Acting Successfully with Michelle Dyer

Everything about your career except how to sing, dance, and act.

Hear me chat with friends and interview experts on everything about your career, other than how to sing, dance, and act. Basically, I want to share everything I wish I would have known starting out in Musical Theatre. Se... More

#12 - Finances for Actors - Part 1 (Intro) & Part 2 (Goals)

Ep. 12

**Disclaimer: I (Michelle Dyer) am not a financial advisor, please contact one. The views in this podcast are strictly my own and do not reflect my employer.**

Since they don't teach the basics of a financial education in school, instead of being frustrated & just complaining, I made some YouTube videos. Well, I wanted to bring that info to the podcast. So click Here if you want to check out the Playlist on YouTube.

Like I mentioned above, I am not a financial advisor, but I did learn a lot from these authors and books listed below. If you're interested in more info, definitely check them out.

·      Suze Orman – The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

·      David Bach – The Automatic Millionaire

·      Tony Robbins – Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook

Thanks for listening and be sure to rate and review the podcast to let me know what you think! Thanks so much!












Affiliate disclaimer - the links above are my Amazon Associates links. Don't have your own Amazon Associates account? Dude! You could be missing out! Check it out here ---> Amazon Associates


#10 - Thinking of changing careers? (My story)

This episode is only for those of you who have been in acting for a little while - for those of you just starting out - thanks for listening, but I'll talk to you next time. :) Now that it's just us - I wanted to share with you my story on transitioning from an acting career to the office world. If you're thinking of doing the same thing, or just looking for something a little more stable, maybe you'd be interested in learning from my story: In 2007 I was fortunate enough to perform in White Christmas at The Denver Center. Dream housing, dream location, dream show, amazing city, but I was unhappy. Even the perfect dressing room partner! I asked myself, if that wasn't cutting it, what will? Next, I was in A Day In Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and Nancy Anderson was my dressing room partner. *(correction from my podcast - she got an Olivier Award nomination for Kiss Me Kate, not the award). She gave me some great insight into the business, as well. My background was: When I was 16, I auditioned at Paramount’s Kings Island. I didn’t get in the show, but I became an usher and worked a few hours as an admin. Then in college I was an intern at The White House. When I moved to NYC, I found out about temp jobs from a friend. I started temping and I liked it! I liked the office world. Then I discovered “temp to perm.” This means you work as a temp with the eventual possibility of staying on permanently. It’s great to do this with long-term temp gigs, like if someone has a maternity leave. There’s also nothing like on-the-job training that you get from temping with a company long-term. From then, I decided I wanted to temp to perm and go full time in my career. I interviewed for a position and got the job. This job let me work with "the street" and it was fascinating! Eventually, they eliminated my position. I was six months pregnant, so I stayed home for a year before I went back to work. Keep in mind: IT’S NOT A STRAIGHT LINE. It’s that way for acting, and it’s that way for business. You just don't have to be an admin, you can work in different departments: social media, graphic design or customer service. Human Resources is great for actors, too! (If you want financial stability, go into finance for the bonus system.) But, I recommend getting experience temping with recruiters. Recruiters get feedback from your employers, and you can use that feedback to improve. Here are some good temp companies: * Beacon Hill Staffing Group * Green Key Resources * Atrium Staffing (click here to get my Survival Job cheat sheet with contact details for the temp agents) Keep in mind, however: the business world is different. Attitude is very important. Actors are adept at this: resilience, improv, friendly, outgoing. Confidentiality, integrity. Office parties: You are there as an employee, and it’s different from theatre opening night parties. In theatre, we live and work with these people and our lives are all out there. In an office, it’s not like that. Put on your best manners. In a new career you are starting from the ground up, like getting your Equity card again. For me, I just wanted to use my brain in a different way, I couldn't handle the monotony of 8 shows a week. At the beginning of my office career, I had to stock sodas, grab lunches, and do filing all day. It’s not glamorous, but you have to start somewhere. Don’t complain - people might call you out! If you can’t be trusted to label a file folder, how can you be trusted with a legal case? Keep in mind the atmosphere is more buttoned up. You can’t talk as freely about your weekend, your political beliefs, things you’d talk about with friends. But the benefits are fantastic: stability, health insurance, 401k and a company match (usually). Think about retirement! Start now. You can’t make up for time. As hard as it was to start all over in the beginning, I felt like I fit in better in the office world, and it was totally worth it in the end. Plus, having this podcast is my way of staying connected to the theatre world and sharing my experiences with others, so it's a way for me to have a bit of both worlds. I hope you can take something away from my experience and I'm eager to hear what questions you have. Email me at SurvivalJobs (at) Thanks so much for listening! Best regards, Michelle P.S. Check out the videos on my YouTube Channel -> Here!

