The Professional Actor’s Handbook

Book Review

by Lauren Mikeal Weber

The Professional Actor’s Handbook: From Casting Call to Curtain Call provides comprehensive and clear strategies for young performers transitioning into the professional world. In this book, Agustin (with assistance from Potts) has created a step-by-step guide to understanding what it takes to be a working theatre performer. The book, divided into four main sections, provides seventeen success strategies that map out practical ways to prepare for, and establish oneself as a professional actor and musical theater performer in the industry. 

Primary Author Julio Agustin is an assistant professor of theatre and dance at James Madison University with Broadway credits that include Chicago and Fosse. He also runs an audition studio, the Transition Workshop, in New York City. Assisting with authorship of this book is Kathleen Potts, an academic, dramaturge and award-winning playwright on faculty at CUNY (City College of New York).

The four main sections of the book are: (I) Branding Strategies for the Professional Actor, (II) Success Strategies for the Stage and Screen, (III) Marketing and Networking Strategies for the Successful Performer and (IV) Offstage and Professional Strategies. This book is set up as a workbook with thought-provoking questions and homework to complete throughout. 

It is essential to work through Part I before moving onto various other sections in the book in order for the reader to identify their “Unique Selling Proposition” (or USPs as they are referred to in later chapters). Identifying USPs is a central theme of the book. These USPs are used throughout create a complete "brand" for the performer in each aspect of the auditioning, networking, and negotiating processes they will encounter as part of an entertainment career.

Agustin’s Transition Workshop is referred to throughout the book to provide examples and test the theories he espouses, but the book could easily be used as a text for a college class or serve as a stand-alone, self-guided resource for aspiring actors. After completing Part I, actors could easily skip around to the chapters of interest/need, or work through the book in order.

From the basic building blocks of creating a resume and taking a headshot, to a more detailed look into negotiating a contract, finding a mentor, and networking, this book is an excellent resource for the transitioning artist or an artist in need of rebranding. Agustin and Potts provide clear steps and guidance to eliminate some of the mystery of the audition process and help artists turn dreams into realities.

THE PROFESSIONAL ACTOR’S HANDBOOK: FROM CASTING CALL TO CURTAIN CALL by Julio Agustin with Kathleen Potts. ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS, 2017, pp. 228. $60 HARDBACK, $30 PAPERBACK, $28.50 EBOOK.

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