One thing you should know from the start though is that being an actor is expensive. You’ll need money for headshots, headshot reproduction and acting classes. Eventually, you’ll need to market yourself with postcards and a website. You’ll also need to add your material to casting websites such as Actors Access. It’s definitely not cheap!
So, if you’re looking for steps on how to get into acting, you’ve come to the right place.
For links and more information on how to become an actor, check out our actor resources page. (coming soon)
One of the first things you’ll need is a headshot. This is not the place to skimp and be cheap because this is your calling card. If you submit an awful headshot, 99% of the time it’ll be filed away in the trashcan. Having a headshot that isn’t professional, it just automatically shows casting directors, directors and producers that you’re not serious about acting.
Your headshot needs to be shot by a professional and needs to look like you. Seriously, I can’t count how many times a casting director has told me that they’ve called in an actor for an audition and they either look 10 years older in person or their headshot was so photo-shopped that they had to do a double take. Your headshot must look like you, not what you want to look like. You should see my headshot… think I want to look like that?
What’s the cost? For New York and LA, paying $400 to $500 for a headshot session is the norm. Obviously, if you live outside of these cities, you should pay less.
If you need to find headshot photographers near you, click on the link.
The next thing you’ll need is an acting resume.
This isn’t like a resume you’d give to someone when you’re applying for a “normal” job. An acting resume is totally different. You can see examples here. (coming soon)
“I’m just starting out and have nothing to put on my resume!” I’ve heard that before and don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere. You can easily fix that! Audition for small roles at your local Community, Dinner theater or join the cast of a Church or School production. If you’re in school then join the drama club. All of these things can be listed on your resume. You can even list any acting classes you’ve taken.
If there isn’t a role for you in the upcoming show, ask if you can help out. Theaters always need a good, responsible volunteer. This will get you in with the theater community and will make it tons easier when you actually do audition. They’ll already know you so it’ll be easier for them to take a chance on you!
Click here for more information on an acting resume. And if you need it, here’s an acting resume template. (both coming soon)
Learn Your Craft
Take a class! I’m sure there is some kind of acting class or acting program near you. I grew up in a small town and there were at least 5 acting classes within 20 minutes of where I lived.
If you’re still in school, try and find a summer acting camp. Usually, these are all day workshops that take place Monday-Friday. You’ll learn tons and walk away a much better actor. Plus, these are great places to meet people who are into the same things as you!
Go to college. There are a bunch of great schools you can choose for acting. You’ll be immersed in all things acting so how can you not improve? You’ll learn everything from movement, costumes, theater history, acting styles and techniques and best of all, you’ll be performing constantly.
I went to college in Baltimore, Maryland and loved my time there. I met some wonderful teachers and made some great friends that I still keep in touch with to this day.
For a list of acting schools and colleges, click here. (coming soon)
Audition for Community Theater. Like I said in the resume section, auditioning for Community Theater is a wonderful way to get started. I did a handful of musicals for my local Community Theater when I was in high school and I loved every minute of it. Plus, I learned a lot in the process.
Start off as an ensemble member of a large cast (every town does Oklahoma or another huge production at least once a year). Again, by getting involved, you’ll get to know the local theater companies and the people involved. The more they get to know you, they easier it’ll be to nail a part in one of the upcoming shows – especially if you’ve started off with no experience.
Audition as much as you can. Audition even if you don’t want the part. The more you audition, the better you’ll be at it. Learn to love auditioning because chances are, that’s all you be doing the first couple years once you have decided to become an actor.
Start Your Own Play Reading Group. Get a couple of friends together once every couple of weeks and read a play. Give yourself the lead role! The star of Beautiful Creatures, Alden Ehrenreich does exactly that. When I interviewed him, this is what he told me: “Just invite friends over to read a play. Like, me and my friends do that a lot and it just… it promotes that energy and that energy only builds, but you have to get the… you have to start the engine. You know?”
Don’t know what to start off with? Try something from Christopher Durang or Martin McDonaugh. Or, how about something that’s currently playing on Broadway?
Acting Agents and Managers. At this point, you might want to start looking for an agent. Do you have to have one? No, not at all. Especially if you’re not a member of any of the acting unions (SAG-AFTRA or Equity).
Don’t ever pay an agent or manager a fee for joining their agency or company. There are actor scams out there where you’ll be asked to pay an “agency fee” when you sign up. Don’t do it. Ever. The only time you should pay an agent or manager is after you’ve received payment for an acting job you’ve booked and already worked on.
