Names on Headshots, "Featured" vs. "Principle

Names on Headshots, "Featured" vs. "Principle Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week's column addresses when to leave school for work, putting names on headshots, and the value of classifying yourself as a type of performer. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week's column addresses when to leave school for work, putting names on headshots, and the value of classifying yourself as a type of performer. I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Question
Dear Blair,
I am currently studying musical theatre in college. I have one semester remaining after this school year. I love both singing and acting (the dancing is a little weak) and it seems that I am in a bit of a dilemma. I really am not sure what I want to focus on more-musical theatre or straight drama. Am I correct in saying that one probably needs to go in either direction fully? I know that being a "triple threat" is an asset, but it seems to me that I need to make a decision about my future. I plan on studying at a conservatory after I receive my undergraduate degree and am not sure which "venue" I want to focus on. I guess my question is-is it wise to focus on one aspect instead of just floating in between? Do I make sense? I hope so.
Thank you,
Ben

Dear Ben,
You make perfect sense. There is some truth in what you wrote about focusing on one branch of performing instead of floating in between two. Anything that gives structure to your career, such as claiming what type of performer you specifically want to be, simplifies your task as an artist. It nourishes concentration and focus. Since you want to go to school, you will need to make this decision.

However, focusing on one medium does not limit you to it. Think of all the musical actors who went on to be in straight plays, films, and TV shows. And vice-versa--Lauren Beacall, Kevin Kline, and Whoopi Goldberg are examples of a large number of dramatic actors who starred in Broadway musicals.

Ask yourself which "venue" you really love the most, and if you can find the answer-- follow that. In my opinion, if you have a good voice and love singing--why leave it out? Train yourself to be a triple threat, with your acting being the most threatening of them all. Good luck in your decision, Ben.

Question
Blair,
I am a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh!! I'm a Musical Theater major!!! I have been doing professional theater since I was 12 (doing tours of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan on tour and Broadway) Now I'm almost a junior and all I want to do is get a Broadway show so I can leave!!! I have gone to auditions and gotten jobs on tour in the US and in Europe but I turn them down because I feel like I should stay. But after the fact I get depressed Because "the tour goes to Broadway " or I wish I was in Europe!! When I graduate, what I will try to do is go to NY and get a Broadway show.....RIGHT?? Well, If I'm getting them now then why wait to graduate, because I will already be there. WHAT TO DO???? Should I stay or should I go???
~Carnegie Confused

Dear Carnegie Confused!!!
Thanks for your question!!!

The first thing I suggest you do is relax. Put your feet up and take off a few exclamation points. Broadway is not going anywhere. In fact, it's booming now.

Are you learning important things at school? Are you building your skills and craft? Are you bored, or do you enjoy the college experience? If you are enjoying school, stay. If you are really not getting ANYTHING out of it, and you have tested this--take the next job you get.

Impatience can be both a positive and destructive force in this process. Learn how to use it, so it doesn't use you. Where it pushes you forward and gets you out to auditions, it can also cause you to sabotage your career by forcing you into situations prematurely, or making your life miserable because you can only be happy when you are in a show.

Despite popular beliefs, getting a job isn' t always the most important thing to be focusing on in this business, especially if you are not ready for it. Take the opportunity school offers to build your skills in a safe environment, because "catching up" in a professional environment can be very uncomfortable and threatening.

There are certain elements of performing technique and the professional theatre world that you can only learn by working professionally. But a school like Carnegie Mellon should certainly prepare you adequately for your "out of school" lessons.

Congrats on your ability to get work!!! And good luck with your decision, CC.

Question
Hey Blair!
I have two very practical questions regarding headshots and resumes. First, how do you get a "slug" (your name) put on a head shot? Does whoever develops the prints take care of this, or can it be done some other way? Second, what is the difference between a featured and a principal role? I have seen both of these terms on different resumes, but I'm not sure of the distinction. Thanks for your help!
Kathleen

Dear Kathleen,
Thanks for your questions.

Your photographer should develop your pictures, and give you proof sheets and one or several 8x10 size photos that you choose. The company that reproduces your headshots will make a negative of the 8x10(s) and stencil your name on the negative. Generally, you can pick from a variety of fonts (type styles) and sizes, as well as places on the photo where you would like your name to appear.

The difference between "featured" and "principal" roles is not altogether clear. In my mind, it is much like the Academy Awards' "Best Supporting Actress" (featured) and "Best Actress" (principal) classification. Principal roles are lead roles. In Actors' Equity, however, leads and featured performers both receive "principal" contracts. On the other hand, it seems performers use the term "featured" to refer not only to supporting leads, but also chorus parts that get a solo dance, or a few speaking lines. I hope this makes it a little clearer.