Actor to Actor CEO

A class on taking charge of your acting career.

So what exactly does it mean to be an Actor CEO?

An Actor CEO is an actor who: 

knows they are building a sustainable creative business.

is in this for the long game and isn’t looking for their “big break” around the next corner.

sets crystal clear goals and timelines to achieve them while being flexible on the path to get there. 

stays positive, proactive, professional and persistent regardless of the negativity of others.

is always paying attention to the industry, the people involved, and the trends; spying opportunities where they can support others.

Why is it necessary to be an Actor CEO? “Can’t I just be an actor?”

The road to a lifelong career as an artist is strewn with bodies and failed careers of actors who “just wanted to be actors.”

They let others tell them what to do, where to move, what looked good on them, how they should act, who they should meet, and so on, eventually putting their entire livelihoods in other people’s hands that when opinions shifted or times changes, they had nothing to stand on as their own true, fundamental beliefs in their own abilities.

Perhaps you know some of these actors.

Maybe you feel like you are one.

The good news is that you are in control. 

Let me repeat this. You are in control, now more than ever, with so much content in demand, the fading of gatekeepers being your only access to audiences, pay, or success, and the access to training and experts anytime, anywhere means that YOU ARE IN CONTROL of what actions you take to build the business you’re dreaming of.

You are building a business. 

That is what you are doing. That is step one – recognizing that you are a business. You have expenses (classes, headshots, travel) and you earn income. Just ask the IRS…that’s not kinda a business, that IS a business. So because you ARE a business you can elevate your perspective on every action you take to sustain that business. These actions are what will allow you to still have a business 5, 10, 25 years from now.

I’ve broadly defined the major actions (or shifts in thinking) you must do so that all the rest of your actions can support building a beautiful, free, and fantastic creative career that you feel in charge of and proud of.

Once you elevate your mindset to that of an “owner” of a creative business, you can be objective about your actions and results. 

Know what you’re great at now!

Don’t be that actor who says “I can do everything.” It’s bad for business. It may be true, but you should find what one or two things you can do best right now and focus on them to build some momentum and foundational relationships with the people you want to work with.  The 80/20 rule works well here. Most likely, when you really think about all the roles you’ve been cast in or found that they came easy to you, there are probably about 20% of your roles that lead to 80% of your bookings, castings, rave reviews, and best results. That’s a profitable ratio and it makes things easier for you. You’re not wasting your time stressing over an audition, job, training, or trend that falls outside that 20% of roles that you can NAIL 80% of the time. You literally stop engaging, looking at or submitting for that work. It’s outside of your focus. You instead spend a year or two focusing and improving that 20% gold mine.

Find your audience.

Your audience is made up of the people creating the work you want to be a part of, the people who support these projects (i.e. producers), and the audience that loves this work. Get in front of all three. Put yourself in front of these people whether it’s through content you create, showcasing your reel, sharing on social media, sending materials through the mail, or networking at conferences, workshops, or events. When you know who you should be in front of, you will find out how best to reach them.

Never be afraid to pitch yourself.

Knowing exactly who you are, what you do, and having a succinct way of telling someone that can open incredible opportunities. What is your elevator pitch? How can you answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with “I’m a (sarcastic best friend with biting wit and a heart of gold) who (stands her ground and always brings her best).  You can see how that immediately allows someone to know who you are and what you do best. Now they know how you can help them in the future and it took you six seconds to make that impact. 

Quick story – Elizabeth Maxwell is an actor I had on the podcast, and she started out as an actor in LA then moved to Austin and things were moving slowly she felt in her acting career. She started to get interested in voice over, made her own VO demo in her closet from scratch by researching the VO demos of other working actresses and recording stuff she thought worked for her, THEN she also went to animation conventions to meet the people who were creating the work she wanted to be a part of. She did meet some people, got connected, got some contact info to follow up and she did. FOR MONTHS. “Professional persistence.” And one of those contacts finally had the time and space to get her in on an audition for an upcoming project that she booked and that started her journey into the world of voice over which she has been doing consistently for the last 10 years. 

Master your messaging.

