ACTING: Make It Your Business

How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor





Industry Praise

Readership Raves

industry praise...

"Paul Russell's commentary, constructive criticism, and hopefulness of the business and reality of the acting profession is uniquely detailed and incredibly truthful.

Humorous, witty... positive and honest commentary of what it truly means to be an actor.

In so few words, Paul manages to summarize the essence of what all actors have in common, and what separates certain actors from others- be it level of talent, monetary success, or relationships to the "outside world." As a business partner and very close friend of Bob LuPone's for several years, I can attest that his commentary of the industry is dead on and genuinely human. He along with Mark Price and James Rebhorn and the others speak so wisely about the day-to-day motions that all actors should and should not go through, as well as the larger picture that we all too often neglect to remember.

But what makes this piece so intriguing is Paul's deconstruction of the industry itself and the plight of the struggling actor, which helps us to truly understand why we need actors in today's world, and why they need us. For actors everywhere that are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on-camera... anywhere else in the world, take note: this is your roadmap. It gives you the facts, the advice, and the cautions. The rest is up to you."

-- Bernard Telsey, casting director, CSA
(NBC's This Is Us, Hamilton, The Greatest Showman)



"I must tell you that I had my “Business of Acting” (BFA Seniors) class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and your’s came out a clear winner—

considered to be essential for their bookshelves!"

-- Dr. Nina LeNoir, Department Chair
Department of Theatre
Chapman University


"Paul Russell has more respect for the actor and the audition process than possibly any casting director that I have ever met.

This book is a necessity for any actor, young or old, who is in the business or hopes to be in the business. Read it!"

Read it again and again. Listen to what Paul has to say for he is on the money as to advice for the audition process. And learn from what he is saying here. If you do, you will find that audition experience to be a much more pleasant process and a much more successful process."

-- Richard Rose
Producing Artistic Director: 1993 - 2019
Barter Theatre (Recipient of the TONY Award for excellence in Regional Theatre)


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"So informative and useful - all the right questions asked and answered....

and with a generous portion of good humor!"

-- Suzanne Ryan, Casting Director, CSA
(Law & Order,Unforgettable)


"I love this book!"

You can learn so much by knowing what not to do at an audition or meeting. So many actors I know spend time, effort and money reading books and taking classes, just to have someone tell them what they want to hear. Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear, but you really need to know. Every actor at every stage in their careers should read this book!"

-- Diane Riley, Talent Agency Partner
Harden, Curtis, Kirsten, Riley Agency


"Paul Russell's informative, witty, no holds barred account of being a working actor and surviving all that it entails, made me proud to be part of the acting community in this business we call 'show.'"

-- Karen Ziemba, TONY & Drama Desk Award-Winning Actress


"Honest. Bold!

Paul Russell's words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask! Then Paul takes it a step further; he answers the questions.

The book itself is a reflection of our industry; a community of people sharing information, great ideas and terrific stories!"

-- Ken Melamed, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.


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"The great thing about Paul Russell's book is that it actually reads like a handbook that gives actors useful tools

that can help actors from making unnecessary mistakes while providing them with valuable advice about how to improve their game and learn to be happy while doing so.  Not an easy task in show business!"

-- Gary Krasny, Talent Agency Owner
The Krasny Office


"Paul has done a wonderful job compiling this work.

It brings back memories, good and bad, of my early days auditioning as an actor and more recent ones being on the other side of the table as a director. We all learn by example and there are wonderful examples here of what, and more importantly what not, to do in pursuing work in the theatre.  Read and learn"

-- Gabriel Barre - Broadway Director - Actor


"Entertaining, insightful, well-written. Paul Russell has a keen eye, razor-sharp insight and a big heart. 

This book tells it like it is by those who Do It. I urge all actors, young and old, to read this book!"

-- Marcia Milgrom Dodge - Broadway Director/Choreographer, Playwright, Teacher


"Paul’s interviews with some of our business’ finest actors is illuminating and eye opening.

Paul’s sense of humor, perspective and practical advice is a joy.  ACTING: Make It Your Business is a “must have” for anyone in the business or thinking of pursuing the art of acting as a business"

-- Stephanie Klapper - Screen & Broadway Casting Director
(Ain't Nothing But The Blues, Dinner With Friends)

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readership raves...

