I don’t know if your Instagram feed has been bombarded by your actor friends from literally all over the world posting auditions with #selftapemay, but mine sure has… And I had to see what the hype was all about so I tried it myself.
So, seriously, WTF is SELF TAPE MAY?
Self Tape May all started with beloved character actress and industry podcast queen Audrey Moore and her podcast AudreyHelpsActors where each week she invites industry professionals to chat and help her demystify all aspects of the acting profession. If that sounds boring to you… wellll, this article is clearly not for you. You’ve been lovely, g’bye. If this sounds like the most revolutionary act of sheer amazingness, then you are my people and I am here for you… all of you.
There are so many ways to try to crack into the business of acting. Maybe you are a unicorn. Maybe you turn heads in every room you walk into. Maybe you were a child on vacation with your parents and a big shot agent crossed the room to tell your parent’s that you ‘oughta be in pictures’. And in that case, god bless, I am not you. I fell in love with acting as a kid in high school doing terrible (but epic) musicals… some time ask me about how I played Erzulie in Once on this Island, a freaking gorgeous show meant to be performed by roughly 8 black performers in a production of 30 mostly white kids. I took the leap and got myself in to a college theater program. It was hard. It was beautiful. It was toxic and soul crushing. But I made it through and immediately moved to Los Angeles with my fresh BA, my Shakespeare Lexicon, and I. DID. EVERY. THING. WRONG. And you’re probably incredulously thinking, “Everything?”… but yes. I did everything wrong.
The thing about most levels of the acting industry, is that it is opaque. Actors tell each other myths and rumors. Coaches solidify them and/or tell other complete lies. We walk around as these emotional, fragile egos believing anything and everything that is said to us that feels true. We get in our own way and we do things that sabotage our fledgling careers. That is where the goddess of good information, Audrey Moore, comes in.
During the pandemic, I discovered her podcast, but who knows how much more prepared to navigate my career I would have been, if I had found it earlier. Like in 2017 when she started it… or really, if we could have invented time travel for humans or digital media and I could have always had her juicy truth nuggets. The discussions had on it are life affirming. Each subject is so real and useful. Budgeting, Union vs Non Union (spoiler… Union), survival jobs, how to spot a bad agent. She did an entire Instagram video on packing for vacation when you may have a surprise remote audition. I think I watched it three times.
Anyhoo, back to my subject SELF TAPE MAY. Even pre-pandemic, a lot of auditions were becoming self tapes. Now it’s the standard. Some people hate it, some people love it. Full disclosure, I love it. I do love being in the room with people, but as an actor I allowed myself to be thrown by traffic, by finding parking, by locating the proper room, when my focus should have just been the thing that I love doing… the gift of the ability to PLAY and have fun with the sides. But like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it. So Audrey via her podcast started The SELF TAPE MAY challenge. It is simple; sign up on the website, so you can be counted, do 16 self tapes and upload them to Instagram, and bask in your own persistence at getting it done. And it doesn’t cost anything. That phrase feels so foreign in association with acting, because at every turn in this business, people are shaking actors down for money. True story.
Now I was tangentially aware of this self tape phenomena because, well, I’m an actor in LA and we hear things. Did I NOT tell you about our penchant for gossip and information spreading to each other (factual or un)? However, I had never done it. Easy I thought, 16, that’s like one every other day. Well, then life happens. I didn’t get anything in the can until we were solidly into week 2 of the month. And then I honestly thought there was a-whole-nother week in the month of May. 31 days you say? Odd. As it shook out, I ended up 9 self tapes short on May 31st.
But I am not a quitter. And I really don’t like to lose. Especially to myself. So I blocked out the day, grabbed as many sides as I could. Begged girlfriends’ for their under-fives. One phenomal friend of mine no lie hopped off a plane and sent me screen shots of a couple co-stars as soon as she got home that day. And I freaking did it. I started after preschool drop-off, took a break to pick up/feed/entertain/bathe/ and bed that kid, and then I knocked out the last three. I finished my last upload just after 11 pm and my dopamine levels were off the charts.
Throughout the day, as the wheels started churning and the memorization muscles were working, something beautiful happened. All of the reasons that this challenge was great for me became crystal. It forced me to pivot. I ignited my confidence. It streamlined my process. I trusted that memorization is a strength of mine, so no time to stress over that. It encouraged me to make choices and commit to them. And I felt them get more interesting as they went on, I took more chances. I reveled in the community of beautiful, unique, passionate artists who were doing good work. Often times our focus is so inward that it is easy to forget that there are other people on the same journey as you. And my heart grew three sizes that day…
Seriously, though, if you are an actor I would encourage you to both participate in the next SELF TAPE MAY and listen to AudreyHelpsActors Podcast. (available where ever you listen to true crime… oh, wait, is that just me?… podcasts. Wherever you listen to podcasts.) And while you’re at it, comment on someone you don’t know’s tape. Share the love.
This year was sponsored by Castibility, WeAudition, and Casting Networks. I feel obligated to say that, even though, this is not sponsored content. No one paid me to say this… although I am fully willing to remove this sentence if anyone wants to retroactively do so.
Okay, thanks, Bye!