I’ve been a writer since the late 80’s. To date, I’ve completed 5 scripts and 3 books, with about 7 more books planned and in progress. Over these years, I’ve often thought about getting into the acting game to help my education as a screenwriter.
A few years back, I signed up with a website, Backstage.com, to see if I could get any roles. I had an offer to play a character during a Murder Mystery Dinner Party. Then covid hit and that was cancelled. Before that, I was offered a part in a photoshoot near Austin. It was going to be a rustic shoot to highlight parts of Texas. I can’t remember now why I passed, but I never did it.
I knew for a while that being with a Talent Agency would be the best way to get started so I did some research on agencies in the Houston area. There are 3 main ones in Houston. One is not in Houston proper and I had heard some things about another one, so I decided to reach out to The Neal Hamil Agency.
My first contact was with the vice president at the agency, Jennifer Molleda. She was polite and professional. After a brief email exchange, I had a scheduled time to go meet her.
On the day I was to meet Jennifer, I was excited to get the process started. There were several other people and children at the agency when I showed up. The agency is in a building called The Neal Hamil Centre. Having a building named after you is a good start for credibility.
When I went in to meet Jennifer, we had a nice chat. I learned that she started out working in the industry and has been with The Neal Hamil Agency for 25 years. I will interject here that Jennifer is beautiful.
When I signed in at the agency, they gave me a piece of paper with several paragraphs on it for different products. The one for my age group was an Advil commercial. I learned that this was a Cold Read, where you only get the info to memorize when you show up.
I did my Advil commercial for Jennifer, and muffled it the first time. I then took my mask off and did a little better. She then had me do it with more inflection to make it believable. My last line was, “Advil just works better!”
Jennifer and I talked for a while and she, pretty easily, let me know just how much I didn’t know about the industry. One thing she asked me was if I knew how to Slate. I didn’t.
It was pretty apparent that I needed an education. Jennifer then informed me about the seminars they provide. Before the agency could sign me, they had to know that I knew what to do on an audition, etc. They couldn’t very well sign me, send me on an audition and have me know nothing and look bad for me and the agency.
The seminar was called Commercial Print and lasted 6 weeks and met every Saturday for a few hours. I told Jennifer that I was interested in taking the course. She gave me some info and we concluded our meeting. I could have talked with her much longer, but she is an extremely busy woman.
I ended up taking the course and met some nice people along the way. The instructors were people that also worked at and for the agency so a lot of times, it was working actors teaching us.
I will add here that the cute redhead in my classes had my attention. I learned her name was Sherri and she is very beautiful. I noticed that she wore her hair a different way every Saturday and it looked great every time. But I digress…
In the course, we did dialogue exercises with partners and that was fun as well as interesting. Everything in class was to be memorized ‘On the Fly’ as we did not receive anything beforehand to memorize. I felt a little bad for some of the people that weren’t that good at memorizing their lines.
One of the most fun classes was on Improvisation. I had some funny bits with the instructor and then again with a partner from the class. The Improv class might have been my favorite. I also learned how to Slate. “Hello, I’m Paul Michaels and I’m with the Neal Hamil Agency and I’m a Local Hire for Houston.” Sometimes they don’t ask if you’re a Local Hire and sometimes they may ask for your height, etc.
I finished the 6 courses and never missed a Saturday. The following Saturday after it was completed, I missed not going to the agency to learn more things and doing the exercises. Oh, and seeing Sherri, the cute redhead, lol.
After we took the course, we had to audition for the Talent manager, Gloria, and Andrea. We were told that we could do a Cold Read or do a prepared monologue. I decided to do a monologue.
When deciding what monologue to do, I knew I wanted to do something that I felt comfortable with and could do well with. My first choice was something from either Apocalypse Now or Reservoir Dogs.
I googled monologues from Reservoir Dogs first and the one that caught my eye was the one by Steve Buscemi’s character, Mr. Pink, where he explains why he doesn’t tip waitresses. I thought this was funny and I remembered it from the movie.
I edited the monologue some and began practicing. There are several F-bombs in the monologue, and I hadn’t decided how I was going to handle that yet.
Then, the big Freeze of ’21 hit. All of us Houstonians froze our asses off for a week. Luckily, I had a fireplace with wood to burn and my little dog, CoCo, and I survived. During the cold, I would recite my monologue to CoCo in front of a fire. I think I convinced her to stop tipping waitresses also.
The Open Call auditions for getting a contract with the agency are every Wednesday from 3 – 5pm. The next available Wednesday after the freeze, I showed up at the agency about 2:30pm. Sherri was there also, and we chatted about our experiences with the freeze.
Soon, a couple of more people showed up and they called 4 of us into a room where Gloria, the Talent manager and Andrea, another Talent Rep, were waiting. Spencer, an extroverted type of guy, went first. They had him do his Cold Read twice. Then he said he had prepared a monologue. After he did it, he was done, and he left.
I went second. I did my Slate and was asked to be more upbeat with it, so I did. Next, I did my monologue from Reservoir Dogs. I was going to ask how they were about Adult Language but decided to substitute Freakin’ for the word Fuckin’. The monologue sounds more realistic and natural with the word Fuckin’ in it but I decided to be polite and change it.
After I was done, Andrea asked me where I got the monologue. I told her it was from Reservoir Dogs. She then said it sounded like ‘Buscemi’. I told her she was correct that it was Steve Buscemi’s character, Mr. Pink, that had said it. It was a good moment to have her recognize the bit I was doing. Beforehand, I had thought that I would introduce my monologue as being from Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino but at the last minute, I decided to just go into it. I’m glad I withheld the title and screenwriter because it led to a good discovery moment between Andrea and I.
She then added that I was a good actor. We had a discussion about casting calls and Gloria recalled that I was a screenwriter. We then talked about how a writer’s perception of a role can change if an audition strikes their fancy.
Either Gloria or Andrea mentioned again that I was a good actor and then asked if I was interested in doing commercials. They asked me to do a Cold Read of a commercial. I had barely looked at them because I had a monologue prepared. They asked me to just hold the paper and look down when I needed to. It was an Excedrin commercial.
I did the Cold Read for the commercial and they were happy with it. Overall, my first audition went very well. I do have one regret. I do wish I had included that last F-bomb in my monologue, at least. It would have made it more impactful. Here’s the last line… “Cause if you’re expecting me to help out with the rent, you’re in for a big fucking surprise.”
As I was leaving the room, Andrea smiled at me and said, “We’ll be in touch on Friday.” That’s the day that I find out if they’ll sign me to a contract.
I found out on Friday that the agency got a new computer system, so I was told that I’d have to wait until the following week to hear about my contract. Then on Saturday, I received an info packet welcoming me to the Agency. My contract will be sent out soon.
Another great thing to come out of going to this Agency was that I met Sherri. Over the course of a few days, we messaged each other while waiting to hear from the Agency. It turns out that we are going to work on something together for our Acting Reels.
I wrote a 2 page script about Sherri firing me from her company. She chose the name Vivienne for her character. It was a good choice. The ending has a twist to it. It should allow both of us to show a casting agent some of our skills. And it will be great practice doing the rehearsal and filming. My friend will shoot it and I’ll edit it.
Here is my acting partner, Sherri, aka the cute redhead.
My next step in this process is to have a photoshoot. After that, I can begin submitting for roles. I’ve learned some things already and I expect to learn a lot more. I’ll post more Blog Updates as things occur.
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.