Standing Ovation!

"With already 40 rave reviews on this book, it probably doesn't need another. However, what sets this book apart from the other ten or so I've read on the subject is the depth in which it goes and the effective use of the internet it describes! There is more than one approach to many difficult subjects, as well, meaning there are choices to be made by actors as they promote themselves, so grey areas are delved into.

This book also distinguishes itself by some unique chapters, besides the earlier-mentioned internet possibilities, such as contract negotiations. It also presents interesting views "behind the table," describing different personality types in a casting session or amongst agents.

The sheer amount of information packed into its 300+ pages make it a very, VERY worthy purchase and I extremely highly recommend it!

-- W. Stevenson
actor / Amazon.com reviewer


"Paul, I am a huge fan of your book- it is how I got my agent.

I refer many friends seeking representation to read your book first!"

-- Cari Leigh Chrisostomou


"Thank you for your constant advice. I purchased your book and using the tips that you provided, I booked two short films, and my audition appointments increased."

-- Tomike Lee Ogugua

"Dear Mr. Russell, I am half-way through it and am kicking myself for not purchasing it sooner. It is insightful as well as hilarious.

As a relatively new actor who constantly struggles to find work, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the blood sweat and tears you put into this book. You are helping us all continue to do what we love to do. Thanks, and best of luck!"

-- Luke Bridges


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"ACTING: Paul makes it his business!

One of the luckiest things I ever did was stumble upon Paul's book, ACTING: Make It Your Business.  His common-sense, no-nonsense approach to the acting business had me hooked by page one.  I was so inspired after the read that I sought out to contact him for private training.  His knowledge of the industry, coupled with his teaching method for agent interviews landed me an interview with IAA (Independent Artists Agency) and the offer to sign!  I cannot recommend his book, classes or expertise enough.  Thank you, Paul!" 

-- Josh Rhett Noble


Best Contemporary Book on Becoming an Actor

"I have read tons of books on becoming an actor and pursuing the crazy world of Show Business, and no one's book has raised the bar higher than Paul Russell's. This book is the most in-depth, truthful, informative account of what it takes to seriously approach this business with all of one's talent and determination. Talent is not enough - business skills are needed - and with Paul being an amazing businessman, he gives us here an excellent contemporary handbook on how to go about becoming a professional working actor, without pulling any punches. For the serious actor trying to make it, not reading this book is a sin. I would highly recommend it to beginners and veterans alike."

-- Zach Abramowitz
actor / Amazon.com review


An Actor's Dream

"I am an actor who has spent 20 years in the industry. I am still working even at my "ripe old age," and consider myself fairly savvy when it comes to the business. I am naturally wary of "DIY Acting Career" books because usually it's just a rehashing of what we've been told for ages (or worse, completely cult-like, ridiculous advice from a self-appointed guru). This book is different. Paul Russell is the real McCoy, and his advice has made a dramatic (pardon the pun) impact on my career.

Paul's natural respect for actors and our craft shines through, especially when he's being extremely frank (and at times harsh) about the mistakes we make in the name of getting a job. Paul raises the bar and treats us like the professionals we either are or should be, and it behooves us all to treat ourselves and our careers with the same level of scrutiny and respect. I feel better prepared now to present myself with poise, pride and confidence than at any other time in my career.

You've always wanted to be a fly on the wall listening to the discussions of agents, directors and casting directors - you'll get that here, and it's not always pretty, but it will teach you more about the industry and about the business of acting than any other book on the market. The most important thing this book can teach you is how to be a competitive professional, rather than a thick-headed amateur.

If you're an actor, no matter the level of your career, I highly recommend buying this book."

-- Nicole Poole
actress / Amazon.com review


An Owner's Manual for Actors!

"As a journeyman actor for over two decades, I would have to say Paul Russell's book is one of the most useful books on 'the biz' I have read. It is full of tough-love, humor, and practical knowledge gained from his experiences in casting. Russell gets right to the heart of the matter in the opening pages and provides tremendous insight on everything from headshots to agents straight through to the end.

