woman before table of people

b&b177: Michelle Beck, founder of An Actor Tapes, on what it’s like to be a POC in the Acting World #DDJA

Welcome to the Dead Day Job Army, a monthly Brunch & Budget series where entrepreneurs and freelancers of Color share their stories and talk about the real.
It’s not easy to start your own business and it’s even harder when it feels like you have to explain to your family what you do every time you see them, when you walk into an event and can count on one hand the PoC in the room, when you try to ask for what you’re worth, but don’t want to get passed over for the next person. We ask folks to leave their shiny pictures and Instagram highlights at the door and tell us what it’s really like to do the work, put in the time, and devote your life to your work.

Today we have Michelle Beck, full-time actress and also the founder of An Actor Tapes, a Brooklyn-based mobile audition taping service. She talked to us about what it’s like to be a POC in the acting world and why she decided to begin her own business.

Check out An Actor Tapes at anactortapes.com

Music featured in this episode:
1). Audition by Rome
2). CYOA by Stink Tank
3). H.A by Fongkichoi

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Episode Highlights:

Michelle Beck: There are so many stories that are told that are really only showing Black women in roles of degradation.

Michelle Beck: I’m bi-racial…casting wise, that’s been really difficult.

Dyalekt: Everybody is being screwed by the lack of attention to detail about what a Black family looks like.

Pam: It’s so crazy that it’s like “You’re related if you’re all the same shade” when you don’t even look like each other.

Michelle Beck: I can’t think of a Black family where that’s true, where everyone’s exactly the same shade.

Pam: There is no not-hot girl role.

Michelle Beck: [A side hustle] is usually something that I think you already do. It’s something that you’ve been doing for years and that you don’t even really think to monetize it and then you kind of go “Oh wait. I need money. I should do this.”

Michelle Beck: For the first time I feel like I’m working on something where I get something out of it every time I do it.

Michelle Beck: [Coaching] has had this side effect of making me more excited about my own auditions.

Michelle Beck: You have to go in at a confidence level for more than you actually are…that’s what actually reads.

Michelle Beck: I was just a reader in these auditions for this musical–it’s gonna be on Broadway so these great singers are coming in–and it was so fascinating seeing people come in and be really good, but see when they couldn’t sell themselves, when they weren’t like “Yeah, I got this.”

Michelle Beck: You believe them, when somebody’s like “I’m really good at this” you’re like “okay!” You’re kind of lazy. You’re not gonna work to be like “Well actually they’re not that good.”

Michelle Beck: There’s a really exciting moment happening in TV right now…TV is actually really ahead of theater in terms of casting people of color and casting…different able-bodied people.

Michelle Beck: Studies now show that sex doesn’t actually sell, but ads that are actually tapping into your intellect or your creative spark or something, that those are gonna catch your attention way more than just naked hot women.

Pam: There is this Renaissance with TV that’s happening.

Michelle Beck: I feel so much of [success] is luck and timing and genetics, and being a person people like looking at or hearing from.

Pam: But everyone works really hard.

Michelle Beck: Just keep going. Keep going. Something will break eventually.

Michelle Beck: {When you have customers] you have to think “What would I think if I were in this situation? Would this piss me off?” And then do something about it.

Michelle Beck: I don’t understand when businesses, especially new businesses, don’t offer a kickback when something goes wrong.

Michelle Beck: You can have a customer for life if you’re just like “Hey, I’m really sorry that happened, and let me give you something to show you that I’m sorry and that that’s not the standard of what I wanna uphold as this business owner.”

Michelle Beck: I exist and I have value.

Michelle Beck: find ways that you could be happy doing what you do.