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Industry night for The Actor's Project NYC (TAPNYC) took place at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille on Monday, February 24th after Season 28’s five days of showcases where industry was also invited to attend in their quest for talent. Industry Night brought the actors and industry together in a more casual and comfortable setting.
This was a good opportunity to chat with those who attended, both the actors who performed their monologues and sketches and the industry who watched.
Sal Polichetti, Middletown, NY, was in his fifth season of showcases and he enjoys the camaraderie. “The people in it, the actors and actresses, everyone is supportive and nice. I like the ensemble feel of these showcases and I think the system works. We do showcases, agents come, people do get called in. If I lived closer I would suggest my kids do this.” For Sal, the drive is an hour and 45 minutes each way so it’s clear he is focused on continuing his career as an actor and singer.
Kelsey Lynn Stokes, Hell’s Kitchen, NY, was performing in her first showcase and it taught her some things. “I realize that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was beforehand and that you have to step outside your comfort zone. If you are not challenging yourself every day you are not working hard enough.
What Kelsey learned was that it’s about the whole package. “After having been through one season I feel more prepared to attack the business side which makes me more secure in my creative abilities. No one is going to hire you if you don’t back it up with your business sense.”
While Kelsey has been onstage before it’s been a while. “This was so rejuvenating to get back on stage in such an inspiring way,” she concluded.
Wendy Lazarus, Great Neck, LI, NY, spoke from the vantage point of just having retired from corporate life as a Vice President. She is just starting a new career in show business.
“I know that something you are passionate about takes work and perseverance and it doesn’t happen overnight. It took me many years to work my way up to Vice President and I expect this business to be just as difficult to break into. I feel fortunate that I have gotten a lot of work doing some off-Broadway and other things,” she concluded.
McKenna Cox, Harlem, NYC, (www.mckennacox.com) does have an agent thanks to being a part of TAPNYC. So, she is proof positive that industry do come to find talent. “It helps you not only build a relationship with industry but also with other actors,” commented McKenna.
“It is nice to have the different levels. You are able to get introduced to other outlets from other actors and industry. It’s really great to have someone submit for you as well. It’s nice to have the variety that I wouldn’t be able to access.
Bernadette McBrinn, Jersey City, NJ (www.avalonartists.com) was one of the industry present that the actors were looking forward to chatting with. Bernadette is from Avalon Artists, a firm which has offices in both Los Angeles and New York City.
“For me the #1 thing is their personality. It’s important that we get along. Being in a social situation like this is good. It is not just about work but about getting to know someone. I love that about Industry Night. That is the other side – first seeing them perform and then having a situation like this to compare with.
Bernadette further explained that when you see someone perform who you think is great and then meet them and feel a good synergy, then that is “cool,” she added and suggested that those still looking for representation should “just keep doing things like this – something set up to help you learn your craft which also gives you an outlet to create. This business is all about networking.”
Alessio Araujo, Washington Heights, NY, started with TAPNYC a little over a year ago and also appeared in Troupe 10, which is the Scene and Sketch division of TAPNYC.
“I think TAP has helped me a hundred fold,” commented Alessio. “Bobby took a younger actor, molded me and made my business style a lot better. I was doing student films before this but once I came with TAP it’s like the flood gates opened.”
As a result of TAPNYC Alessio is working with industry and going out on auditions. “I never used to feel comfortable but now it is a learning process,” he explained. “I feel I have become a better actor. It gives you more confidence in your abilities and lets agents and managers see you and what you can offer them.”
Megan Murphy moved from the south to where she now lives in Astoria, Queens. Megan was also a member of Troupe 10 and this is her third season with TAPNYC. In 2012 she also did the Boot Camp that the company offers.
“When I first moved here I was doing the cattle call thing and not having much luck,” Megan explained. “And then I heard about TAP and decided to give it a try. I feel like it is the perfect place for me because I am very comedic and a character actress and I feel like this is the perfect stage for me to be who I am as a performer.