His humor is delightful. His love for the arts and all things 'acting' is palpable. Here is a guy who wants to see actors confidently walk into the audition room every day and eventually give the producers so many excellent choices they don't know what to do. Mr. Russell has lovingly shared his labor with us, and I thank him."

-- Conan McCarty
actor / Amazon.com review

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Finally a Truthful Resource That Skims The $%^&, and get's Honest

"This book is a witty, honest, from-the-hip love letter to everyone in the business, or wanting to be, who has both inspired the author, or made him want to question whether some people are just beyond therapy. It cuts to the chase, and offers diamond sharp insights on some very simple, yet astute ways to move ahead of the thousands of others who compete for the few jobs in an absurdly tough industry. It also bluntly shows you what not to do, providing some truly hilarious examples in the process.

Filled anecdotes, stories and observations gotten from years of being on both sides of the audition table, the book also wisely features in depth profiles and interviews with a strategically chosen group of eight actors, both new and very well established, who share their own experiences, opinions and valuable tips for succeeding and surviving in that most unstable, yet truly exhilarating and rewarding of professions.... for the right person. READ IT. AND THEN PROCEED FROM AN UNDENIABLY BETTER INFORMED PERSPECTIVE."

-- Michael Giorgio
actor / Amazon.com review


The only business book an actor needs.

"I am convinced Paul Russell wrote "Acting - Make It Your Business" out of genuine love for actors and his undeniable need to help us find our way in the business of being actors. Reading the book is like being sat down by you older, smart-ass brother and told how things really work out there in the big and cruel world. How best to behave in it, to get along in it, and to make a career for oneself. I have bought and read many books on similar issues that I have now relegated to the second-hand bookstore, because Paul's book is the only one I need. Full of great advice, examples, anecdotes, laughs - yes, laughs - and a real and heartfelt concern to make a difference for actors. Thank you, Paul."

-- Einar Gunn
actor / Amazon.com review


More Than Your Average Acting Book

"Since I read Paul's book, it has has landed a special place on my 'top shelf.'

ACTING: Make It Your Business is more than just a book about acting, and even more than about how to make a career out of acting. Paul's book is about honesty, and that's what I love about it. Paul doesn't hold back! He tells you how it is.... and how it SHOULD BE.

Right from the beginning, he says that everything he says in his book is true, yet also false. Paul knows that he's one of MANY casting directors. But he's ONE OF THE FEW of who UNDERSTAND that everyone has opinions, and everyone's opinions are different. What one CD says about resumes is usually completely different that what another CD says about them. But still, there's always usually "general guidelines" to follow, and Paul does more than just point them out. He breaks simple things down into the perfect science, like picking out the perfect headshot, organizing your resume, how to find an agent, and more.

If you want to learn how to turn acting into a BUSINESS, Paul's book is the best choice, by far! "

-- Joshua Desjardins
actor / Amazon.com review


Great book! ALL actors should read it!

"Paul Russell's book is extremely informative and insightful. As a working actor, I can honestly say it offers valuable information for ANY actor, young or old, new to the business or at the height of their career.

Aside from offering the most up to date marketing tools for actors available today, the humorous, blunt tone with which he speaks to the reader is often refreshing and quite entertaining. Paul Russell's book has inspired me to take steps to move forward to the next level of my career. I urge actors everywhere to read it! Kudos Paul!"

-- James LaRosa
actor / Amazon.com review


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Good News!

"I've got great news for any and all professional, pre-professional, and aspiring actors... ACTING: Make It Your Business has all the information you could ever need to market yourself as a performer. It covers everything from headshot and resume to shopping for an agent (with examples of right and wrong).

I have worked professionally as a regional actor nonstop for years, but I still learned a great deal from this book and Paul. It was extremely eye opening to be alerted to all my mistakes over the years, and how easy it was to make myself more appealing to the people on the other side of the casting table. I would recommend it to everyone in the field, and if ever given the chance take a workshop with Paul Russell, DO IT. He is just a wealth of knowledge in print and in person. You can tell by the way he candidly speaks that he has been in your shoes. I for one am so glad to have a current look at the casting scene as most books on the subject seem to date back at least to the early 90's. This book is a great guide and should definitely be on your must read list."

