745 Big Break

Matt worked in Hollywood as an actor. He talks about how he got started at it.

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Todd: OK, now Matt, you used to work in Hollywood as an actor. Can you talk about what kind of actor you were?

Matt: Sure. I acted mainly in commercial work and that is I auditioned for commercials and basically in Los Angeles it's unlike any other city in the world for acting and it's just so heavily centered around Hollywood and television and screen work that there isn't really a lot of work in theater so I didn't have a ton of training going in to the acting world when I entered L.A. so like many others I opted just for commercial work and tried to get experience that way.

Todd: Oh, cool. So how do you actually get a gig? Tell me about the process.

Matt: It actually... It's a lot more complicated than I thought when I first got there and competitive. Basically, there are two types of actors in Los Angeles. There's union actors and non-union. And to really progress you need to be a union actor which takes getting a speaking part or doing commercial work, which took me about six months and from there becoming a SAG member, screen actor's guild member. You're in the union which looks a lot better on your resume to go after agents so that was my next step and after I got an agent then I was able to be sent out on auditions and look for work that way.

Todd: So how did you get your first big break?

Matt: It was just by chance really. I was acting and I was doing a lot of non-speaking work on television and movies and really not progressing as fast as I wanted to and I was on a commercial for I think it was Pepsi and they liked my look and they needed an extra guy in the scene in a library and they put me in and from that thirty second spot which was shown all the East Coast of the United States I has half of my income for my first year because you get royalty checks every time a commercial is shown on television. You get paid, so...

Todd: Nice.

Matt: Yeah... But from there I went back to television and movies.

Todd: Cool.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

commercial work


I acted mainly in commercial work.

'Commercial work' refers to the work that an actor does on advertisements.

Notice the following:

  1. I make most of my money from commercial work.
  2. I think most actors start off with commercial work, and then they progress to TV and films.



I auditioned for commercials.

When you 'audition,' it means that go for an interview to see whether you are suitable for an acting role. You will be usually asked to act out a scene.

Notice the following:

  1. When I auditioned, they said that they really liked me.
  2. The theater company auditioned lots of people for the leading role.

ton of training


I didn't have a ton of training going into the acting world.

When you have 'training' to do something, it means that you have had formal classes that teach you how to do it. If you haven't had a 'ton of training,' it means that you haven't had many classes.

Notice the following:

  1. I have done a ton of training to get me ready for the marathon.
  2. I have not had a ton of training in advertising.

get a gig


How do you actually get a gig?

When you 'get a gig' it means that you are hired for a single, usually short, professional job.

Notice the following:

  1. I found it hard to get my first gig.
  2. It is hard to get a gig at first, but then it start to become easier to get regular work.

union actors and non-union


There's union actors and non-union.

Some actors belong to an acting union and others don't. These are referred to 'union and non-union actors.'

Notice the following:

  1. There is a bit is animosity between union and non-union actors.
  2. They said they were not bothered whether they hired union or non-union actors.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
commercial • auditioned • training
a gig • non-union
  1. I haven't had a ton of in this area specifically, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
  2. More than 200 children for that role.
  3. My favorite summer job was when I got as a DJ on a cruise boat.
  4. Most of the actors I work with here are .
  5. She started with work when she about about 5 years old.