Valorie Hubbard Shares the Secret of Becoming a Successful Actor

Want to know what it really takes to succeed as as actor long-term? Valorie Hubbard has been a working actress for 30 years and other actors how to really make a business of their career. Valorie also guest starred on one of Meredith’s favorite shows Agents of SHIELD.

A lot of people, especially in the arts think they sort of have to sit and wait for people to call them. Valerie shows you how to hustle, get yourself out there, and get in front of the people who really are in a position to hire you.

Okay, so Valorie, great to have you on the show today. You actually help actors with the business side of their profession, and acting is one of those real passion professions. Obviously, the main way that people view acting is it’s a very difficult profession to actually become successful in. There are a lot of wannabee actors, that very few actually make any money at it. That’s the perception from the outside.

Valorie: Most actors don’t think as a business person. I want to say that up front. They think more in their right brain, so they tend to think more along the lines of what can my career do for me, not what can I do for my career. It’s just a slight perspective change in how you’re looking at the business. A lot of actors, I think the reason they aren’t successful — they’ll say it’s because it’s hard to get in; it’s hard to break in; because they got a lot of bad breaks. They’ll have a lot of reasons why it didn’t work. I think the reason why it doesn’t work is because they don’t go out every day and get in front of the buyers. They sit at home hoping and praying that the phone rings. A lot of the acting schools, all of the acting schools out there, for the most part, are telling these students when they get out of acting school or when they enter the marketplace, “Just find an agent and that agent will give you the career.” I have been in this business 30 years and an agent has never given me a career. I’ve had good agents and I’ve had bad agents. I am the one that has given myself the career. How I do that is that I understand that there are buyers and there are sellers. The sellers are agents, managers and me. So if I spend all of my time, 90% of my time looking for another seller, that makes no sense. It’s like opening a store and hiring a full staff, and you haven’t sold one product yet.

My emphasis with all of my clients is to get in front of the buyers. The buyers are casting directors, directors, writers and producers. Those are the people that are actually hiring actors and the more of those people that I know, the more I’m going to work. In two and a half years, I know what I do works because I have been working with actors for 30 years. In two and a half years, in my company, I have two people on series, one on “Orange is the New Black,” one on “House of Cards;” I have a movie star Maria Masa who did a movie last year called “Dead Man” with Sony’s Features and it stars her Jackson Rathbone and Diego Boneto, and she just walked the Red Carpet for the ALMA Awards. And that’s not a mistake. I have several people also who had a booked TV and film roles. I know that’s not a mistake, because what I’m doing is completely getting in front of the buyers. Yes, you have to have great head shots and yes, you have to have a way of talking about it, and yes, you need to know your type, but you have to get in front of the buyers.

Meredith: So in the music industry, the internet has made it a lot easier for musicians to get in front of people. Is that true in the acting industry, too?

Valorie: Well, there is a lot more of that head space of doing your own thing, because our upper people: Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, all of these people, in the last few years, have brought their own projects from thought to fruition to doing those projects. So I think that our leaders are doing that, so you’re seeing that a lot more at our level. Also, because there are so many places where you can put content, every Google, Amazon, DirecTV, everyone has content now and needs content. So there’s a lot of opportunities for actors to create their own presence and their own content. A lot of times I think you need to have a mix of both though. I think you should be creating your own content, web series, little Vines, little individual Vines that you put up every day. I think that you should be doing that, but I also think that you should be figuring out how do I connect that to the greater world, to the professional world. So not only am I doing a vine every day, but I’m also sharing that with a bunch of casting directors, and directors, and producers, and writers as well. I am expanding my own career into theirs, so the two shall meet, if that make sense.

Jasper: Yeah, sure. Now, YouTube, obviously, is an interesting phenomenon. We all know that Justin Bieber, for instance, became a star of the back of his own doing YouTube series of his own. Is that feasible with acting? Is that the kind of thing. . .?

