The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide

The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide

Jenna Fischer’s Hollywood journey began at the age of 22 when she moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of St. Louis. With a theater degree in hand, she was certain everything would fall easily into place. Never mind that she didn’t know a single person in the entertainment industry. She was determined, she was confident, she was ready to work hard. So, what could go wron...

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Title:The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide
Author:Jenna Fischer
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The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide Reviews

  • Joey

    Jenna Fischer's The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide provides wonderful insight into a world that many aspire to be part of, but few have the drive, determination, and luck to make it in.

    It took Jenna eight grueling years before she landed her polarizing role of Pam Beasley. The thing that most successful actors all share in common is luck! What is luck and how do you attain it?

    If you want to be a professional actor, it is important that you live in LA or New York. About 20% of SAG actors' annual

    Jenna Fischer's The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide provides wonderful insight into a world that many aspire to be part of, but few have the drive, determination, and luck to make it in.

    It took Jenna eight grueling years before she landed her polarizing role of Pam Beasley. The thing that most successful actors all share in common is luck! What is luck and how do you attain it?

    If you want to be a professional actor, it is important that you live in LA or New York. About 20% of SAG actors' annual gross income goes to agent and manager commissions. Fischer spent $8,000 of her "nest egg" in just her first six months after moving to LA.

    In order to be a successful actor, it is important to be a good liar, have a professional headshot that exemplifies who you are, and have proper representation to land auditions.

    "Gone are the days of buying stamps and mailing audition submissions. Today we have the internet. No more post office." (69)

    Making "your own luck" requires making the type of choices that put you in the right place at the right time.

    Practice and the ability to move forward after countless rejections is easier said than done.

    Fischer's background knowledge on set etiquette is invaluable. It was fascinating to discover that Fisher always brings "a nude bra, black bra, nude undies, black undies, and a thong" (140) and has a no nudity clause in her SAG contract. It is also a good idea to bring a few pairs of your own shoes and a favorite pair of jeans.

    John C. Reilly gave Jenna his penis pouch as a wrap gift at the end of the movie Walk Hard. What a guy!

    It is interesting to note that Fischer never mentions her indie film, LolliLove by name, though describes her experience making it briefly in three paragraphs (192-193). Her ex-husband, James Gunn, is mentioned by name only once in a photo caption and her current husband, Lee Kirk, was James' brother, Sean Gunn's first manager.

    "The single best thing an actor can do, both professionally and personally, is to create their own work." (190)

    A $200 pilot episode shot with a single camera was picked up and became the extremely successful and hilarious show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

    "Every project you finish has value." (194)

  • Candice

    This book is up there with Tina Fey's Bossypants. What I appreciate about Jenna Fischer is the way she looks out for those up and comers who don't have "connections" in NY, LA or Chicago. This is a great read for aspiring actors but also for those who love television, film and pop culture. I love reading about the ins and outs of the entertainment industry. Bottom line: Jenna says you can make it with lots of hard work, patience, and determination as long as you stay teachable and be sure to cre

    This book is up there with Tina Fey's Bossypants. What I appreciate about Jenna Fischer is the way she looks out for those up and comers who don't have "connections" in NY, LA or Chicago. This is a great read for aspiring actors but also for those who love television, film and pop culture. I love reading about the ins and outs of the entertainment industry. Bottom line: Jenna says you can make it with lots of hard work, patience, and determination as long as you stay teachable and be sure to create your own stuff along the way!

    Oh, hey! BTW! Aren't you proud of me...? I read a book! LOL I've been reading only social work textbooks for the past year as I get my MSW...now as I near the end of my last class I'm able to read books again ;-) stay tuned for more soon! :)

  • Miatta

    This book is basically an actors textbook. Please, please, please know this. It was perfect for me cause, hey, I'm an actor. Jenna has been giving out amazing information like this for years, via blog posts and podcasts, and I have been waiting for her to publish it.

    But if you aren't an actor and/or have no interest in being an actor and/or have no interest in the art/business/mechanics of acting...it's not gonna be for you. This is not about the celebrity aspect of acting. Or even Jenna's biog

    This book is basically an actors textbook. Please, please, please know this. It was perfect for me cause, hey, I'm an actor. Jenna has been giving out amazing information like this for years, via blog posts and podcasts, and I have been waiting for her to publish it.

    But if you aren't an actor and/or have no interest in being an actor and/or have no interest in the art/business/mechanics of acting...it's not gonna be for you. This is not about the celebrity aspect of acting. Or even Jenna's biography, really. While parts of her life story end up in the pages, by and large this book is a guide for people wanting to act in Los Angeles. And before this book ends up with tons of unhappy reviews based on expectations, rather than on the actual content, I want to let everyone know that right now.

    For the book itself, its great. Again, I had read a lot of her information on the interwebs already, so nothing was super super new. Also, if you have been acting for a while and living in LA for a while, then this also might be nothing new. But it is always nice to read about another successful actors journey and the tactics they used. And Jenna is one of the very, very few actors who will actually talk about the hustle and how much work they had to put in to succeed. Very often PR firms advise their actors to act as if they moved to LA and POOF! Fame! And that's just not how it works. And it is advice like that that keeps thousands of hopefuls moving to town and thousands of dejected souls moving back home. Jenna wants people to know that, yeah, this shit can be really hard, but also, if its what you are meant to do, so so so worth it.