#9 - My Money Rant

I might be listening to a little too much Gary Vaynerchuk lately, because I started ranting (speaking passionately) about why I think we should all talk about money and finances. It’s fun to talk about your interests or the things in which you’re an expert, but it’s usually not fun to talk about finances. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it certainly buys you choices. You should be planning for your future. Don’t depend on Social Security - it may not be there when you’re old enough to use it, and when you are, it may buy you next to nothing. You also want to be stable in relationships! When you get older, if you end up in a partnership with kids and a house, you’ll want to have made better choices. In your 20’s, put $2,000 a year into a Roth IRA account. Because of compound interest, you’ll have much more money in your account when you reach retirement if you start when you’re 25 than if you start when you’re 35. Relationships: There are people who were already married or financed by their spouse, so they didn’t need a survival job. However, people do get divorced and relationships end… then what would you do? Also - you shouldn’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship for this support. Get out! Support yourself. It may not be cool, but pack your lunch.​ Your future self with thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode. Let me know what you think, what topics you're interested in learning more about & have a great day!! All the best, Michelle

#8 - SETC's - Auditions and More - an interview with Marci Duncan

I knew SETC’s (Southeastern Theatre Conference) as a great audition opportunity for college students, but I learned they have opportunities for actors at all stages of their career. Check out my conversation with Marci Duncan, the audition committee chair, as I get some insider info on how to prepare for and what to expect at the big spring auditions. Marci Duncan -Actor -Audition committee chair for SETC -Florida Theatre Conference Screening Coordinator -Professor at University of West Florida -One-on-one actor coach SETC is one of the largest theatre conferences around - and there are so many different opportunities there. SETC is for: -Professional actors (AEA, SAG/AFTRA) -Just starting out/recent college graduates -Current college students, looking for summer stock/graduation opportunities -Transfer auditions -Grad School prospective students -High School - looking for programs/getting experience/networking/workshops SETC also provides scholarships. -Go to the website and put “scholarships” in the search engine, and you’ll get the info. Workshops -Over 300 workshops during the conference. These are workshops for the actor, professor, musician, technical theatre, etc. QUESTION: I’m in college and looking for summer stock work or just about to graduate, how do I get to audition? -Go to SETC WEBSITE, click on the screening auditions. (If you’re in college, you’ll have to be screened before being sent on to the main conference in the spring). -Each state has a coordinating conference at which they do these screenings. BUT make sure you register on the SETC website and not that state’s website. -The screening auditions are in early fall, starting in October and ending in early December. You don’t have to wait long - notified immediately. QUESTION: What do I need to prepare? What should I expect? -Musical Theatre candidates: You can sing and you can do a monologue, and you have 90 seconds total. You can do just a song, or a song and a monologue. They encourage you to do both as most companies want to hear both. -SETC does NOT encourage a “sandwich audition” - sing, monologue, then sing. Accompanist provided. -Actor only: 60 seconds, choose one monologue. -The time starts with your name and audition number. If you choose to sing, the 90 second limit does not include the time you speak with your accompanist. For the screening auditions: -It’s basically a qualifier. There is no dance call; it’s just your audition. -In the spring at the official conference, it’s set up in the same way to the screening, but you will be called back by whoever wants to see you and if you are called for the dance call. For the main auditions: -You audition in a group, you leave with the same group and go to the holding room. Then you’ll be free to look in the callback room pending instructions. What opportunities/types of companies will be there and what material should I put forward? -Cruise Ships -Shakespeare Companies -Children’s Theatre -Professional Theatre -Repertory Companies -Regional Theatre Companies -All of the attending companies will be posted on SETC website TIP: Shape your audition for what you want to book – check out the attending company websites in advance. QUESTION: Should I change my package between qualifiers? -Wouldn’t recommend - it’s why you qualified. Look up the theatre companies attending. TIPS: -You need to be clear if you want to do musical theatre, straight plays, Shakespeare, or cruise line work. Be specific and tailor to it -List your true availability, especially if you’re in college. Only say you can work year-round if you can. - Make sure you look up who is attending - know who you’re auditioning for and what to prepare. Prepare for the callback. Bring your book - have backup pieces. You never know what a particular company will see you as. Be prepared - they may have you do cold readings. Practice that with your friends. Don’t change your outfit before callbacks - they’ll remember the first outfit. But do bring tennis shoes for running around during the day. Dance Call: At the dance call, they teach you a dance and you perform it in groups. There are three levels: -Actors who move -Intermediate (Contemporary etc.) -Tap Bring Dance attire, not sweats. SECRET! All the companies get together at the bar and they talk, so… Be nice to everyone. Don’t gripe or vent - you never know who’s listening. If I don’t make it and get passed on, what do I do? -Treat it like a learning experience. -Go to the workshops. -Network. -You can go to the conference without being signed up for the auditions. There are also Professional Fall auditions. -These are for people just starting out or have some professional credits and don’t need to be screened. This is in Atlanta - no conference around these. Just audition, callback, dance call. TIP: Another way to get involved and on the radar: Reach out to SETC Audition committee to see if there’s someone close to come to do a workshop. Remember it’s for the networking – make connections so you can reach out and get involved. Get internships, work for them. Also: You can still go and participate without auditioning. You can attend workshops and networking events as much as you like! If you want to speak more with Marci or are interested in working with her as a one-on-one coach, contact her at or email her at *End of Interview* Notes from Michelle - P.S. I forgot to mention you should bring (already put together) pictures and resumes to the auditions. The employers might ask for them at the callbacks. P.P.S. Here are some recommendations for a packing list: -Book (of music if you're a singer) -Copy of your monologue (just for practice) -Audition outfit & shoes -Hair &/or make-up items to freshen up (and pull back hair, if needed for dance audition) -Comfy shoes (to walk around in for the rest of the day) -Dance Clothes & shoes -Water & Healthy Snacks -Pictures & Resumes -Notebook and pen (for notes on seminars, networking, feedback & callbacks) -Phone & wallet P.P.P.S – Social links for SETC A HUGE thank you to Marci for sharing her time with my audience!!!