-- Cheyenne Nelson
actress / Amazon.com review


The is Book Can Really Change Your Professional Outlook

"Paul Russell's book apart from being witty and enjoyable has not only given me the extra kick in the seat that I needed but it really motivated me and has set me on the right track.

Of course everything in the "Business" is subjective and there is no totally right & wrong way of going about things. But Paul Russell's book actually helps you understand and decide for yourself how not to make common mistakes. Mistakes that at first might seem small to you, but come across as unprofessional to the auditors & agents you are presenting yourself for. His approach on how a resume should look and what information it should contain is dead on! Because of Paul Russell I now own my domain, have perfected the look of my resume and am comfortable with just being me when I present myself before any casting individual. Do yourself a favor and get this book. As a professional actor/singer in the theater business for almost 8 years, this one is a keeper."

-- William Perez
actor / Amazon.com review


For actors at any level!

"This is a stellar book for actors just starting out or for those old "hoofers" interesting in revamping their careers and reminding themselves of the business side of acting. The first six chapters alone hold so much information on how to present yourself from the headshot and resume (even the [email] cover letter and envelope!) and all the decisions one has to make even before stepping into an audition. It also contains interviews and unique attitudes from a number of different working actors. There's no one "right" way to do things, but there is always a "better" way, which Paul honestly but bluntly informs the reader of. Drawing from his own experiences as casting director and actor, there are some cringe-worthy anecdotes and in-your-face truth written here. I'd recommend this book for anyone who wants to know of the effort it takes behind the scenes of every hard-working actor's life."

-- Sierra Rein
actress / Amazon.com review


Excellent book, a must have for every actor!

"Here is an opportunity to save time and money by learning what it takes to make it in the biz, what mistakes to avoid, and how to have a professional and lasting career.

This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a dream of acting, feels stuck in their career, or is simply ready to go to the next step. An honest, clear, well written book that will change the way you approach your career and the way you market yourself. The best investment any actor can make in their future. When buying a copy, get one for a friend as well, as it makes a fantastic gift."

-- Julia Amsterdam
actress / Amazon.com review


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Very Informative

"As an actor, this book asks and answers the questions you want to ask a casting director, agent, director, or producer; but didn't know/were afraid to ask. Paul approaches a lot of important areas that most beginning actors tend to overlook, such as self-marketing and professionalism. He also spins in his own humor which makes the reading enjoyable. Whether you read the book fully or flip to the different chapters as they apply to you, you will gain valuable insider advice on how to stand out as a working actor."

-- Max Robkof
actor / Amazon.com review


Make It Your Business to get This Book!

"ACTING: Make it Your Business. Key word: BUSINESS.

Paul Russell gives you a realistic, and more often than not, humorous look at all aspects of the Acting world. Paul has the experience, knowledge, and a uniquely candid way of expressing the ins and outs of the struggles of being an actor. Whether you are just starting out, someone who is about to graduate from an "industry recognized" conservatory, or have been hitting the pavement for years and standing out in the cold lines of open calls in New York City every winter, this book is a must-read.

As an actor myself, I followed Paul's format for submissions to some of the top agents. Within a week I had received two phone calls to come in and interview/audition for representation. One of them even told me that they rarely, if ever, take client interviews from mailings, but this one stood out above the rest of the hundreds they received in the mail that day. Paul knows what he's talking (writing) about. He's been on both sides of the table. He breaks it down, the good and the bad. Take advantage of the opportunity to read and learn.

Acting is a business. It's about being able to balance being artistically satisfied and balance your checkbook to pay rent. It's an incredible journey. Let Paul's guide give your career the focus it deserves. It will answer questions and inspire you to ACT! "

-- C. August
actor / Amazon.com review


Seriously... READ THIS BOOK!!! Great advice for actors new and seasoned.

"Paul Russell has taken a lifetime of achievements and mistakes, learned from them, and laid them out in an easy-to-follow roadmap for actors in every phase of their career. He truly understands the business side of "show business". Trust me, as a working actor, that knowledge proves to be invaluable in sustaining longevity in an otherwise uncertain career path. It isn't often that actors get insight into the minds of those on the other side of the table and anyone would be remiss to not take advantage of such a rare gem! Seriously...READ THIS BOOK!!!"