Will you need a manager? Odds are you won’t. You’ll only need a manager when you have a career that actually needs to be managed. Typically, managers to 20% of what you’ve made on each job. That’s a lot of money to give to someone when you’re only working a couple times a year.
If you’re in Los Angeles or New York City, check out our actor mailing labels. We have sets of casting director mailing labels and agent mailing labels updated monthly.
Auditions and Casting Calls. How do you find auditions and casting calls? If you’re not in LA or NYC, check your local paper or their website. Google – auditions ‘my city’ – and I’m sure something will come up. Also, check out Actors Access or call your local SAG-AFTRA office. Most either have hotlines or audition information listed on their site. That’s how I found out about the audition that got me my SAG card.
Also, take a look at our post, Top 11 Reputable Casting Websites.
Acting is a Business
You have to treat acting as a business because that’s what it is, a business.
When you’re called in for an audition, be prepared. Know your scene, monologue or your song. Come with your headshot and resume (stapled together!). Be professional. You might only have one shot with that casting director. Make it the best and show them you have the goods!
Casting directors, directors and anyone who can hire you want to know that you are the answer to their casting “problem”. They need you and they want you to be great! They are rooting for you.
Keep up with what is happening in the entertainment industry.
Don’t go into this blind. Nothing irritates me more than meeting an actor who doesn’t watch TV or isn’t up to date on what is going on in film, TV or theater. This is your job!
My favorites are The Hollywood Reporter and Variety for film and TV news. Backstage is good as well. And of course, Daily Actor (shameless plug) – we feature interviews with actors, articles where actors talk about the craft of acting. We also we have a huge actors resource page. (coming soon)
This Won’t Happen Overnight
I did my first play in Elementary school, did the fall and summer productions in High School and then started to do shows at my local community theater. When I went to college, I moved onto Dinner Theater and found other theater companies to work with. While I was doing that, I auditioned for an industrial film, got the part and was lucky enough to get my SAG card. I’ve been acting for years and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Some people get lucky right off the bat. Some don’t… it could take them years. But, if you work hard, it’ll happen. If you’re prepared, it’ll happen.
Links and Resources – More Coming soon
Written by Dallas Travers, CEC
If you’re like me, you’ve realized that Twitter holds a lot of potential for relationship building in the business because of the direct line of communication it offers you.
Everyday, I see more actors, agents, casting directors and filmmakers engage in powerful online communication using Twitter as their tool.
Everyday, I also see a lot of actors waste time tweeting away and wondering why their followers aren’t responding.
Well, there’s a right way and a wrong way to tweet, so let me share two easy tips to help you make the most out of your tweets. Read more
The cast of the Tony-nominated Broadway show Matilda the Musical performed the song ‘Naughty and Revolting Children’ on Good Morning, America yesterday morning.
Every one I’ve talked too who’s seen the show has loved it. Old, young, male and female, they can’t stop raving about it.
Check it out! Read more
SXSW Interview: Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy on the Challenges of Shooting ‘Evil Dead’ and Acting Opposite a Tennis Ball
Evil Dead, directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, is pretty damn good and you’ll definitely have a fun time. A lot of that is because of Jane and our friend here at Daily Actor, Shiloh. If you’re familiar with Jane from ABC’s Suburgatory, she’s a little different here. I don’t think she’ll scare the Holy Hell out of you on that show. And as usual, Shiloh is great. He plays a guy who’s got tons of flaws and is basically forced to be the hero of the movie.
In the interview, we talk about the most challenging part of filming, taking on a cult classic and why, a lot of the time, Shiloh had to act opposite a tennis ball.
For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes
Evil Dead comes out this Friday! Read more
For all of you Joss Whedon lovers (and who isn’t?), here is the full WonderCon panel for his new film, Much Ado About Nothing.
I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan but what Joss’ done, at least judging from all of the clips they showed this past weekend, I’m definitely going to catch it. He’s set it in modern day, is funny (very funny) and it looks like it’s going to be assessable to a mass audience.
The arena was packed with fans and everyone on the panel was loving it. The panel featured Whedon, Clark Gregg, Romy Rosemont, Tom Lenk, Riki Lindhome, Jillian Morgese (who was basically an extra in The Avengers, met Joss and the rest is history) and a few more of the cast members.
The video is shaky and a bit grainy because I took it with my phone so sorry in advance.
