Shannon Ratigan - SAG AFTRA - Character Actor - Musician
Booking Inquiries - Representation: Talent Plus (314) 421-9400
Working in Hollywood is all glamour. To prove it, here are a few stills from a few of my gigs:
*note* After this Picassa slideshow completes, clicking on it redirects you to their website.
I do think it's important that we take our craft seriously, but also that we be able to laugh at ourselves.
Learning to ride horseback early on in my career led to many auditions and bookings I never would have gotten
otherwise. Delevoping new hobbies or abilities looks good on your resume, and it makes you more marketable.
Check out my starving actor blog. Lots of helpful hints, ideas, suggestions, stories, and acting biz humor.
My latest post is on doing self taped auditions, since I've been getting more & more the last 2 years.
The blog never got very much traffic, and I felt I could reach more of my peers by writing a book
about acting. So, I spent a couple of years writing one. Scroll your way down there for the link.
Like many others, I'm not into gouging actors in order to help out, so the price is 5 bucks.
Back in the early 80's I was interviewed by a local newscast. My agent saw it and said, "You should
have a starving actor t-shirt on when you appear on TV like that!" I never actually did it, but we
audition, go to callbacks for free, and only get paid if we book work work, so I kind of liked it.
I kept the name for my blog, and as a Twitter handle so I would always remember my roots.
I played a Romulan Officer on Star Trek 3 times. 17 years later, I was sent these playing cards with myself on them.
(It's pretty easy to be a pissed off looking alien, when your face is all glued together for 12 hours.)
A few clips from my old actor demo reel. Actually, they shouldn't be more than 3 to 4 minutes in length, so it's
a bit too long. I added a few other things on there, just for fun. Check out the pie in the face gag at the end.
Check out my Twitter Feed, @Starving_Actor for a few audition tips, & bits of acting biz humor in 140 character nuggets.
Auditioning for commercials is a unique art form. Theatrical training doesn't help very much. There's not enough time.
We have to convey a strong emotion, reaction, or expression in seconds...kind of like on Twitter.
When I got to LA I wanted to do films and TV like everyone else. I ended up booking a number of commercials during my 1st year there,
and right away I became "typecast" as a "commercial" actor. Which was okay, I was on TV all day long playing various roles. I got to
be pretty good at auditioning, and booked my fair share consistently. It's not like we can pick and choose roles at the working class
level. Just auditioning well, and booking work is hard enough. Doing the actual acting job seems like a reward after all of that. But
it did hurt my theatrical career. Honestly, I didn't mind because commercials pay the bills much better than movies or TV
until you get above that "earning union scale" level. Don't think I didn't try constantly, and never gave up...
but the town kind of chooses who you are, and where you fit in. I learned to just roll with it.
Some of my friends fought against that, and hated commercial auditions. They lasted less than a year and went back to the mid-west.
In some respects Hollywood is a very small town. The casting directors get to know you, and your reputation as an actor
very quickly, so it's critical to take every audition seriously, and be professional all the time.
Need some advice on getting rejected? Just ask, I'm here for you. Anyway, here's my Internet Movie Data Base page.
I'm #1,673,592 on the star meter...really moving on up there. Was in a few films, & the Tonight Show a few times.
Here's one of my earlier commercials from back in 1986. They wanted "over the top", and that's what they got.
Every time it came on TV, I would have to dive across the room for the remote, and hit the mute button.
I didn't really like this headshot of me. But my agent picked it, and they are the ones who submit photos to
casting directors for auditions. Often how we see ourselves is a mistake. This headshot got me a LOT of jobs.
My Acting Book is $5. "An Actors Face, Audition, Casting Advice, And Anecdotes From A Working Actor"
You can't always judge a book by it's jpeg, but you can read a few chapters free with Kindle's "Look Inside" feature.
I started in the early 1980's, and like many other actors breaking into the business, I got taken advantage of by
people looking to live off actor's dollars. Everything from agents overcharging to register me as a client, to paying
too much for photographers - headshots, and casting directors making ends meet by pushing their workshops
and showcases. Unfortunately, a lot of this kind of thing still goes on. Most of the casting directors and agents
out there are honest people who know the realities of an actor's life. Many of them were actors once themselves.