You have amazing tools at your disposal to share who you are and what you do with the world. Use them. Whether it’s documenting your life outside of acting on your social media or sharing your work with Facebook and Instagram ads you have incredible resources that actors 10 or 20 years ago could only dream of. Use them to flesh out who you are, your values, your dreams, your passions, and be brave enough to show the full human being behind all your creative work. That’s what will keep people interested and connected well passed your reel, your headshot and your last project.

Build relationships.

A business is built on relationships and show business is no different. You see professionals hire the same people often because they know, like and trust them. There is no magic way to build that connection other then spending the time, energy, and resources it takes to actually build that relationship. Plan for the future, put in the work, respect people’s time, be professional and support the work, achievements, and desires of those you work with and meet in this industry. It’s way smaller than you think and gratitude, kindness, and respect go very, very far.

Take the first action towards controlling your career by joining the 5 Day Challenge. In the next 5 days you’ll set goals and plan out your next 5 months of building your career.

Let’s wrap this up with a real world example.

Say you wanted to start acting in commercials. 

An Actor Might:

– pick their most “fun” and “colorful” headshot.

– start submitting and auditioning for commercial auditions.

– learn on the fly. 

An Actor CEO Would: 

– Set a budget for this new “business venture.” (e.g. $2,000)

– Get commercial headshots. (e.g. $500) 

– Take a commercial acting class (e.g. $500) 

– Submit online for auditions.

– Create a print promotional materials and an EPK (electronic press kit) to send to commercial agents, casting directors, and directors. (e.g. $300) 

– Follow creators and decision makers on social without pitching yourself. Just like/comment/share.

– Take notes at auditions, what to improve upon, and follow up with decision makers. (e.g. Thank you cards/gifts. $200)

– Track who you meet, what you did well on, what you wore, where you are seeing the best results, and how you scale that. 

– You still have $500 left over from the original $2,000 to either save or use as needed to improve and scale up this process. 


Who do you think is going to get further faster?  

It’s pretty clear that while the Actor CEO is doing more work than the actor, they are doing more focused and relationship building work that makes them much more a part of the industry they are involved in and far more familiar to the decision makers. That’s where you want to be in a competitive environment. 

You are one of THOUSANDS who submit. Be one of the few who follow up.  

This industry is built on relationships. You want to be sure you are cultivating and building relationships well with the people you want to work with. Stay top of mind with social media updates, emails or mailed materials, gifts, Facebook ads that target industry events or areas, etc. If you are showcasing yourself consistently in a professional way then you will find your path to success far faster than someone who is sitting around hoping their next audition leads to a job. You’re not trying to get a job, you’re building a business. 

Take yourself and your career seriously. Be improving constantly. Always seek out insight and advice that will take you to the next level.  

“Go to source for everything business related in the acting industry! Awesome tools and interviews and inside tips from pros”

Ben Curtis

“Man I’ve been one of those people waiting around by the phone and there’s nothing as rewarding as breaking out of that and realizing that you control your career. Mike and his guests really give the power back to actors. Undoubtedly a MUST for anyone who pursues acting professionally.”

Daniel Colt

“Excellent Podcast! I’ve gotten very useful information from The Actor CEO. Tips I’ve used in the audition room and for my company. Thanks Mike.”

Natalie Harris

“Actors everywhere can benefit from the detailed, informative and free resource. I highly recommend it.”

Sarah Siadat

About ActorCEO

Insight from Industry Pros 

ActorCEO has been providing working actors with insight, advice, tips and tricks from industry pros for years through The Actor CEO Podcast and at ActorCEO.com. With a worldwide following of over 12,000 actors, blog posts read by thousands a month, free pop up Facebook groups and more, the Actor CEO platform allows creative pros like you to jump into the CEO’s chair of your own career. Easy, valuable, and practical.

Get Your Career Going!

In 5 days you can set your self up for success for the next 5 months. Creating your goals, your list of contacts, your steps to getting in the room and building relationships, and more that will seriously change the game on how you audition and what career you’re building! Better actions lead to better connections, better opportunities, and more bookings! If you want to make this year better than the last, join the 5 Day Challenge.