Valorie: Oh, absolutely. I mean Andrew Bachelor, who is King Bach and was on the front of New Yorker Magazine this last summer, he has 7 million followers on Vine. I taught him in his MFA Program, and he is an amazing actor, but when Vine started, he started doing six, I don’t know, you’d have to ask him, but he was doing six to ten Vines a day. Within a year, he had 7 million followers and he was on House of Cards and [inaudible 00:22:48] now in all his vines. You know he is going to go on and have a great acting career because he is a great actor. So there is someone right away who did that.

Jasper: So do those buyers take notice of that, that the actor has built up a following of that kind of size? Do they think, “Oh, well, there is already an audience for him, so it’s worth hiring him?”

Valorie: Oh, absolutely there was a huge article in the L. A. Times about it yesterday. I recently heard a rumor, but pretty substantially backed up, that there was two actresses up for a pilot at Sony, lots of Sony today, two actresses up for the same pilot and one was significantly better in her audition, but the other one got the part because she had 6 million followers on Twitter.

Meredith: Just for the listeners, in case you don’t know what Vine is, it is a little thing where you can do little six-second videos.

Valorie: Six seconds.

Meredith: It’s a really quick video and you can show them. They are really cool-looking, and for an actor, it would make a lot of sense.

Valorie: Yeah. It’s interesting because I know Andrew and I watched him make that climb. I had said to another actress, one of my clients at the time, someone is going to make a climb to the top of this heap in a year. It was great that I knew the person that did that. I had recommended it to a couple of my clients, and all he did was you know post six to ten a day. He put his focus on that and just did that.

Meredith: So do you recommend that, that if an actor is going to go out into the social media realm that they pick one stream and focus on that? Or do you think it would be better for people to be everywhere across multiple platforms?

Valorie: Well, first of all, that’s impossible. There’s only so many hours in a day and so I think that one or two, and just generally in business, in my business, I found that to be true. I’m sort of moving towards Instagram and beginning in Vine eventually. I’m Twitter and Facebook right now, but for my business, I find that Twitter and Instagram speak to the younger actors more and more. I think that you can do all of them and that might be all your doing, and so there needs to be other things besides that. So pick one or two to start. Don’t try to do everything, because then, you know, there are plenty of actors that I see every day that hang out on Facebook talking about this acting career that is non-existent, because they’re spending all of their time on Facebook.

Meredith: I think that’s exactly like you said, it’s sort of a faux productive, delusional same thing as sitting at home, waiting for a phone call, just being on Facebook talking about your life as a professional but not so successful actor. You know?

Valorie: Right, I find a lot of actors on Facebook complaining about this, complaining about this. And every six months, they get new head shots which because they didn’t spend the money on the head shot in the beginning, they thought they’d save money and have their friends or someone that does them for $100 or $200 take their pictures. Then every six months, they keep getting new ones. If they had just spent the $750 in the beginning for a really good photographer, they wouldn’t be doing that. Then they’d have an actual product they could send out. They post those on Facebook. They talk about being an actor. The little naughty side of me often wants to message them back saying, “You know what? Stop calling yourself an actor. Calling yourself an actor doesn’t mean you need to have a resume the size of my resume. I’m not saying that, but if you’re not out there pursuing it on a daily basis, then stop calling yourself an actor. Get out of my way and get out of the way of my clients,” because there is a lot of dead weight in this industry, especially in Los Angeles. Not as much in New York, because in New York, if you are that, you don’t last long there, because that’s where all the big actors out of Julliard and Yale and NYU and those kind of schools go after they get out of school. So you’ve got really high-end actors in New York. So there are a lot of people in Los Angeles that aren’t really an actor. They call themselves an actor, but they don’t have any training, they don’t have any knowledge of the industry, that sort of thing.

Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it

valorie-hubbardGuest: Valorie Hubbard

Valorie Hubbard

Valorie Hubbard is a working actress in the top 10% she has been in the business for 30 years. Credits include Resident Evil: Extinction, True Blood, American Horror Story, How I Met Your Mother, Workaholics, Agents of SHIELD and many more. She also has a company called Actor’s Fast Track, she consults with working actors who are stuck in co-star land and want to get to guest star land, who always recur but are never series regulars, who have a good agent but know they need a really great agent, working with Valorie they get a plan of action with an edge to leap way above their unsatisfying plateau into the right rooms meeting the right people and finally in the career of their dreams WOW.

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