But wait...who ARE you?

I've shared before that I'm studying some of Dallas Travers' marketing and business ideas for actors. I'm in week four of my six-week goal: To book a lead paying role in a film that premiers at Sundace.

This last week I did the following:

  • Crafted a press release for my role in the wall June 2012

Why? Because I don't have an agent or a manager or a publicist so I have to act as my own. I'm an actor, right? So I see this as acting in the role I want until I get it. If I treat myself as a professional actress worthy of writing and publishing about, then eventually maybe others will too. Either way, if I send my professional press release (which took me less than an hour to write) to selected media outlets it gives me the opportunity to garner quotes, reviews and press that I can put on my website and use for other marketing purposes. Fake it till you make it.

  • Contacted two indie filmmakers on Kickstarter

I looked through Kickstarter to find Independent films that were recently successfully funded. The two that caught my were Home, by Jono Oliver, a participant in the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Labs and Director’s Lab and Man-Child, which was just accepted to IFP's Emerging Narrative Program. I contacted both filmmakers on Kickstarter, congratulated them, and requested a 10-minute phone call. The purpose of this contact being to develop a relationship -- NOT TO BEG FOR A ROLE. I got a response for Oliver who said he'd keep me on file and no answer yet from Koo.

All good.

  • Sent my headshots for printing
  • Submitted to one online breakdown for a film that resonated with me on ActorsAccess. No biggie.
  • Faxed a letter to Lena Dunham's publicist and manager.

Anytime I say this someone they say, "Why?" This act is less about Dunham, more about me doing some really important self-work. The fact that I would take the time to really craft a genuine letter to Dunham (NOT A FAN LETTER) -- means a lot for me. I started with a hyper-specific reference to her work that resonated with me, then I introduced myself and my work, then I requested a 10-minute meeting.

Your career thus far is something I would very much like to emulate in some ways and nothing would help me do this more than to have a 10-minute phone call with you to discuss how to find and keep your original voice amidst so many other factors that contribute to one’s success in this field.

That's a big deal for me. The purpose of the letter is not to gush and be all creepy like "OHMGAH I LOVE YOUR WORK PLEASE HIRE ME!" The purpose of the letter is to do a few things:

  1. Reinforce the idea in my life that extraordinary results require extraordinary actions. I'm not going to get anywhere going to auditions three times a week and doing play-readings every now and then.
  2. Destroy the myth that actors should be seen and not heard.

Why does an industry that cannot exist without actors, work so hard to make actors feel marginalized? You can't contact so-and-so without a manager, you can't get a manager without an agent, you can't get an agent without having X amount of credits and you can't get those type of credits without proper representation. Don't call us we'll call you.

Good luck with that.

         3. To keep my promise to myself to be fearless.

About a month ago, I made a promise to myself to make one key mindset: to be fearless. Anyone who knows me knows I worry. About everything, all the time. Worrying is my way of life. It's also very counterproductive and wasteful. The idea of calling the offices of Lena Dunham's publicist and manager and professionally and politely asking them if they've received my fax SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME. But after it was all said and done, it wasn't as bad as I thought. One conversation went like this,

Me: Hello, my name is Shelah Marie, I'm calling to confirm that you've received my fax.

Rude Patootie: Who's this?

Me: Shelah Marie.

RP: No, I mean, who are you with? Where are you from?

M: Uh...uh, I'm from...Brooklyn.

RP: But wait...who ARE you?

M: I'm a writer, actress and director who really admires Dunham's work and I'd like to request a ten-minute meeting with her.

RP: No, uh...no. We don't just forward things on to Lena Dunham. Yeah...goodbye.


This is the point where I almost, almost cried. But then I thought it was kinda funny and I laughed myself. The point is, I am beginning to take bold actions that inspire me and frighten me. Less important is if I reach my 8-week goal or ever talk to Lena Dunham (Hey, gurh!). More important is a persistent change in my mindset that translates to a change in my actions that contributes to me living the life I daydream about when I'm riding the train.

Fuck the BS, be bold, be brave.