It's only a select few who give a bad name to many of the rest. There are no real shortcuts in this business, we all
start at the bottom doing things like nonunion extra work, commercials for a $100 buy outs, and community theater.
We all have to start with nonunion talent agents, and many just live off actor registration fees. You have to ask
around, and do some research to find the honest ones who will actually try to get you work in your area.
When you hear about casting events claiming they might get you discovered by big casting directors for movies,
TV, and modeling - the industry just doesn't work that way. For the most part, they are preying on people's dreams.
The same holds true with many of these casting websites that come along. It can be confusing trying to find the
legitimate ones. One of the sad things about reality shows, is that many people are now convinced they can start
at the top, & become famous right away. Perhaps a select few catch a break, but reality shows are not acting.
Acting is a craft that takes years of training, and hard work to even have a chance at working, or success.
Lots of people now are selling, "How to earn a living as a working actor" classes or books that have never earned a
living as a working actor. Something to keep in mind. Check them on IMDb & Google. We didn't have that in the 90's.
Going to LA or NYC without a good number of credits, and not being a Screen Actor's Guild member yet, is a mistake.
You're going to be competing with the very best in the world for every role. And getting a SAG franchised agent is next
to impossible unless you are SAG or VERY lucky. The agent only gets 10% commission IF their client books work.
So they are very selective, and only want to sign actors they think will land jobs. Every audition you go on is a
reflection on the agent, and casting director's reputation. So professional actors are all they're interested in.
People can say watever they want in the online world, but if you are serious, you have to go live where the work
is, in Los Angeles. For the most part, LA casting directors don't cast out of state. And one thing will always be
true, you will always have to audition, in person, no matter how much work you've done. At one point, I had
over 10 national commercials running. It didn't matter, the CD's and clients still want to see you audition.
You might be able to peck out a job here and there, but without a reputable SAG agent it's very difficult. Going out
there too soon is also a mistake. I know many actors who had only one SAG credit, and joined the union before they
were ready, and/or had enough screen credits. They ended up going back home with their dreams crushed in a year.
There are around 240,000 SAG AFTRA union actors. Only 5% of them earn more than $5000 a year.
My hope is that if you drop the 5 bucks on my book, it will help to avoid some of the scam artists I fell prey to.
I made lots of mistakes I learned tough lessons from. Maybe I can help you avoid a few, and even entertain
you along the way with my adventures, misadventures, possibly save you some heartache, and a few bucks.
My book is over 240 pages of practical advice, casting, and auditioning tips for actors who want to book more work.
Also for actors who are making the move to New York, or Hollywood, to pursue their dream as an actor wherever
you are, as well as for people, young or old, who are thinking about breaking into the acting business.
My wife painted the watercolor shown on the book cover. It's meant to show the various emotions,
feelings, characters, colors, patterns, and textures that we, as actors, are asked to portray.
It seemed better than just sticking my face on there. Plus, she has stuff on me...
I always found that the actual "acting" part was fun. It was booking the job that was hard. At the end of the day,
earning a living as an actor boils down to 1 thing: winning the job. I think my experiences will help increase
your odds, make you a bit more prepared, and give you the best possible chance to get hired.
Here's the link to the Amazon Kindle Book Store. Or, search on the title: "An Actors Face". $5 on Kindle or Nook.
Review of "An Actor's Face"
Who among us hasn't wondered what it's like to be an actor? Shannon Ratigan thoroughly answers that question in "An Actor's Face."
It's a "must read" for anyone (young or old) considering acting as a career, as Ratigan gives solid advice regarding auditions,
obtaining an agent, work ethic, and professionalism. But we're all fascinated with show business, and anyone can pick up this
engaging book and experience numerous "I didn't know that!" moments. While Ratigan mentions a few of the "big names" who
were a pleasure to work with, he refrains from turning this into a "tell all" with complaints about those who may not have been
so nice. That's called "professionalism," and I really respect that. You won't regret buying Shannon Ratigan's "An Actor's Face."
I highly recommend it. -- William A.
I may have been a blue man before the Blue Man Group. (On the left.) That amount of makeup, & medical glue is punishing.
I earned a living for 2 decades as an actor, so I have a lot to share. In the process of writing it,
I was surprised how much you share about yourself when you write a book, whether you intend to or not.
