Before I moved here, I conceived CelebSystem as a guide that I could use for myself to figure out how to break into the industry. For several years before I arrived, I pored over all the information I could find on Hollywood's biggest stars, to find out how they achieved success, but perhaps more importantly, how they got started.
It was a great source of information and inspiration, but there were problems. For one, many of the biggest stars came up in an era when Hollywood was totally different. It was a time before the internet, when people got discovered in cafés and in neighborhood theatre productions, and agents were free to develop their clients.
These days, you're expected to learn how the system works by yourself, use the internet to start your own career, and figure out how to break into the industry on your own. Today's Hollywood is very different from the one that Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts came up in, let alone Harrison Ford and Meryl Streep.
And when trying to analyze younger up-and-comers, I found the greatest hindrance to be that they started as children, and that's a completely different game than the one played by adult actors and actresses.
I had the goals and analysis all right, but the execution and application all wrong. To start with, I knew I needed an agent, and to get one of those, I needed headshots. Now at the time, I didn't know anything about headshots, and I didn't know anything about agents. I figured I just needed to get my picture taken and then I could convince someone to get me auditions.
And unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. I ended up booking a $75 photo session with a hippie in Culver City (the photos were terrible), and I mailed them off to every agency in town. Soon thereafter, I got an email from an agency (that I now recognize to be really terrible) expressing interest in representing me.
When I went in for my meeting, I should've seen the red flags flying everywhere. It was in Beverly Hills, which I thought made it legit, but it was in a tiny office that was shared with a notary public, the "agent" was in khaki shorts and a t-shirt, and I later realized that the woman who owns the agency is based out of Minneapolis. This was a bad company. But I was so excited to finally become a part of Hollywood that I just ignored all the flaws and looked to the potential.
Well, the potential was a let down. I got, perhaps, four auditions in six months, including one that was in French, one that was held in a person's backyard, and the last of which was held at Warner Bros in Burbank...for a focus group. That was the last straw, and I dropped her that evening.
Learning my lesson, I realized it was time to go back to the drawing board to see what I was missing. I learned how to make sure I got good headshots, how to discern reputable agencies from garbage ones, and other valuable information that others who have come before me have doled out.
So off I went to get new headshots (these ones much better than the first, but still not up to snuff), targeted the new agencies that I knew to be of value, and called them up to find out their mailing address, who I should CC in my cover letter, and other important info.
Across the board, I got one response: "Are you SAG? If not, we can't represent you."
This proved to be the first major setback in a long string of setbacks that I would face while trying to make it in Hollywood. I thought that if I could just get an agent, then they would get me into SAG by helping me to at least get bit parts in movies and on TV. Turns out, that's not the case.
So, several hundred dollars poorer from my headshots and mailings, I was back at the drawing board, trying to figure out how to join the union. I knew that there were three options:
Well, I'd tried the first route, and in my retrospectively naive point-of-view, I thought that a year was way too long to wait to join the union and that I'd definitely have that out of the way before then.
I tried going the voucher route, and I'll spare you the details, but it was another year wasted with nothing being accomplished.
On the bright side, though, I learned about commercial agencies. I found out that I could sign with a commercial agency, despite still being non-union, and that they could get me auditions for SAG commercials, which would not only pay a boatload of cash, but would also make me eligible to join SAG.
So, back I went to the photographers (this time, I went to a good one and got really good shots done...it cost a ton, but it was worth it), found some good commercial agencies to submit to, and boom! A month and a half later, I was having my first meeting with a real agent, and I signed with them.
As you're probably guessing the theme by now, though, things didn't work out. Yeah, they assured me that after I booked a few non-union gigs I'd start going out for union ones, but when you're only going out every three weeks and for roles that clearly don't fit you, you tend to come up short.
A year and a half later, we were saying our farewells, and I was on to the next strategy.
Now, I don't want you to completely get the wrong idea, here. During all these years of failures and not getting my foot in the door, I was doing some things that ultimately helped me a lot and finally made the difference. I also spent a great deal of money, but again, in the end, it was all worth it, because I finally got what I came to Los Angeles for:
There are a lot of things out there that aren't common knowledge (like how a newbie can get themselves a speaking part on a network TV show in less than a week, making almost $1,000 a day) and a lot of things out there that are common knowledge but that aren't true (like the need to constantly study in acting classes, perform in theatre, and keep making your own content, like short films and web series, until someone takes notice of you).
There are a lot of aspiring actors and actresses out there living their lives and basing their career choices on false, misleading information. And many of them will spend years of their lives making no progress and never breaking into the industry, while others will give up altogether and move back to where they came from.
Avoiding these pitfalls, overcoming these obstacles, and finding the most efficient and enjoyable path to success in Hollywood is precisely why I created CelebSystem. Originally, I created it for myself, but as I saw some of my actor friends struggle with these same issues, I realized that it had the potential to help thousands of others the way it helped me.
CelebSystem is a compendium of knowledge that I've compiled over the years that helped me go from being a broke, out-of-work wannabe, getting scammed by crappy agencies and paying for lousy headshots to a successful film and television actor performing on the screen.
Watch the video below to learn more about CelebSystem and to find out how it can help you launch your Hollywood acting career, too.