Mandy Evans Brown: A Study in Persistence
Mandy Evans Brown had spent almost a decade spinning her wheels. She was a super well-trained actress, great all-American girl looks and a dancer's background (which means TV-ready legs to die for), broadway credits, multiple indie film credits, but nothing was moving her towards the kind of TV/Film work she was longing for. When Mandy met April, she had reached her
"SCREW THIS Moment."
She was determined to move into film/tv and stop working exhausting day jobs.
The Obstacle: Mandy's Major Problem
The major problem was that often Mandy's soul was deeper than the roles she was getting seen for. Add to that she had become a very skilled Theatre/Film actress, her chops were so sharp that when she auditioned, it was clear that this was a leading lady built for principal roles and not just dayplayers and sidekicks.
Essentially, Mandy Evans Brown discovered that she had a toughness and depth that the average "all American primetime brunette" could not even begin to approach.
So how was she going to get seen for major, deep principal roles with only minor TV/Film credits?
**Enter The Center of Range exercise.**
The Center of Range Exercise: Find Your Emotional Type
A filmmaker client of April's referred Mandy to April. Over the course of a year and a half in private coaching, April & Mandy began working together on theatre and on-camera acting, business strategy and shaping her emotional and physical type into a marketable brand.
Just defining Mandy's physical type was a very limiting way to approach coming up with a strategy to move her career into Film/TV. First, her looks were going to change every year, but her emotional type is about the soul. It's about your gifts as an artist: what moves you, what emotional chords are closest to your heart. Your emotional type will be the same for the rest of your life.
So merging the emotional type with the physical type is a sure-fire way to begin looking for a wider variety of roles and getting your agents to double the kinds of roles you get seen for. If you're being cast according to your emotional type, you can get seen for roles written for men, women, characters who are older than you are and a whole bunch of other roles that normally, your physical type would exclude you from.
The Center of Range Exercise
This is a 3 hour exercise that April has developed to identify a client's 4 major emotional chords. Then we use the emotional types coupled with the physical type to create a brand that can be sold to agents, managers and CD's.
That brand is then packaged in a hardcopy press kit as well as an online press kit prior to targeting the CD's, agents and managers that the client has decided to work with.
This is the process that Mandy and April began together. Once the emotional chords had been identified, it affected everything about how Mandy presented herself to the industry: From monologue choices, to audition outfits, to headshots, the type of make-up she would wear in the headshot shoot and on auditions, to hairstyle choice, to the position of roles on her resume and much more.
Most importantly, it takes the guess work out of headshot choices. You choose the headshot that speaks to all four of your emotional types, not just the pretty headshot.
The largest part of the process is that Mandy realized she needed to raise her game. If she wanted to go after Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kiddman roles, she needed to look like a movie star.
That meant pulling no punches when it came to headshots, make-up, skin care, outfits, reel, etc. She had to spend money (wisely) to create the kind of package that would make her money.
Because it only took one TV job. Just one. To pay her back all of the money she spent on her package.
The good news is once you package yourself. It will cost several thousand dollars over the course of 6-12 months, but you only have to do this once every 5 years, if you go with the top of the line photographer, coach, make-up, hair regiment. And all of these things are things you will use once you're working in film/tv, so
When your brand screams one consistent message to the industry, you automatically get called in for those kinds of roles.
It's like taking candy from a baby.
It's just the preliminary legwork that can be a little daunting. Which is why Mandy and April worked on it together.
Using the Center of Range exercise, April guide Mandy through the process of finding her 4 major emotional chords.
Once those chords were clearly defined, April and Mandy packaged her resume, headshot, reel and one page into a press kit that sold Mandy's distinctive brand:
_A soulful, tough leading lady brand that takes risks, holds on to very little excess baggage and is guarded in her emotions, but fearless about sharing her love with ones she chooses to protect._
Combining both Mandy's physical brand with her emotional brand was the key. Once that brand had been established, all the elements of Mandy's press kit had to sell that one consistent message.
Strategy for Targeting Casting Directors
The next step was to get new representation and the quickest way was to get powerful casting directors in Mandy's pocket. To get her on their "Go-To" list of favorite actors.
She and April developed a 3 month and 6 month CD targeting strategy which they implemented once she had finished packaging her brand. She would use this press kit to woo CDs.
Armed with this new arsenal of weapons, the CD targeting strategy that April helped Mandy devise and activate was a smoking hot success.
Mandy ended up being called in by her targeted primetime casting directors and booking a principal role in a feature film that her target casting director was producing.
How to Target Casting Directors
Based on Mandy's emotional chords, she identified her top shows, top roles, top casting directors based on her types.
Then she began building targeted relationships with these casting directors. She looked at their work to see what resonated with her own and that is what she sold these CD's in a 14 week Targeting Strategy.
Once Mandy got busy doing the business of acting, the industry started taking notice. In private coaching, Mandy and April focused on specific kinds of roles, shows, films that showcased Mandy's emotional type. She learned how to handle different kinds of writing in the audition room very quickly.
She learned the difference between primetime episodic acting as opposed to half hour single cam acting and various other TV forms of acting and how to prepare for a big TV audition in 45 mins.
**She learned April's secret memorization/moment to moment technique to help an actor prepare for last minute auditions with a lot of pages of sides to memorize.**
How Mandy Moved into Film
She'd taken several agent/manager meetings, was auditioning frequently and getting called back and the biggie was that the TV casting directors they had targeted were now calling Mandy in regularly. She booked a few things, but Mandy was still bigger than the work coming her way.
