Actors' Network History
For over 20 years the Actors' Network has been the leading actor education organization in the United States. Read below to read about how we got started, a little bit of press, and some of the underlying philosophy or our organization.
First of all, welcome. Welcome to my home, now your home. May you find the experience positive, fulfilling, and helpful. I conceived of The Actors' Network out of a dream, literally. I sat straight up in bed at four o' clock in the morning and could not sleep for the rest of the night. I quickly grabbed a tablet and started scribbling down ideas. Of course, as the old expression goes, "Hell is paved with good intentions." In my four years then and many more now, I've seen a lot of talented people with a lot of good intentions. I've seen a lot of excited people with a lot of good ideas. The reality is, it takes more than good ideas, talent, energy, hard work, persistence and luck to be successful. It takes them all. As with my career, your career or The Actors' Network, success cannot be achieved without consistent attention and focus.
Whether youre sacrificing a tough relationship, a weekend trip or being popular amongst your pals, sacrifice is necessary to succeed in this business. You will not find one successful person in this world who hasn't left at least a short trail of disappointed people in their wake. Your dream is only your dream, most others cannot conceive it or believe in it, it is yours. If it burns strong enough inside of you, you'll have to follow it, no matter where it leads.
I have a dream.
In 1987 I drove across the state line full of vigor, spunk, fire and gumption in a beat up Chevy Citation. There wasn't a place called, The Actors' Network, to help me out. There were, and still are, a lot of books on the shelf that supposedly tell you what to do, but they really don't. I learned about Hollywood through effort, mistakes and other actor experiences. One of the main reasons I have been driven to build The Actors' Network is because of one very old cliché: "Learn from the mistakes of others, you don't have time to make them all yourself." If any of the mistakes I've made can help you, then I have succeeded in my dream. If the experience of a fellow actor can save you time and money, then The Actors Network has succeeded. Hollywood can be a terribly painful place. The product is a human being. It is you, me, your best friend, your spouse or even your parent. We constantly fight the insensitivity of those on the other side of the camera. For those who choose to pursue the dream we are here for you. Its not about judging what someone else does or doesn't do for a living. It is about loving who we are and what we strive to become. I hope The Actors' Network helps each member steer clear of at least one bad experience, helps another member find the courage to take charge of their life, or yet another to realize that maybe this isn't what they really want. We can assist in lifting each other above the Hollywood sign and proclaim, "Yes, yes I made it, I beat the odds!," and still climb down from that sign as humble as we were before.
Patience, humility, mutual respect, a friendly ear and a sincere purpose will go far no matter what your life's pursuit. I've come to realize the real challenge in Hollywood is to know that being a good person on the planet really does matter. Trust me, it does. After all, were human and no one gets out of here alive. It is the art that keeps most of us going. It's that rare opportunity to go deep inside ourselves and touch a place so special that it touches others ...and changes their lives. Remember successful people do all the things that unsuccessful people don't want to do.
Cheers to You,
Kevin E. West - President/Founder
Back Stage West Origins article
Interview with Founder/President Kevin E. West
By Jackie Apodaca
Senior Columnist, Back Stage Newspapers
Why would a working actor like Kevin E. West bother founding an organization with the longest running performer's business curriculum in the history of the United States? Why would he and his Vice President, talent manager Paulo Andrés, share what they know about the entertainment industry, stealing time from their own careers to educate others?
"I had a dream," Kevin says, from behind a desk cluttered with all matter of acting business paraphernalia, "and I'm not joking. I woke up in my little apartment on Laurel Canyon, rolled over, pulled out a notebook, and began writing down possibilities." West's dream was a response to the frustration and depression he saw in fellow performers, struggling to make careers in the sometimes-brutal city of Los Angeles. He had seen only too clearly the common actors' dilemma of balancing life with career. "Being an "actor" can mean fifty different things," he says, "and the fact is that actors face no immediate consequences for "not showing up" every day if they have no current acting work." Without traditional job parameters, West saw a debilitating lack of focus on the part of many of his peers, which he thought he might help rectify.
"I didn't start this as a business," he explains, "I did it because there were a lot of scenarios I was encountering that were not written about. There are so many permeations and combinations (in our profession), so many possibilities on a daily basis, and I just didn't understand why people didn't discuss them more. I couldn't believe that actors were not more useful to one another. We are so powerful when we share knowledge, encounters, and experiences."
The Actors Network provides a forum for such help, with actors learning from one another's mistakes and successes. Instead of going it alone, members benefit from the camaraderie of a genuine network. "It's ongoing," says West, "It's a family, a neighborhood, a community... and it's a personal trainer in terms of how to manage the information, the opportunities, the quagmires, the problems, and the scenarios actors encounter in Hollywood on a daily basis." Instead of wrestling with bits and pieces of information alone in their apartments, members gather together to share war stories and ideas, and perhaps most importantly, find a needed shift in perspective.
Asked to distill the purpose of the Actors Network down into one sentence, West whistles skeptically. But after sitting with the question for a moment, his answer couldn't be more lucid.
"(The purpose of The Actors' Network) is to help you really understand what it is to be an actor in Los Angeles and to give you the tools you need to have a fighting chance to become a working professional," he says quietly. "The rest is up to you..."
Acting Is Everything Excerpt
(The following excerpt is from Acting is Everything - An Actor's Guidebook For a Successful Career in Los Angeles, by Judy Kerr.)
This is the organization for actors who are really serious about getting work in this industry. I tell all of my students, as do many other action coaches in town, to join. It is the best show biz bargain in existence.
Actors Kevin E. West and Paulo Andrés are making the effort to build a true acting community in our spread-out, industry-driven town. This is not an acting school, it is a group of information-sharing, working actors interested in the business side of their careers. They share trade publications, job leads, resources, tips, scams they've run across and general moral support and encouragement.
Their resource library is vast. Most actors could not afford to own all the books and guides here, and they are certainly not available at the public libraries. They teach how to use these resources to make effective submissions for jobs.
The Network invites unpaid industry guests, including casting directors, agents, producers, and acting coaches, to come in each month for Q&A sessions. They have no problem filling in these spots with top people, proof of how respected and well thought of they are in the industry. They have activities such as improv workouts, cold reading work-outs, demo reel review nights. The members sign up for these events. Talking to some of my students, they say the competition is tough to get in; you have to be there to sign up soon after events are announced.
The Actors' Network offers free orientation meetings three times a month for actors to come in and listen to what they do. It is two hours of what can be overwhelming information.
TAN 10 Commandments
- Be proud of who you are, and what you do.
- Persistence, motivated by passion is omnipotent.
- Those who bring sunshine to others cannot keep it from themselves.
- Knowledge is POWER...period!
- Concern yourself with the effort and the result will take care of itself.
- You are responsible to YOU. Do not rely on others, for no one will ever care more about your career than YOU!
- An organized and educated actor will create more opportunities and be more prepared for them.
- You have the right to apply for any job directly to the potential employer.
- The daily pursuit of your career is not a chore, but a chosen love. If it is not, please do something else.
- Only one person gets hired, if its not you, it may as well be someone you know and respect.