Tuesday Tips: Advice for the actor who wants to move out to LA

Penn actors Roy Vongtama (C’96), Lesley Wolff (C’93) and Alex Petrovitch (C’01)

UPennIn this week’s Tuesday Tips series, I have enlisted the help of my Penn alumni actor friends out here in Los Angeles to offer advice to the Penn undergrad or alum who has decided to move out to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

Between the three of them, Roy Vongtama (C’96), Lesley Wolff (C’93), and Alex Petrovich (C’01) have done TV, Film and stagework and have offered up some great advice to all of you including answers to the following questions:

Who are the best acting coaches?
Who are some good photographers to take my headshots?

Where should I get my headshots done?

Every year there are a new crop of Penn undergrads and alumni who move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Having been one of those “actors” back in 1996 (but no longer), I too navigated the new waters of Los Angeles At the time, I felt the need to do everything I could possibly do to be an actor. This included enrolling in acting classes (with a woman named Catlin Adams), getting headshots, taking cold reading classes with places like “Act Now”.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve been an actor, I wanted to open it up to a panel of current Penn actor friends of mine out here in Los Angeles.

Check out what they had to say and feel free to add your own suggestions!

Roy Vongtama (C’96)

Acting Coaches:
I really recommend the team approach. I find actors don’t realize the extent of technique and how it differs from stage. so you need to round out your education!!! esp coming off of the $40,000 experience, the cost in LA is actually pretty minimal. also, I’m a big advocate of staying with one coach, for each side of the biz. everytime you switch you have to take a year or so and backtrack to learn a new “approach.”

My coaches:
for each of these, if you tell them you know me you can prob get better rates! (Roy Vongtama)

1) scene study: Joe Palese, 818 754 4442
I have studied with him for seven years.

2) Cold reading: Amy lyndon 818 760 8501
I have studied with her for 2 years, my booking rate has tripled!

3) voice coach: bob corff 323 851 9042 incredible teacher and former vocal professional. on and off for two years.

4) career coach: barbara deutch: 818 508 9096
she is so intuitive and can get you where you want to go!

5) financial coach: vanessa is a money life coach and someone that keeps you on track with financial biz side goals.

Headshots places (names and numbers)
1) 3239659382 80$ for 300 lithos. can’t beat turnaround and quality.
discount if you mention roy vongtama. 5% I think it was.

my favorite: I have used others, but dana shoots film and has a great style. I get called in a lot off of these. SPEND MONEY HERE! they are so important.

1. invest in yourself! you’ll pay yourself back, I promise.
2. do one thing for your career everyday.
3. get mentors that have already done what you want to do!

Alex Petrovitch (C’01, Member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Men’s Varsity Soccer, Men’s Cycling)

First – a disclaimer. There is no “one” way to pursue this industry. So with that being said, this is my experience to share – it is what it is.

Acting Coaches:

1) Drama: Eric Morris,

2) Comedy: Groundlings, Improv Olympic, Second City.

3) Audition Technique: Mary Pat Gleason, Joel Brooks. (Unfortunately, there class is not in session currently – but I mention it because there is a HUGE distinction between acting, and cold reading/auditioning – you must train both)

**Note – Sometimes I have heard that it is better to train w/ a coach that is “well known”, and who may have career contacts, such as someone like Leslie Kahn. I have not tried this approach, but it is something to consider. She is VERY well known. (many Penn people out here have taken her)

**Note – I also agree w/ Roy that to stay w/ one coach is a solid choice. There are millions of coaches out there teaching the art of acting, you have to find the one that is right FOR YOU. Because they are all teaching the same thing, find the one that somehow makes sense to you. That will take some legwork. But I have never thought going from class to class every six months was a good idea – this is my view – because while you may get a diversity of ideas, I found you could never gain much “depth” of knowledge. Being committed to a certain craft allows you to develop a strong sense of your own approach, which I find invaluable.

Headshots – Very Important.

David Zaugh,


1) Develop a short term (3 months), mid term (6-9 Months), Long Term (1-2 Years), and Long, Long Term (5-? Years). I think it is important to chart a course.

2) Develop strong weekly habits/schedule for yourself.
Since you are managing/producing/marketing/ submitting/training/networking your entire career, you must get into a habit / program for yourself to do small things every week to benefit your career. Gym, Diet, Submission Schedule, Classes (Curriculum of Training), Fun Non-Actor Activities, Networking Events, etc. You have to make this program for yourself, and commit to it. It has to be balanced.

3) It’s an endurance race.

Lesley Wolff (C’93, Bloomers)

I teach Stand Up with a showcase at the Hollywood Improv. Feel free to add me to the list 323-650-9783.

Also Penn Peeps should check out my new show!

Click here to find out what our alumni panel has to say and/or add your own advice!

My posts about Penn Actors on TV and in Movies

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