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Being a HERO – Interview with Laurett Ellsworth Arenz

Q: What does the HERO’S System stand for and how does it help actors?

A: HERO’S stands for Health, Education, Relationships, Opportunity and Spirituality. My goal is to help people achieve balance in all of those areas. Life is complex and difficult to navigate without the right tools. We can choose to figure it out on our own and learn from our mistakes, or we can find someone to teach us how to learn from the successes and failures of others. As a professional trainer, I have helped people achieve their goals, and these people include actors and models. The most important thing is that you should be happy with the journey you are taking while achieving your goals.

Q: What do you have to say about goal achievement?

A: Reaching a goal is about perseverance and doing it smart. Are you making decisions based on reliable information? Have you done your research to make sure your goal is realistic for you? Are you working towards your goal every day? Are you connecting with the right people? Get the right training? Finding people with integrity who will work with you until you achieve your dream is really important.

Q: What opportunities are available in this area for an actor to earn a living?

A: Many actors also work as models to support themselves. But it’s important to be realistic when looking for a job in the modeling field. Physical attributes determine the type of modeling someone can do. An eighty-year-old may be a print model, but not a fashion model. Companies also hire models to promote their products. There are trade shows, car shows, technology fairs and home fairs every weekend in this area and these companies hire models to promote their products. Companies want to hire someone with a lively and friendly personality to stand on showroom floors and at trade shows because that draws people to their booth or product. And, as we know, happy people are attractive. But people can’t just walk in and expect to be hired by a pretty face. They have to be smart. They have to learn scripts, be ambitious, and talk to people intelligently about products. The age range for promotional models is generally between 20 and 40 years old, but a good looking man in his fifties can pull it off. Promotional models are not paid as much as fashion models, but they may get more work because more work is available. Pay can be as low as $25 per hour and as high as $100 per hour.

Q: How do you recommend that an agency or casting director look at actors and models?

A: The people who prepare as the best package get representation. The field is too competitive to leave things to chance. If you’re not doing everything you can to be the best you can be, you’re wasting your time. Get the proper training. Go to acting classes and modeling courses. Learn to do your own makeup. Don’t discount these skills thinking, “oh, if I’m pretty enough, they’ll really like me and pay for all my photos.” That’s not the way it works. On the other hand, you can be the best actor in the world, but if you’re not presented in a way that shows it, you won’t get hired. Something as simple as dressing up a little, doing your hair and putting on a little makeup can make the difference between getting the job or not. Success does not come by chance or luck. Success is a skill that can be learned.

Q: What do agencies look for in talent?

A: A model or actor has to exhibit an attractive personality. This all has to do with commercialism. A movie actor has to sell the movie, just like a commercial actor or a print or promotional model has to sell the product. Someone who is not trained or who is not prepared will not be chosen because that does not make the product look good. You have to prepare and present yourself to meet the requirements to be hired.

Q: Do the actors have the same physical restrictions as the models?

A: Theater actors have fewer physical parameters than camera actors. There is always room for another good character actor. The types of roles you are offered depend on your appearance, voice, and acting ability. People who look slim, fit, healthy, and happy will have more opportunities to work with the camera than those who don’t. You also need the correct connections. I’m not saying go in undercover and get involved with the casting director or the president of the company. You need to go through the proper channels to meet and get the word out to the right people that you are available for work. So, persevere. You can go to ten auditions and not do any of them, but at the eleventh audition they love you, they love you, you’re perfect for the part. Your success is based on the number of times you go out and fail because, in this industry, as in any area of ‚Äč‚Äčlife, you are not always going to win. The more you try and fail, the closer you are to success.

Q: In addition to training people for auditions, you also prepare them for their photos. What is the process?

A: When I’m grooming someone to take headshots, the first thing I ask is, “What kind of actor are you? Are you the prim and proper kind of newscaster looking for industrial and commercial work? Are you a character actor?” who does creative theater work? If you want to work as a model, you need a composite card. What the person wants to achieve determines how they are trained. I also do the makeup and hair and help select the outfits. Looking your best is important to success in any field, and especially in the highly visible fields of acting and modeling, where so much depends on appearance.

Q: Is it always necessary to hire a makeup artist and stylist, and is it expensive?

A: Going cheap is not always cheap. When you are photographed, you cannot see what the camera sees. You can’t take a step back and look at yourself through the lens. It is impossible. I look at my subject through the camera lens to see if he has enough blush and if his hair and clothes are okay. I’m not saying everyone always needs a good makeup artist, but it’s an insurance policy that you’ll get the best pictures the first time.

Q: Do men and women need makeup artists?

A: I think it’s a good idea. Men are generally charged less than women because it’s more basic with men. It’s more about applying highlighters and concealers in the right places and making sure the hair is just right. We don’t get into eyeliners, shadows, and lashes with men.

Q: Do you work with agencies?

A: In the field of acting and modeling, I do make-up art for potential talents derived from many different agencies. We are sometimes asked, “Was this person good? Was it easy to work with?” They want to know if the person they are hiring has what it takes to do the job. Perhaps they are choosing between two people. When someone is difficult for us to work with, I would hesitate to recommend them. When the person is attractive, charismatic, personable and enthusiastic, that’s something I think an agency would want to know as well. This is especially true for promotional models hired to work with the public. Sometimes I have collected photographs of people and have gone with them to agencies to help them interview. These are agencies that we’ve established mutual respect with, and frankly, the people we refer end up getting jobs because they have that added validation of being someone with character and good to work for.

Q: What advice do you have for actors to persevere through disappointment?

A: If you have a dream, don’t let anyone steal it from you. Maybe you go to an audition and the producer or director kills you: “you’re the worst, I can’t imagine you want to be an actor.” Well, you know what? That is just an opinion. You go to a different audition and it’s going to be a different story. You have to learn how to be bulletproof and how to pick yourself up and keep going. If you need to work on the strength of your dream, then work on it. You are responsible for developing your own self-esteem and confidence. Seek the company of friends and family who support you. If you’re having a hard time getting the jobs you want, find people who will help you realistically assess and perhaps redefine your goals, and help you improve as a total package. Get lots of referrals. Ask people in the industry who they think are good teachers. Ask the photographer for recommendations on acting coaches. Ask the agencies who they think can help you put together the best composite card. Ask lots of questions and don’t assume that one person has all the answers. Nobody is that knowledgeable.

Q: What is one of our biggest obstacles to achieving our goals?

A: It is often fear. We all fear something. When I’m afraid to try something new, I think, how will I feel in five years? I think in hindsight: “I should have done that, I really missed an opportunity.” We only have so much time and that is finite. We have to be clear about what we want and go for it. If you’re not having the success you hoped for, find an expert coach or mentor, someone who cares about your success. It is easier to achieve your dream with someone who encourages you.

Laurett Ellsworth has worked in television and model and actor development, and has worked and traveled all over the world. She has won the titles of Mrs. Virginia and Mrs. America and does private and corporate coaching through her company, HERO’S Strategies. Within two years of setting the goal of winning a national pageant, she was crowned Mrs. USA in 1997 and won a second national title, the 2002 Mrs. America.

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