At April's prodding, Mandy began to explore self-producing. Her biggest concerns were that:
I don't have the money and I'm no good at the business stuff. PLUS, I don't know how to write or produce anything.
I was where you are and I did it and (made a shitload of mistakes), but I still got my face out there and self-produced and it changed my career.
So what do you want to do?
Complain or change the game so it works for you? I'll walk you through it.
Screw it, let's do it!
A year later, Mandy has a short film script written by the screenwriter, novelist, actor, producer and the creator of _The Exonerated_, Jessica Blank. A distinguished, experienced director and a name actor in the lead opposite her in her new film. She raised the money and is in pre-production. She recently booked a feature film and signed with new agents, Emerging Talent.
April showed her how to turn the wheel, avoid the mistakes she made and **Mandy has done in one year what it took April to learn in 5 years.**
Click here to support Mandy's film The PICKUP
So what's your excuse?
What is stopping you from stepping into your greatness by asking someone to teach you how they did it and help you get it done?
What's stopping you from taking that leap of faith and signing up for the "Find your F*ck It Moment: Move into Film & TV
Click here now to start moving into film/tv
""""One of the most mortifying moments I experienced in my theatrical career was when I was asked to bring the entirely African-American cast of a new musical we were workshopping, a new piece by an African-American librettist and composer, across the street to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and up into the plush boardroom so they could perform a song or two for the board of directors. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. For one thing, it would take an invaluable 45 minutes to an hour out of the creative team's limited time together. But... every year we had to do the same old song and dance for the board to remind them that yes, we did do new plays and musicals, so yes, it was sometimes a good idea to expose the board to new voices, to the vibrancy of an exciting work in progress.
You all know where this is going, don't you? I led the team in. The talent in that team! The writer/composer himself and the cast, lauded veterans of the stage and the most promising members of the next generation of acting giants. And there was our board. White, as white as can be, white white white white. And very comfortable. They'd just been served lunch, I believe. My theater spared no expense in pleasing our board and catering to their demands (oh my god, I'm feeling such rage right now! I'm pretty sure we had a staff member who was mostly dedicated to help our richest board members get house seats to shows on Broadway and the West End. But I digress...)
The only black face in the audience seated at the conference table? The only person of color? The head of our education department, of course. My heart went out to her.
The cast sang a song from the show. They did it. And they brought it. Because they were and are professionals. And the very pillars of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion reverberated down to the parking lot. It was breathtaking.
And I had just been complicit in the remaking of a scene for the millionth time: black bodies and voices entertaining white audiences, an institution raising money on the backs and voices of black bodies.
I was too mortified to apologize to our writer and to our cast, none of whom, I should add, expressed even an iota of discomfort. They were professionals, and they shone. And come to think of it, they'd probably all become accustomed to this scene. "It's just how theater works," they might have thought with a shrug of their shoulders. Or maybe they seethed inside, for the millionth time, when all they were trying to do is workshop a new musical.
Well, I apologize sincerely now to our writer and those actors. I wish I had had the courage to put my foot down. It is not how theater should work.
I quit the American theater on Valentine's Day 2016, so I've been out more than four years now. And honestly I don't plan to return, which is why I can write with such candor.
The heart of the problem, my friends, is with the non-profit structure, which is capitalism on steroids. Who are the bosses ultimately in an American institutional theater? The board of directors. Who are the board of directors? For the most part, those members of the community not with the strongest attachment to the art form but those with the deepest pockets. Often they're really not members of the community. They often just drop in. They are sometimes mere tourists.
It's no wonder that that board meeting was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The theater, like most American theaters, had built its board of directors on the old opera model: You get the richest folks together, offer them galas and house seats and receptions and private recitals and showings (for which artists often don't get paid extra, mind you), you pamper them and make them feel more special and entitled than they already do, and then they'll write you big checks to support the kind of art they like, the kind of art they can bring their kids and grandkids to. AND they--not the artists, not the community--get to hire the institution's leadership.
It is a rotten model. Rotten to the core. How can any artistic institution claim to be working for and in the community with that model?
It's got to be torn down. It's got to be reinvented. And I have no idea what the next model will be. I really don't. And no, honestly I don't think government is the solution frankly. Some of the most bloated, self-satisfied, decadent theater I've ever seen was in Germany, where it was almost fully government-funded. Lots of bells and whistles and provocations and completely soul-dead.
I see amazing and galvanizing lists of demands recently being made and posted by theater artists of color. These are vital demands. But they don't address the central issue. As long as the ultimate bosses of an artistic institution remain the community's deepest pockets, nothing will change. Nothing. You'll be putting band-aids on a gaping wound. Sorry, but it's true.
So please figure something else out. Maybe for a few years you just avoid the institutions. You've already started. In the pandemic, so many of you are making amazing art without an institution. Find those who truly adore your work and ask them to fund it. Screw non-profit. Form a corporation and value your art art-making as a resource that profits you, your viewers/audience and your community. I have no idea.
But please don't return to a new version of the old. After the virus, after he's out of office, after police reform and nationwide conversations about race, after, after, after, begin something new. I can't wait to see what it is!”
Words: Pier Carlo Talenti
Video: Griffin Matthews
April Yvette Thompson