I wanted to price my book at $10 or more, because I put a lot of time and work into it. I chose to price it low,
because I would rather you had the extra money for more important things, like good headshots. There are a lot of
"slightly' overpriced acting books out there. My intent is to inform, prepare, educate, and explain the realities.
I hope that one day, you will do the same thing, and help other actors along. I think reading all the books you can
by acting teachers, casting directors, actors, and anyone else who has extensive experience on the front lines is
a good idea. That's where it really means something. Make yourself as well informed as you possibly can.
This is a tough line of work to get into, and even being a starving actor IS expensive,
If you choose to purchase my book, thanks in advance for helping out. I really appreciate it.
If it helps just one person from making some of the mistakes I did, then it was worth the effort.
At least read my blog post, "The Emptiness of Success". You may wonder why so many actors & artists turn to depression,
substance abuse or worse. I went through it myself. I could never understand when I had levels of success, why I would
become so down afterwards. It took me 10 years to figure it out. Read my blog post whatever career field you are in.
Stand Up Comedy as Auditioning & Acting Training
One of my actor friends said to me one time the most terrified he ever was in show business, was on stage doing stand up
comedy at an open mic night. I'd say that's pretty accurate. But after a few times you get used to it. Just keep writing, working
on comic timing, delivery, and the unexpected. This helps out a lot when auditioning for commercials, film, and TV.
I started doing stand up in 1985. I never really wanted to be a comedian, I just wanted to be an actor that could do comedy.
Most comics develop a set, and polish it. I wrote a new routine every week, sometimes it went well, other times I got booed.
This one night in 1992 they had a stand up contest at this little club in the Valley. The audio for it is below. It's nothing but
a bunch of laughing, and me being acknowledged at the end. But, it's a night that was a little near and dear to my heart.
Usually I did a regular string of jokes like everyone else, but this week it was a 5 minute set where I never uttered a word.
I did a silent physical comedy homage to Charlie Chaplin and the like. I was shocked how well it won over a hostile crowd that
was there to support their friends. Anyway, I used a big easel, and had a huge note pad with the joke set ups written on them.
Each gag was about 20 seconds. It started out with a chuckle here and there, and then it built up to a pretty good night.
I would act it out, and flip the page to the next one. I brought along this boombox, and had Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing,
Sing" playing during the whole routine. Having it playing in the background was the glue. I used one of those pocket cassette
voice recorders to tape the set, and would just hit the play button at my table when my name was called. I did this each week,
so I could review my performance, find the things I could improve on, screwed up, and sometimes did well. Most comics do this.
It took about a minute to win over the crowd, but I did, and the emcee did me a solid by mentioning my name at the end, and
letting everyone know I did a new routine each week. Then he got my name wrong. Numbskull. Anyway, There was $250 to
split for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. I came in 4th. Pretty much the story of my life. Even though I did well, I kind of slumped out of
there and headed to my car. A talent scout for a comedy show followed me out, asked me to come down and audition for
his show the next day. I worked for them 3 times, and got paid very nicely. I guess I did win that night after all. Sometimes
you never know when you will get a break in this nutty business. The show was, "America's Funniest People". And that led
to a few other shows later on. I wish they had video cameras in the clubs back then, but they didn't. They probably
would have charged for it anyway. Here's the audio mp3 of my silent stand up set.
It is important to get good acting training and/or coaching, but improv, and stand up rounds out your skills.
Learning to be fast on your feet can book you a lot of gigs. Auditioning is your job. The job's the reward.
Read my blog post about doing stand up comedy as acting lessons. It may help you with timing, etc.
Follow your heart, and your dreams. And, try to keep a temporary day job. If I had a callback, and the boss
wouldn't let me get off work for it...I was out of there. I could always get another "get by" job.
Be your agent's "go to" actor. Offer to do rush calls. Never miss auditions, or be late for one.
Acting And Doing Stunt Work.
A 1 minute scene I did in the JFK Conspiracy. The only thing more creepy than getting capped in an acting job, is James Earl Jones
narrating it while it's happening. It seemed like no big deal wearing squibs, and being shot 3 times with blanks from a .38
I'd done a variety of stunt work to land certain roles, so it was just another job. I had "light stunt work" on my resume, and
it did open up a few more jobs to me, but I took some risks doing it. Back in 1992 when this was filmed, squibs hurt like hell,
That's why my arms flew up in the shot. They tape a 5" square of aluminum to your chest, put the explosive charge and
blood pouch over it. Then 2 thin wires run down your shirt and pants, leading out to a fat guy off camera with a plunger.
