From Murray Ledger and Times
Murray State University graduate Angie Gregory held a seminar last week to tell several interested attendees what a working actor needs to know about finding jobs in Los Angeles.
Gregory, 38, is originally from Benton and moved to L.A. in 2004 with the hopes of working in television. She has starred in and directed several short films of her own, but has also appeared in small roles on the ABC Family show “Greek” and the A & E Biography show “I’ll Haunt You When I’m Dead.” Possibly her most widely seen role to date was when she played a corpse on the hit CBS show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Gregory also recently appeared in the independent movie “The Republic of Rick,” which played at the Slamdance Film Festival, a festival held every January in Park City, Utah as an alternative to the Sundance Film Festival .
Gregory said she wanted to come back to Murray to tell aspiring screen actors some of the things she wished she had known before she moved to L.A. Even though no one can be fully prepared for what to expect, though, she said she felt like she received very good and realistic advice when she met W. Earl Brown — a Murray native who has had success with many roles, including the 1998 blockbuster comedy “There’s Something About Mary” and the 2004-6 HBO drama “Deadwood” — at Tent City during an MSU Homecoming weekend in 2001. Some of his advice included saving as much money as possible before moving, networking other actors and people who can get you cast
“A lot of people will tell you what they think you want to hear, but he gave it to me straight,” Gregory said.
Even though it was spring break week for MSU, about 10 people signed up for the seminar. One person in the seminar, Paducah Improv member Andy Wiggins, said he was currently preparing to move to L.A. in a few weeks to try to start a career in comedy. Gregory said she mainly wanted to focus on how a working actor can get his or her foot in the door, which included knowing how to behave in an audition, navigating helpful casting websites and getting good head shots. She also talked about a few things you need to know after you’ve already booked a few jobs, such as getting an agent and joining the union SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), which she said she is currently in the process of joining.
Gregory said one of the things she had understood better before she tried to act professionally was the feast-or-famine aspect of the business.
“You have to have organization and a plan,” she said. “You have to have patience. If you think you’re going to go out there and do it in a month, it’s not going to happen, more than likely. The odds are overwhelming. This is an investment in your future, so you have to work to make it. You may book seven jobs in a row and not book another one in a year, so you have to have some back-up. You have to be able to bus or wait tables or bar-tend or something and be OK with that until you can get in the union and start booking bigger roles where they’ll pay you thousands of dollars a week.”
Gregory said it is easier to book jobs when you recognize what type of role you can play and use it to your advantage.
“Are you leading or are you supporting, and are you a character type?” she said. “You may not be what you want to be, but you have to pick what you are if you want to book. Sometimes you can cross, but it’s rare.”
Gregory told attendees that when they book a job, they should make sure to never complain and to always appreciate the fact that they are working. Plenty of people do complain about small annoyances on a set, but being willing to do whatever is asked of you will help get you hired again, she said. For example, she said the makeup artists at “CSI” remarked at how easy she made their jobs and told her she was the “best corpse” they had ever worked with.
Gregory said anyone moving to L.A. from Kentucky would have to get used to the overwhelming amount of traffic and huge crowds that are seemingly everywhere. They also needed to be prepared to pay extremely high prices for rent. She said she pays $800 a month for her one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena, but she knows people who pay $3,500 a month for similar apartments in other locations. She said the average is closer to $1,500 a month.
“Because of the rent, a lot of actors live in cars,” she said. “So don’t be surprised if they say, ‘You can’t come to my place. It’s kind of dirty.’ It’s because it doesn’t exist. I know a guy who did that. He was living in his car and then he booked a Pizza Hut commercial and then he was able to get a place.”
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