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December 9, 2014 6:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books or blogs about actors trying to break into show business. Fiction or non-fiction.

I recently read Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham and I found myself intrigued by the process of an actor trying to get an acting job.

I'm interested in reading about actors going on auditions, moving to NYC or Los Angeles, and dealing with the unforgiving world of the entertainment industry.
posted by Fairchild to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Two books I enjoyed:

Gasping for Airtime by Jay Mohr. He was fairly established as a stand-up comic, but this was his "big break" into Saturday Night Live, and what happened during that is a weird, amazing story.

I Don't Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer, a comic actress who has been in a million costarring roles, but hasn't quite broken into the mainstream.
posted by xingcat at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2014

Nick Offerman's memoir "Paddle Your own Canoe" has quite a bit about his career in theater before getting his role on Parks & Rec. He started in Chicago after college and then moved out to L.A.

Rob Lowe's "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" has some about his pre-fame days growing up in L.A., including hanging out with Sean and Chris Penn, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. I know there is a chapter about the audition for The Outsiders.
posted by soelo at 8:17 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls.
posted by scratch at 9:11 AM on December 9, 2014

If you are also interested in podcasts you could check out "Making It with Riki Lindhome" (actress and 1/2 of the comedy music duo Garfunkel & Oats).

Each episode is an interview with someone in the industry specifically focused on the process of getting started, how it happened, what they learned, mistakes they made, breaks they got, etc. Depending on the guest it can be really good. I don't think it's active anymore but there should be a large back catalog on itunes/whatever.
posted by jonpaul at 9:20 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are lots of great actor autobiographies/biographies. A few I've read:

Ellen Burstyn

James Lipton

Al Pacino

Alan Arkin

You might also enjoy this handbook for auditioning - bit dated now but full of anecdotes and advice from a casting agent - Michael Shurtleff's "Audition"
posted by stray at 9:46 AM on December 9, 2014

The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day, Deadwood).
posted by Flexagon at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Old school: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wolk.
posted by holborne at 10:41 AM on December 9, 2014

It's fiction, but Molly Gloss' recent novel Falling From Horses is wonderful. It's set in 1938, during the height of the Hollywood Western, and it's about a young Oregon cowboy and a young woman he meets on the bus to LA. He wants to be a stunt rider and she wants to write movies.

They both, kind of, get what they asked for.

It's kind of tragic in some ways, and beautifully written. And it's absolutely not for anyone really sensitive to animal harm.
posted by suelac at 11:54 AM on December 9, 2014

William Shatner was a workhorse of an actor for many years, doing theater and working in the emerging years of live tv. His book Up Till Now was a fascinating read.
posted by PSB at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2014

One of my favorite books ever -- Moss Hart, Act One.
posted by caoimhe at 3:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

In pre-war Germany, Hildegarde Knef's The Gift Horse.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:02 PM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for the suggestions. These are great.
posted by Fairchild at 2:55 AM on December 10, 2014

Also a mix of humor and memoir about other subjects, but I must recommend Amy Poehler's Yes, Please. She's got some great things to say about how her career got started, especially about being a woman in the boys' club of improv and stand-up.
posted by bookgirl18 at 8:32 AM on December 10, 2014

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