  • John Lamb

    Being an actor is not something I ever wanted to pursue, so I am not the intended audience for this book, but I still loved learning about the behind-the-scenes details of trying to make a profession out of acting.

  • Lauren

    This was a surprise! I’m not an actor. I don’t really know any actors. I would actively discourage anyone I knew from becoming an actor. And yet, I really enjoyed this.

    Fischer tells the story of of her own Hollywood journey while giving advice and behind-the-scenes information all the while. It was a great mix of personal info and general info. I loved hearing about the complex processes behind auditions, networking, and seeking management. Her advice is reasonable and she adorable. Like most a

    This was a surprise! I’m not an actor. I don’t really know any actors. I would actively discourage anyone I knew from becoming an actor. And yet, I really enjoyed this.

    Fischer tells the story of of her own Hollywood journey while giving advice and behind-the-scenes information all the while. It was a great mix of personal info and general info. I loved hearing about the complex processes behind auditions, networking, and seeking management. Her advice is reasonable and she adorable. Like most actors, she rocked the audio as well.

  • Deb

    I'm between 3 and 4 stars but rounding up because I read it as a Jenna Fischer fan and not an aspiring actor--the audience it is intended for.

    I adore Jenna Fischer and I knew going in it was mainly a book about career advice for beginning actors. I loved her stories about her start, missteps, The Office, etc. and didn't mind the advice pieces for the most part.

    I actually listened to the audio book and since it was Jenna narrating, it was as charming and funny as she is.🤗I'm going to need to fi

    I'm between 3 and 4 stars but rounding up because I read it as a Jenna Fischer fan and not an aspiring actor--the audience it is intended for.

    I adore Jenna Fischer and I knew going in it was mainly a book about career advice for beginning actors. I loved her stories about her start, missteps, The Office, etc. and didn't mind the advice pieces for the most part.

    I actually listened to the audio book and since it was Jenna narrating, it was as charming and funny as she is.🤗I'm going to need to find the pictures to see her bad headshots though--my library audiobook didn't have the download.

  • Shelby

    I love Jenna Fischer! I only picked this book up because I love her so much, so, obviously, none of the information pertained to me. However, she writes beautifully and conversationally without condescending to you. If you were an aspiring actor, this would be the book for you!

  • Valerity (Val)

    This is written by Jenna Fischer who played on the hit show "Office" for years. I was hooked on that show for a long time which gave me an interest in reading her book. It's written mainly as a guide for those who are bitten by the acting bug and really as a way to help them with tips and ideas on how to get started and keep going in a career in acting. It seems like it would really be helpful for someone with that seriously in mind for their life too if they really have the drive and ambition t

    This is written by Jenna Fischer who played on the hit show "Office" for years. I was hooked on that show for a long time which gave me an interest in reading her book. It's written mainly as a guide for those who are bitten by the acting bug and really as a way to help them with tips and ideas on how to get started and keep going in a career in acting. It seems like it would really be helpful for someone with that seriously in mind for their life too if they really have the drive and ambition to do it and are willing to sacrifice and make it their life's goal as she did. Just as thousands do every year, and work hard at other jobs while they struggle and take classes and continue to hone their skill at acting. And of course, right now with all of the hype about the Weinstein case, you can't help but wonder about how many go through the added indignity of being subjected to sexual harassment too, as part of the struggle of making it as an actor. Hopefully, the light being shined on the subject will help some, but it seems it's been around as long as acting has been. Thanks for reading. An ARC was provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review.

  • Scottsdale Public Library

    Pam Beesly wrote a book, ya’ll! Well, that’s not entirely true; Jenna Fischer, actress extraordinaire, wrote a book and it is super informative for the novice actor and enlightening for the day dreamers like me.

    How in the world do you get a start in Tinseltown? Lovable Jenna, right out of college with a theatre degree, hit the road and rented out a windowless apartment in Hollywood and expected the roles to roll right on in. Isn’t that how all actors expect their big breaks other than being dis

    Pam Beesly wrote a book, ya’ll! Well, that’s not entirely true; Jenna Fischer, actress extraordinaire, wrote a book and it is super informative for the novice actor and enlightening for the day dreamers like me.

    How in the world do you get a start in Tinseltown? Lovable Jenna, right out of college with a theatre degree, hit the road and rented out a windowless apartment in Hollywood and expected the roles to roll right on in. Isn’t that how all actors expect their big breaks other than being discovered at a local Los Angeles soda shop, a la Lana Turner?

    Jenna explains how actors must have a dedication, passion and an extremely strong worth ethic to get a start in this industry. Networking with other actors is a must not only to possibly find accepting agents but also to jump into creative endeavors to hone the craft and to be seen. She provides helpful guidelines and contact information for actors along with adorable and amusing anecdotes of her trials and triumphs of finding her way into auditions, working day jobs, becoming traumatized by extra work (darn you Jurassic Park ride!) and nabbing a role in one of the best ensemble comedy casts recreated for this side of the pond.

    Inspiring, revealing and downright enjoyable, this part-instructional guide and part-memoir is an ideal read for aspiring actors, those curious about the profession and those who adore Pam, I mean, Jenna Fischer. -Sara G.

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