“I was so sick of going to auditions and they would tell you don’t do a character and just be myself and I kept wanting to say but I am a character actress. TAPNYC allows me to be myself. And because I am Southern Bobby writes a lot of Southern skits that work for me. Without TAP NYC I don’t know how I would have made all these connections.”
J Nycole Ralph (www.jnycoleralph.com) whose done a lot in her career was just performing in her first showcase. She did West Side Story, a lot of theatre and some film and TV.
It was TAPNYC’s success rate at getting representation that brought her here. “I did get called in and am meeting with industry,” she added.
Despite her past experience, she found doing a monologue was “a whole different ballgame being up on that stage all by yourself. It was an eye opener and I realize I need to do more of that to be comfortable with myself. I learned that in marketing myself by being myself and playing to my strengths the rest will fall into place.”
I really enjoyed my chat with Albert Bramante (www.emergingtalentllc.com). He too was one of those coveted industry reps that attended this function. I’d met Albert a couple of times before but once we started chatting Bernadette’s remark about meeting someone in person came to light. Albert explained extremely concisely why TAPNYC works for him. And when I am wearing my writing hat talking to people that can capsule and translate their thoughts clearly is what I love to have happen.
“It is really great,” he remarked. “It provides actors a community to meet each other and develop close relationships with each other and with industry. The other advantage is that it gives them a lot of content to market their brand and develop content, rather than a recycled piece that they’ve seen.
“I go to a lot of showcases and this is the best one,” he added. “The content is good; it’s original and it allows actors to be themselves. The environment is very laid back and the comedy is just great. The actors are all so nice. They are professional. They are on their game and they really know their material.”
Kim Shafidiya (kimshafidiya.com) was also just starting out with TAPNYC. “I want it so bad but I keep putting it off. This time I want to go after my dream,” she explained.
Kim has been able to include the experience of what she does in her day job into the acting world. She’s done some background work wearing her police uniform. She’s also done some Off Broadway and she has been called in by industry.
Like most of the actors Kim realizes that she’s got to keep training and so she continues to take acting classes.
What she likes about her TAPNYC experience is that, “you are being put in front of people you don’t meet. I was starting to lose my confidence. I kept leaving it and now I don’t ever want to leave it again.
“The troupe meetings really help because you get to do it over and over again,” she continued adding, “and you need the criticism because you need to correct yourself when you are doing something wrong. Before now I let things get in the way but I am not letting anything or anyone get in my way again,”
And there you have it but this article would not be complete without including TAPNYC (www.theactorsprojectnyc.com) founder Bobby Holder’s thoughts about the company he’s created and his 28th season of showcases.
“It was an amazing 28th Season at The Actor’s Project NYC. Several of our actors from this season have already been on auditions for national commercials which is wonderful considering we just ended our showcases on Friday. I have been super busy on the phone with free phone consultations as our actors go in for their interviews. I have also followed up with a few agencies who had specific questions about our actors. Plus I always have a few referrals for our members who I feel are a good fit for certain agencies.
“When I started TAPNYC I knew I wanted us to be more than a theatre company that performed unique original work, I wanted us to assist our members land representation and actually get work. I strongly feel acting can become a career once you have representation, and until you reach that goal, it feels more of a dream. An actor once said to me, ‘an actor without representation is an actor without a career’ and I find that to be true.
“My advice for every actor in our company is be persistent. Stay positive. Our program is four months but we also offer Lifetime membership as well. We offer this because I know acting is a lifetime commitment. To every actor called in and every actor not called in, make the commitment. Know who you want to work with and let them know by performing in front of them in fun, quality work. Once you get an agent, keep in front of other industry. You need options.
“I believe the best way for agents, managers, and casting directors to see you in New York is to perform in an Off Broadway Showcase. Actors shine on a stage! We do comedy and dramedy at TAPNYC because I also believe if you make industry laugh, they’ll want to work with you,” he concluded.