Advice for actors: How to write an effective email
Each week, you are likely interacting with many entertainment industry professionals via email. Often, an email is your way to land that first meeting with an agent or grab the attention of a casting director. At 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, we urge our students to put some thought into their email writing habits and to follow certain guidelines. Here is some advice for actors on how to write an effective email:
- Write 7 lines or less.
When writing on a laptop, your final email — sans the greeting, any website links, and the closing — should be no longer than 7 lines. The shorter, the better! It can be broken into more than one paragraph but should have no more than 7 lines of text when read on a laptop or computer. Agents and casting directors receive hundreds of emails a day, and if your email is a 3 paragraph bio of your entire career history, it won’t be read.
- Acknowledge the recipient – and be specific.
Be sure to acknowledge the recipient of the email up front — and with specific information. If you’ve already met the recipient — perhaps at a networking event — you want to acknowledge how and where. And if the recipient has had a recent career success (do your research!) you want to acknowledge that, too.
Examples include: “I really enjoyed your interview at the LA Actors Tweetup last week and wanted to follow up about the possibility of setting up a meeting.” OR “Congratulations on being promoted to casting associate. Much deserved!” OR “Congrats on another successful season of Switched at Birth — I really admire your creative casting choices.” OR “How fantastic that your client is now playing Roxy Hart on Broadway. Congrats!”
- Get straight to the point.
Especially if you are asking for something. Agents and casting directors already assume that you are going to ask for something, and they certainly don’t want to dig through 3 paragraphs of life history to locate your request. So just be tactful, up front and precise with your request! Know what you are asking for — A specific audition? A meeting to discuss the possibility of working together? A referral? And don’t be afraid to ask.
- Add value to the recipient’s life.
Do this whenever you can. Not every email should be an “asking for something” email. A simple congratulatory email on a life or work milestone is a great gesture (see #2 above).
Thank you emails, in addition to thank you cards, are also great gestures. (link to article about TY notes – do we have one?)
Perhaps you’ve heard of a philanthropy event that a humanitarian-minded casting director friend would enjoy. Invite him/her to join you! Or maybe you have a top-notch actor friend that you think would fit your agent’s roster perfectly. Support your actor friend and your agent by making a referral!
- Communicate NEW information.
Be sure that you are sharing new information every time you reach out. This could be a trailer for your latest feature, or a link to Funny or Die video that you just did, or a fun production still from a recent TV role. You always want to have a reason to reach out. Something that demonstrates that you are out working and staying engaged in your community.
- Send simple, one-click links.
Send links that involve only require one click. No password protected links that require extra steps. If your demo reel is on a specific page of your website, send that page (vs. a link to your home page).
Also, be selective about which links you send. If you are submitting for representation, you’ll want to be a bit more comprehensive (e.g. send both your comedy and drama reels). However, if you are submitting to a casting director who only casts sitcoms, send comedy material that is specifically relevant.
Have an email footer, which includes a headshot thumbnail and contact info.
Be sure that your email footer includes your name, phone number, email address, website, and social media information. Also, include a thumbnail sized headshot of you just after your closing and above your footer. This way, the recipient can see your face right away when opening the email — and immediately recall who you are!
As you continue to reach out to your industry peers, remember that they are your peers — your equals — and you have a valuable service to offer: your talent! Casting directors and agents wouldn’t have jobs without actors. They need you just as much as you need them.