-- Mark Borum
actor / Amazon.com review


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This book changed my life... and my career.

"I 'discovered' Paul Russell while searching around for more information on advancing my performing career. I happened to run across one of his blogs about a year ago. I loved his writing style, to the point and just shy of being in-your-face. That led me to his website which led me to his ACTING: Make It Your Business. This book has SOOOO much information, stuff you won't get from ANY OTHER BOOK!! It has become my textbook! Whenever I have a question about how to approach something--from what I shouldn't include on my résumé, the best way to format my cover letter, how to self-submit and actually have a chance of it being OPENED, preparation for auditions, what CDs and agents are REALLY thinking--it's all here. There is no other book out there that is this thorough and honest and will tell you EXACTLY what you need to do to take it to the next level, beginning with thinking of it as BUSINESS, not something that's going to just fall in your lap. YOU have to be proactive and make it happen.

Paul Russell's frankness in ACTING: Make It Your Business opened my eyes to so many things I was doing wrong. I read the book over last summer, began making changes in the fall (including taking Paul's class). Within three months, I had an agent! Now, of course results will vary, and as Paul repeatedly says "Everything I say is right. Everything I say is wrong." His knowledge, information and advice combined with your talent and common sense WILL take you to the next level. My dog-eared and well-highlighted copy is proof!"

-- A. Miles
actress / Amazon.com review


Invaluable Book for Actors!

"No holds barred, Paul Russell gives it to you straight. A seasoned casting director, he guides actors on how to create a marketable resume, cover letter(s), headshot, and promotional materials. Let's be honest--the majority of actors (including myself) aren't natural business people. This book is a wonderful reference for those of us who need help in the business side of show business, and gives insight from agents, fellow actors, and casting directors. I highly recommend this book...in fact, I have suggested it to many friends who have also found it a valuable resource!"

-- M. A. Seebold "Moriah Angeline"
actress / Amazon.com review


The Actor's Ultimate Guide to Learning & Surviving The Acting Industry

"I recently relocated to the USA and have been an actor for 20 years. The industry situation compared to Australia is incredibly different to that of the [U.S.]- busy, competitive, cut-throat and very confusing. I was working as a background extra one day through my own means and was talking to a colleague and he recommended Paul's book as a great guide to surviving the business side of acting. The book is incredible! It is written in such a concise, clear and conversational manner that it's like having a master class with Paul. He has a hilarious and at times very blunt style of writing from his years of observation and experience as an actor, director and casting director. I would be reading the book on the bus and have to contain myself from laughing out loud on regular occasion.

It has already helped me immensely in designing and building my own website, learning "guerilla tactics" in mailing techniques to Casting Directors and Agents, and gaining confidence and focus for auditions weeding out bad habits and mistakes that Paul has witnessed time and time again being a casting director himself. The ultimate experience I have had to date since buying and reading this book, is landing an agent in the notoriously difficult arts community that is New York City!!! Thanks again Paul! BUY THIS BOOK IF YOU ONLY BUY ONE "HOW TO" FOR ACTING AS A BUSINESS. UTTERLY UTTERLY COMPREHENSIVE AND INVALUABLE! "

-- Benjamin J. McHugh
actor / Amazon.com review


Inspirational, Motivational, and Advice every professional actor or aspiring actor NEEDS to know

"Paul Russell's book has been a tremendous help to me and my business. As a young professional just starting out I always thought the love of the craft and the talent would see me to success. I soon realized that was just not the case. Acting is a business, just like any other, and you as an actor are your own business. After a few years of pursuing a career, I burnt out on the whole entertainment scene and left it for 6 years to explore and try other paths. Inevitably I have come back to the biz, but this time I am armed with a new set of tools, clearly outlined in Paul Russell's book.

Bitingly honest and always entertaining, Paul gives you the advice and tools you need to succeed. And these aren't just the typical "persistence and determination will win you the race" nonsense. Paul's advice is specific and usable- down to the very format in which you should write messages.

