My Love Letter To The Actors’ Network (or Sorry Kevin, I Couldn’t Keep It Under 500 Words)

Today, The Actors’ Network will be closing their studio doors. TAN (as we members like to call it) has been around since 1991, and I’ve been a member since 2006. Kevin E. West, president and founder of TAN, asked the members to share a favorite story of something that happened at TAN to put on their blog. It was requested that our posts not be more than 500 words. I wanted to share some things, but couldn’t keep it under the word limit, so I’m putting it all out here.

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I first heard about TAN in 2004. I was at Loyola Marymount University¬†in my first semester of my senior year (I finished early so this was during the spring semester). I took a theater class called Performance Training 4 (I believe it now is called Career Development). This class was taught by a manager and his goal for the class was to prepare us for the real world of acting. So he took us all around town so we could meet casting directors, agents, managers, photographers, and actor organizations. TAN was one of the places that we went to, and I remember being very impressed by it from the first moment. However, after I graduated, I tried to have a “real” job. It wasn’t until I was laid off in 2006 that I decided to pursue my dream for real. And one of the first places I went to was TAN. I became a member in October 2006.

One of the first things I attended at TAN ended up changing my life. This is a long story, so sorry in advance.

It was in November or December of 2006. An editor from Backstage West was doing a focus group at TAN. Initially, I wasn’t going to go, but Kevin sent out an email asking for more people to attend. Since I wasn’t busy that day, I went. While in the focus group, a few of us suggested that they follow around actors that are trying to make it so they can share their stories with everyone else. While we loved reading about actors who are successful, they weren’t relatable. And the editors decided to follow me and four other actors around for a year and write monthly updates on what we had accomplished.

Backstage January Cover

That’s me in the blue on the front of the cover looking super short (and much thinner). I wasn’t paid for the articles I wrote, however I did get a free subscription to the magazine. And in August of 2007, I saw an ad for Halloween Horror Nights¬†auditions in one of those Backstage Wests. I went to the audition, booked it, and had an amazing time. I met some truly amazing people including one guy named Todd. He mentioned he had a great agent and that I should submit myself for representation. I did, and got a meeting. I brought my articles from the past year to that meeting, and based on those (and a great referral from my friend Todd), that agent decided to represent me. And I’m still with that agent (and super happy with her and the team that she has created).

I know it’s a long path, but if I never joined TAN, I wouldn’t have been in that focus group, I wouldn’t have been featured in Backstage West, I wouldn’t have seen the ad for Halloween Horror Nights, never would have met Todd, and I doubt that I would have met my agent or would have been offered representation. This is all due to TAN.

I’ve also met so many amazing people at TAN. Some of my best friends are people who I’ve met in various lectures there. I’ve also met some amazing casting directors there. And I know for a fact that there is one casting director who cast me because of seeing me at TAN and at least two casting directors who have brought me in for auditions because of TAN.

I’ve learned amazing things at TAN as well. My tricks for watching everything on TV or organizing my contacts and calendar come from things that I learned from Kevin.

And over the past 7 years, there have been times where I questioned if I was doing the right thing. I felt like I was right in my heart, but sometimes my head liked to disagree. And all I had to do was go to TAN and hear some great motivation from Kevin or one of the amazing guests and I felt like I could take on the world.

Outside of TAN, I have to say that Kevin has been a wonderful supporter of me. He made a quick appearance in the twitter documentary that I produced. He also was a guest on Inside Acting Podcast (I’m the production coordinator for the podcast). He has always cheered for me for my victories. And yesterday, when I went to say goodbye to the studio, he told me how much he enjoyed that I did 5Ks. I had no idea that he knew, but again, I love the support.

I’m sad that something that has been such an amazing part of my life is closing. It won’t be gone forever as the membership is now going to be 100% online with webinars, but I will miss going to the studio, seeing my friends, and leaving with amazing information.

So, thank you Kevin for creating such an incredible place. I’m so happy for you that you are going to be able to focus more on your acting career. After running TAN for 22 years, you deserve it! I hope you know how much TAN has meant to me. I know that I haven’t attended events lately as much as I would have liked (hazards of having an evening thrival job), but I still use information that I got from you from 2006. I know that I would not be the actress that I am today without TAN. It has taught me, motivated me, and made me a businesswoman instead of only an artist. I will forever be grateful for everything that you have done for me.

And I’m putting in the request again, Kevin, that we need to have the Holiday party still (or some other annual TAN gathering). That way, I’ll know that I will at least get to see you once a year.

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