In an age when Breakdown Services gives casting directors instant access to our portfolio of stored digital headshots and resumes, it might be tempting to abandon the idea of lugging physical headshots around. One fellow acting blogger actually got into a casting nightmare over it. Here’s why I think we shouldn’t be entirely paper free yet.

One of my favorite blogs to read, and one whose updates I get sent to my email just so I don’t miss it, is The Working Actress. And I usually agree with, and can relate to, her daily struggles.

This morning, though, we oddly parted company with respect to this headshot carrying issue. Here’s an excerpt of her post:

“…I go in, and the lone casting director asks me for my headshot. I don’t have one.

“Sorry, I don’t have one with me.”

“Why not?”

“Because I wasn’t told I needed one today and we’re in the process of updating my resume.”

“Let me tell you something dear. As an actress, for your future, you always need to carry with you a headshot…and a resume.”

….at this point she’s talking to me with a tone like I’m a f*cking three year old….

“Well, if it’s important to you, I can have my agency fax one over.”

“You don’t seem to understand. As a professional actress, you should have this with you. All the time. Do you understand me?”

….OK. Simmer down now crazy lady. Is she trying to school me in the world of auditioning? Something I do every single day of my life? I find myself in this moment losing every ounce of patience. Not just because she’s being ridiculously condescending (not to mention she has zero casting credits and evidently doesn’t know how to run a session), but because she gets away with talking to actresses that way. It blows my mind. Perhaps she assumes that I’m a non-union actress and this is my 4th audition ever…who cares? Where does she get off being so obnoxious? To anyone? It drives me crazy……

I roll my eyes (because I succumbed to her level of obnoxiousness, and shamefully could not control my eyes from doing a backflip into their sockets), turn around to set up the space, and center the chair. She walks over and says, “You’re going to be standing. You’re not going to use the chair.” I look up at her — “well actually, there are five scenes, and I’m going to use the chair for a couple of them.” “No you’re not,” she says, “we’re not using the chair today.”

WTF? I’m sorry, I thought I was an actress. You know, the kind that makes choices and works on her material…I can’t even sit now? And in that moment, time froze and a voice in my head kept saying to me, “just leave, just leave, just leave.” I can safely say, I have never had the impulse to leave an audition, but today I battled the urge.

I ended up staying, doing the scenes (standing up, mind you), and leaving without saying thank you, shaking her hand, or giving a sh*t…”

You can read the whole post here.

I was a bit shocked by her direction in the room, and it didn’t ring true to me with all the other entries I’ve read on her blog, and really loved. I debated about it to myself, because I’ve only commented once on her site, but it became clear that I needed to respond or I’d burst.

Here’s what I commented on her blog:

“Actually, I think this one’s on you. I’m not sure where you are in your career, but from what I read, and the issues that you are dealing with, the things that are currently important to you, I don’t think you’re as far along as you might think, or are being told by your current representation. You don’t seem to be as far along as those well-known-to-CD’s actors who may be one step shy of being offer-only, and are in the last stages of having to audition at all, and who really don’t need to carry a headshot/resume because their IMDB page has a More… button at the bottom.

I read your posts every day, and the one thing that strikes me as odd is that you DON’T carry your headshots with you. Updating a resume is, at most, a half hour proposition.

And if you had your headshot/resume? The audition might not have become a jello-wrestling exercise.

Certainly, she was out of line, insanely so, to suggest you can’t use the chair. But for an actor to always carry a headshot/resume is a small thing to ask, and a responsible thing to do. Plus, if you have different looks for different types of roles, you get to replace what the session runner has in the stack with a shot of your choosing, helping you further control their view of you.

Just one working actor’s opinion, I guess – but I see it happening, to the actor’s detriment, every day.”

I do hope The Working Actress takes my comments in the spirit of support and growth in which they were were meant.

Later, I thought more about it, and other things popped into my head. Rolling your eyes? Fight the urge harder. You’re not just auditioning here, you’re building a relationship – this “CD with zero credits” might someday (soon) be in a position to gatekeep your career. Don’t make that a done deal by being snarky.

Another clue was her mentioning that the casting director was all alone in the room. Perhaps, she had a video camera rolling (The Working Actress doesn’t say anywhere in her post) – if she did, she probably wanted to set it and forget it, asking her actresses to stand so she didn’t have to read with them AND run the camera, following the auditioners down to the chair.

Someday, everything will be digital and accessible – but that someday isn’t quite here yet. Carry not only one headshot, but several looks with you. You may have to blow the dust off of them before you hand them to the session runner, but you never know what type of casting director you’ll encounter. Give them a reason to say yes, not a reason to say no.

What’s your answer to this acting question? Let me know in the comments below.