Case Study: How Brittany Mirabilé moved from unemployed actress to movie star
I met Brittany in 2010 when I was teaching at The Maggie Flanigan Studios. She wanted my advice on entering the business as a natural-haired black woman.
My response: "Be a badass...not just as an actor. No one in the industry gives a flying f*ck about your talent. What they care about is what business strategy you put in place that will actually give you the opportunity to show people how talented you are.
Wear a wig if the character is amazing, but not someone who would wear natural hair. You're being hired to be an "acrobat of the human condition," which means we want to see you transform, not just play your damn self. Now sign up for my newsletter so you can learn some business strategy."
And Brittany did.
5 years later, Brittany emailed me and asked me if I was still coaching. I said, I'm coaching actors who win, not actors who just talk about their dreams. Which one are you?
Brittany said, "OMG...that's me. Let's do it! Yay!
Brittany started coaching that same week. April and she would meet in person, Skype or by phone weekly without fail.
Brittany's major issue was representation and not having any idea how to package and sell herself. She was credited under several different names because she thought her real name would be too complicated, so she was using shortened versions of her first and middle name. She's bi-racial, so she also thought, she didn't want to make it harder for folks to cast her by having an Italian-sounding last name.
I looked at her and said,
"Seriously, are you crae crae? First off, there are thousands of women with your first name, Brittany and your middle name Bridgette. But there is only one Black/Italian Brittany Mirabile...and that unique mix will stick in the memory. Besides which, "racially ambiguous" actors are working like a motherfucker because there's a whole lot less of them and they can play 3, 4, 5 different races from black, to carribbean, to middle eastern, to latin, etc. So you get to audition 3 times as much as the regular black actors....pshawww...Let's get to work."
Brittany had to decide if she wanted to continue doing web series and student films that never saw the light of day or if she was ready to package herself and begin a marketing strategy that would get her major TV/Film auditions.
Brittany Mirabilé's F*ck It Moment
Her F*ck It Moment arrived the day she bought her first coaching package with me. See, I require that all my clients finish the package in 3 months. After which time it expires. What that forces the client to do is stay on task with the weekly homework and finish the goals we lay out for ourselves in the first session.
Brittany & Goal Setting
The goals are have to be
1. Measurable: set parameters that are completely within the clients's power to achieve
2. They must be concrete/specific.
Brittany's goal was to identify her type and package it so that she would get noticed in the industry. Well, that required the following:
- basic branding package which entails creating a hardcopy press kit and an online press kit consisting of : headshot, resume, reel, emotional chords, contact info. All of these tools would be shaped by what her emotional brand is and what part of the industry was her focus. In Brittany's case, it was film/TV
- Establishing her emotional types
- Targeting Industry professionals to get them to call her in a lot for Film/TV and get agents/managers to notice her and get excited about her work.
The Center of Range Exercise
We spent 3 hours fine-tuning this process. It asked a lot of Brittany. She had to dig deep into acting choices, recurring powerful emotions in the body of work that she used to complete the Center of Range Exercise.
By the end, we had 4 major emotional chords that we could begin to package. She'd always been cast as the sweet little sister with no edge because of her physical presentation. But her soul is a funny, tough over achiever with a competitive edge. That's one of the things we learned from this exercise. With that in mind, we were able to shape her press kit to get her seen for stuff with more of an edge.
The magnificent result is that 4 months into our private coaching, Brittany Mirabilé booked a principal role in the upcoming feature film _Purge 3_ which will be in theaters July 2016. Not only is this her first major film role, but it's actually a principal character whose a tough, scary a badass who we see throughout the movie.
_Did you know that the Purge movie franchise was originally made for $3million dollars and grossed $90million dollars. That means that millions of people will be seeing Brittany Mirabilé's breakout performance._
Not bad for a girl who always used to play everyone's kid sister, huh?
Yay, she's not playing the kid sister. She's not playing the innocent. She's not play the black character who always gets killed by scene 2 of the horror flick. Instead, she is totally cast against physical type and perfectly cast according to that "edgy, tough" part of here emotional chords.
The strategy worked and now she's got the movie star credit to prove it.
**You could do in a four week class, what it took Brittany 4 months of private coaching to accomplish.**
So what are you waiting for? Click [here](http://www.thedreamunlocked.com) now.
Love, Light & Power
April & TheDreamUnLocked Team
""""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