#7 - Actor Websites - An Interview with Tom Lapke from Two Cats Web Design

Actor Websites – An Interview with Tom Lapke – Two Cats Web Design Tom Lapke –
  • Actors Launchpad partnered with Reel Arc:
    • Programs classes, workshops, and social events linking up actors with agents, managers, CDs, industry professionals to help actors further their reels
    • Reel Arc: Produces reels. If you don’t have a lot of great footage yet, Interview you, then write, direct, produce scene that is indistinguishable from a TV show or movie for your demo reel.
    • Started Audition Update when he was an actor as a resource he needed himself. A few years later, it was purchased by Backstage. Worked at Backstage as Director of Education and Events after it bought audition update
    • Two Cats Web Design: A side hustle web design business, specializing in but not limited to websites for Actors
    • Tom works with CDs and managers every day, and the things they can’t say in front of actors he does.
  • Do actors need a website?
    • Everything is digital. Casting Directors look for these when they are considering you. When they don’t know you, they’ll Google you. You want to be in charge of what they see, so create it.
    • Why? SEO: One of the ways Google searches is part of the domain name, so you want your content to be what comes up first. You want to populate the internet with current information that is tagged to you and that supports your career and your type.
  • When you’re a professional, you’re starting a business. You’re the CEO, but what you’re selling is your art, and the same rules of business apply to you; any successful company controls their presence and their brand.
  • What should be on your website? (Must-haves):
    • Headshot (should have more than one)
    • Resume (read on the site AND downloadable)
    • Reel (video, or audio)
    • Contact Page (probably the most important thing
      • Contact form
      • Your contact information
      • Representation’s contact information
        • Some people don’t like contact forms - they want to see the email actually sent out.
        • TIP: Build in protection: put in contact information, take a picture of that, remove the text, then put in the image so bots scanning for spamming can’t grab it.
  SECURITY ALERT: Be very careful about what information you put out there: Get a Google Voice number that forwards directly to your phone. Don’t post pictures with your house number or nearby house numbers in them. Don’t do Facebook Live videos walking down your own street.  
  • Website can-haves:
    • If you’re a singer or voiceover artist, should have high-quality sound files/professional quality recorded videos of your voice
    • If you’re a model, have your modeling pics
  • Bio page (no one reads them)
    • How do you craft your unique personality without a bio?
    • Great headshots (your friend with a camera isn’t a photographer)
    • Great Reel
    • Great design elements on the website
  • Side Hustle: Don’t brand your side hustle on your actor website. They are separate and do not belong together.
  • Should you post regular, dated updates on my news?
    • Yes, as it shows you working. But, it’s a double edged sword - if it’s interesting and regular, it shows what you’re up to. If it’s not, it shows you don’t work. Keeps it current!
  • Should you spend money on a designer or self-design?
    • If you can do it, do! Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Wordpress.
  • What should you spend? How do you judge a quote?
    • For a 5 page website $500. Or less is reasonable
  • What are things actors should know in advance of talking with a designer?
    • Understand who you are and what you want your visuals to be.
    • Know that it’s utilitarian
  • Make sure your website is mobile optimized.
  • Recognize that you’re selling passively - there’s no “buy now” button. But - HAVE YOUR CONTACT INFO SO THEY CAN.
  • Don’t pay a retainer for a designer, just on an update basis.
  For more information, or to contact Tom Lapke check out Two Cats Web Design. A huge thank you to Tom for the great information!   Did you like this interview? Do you find the podcast helpful? Do you have a minute or two to write me a review? I’d so appreciate it! Thanks so much!  You rock! ~Michelle