Ever wonder what it’s like to be a professional actor and model? Aaron Marcus is a full-time actor, commercial model, and now America’s Premier Acting and Modeling Career Coach. Aaron’s workshop, Book the Job, teaches students how to become a successful actor and model; whether the participants are looking for a professional career or just looking for some extra cash, Aaron shares his knowledge that will help people successfully break into the industry.
At Neon Entertainment, we wanted to know just as much as you do! What it is like to be an actor and model? We asked Aaron Marcus to answer a few our burning questions about what it’s like living his dream career!
What made you want to become an actor?
Unlike many actors who had dreams of becoming an actor at an early age, I actually decided to become an actor because I needed a part-time job while I was a full-time college student.
I needed to pay for my basic living expenses and had some specific requirements for any job I would take on while in college.
1. It had to be fun.
2. It had to pay a lot because I did not have a tremendous amount of free time.
3. It had to have flexible hours and allow me to accept or turn down work.
My number one priority was school, so I needed to make sure my studies were not interfered by the job. I met an actor who told me what he did, and I thought that it would be a lot of fun. And, it fit the criteria I had of what a great job would be for me.
When auditions or jobs happened, I always cleared things through my professors and made sure I got all of the information that I might miss. I found that as long as I talked with the professors ahead of time, they were all very kind and generous and made it easy for me to make up an exam or get any additional information that was discussed in class.
I worked as an actor for two years on a part-time basis. I decided that I was enjoying myself so much, I wanted to pursue this type of work full-time.
Along with acting in TV commercials, film, TV shows, radio spots, narrations, and training films, I also get bookings for something called Commercial Modeling. Commercial models are the “real looking” people you see in every non-fashion magazine, billboard, poster, direct mail pieces, on the sides of a bus, on the Internet, etc… We are everywhere.
The cool thing about commercial modeling is that unlike fashion modeling, we have no age, height or weight restrictions. Some ads need commercial models who are in great shape. Sometimes, they need to be overweight. Some are beautiful and handsome and sometimes just the “normal looking” person portraying a college student, husband, person with allergies, teacher, real estate agent, etc… are needed.
The trick for getting these types of jobs is to learn how to create the right types of commercial photos that agents, photographers and art/creative directors at advertising agencies expect to see. And, learn how to use special techniques when working with a photographer. That is why I spend time on both of those subjects during my “Book the Job” workshop. And, one needs to learn how to find the work.
Marketing in one’s local market is also something I cover in my workshops.
How long have you been acting?
I have been a full-time actor for more than 30 years. What I have found is that most of the people I know in the industry do acting on a part-time bases. They either are full-time students or they have a full-time job. They are not trying to make a living in the industry, but simply doing the work because it is so much fun.
Many people have the misconception that if one wants to get acting or commercial modeling work they have to live in New York or Los Angeles. That simply is not true. I have lived in a small market all my life and have booked over 1,200 jobs so far.
It is true that the major film or TV roles will be cast out of the major cities, but people will be surprised to learn how much work there is going on even in small markets.
For some of the bigger projects I have worked on such as: Gotham, Mr. Robot and even Law & Order: CI, I did travel to New York to audition and shoot there. But, there are plenty of projects that happen in cities that would amaze you.
I had a recurring role on the Netflix show House of Cards. They actually shot the entire 6 seasons in Baltimore, Maryland.
I have had many people tell me that they are too old to get started in the industry. The fact is people of all ages work. From infants to seniors. If this interests you, even if it to just get extra work on a film, TV show or a commercial, get the right information and learn how to get these types of jobs.
Aaron Marcus in House of Cards
What’s your favorite type of character to play?
I know many actors have specific types they enjoy playing. Honestly, I just love to work. I loved working on the AMC show Halt and Catch Fire as an attorney, and I had a blast as a doctor in a political TV spot. It really does not matter to me. Film, TV training films, commercial modeling work etc…, I just love working.
Having said that, it is nice when working on film or TV projects, and people are always stopping by your trailer to see if they can get you anything. That is fun!!
Aaron Marcus in Gotham
What projects are you dying to work on in the future?
Going back to my comment about how surprised you would be to learn what work is in your local area, I would love to work on the TV show Homeland. They shot all of last season in Richmond, Virginia.
I really don’t have a bucket list of projects I really want to work on. Just getting an opportunity to act and take on different characters is such a wonderful experience.
Do you have any interesting or funny stories from being on set as an actor or model?
There are many many interesting and funny stories that I have experienced in my more than 1,200 bookings so far.
Sometimes people think that famous actors are snooty and arrogant. Sometimes they can be. But, these three women, whom I had the pleasure and honor of working with were just wonderful people. Judi Dench (in Philomena), Ellen Burstyn and Robin Wright in (House of Cards) were simply amazing to spend time and work with. They are very kind and generous people.
I once had a great commercial modeling job. It was a national campaign for a bank. The concept was “get the monkey off your back.” Fortunately, I love animals and animals love me. The agent asked me if I was comfortable working with a Capuchin Monkey. I told the agent that I would love to play with the monkey. What a fun way to spend a day at work. On the set, I met “Freddie, ” the Capuchin Monkey. We got along really well. Before the photographer started shooting, he was grooming the back of my hair and sitting on my shoulders. He was a sweet guy. We started shooting and something freaked Freddie out. He jumped off of my shoulders and bit the assistant photographer. Everyone was fine, but that ended the day for Freddie working on the set.
Another time, I was playing a police officer in a film. They had me sitting in the chair at the front of the police station. A real attorney came in and started yelling at me about a problem he was having with his client who was in jail. I kept trying to tell the attorney, that I was an actor, but he kept yelling. Finally, at one point after he took a breath, I was able to tell him that he needed to speak to a real officer, he started yelling at me for not letting him know that I was an actor. I guess I really looked the part.
One of the great things about getting both acting and or commercial modeling work is that there are so many incredible experiences one will have. Whether it is the opportunity to watch some incredible actors up close, see how a film/TV show is made and even get the chance to network with others in the industry.
If you ever dreamed of seeing yourself in a film – even as an extra, or a TV show or a commercial, stop dreaming. Instead, learn how you can get started in the industry, even as a hobby on a part-time basis. You will find it fascinating, interesting and a lot of fun.