I have read and re-read Paul's book now since first picking it up 3 months ago. And since I have put his advice to use, I have been booking gigs and films left and right. I know that's no accident, because I haven't gotten more talented over night. =) It just goes to show, it's not only about the talent you have, but it's also about your business and marketing tactics. If you want your business to grow and expand, buy this book. "

-- E.K.Philips
actor / Amazon.com review


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Honest, yet compassionate advice for the actor at every level of their career

"Paul's book is full of witty insight and blunt advice for actors at every level of their career. As an actress, I have looked through a lot of 'self-help for the artist' books and many of them are just flat cheerleading rags meant to make you feel good about buying their book. Or they are full of 'recommendations' to use this or that photographer/repro service/acting coach/whatever, and then we are 'shocked' to find that the photo/service/coach, etc is actually a friend of the author (or worse, receiving a kickback). 'Acting--Make it Your Business' is just straightforward advice from someone who feels like a close friend and trusted advisor.

Paul has been on many sides of the acting table--actor, director, singer, casting director, lowly intern. He knows the business. And his goal is simple...to see his peers succeed. He compassionately understands that if we all do well TOGETHER, the benefits keep growing. There is no need for jealousy or rancor. A part you don't get today frees you for a part you will get tomorrow. The success of a friend now may mean opportunity for you later. You just have to be prepared. Ready with your monologues/marketing tools/list of influential contacts so that when opportunities do arise, you will be first in line to reap the benefits.

This book gives step-by-step ways to perfect your marketing craft, from getting the headshots to managing your actor/agent relationship. What I love best is that it is full of REAL LIFE examples. Paul is not afraid to tell it like it is and does so with humor and panache. This book truly gave me a new perspective on my craft and I know it will do the same for you. Buy this book today! "

-- Candice Holdorf
actress / Amazon.com review


ACTING: Make It Your Business gets an A+.

"Paul Russell's Acting: Make It Your Business is a must-read/must-own book for every actor! Paul delivers the information in a humorous, straight-forward style. If you really want to be a successful actor in today's market, then you must get this book and read it cover to cover. His advice on marketing (headshots, resumes, websites, etc.) is spot-on. Paul has been on both sides of the table and his tips on the business really help give the actor an edge in a field where there is so much competition. Paul is a real advocate for actors. He wants you to succeed and this book provides concrete advice on how to do that. It's a sure-fire way to move your career to the next level! Thanks, Paul!"

-- R. Bergeron
actor / Amazon.com review


Great Book! A Working Actors BEST Resource!

"Paul cuts away the fat and writes with an honest and humorous manner. He is never mean about anything he writes but is so "to the point", that his frankness an candor are like a breath of fresh air. He offers suggestions and advice that, as actors, we sometimes forget or didn't realize. The information he gives is current, practical and of great help. The book discusses marketing yourself, agents, managers and auditions as well as a sundry of other things all pertaining to "the business". In one moment he can verbally give you a kick in the pants and the next be equally as nurturing. This book is perfect for any actor at any stage in their career. It can serve as a reminder of what to do and what not to do. I have loaned out my copy to many of my actor friends who have since gone out to purchase their own. I now understand that this book is being used is Theatre/Acting training programs throughout academia and rightfully so. It is a wonderful resource that every actor should own.

If your an educator, student, actor or someone interested in the business, then THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!"

Alex Dittmer
actor / Amazon.com review


Everything you need to know is in this book.

"If you're trying to work as an actor, singer, dancer, or comedian, this book is a necessity. Everything you need to know is inside from how to construct a resume and cover letter to what actually happens in an audition. The information is detailed, honest, and above all else, helpful. Since employing the knowledge that I gained from this book I've gotten more auditions and callbacks than ever before in my career. This book holds the keys to success and fulfillment through honesty and practicality and is the best resource I have yet to come across. Getting an insiders perspective on the workings of the entertainment business is invaluable and usually costs a great deal of money and involves sitting in class after class. This book allows you to learn at your leisure and is worth its weight in gold. Do yourself a huge favor and buy this book!! "

-- Joseph J. Brancato
actor / Amazon.com review


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