Vincent Pelligrino Spills the Tea on “The Business of Acting"

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I was one of about a dozen students who got the opportunity to video Skype with Vincent Pelligrino, an alumnus from Wisconsin Lutheran College. Pelligrino graduated from West Virginia University’s graduate acting program. He has gone on to work on productions at the Midtown Arts Center, Greenbrier Valley Theatre and Meadow Brook Theatre. He has been a part of plays like, Mary Poppins, Chicago and other amazing works. Pelligrino took the time to sit with SUNY Oswego theatre students to talk about, “The Business of Acting.” Here are some of the helpful tips he shared with me and other students.

My favorite piece of advice I received from Pelligrino was to read the book, Minding the Edge: Strategies for a Fulfilling, Successful Career as an Actor. I have begun to read this book and it has opened my eyes to the world of acting. I hope to finish reading this book so that I can pass it on to another actor in hopes they will gain something too.

Another piece of advice Pelligrino shared with the group was to be you. Know what makes you unique and explore those features instead of seeking to be someone else. Do not rush your process and try to not compare your artistry with another artist.

Headshots and résumés were talked about next. Pelligrino said, “Having a great headshot for the specific role you're seeking will help you when trying to land roles.” For musical theatre, a headshot with a nice smile can help casting directors know a bit more about who you are. The biggest tip on headshots he shared was assuring that your headshot is up-to-date. If the actor does not look like their headshot, then casting directors may turn you away. They have an expectation on how you look based on your headshots.

When speaking to us about résumés, Pelligrino said, “Never lie.” Always tell the truth as word can spread around the industry making it hard for the actor or actress to land a job. You do not need to fill your résumé completely if you are just starting out; the important thing is to make your résumé represent your work history and capability. The last tip on résumés was to “ not put your address.” The industry has evolved and most resumes will be thrown out, therefore, it is important to protect your personal information.

 

Pelligrino was straightforward with the students on supporting yourself as an actor. He has now relocated to New York City, where he has taken many gigs. He has worked during Comic-Con, babysitting and more. Currently he is still acting and is also teaching other students. He says an actor lives a unique lifestyle and they have known how to survive in this world. With this unique lifestyle, it’s very important to take care of your body, but not for aesthetic reasons. He said the important thing is your stamina, especially for musical theater. Make sure to warm up your voice and body, before and after every show.

He also shared some great places to find auditions, such as backstage.com, playbill.com/jobs and following casting directors/individual theaters on social media platforms can help you find opportunities near you.

 

Pelligrino shared some new information to the group, such as attending theater conferences. Conferences are held by different theaters during the fall and spring season, however, the fall season is for professionals only. Check out www.setc.org and www.upta.org to further your research on theatre conferences.

 

In regards to non-union contracts, an actor can expect to receive a travel stipend between the prices of $100 to $300. Typically you will also receive a weekly allowance; the normal allowance an actor may receive is $250 to $400 a week for non-union work. They will also provide you with housing, if needed. Normally you would share a room with another castmate, but you may get lucky with your own room.

 

The Her Campus Oswego team has their fingers crossed for any of you future actors. I hope this article helped you gain insight on the theatre industry from an actor's experience. I will also like to thank Vincent Pelligrino for sharing all of his amazing tips on the industry and I encourage you all to check out his website, www.vincentpelligrino.com.