Check it out below! Read more
Written by Garrett O. Thomas
You’ve got the talent, looks and drive to be the biggest star that ever hit theaters and now you’re wondering what the next step is to getting there. It’s publicity, the thing that gets your name from your headshot to the credits onscreen. Publicity is something that everyone in entertainment should be conscious of! You not only get your name out there, but if you do it right, it could open up numerous doors in your career.
1. Walk the Red Carpet
So, you’re not exactly an Oscar nominee, but that doesn’t mean you can’t attend red carpet events. It’s Hollywood! Red carpet events happen all the time and not only do celebrities flock to them, but your new bestfriends, the press. The best service I can suggest to you would be to try PressHarvest.com, they submit you to red carpet events by using all your credentials, headshots and IMDB page. There’s no guarantee that you’ll walk big name events, however, they’ve still managed to pull through! The goal of walking red carpets is to get photographed at a good event or mingle with entertainment journalists who may be splashing your face on Star magazine tomorrow. All press is good press and the purpose of these events is to build your press kit so you have tangible evidence to show your agent, manager and publicist (they can thank me later for telling you to do this). Read more
Katey Sagal, who once sang back-up for Bob Dylan, Bette Milder and Etta James, has announced a 4-city tour called: Katey Sagal: An Evening of Music and the Cast of Sons of Anarchy.
The first tour dates will consist of a Midwest run April 18 through 21 (dates and information below). The touring show consists of Sagal backed by the Forest Rangers, the band that collaborates to create the music for the wildly popular FX series, created by Sagal’s husband Kurt Sutter.
The band, in addition to Sagal on vocals, consists of Brian Macleod (drums), Davey Faragher (bass), Jeff Young (keys), Billy Harvey (guitar), Gia Ciambotti (backing vocals) and Thiele on guitar. Read more
Ryan Murphy believes television can change the world. So, with the three shows he has on the air now (Glee, American Horror Story, The New Normal), Murphy is working to change people’s perceptions about the status quo.
At the PaleyFest in Beverly Hills, television fans can gather to celebrate some of the best shows over the past year. On Wednesday, the cast and creative team behind The New Normal gathered at the Saban Theater to discuss why the show means so much to modern audiences.
“People feel that they know gay couples more than ever,” Murphy said, citing shows like The New Normal and Modern Family. “If you know someone and you know what their struggle is, you’re less likely to have prejudice against them. [Gay rights] is the biggest civil rights movement of our time and the reason we’ve had the quick leap forward is because of television.”
Murphy admitted that the show is loosely based on his own experience adopting a baby via surrogate with his partner, David. Along with co-creator, Ali Adler, the two worked to create a show that would encompass “all our ‘new normals’,” Adler said. “We wanted to address what’s happening now.” Read more
When people I know in theater ask me what growing company I think has its act together (horrible pun not intended), The Seeing Place is always the first that comes to mind. I’ve always promoted their work not only because the quality of the performances are among the strongest that I’ve seen but also because the company presents its work at a price ($12 a ticket) that is lower than anyone else’s in town (and this being New York, it’s the biggest theater town there is!) I know I’m not the only one who’s noticing — I have seen the audiences have grown over the two and a half years I have been reviewing The Seeing Place productions.
Nonetheless, such consistent quality performances have resulted in high expectations whenever I walk into the Sargent Theatre, The Seeing Place’s home for the last few seasons. For fans of quality indie theatre, this month The Seeing Place is offering two plays: Sam Shepard‘s A Lie of the Mind and August Strindberg‘s Miss Julie. I’m happy to report neither show disappoints, keeping The Seeing Place’s winning streak going.
A Lie of the Mind is Shepard’s most decorated play and tells the grisly saga of husband and wife Jake (Brandon Walker) and Beth (Erin Cronican). Jake, who is so prone to anger that the expression “short fuse” doesn’t even do him justice, has beaten his wife to the point that she suffers from brain damage. As both retreat to their families afterward, each has deep paranoia issues directed at their family members after a series of past family betrayals. Much of the blame can be put on the shoulders of Jake’s mother Lorraine (Janice Hall), who is apologetic for Jake’s actions and sees her son as blameless, and Beth’s parents, Baylor (Alan Altschuler) and Meg (Mary Lahti), with Baylor being so selfish and hard-headed that he longer seems to know what love is and Meg a ball of worry and confusion. Also adding to the family drama are Jake’s brother Frankie (Jason Wilson) and sister Sally (Magan Wiles) and Beth’s brother Mike (Philip Lakin). Read more