I felt like I was Wile E. Coyote hooking up with ACME. A few weeks after this JFK docu-drama wrapped in 1993,
Brandon Lee was killed with blanks while filming "The Crow". I left this kind of work to stuntmen after that.
This photo got me in a lot of doors...and I prompty got thrown out of a lot of them. (I'm kidding!)
I noticed that during the 90's there was a need for generic looking maintenance men, mechanics, and workmen.
This 3/4 shot was very effective getting auditions for those types of roles in commercials, TV, and films.
I was typecast in these kinds of roles, but I worked a lot, and it all pays the same - glamour, or not.
Something to consider, is looking for areas where you can find a niche in the casting field. Often, it's
not about the actor, it's helping to move the story along, or about the product. Especially in commercials.
I think it's a good idea to put up an actor profile at ActorsAccess.com NowCasting.com and CastingFrontier.com Basic profile
memberships are free. (As of 1/13 anyway.) There are a few others as well. Keep an eye out for new ones that come along that
seem promising. (That don't charge a fee, or a nominal one.) Many of my Los Angeles friends use CastingNetworks.com and
BackStageWest. If you are out in LA, it may be worth the monthly fee for you to be on them. Having a good online presence
is important these days. Most of these sites are about $10 a month. Talk to other actors about it. Pick and choose wisely.
It's pretty easy to research things these days. Be wary of hustles, and scams. You should never have to pay to meet a
casting director, or an agent. Period. Try to get your own actor website up as well, with a video slate or demo reel.
If you are out in NYC, or LA, it may be worth the extra fee to upgrade to the next levels of service. Then you can upload
your demo reel, submit for castings, and etc. Most of them have an upcharge for that. Almost all the casting directors
check out actors auditioning for them on the IMDb.com website now. If you have the credits, and can afford the IMDb
Pro level monthly charge, it looks pretty good. The basic free level lists your name and credits only.
Depending on where you live, some casting websites may be used more than others by the CD's in your area. For example,
In the United Kingdom, many use spotlight.com - So ask around a bit and see what sites are best suited for you.
Be sure to look into resources like The SAG Foundation, SAG Conservatory, iActor, The Actor's Fund, & Actor's Info Booth.
Many casting directors are kind enough to post helpful articles in places like the BackStage.com - Check a few out.
It must be nice to be able to pick and choose roles. I never turned down or missed an audition when my agent called me.
I didn't want to be one of the Marlboro Men on a billboard, but that's what happened. Often other countries come
over here to produce and cast jobs. Do I turn it down and possibly have my agent think of another actor for
the next one? Or try and pay the bills for a few months. I didn't like it, but I did them.
Here's another oldie goldie: A Pattex German Glue Commercial from 1986
Pattex: It stops a Peterbilt semi in it's tracks. A German glue commercial foreign buy-out. Sorry, video quality is not so good.
It's better if you leave the window minimized. It's hard to get copies of out of country commercials. I should have tried harder
to get copies of my work during my career, but my focus at the time was on getting that next audition. The pay is pretty good
on these though. Got to drive a new Peterbilt 18 wheeler around the dealer lot as a bonus - THAT was fun. What they did was
use some motor oil under the tires to get them spinning, & then a smoke machine. It still felt like I was burning rubber
though. It did draw quite a crowd. During the first few years of my acting career, I had more commercials running in
Europe and South America than I did in the USA!
One of the most intense show business related jobs I ever had, was a year hosting a talk radio show. It was on the weekends,
and was only for 2 hours. But at the end of the show I would be covered with sweat, exausted, and it would take me 3 to 4
hours just to wind down from it. Crazy hard. Harder than live TV or stage where there are no second takes. There was a lot
more to it than just being an on air personality. I ran the soundboard, screened calls, had guests, recorded commercials,
on and on. The rest of the week was recording voiceover commercials, doing show prep. and trying to sell advertising.
I had no idea how hard people have to work in talk radio. But honestly, I did love the challenge, and I do miss it.
SAG AFTRA Representation: Talent Plus
Talent & Entertainment Agency
St. Louis, MO. (314) 421-9400