Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Yates.
Alison, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Alexandria, VA right outside of Washington D.C. I started acting at the ripe age of five in musicals with the local children’s theatre. I then went to Boston University where I received my BFA in Acting. I spent a few years in New York City doing Off-Broadway Theatre and working with The Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summers.
I also studied with The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, The Academia del’ Arte, Steppenwolf, The Old Vic New Voices, The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Second City and The Groundlings. I moved to Los Angeles in 2011 and started playing small parts on television shows and performing improv and sketch comedy. I have always been on the hunt for a survival job that felt almost as amazing as acting.
I started taking head shots for fellow actors about five years ago and haven’t looked back. Taking head shots led to consulting with actors and helping them move forward in their careers with branding, pictures, self-tapes, reels, websites, agent reach outs and strategies to get them working. I love helping other actors succeed.
When I graduated from Boston University, I knew how to act, but I had no idea how to actually get jobs. We as actors are a business, and I don’t know that a lot of acting programs tell you that. I am trying to help other actors figure out what they need to do to start working in hopefully a more direct way than what I went through. I also own my own production company that has produced several short films.
I am able to connect actors with talented film crews to start producing their own work as well. I coach actors and fellow entrepreneurs on how to use social media and how to build their followings. I run several accounts myself for fellow actors. I have my own skin care business that I work on the side as well.
I think being an actor in 2019, you have to diversify your income in any way possible. I sometimes feel scattered running so many different businesses, but I try and focus on the client in front of me. I love connecting with someone one on one and sharing a part of their journey.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have faced a ton of rejection in my career as an actor. There have been so many parts that I thought would have changed my life that I did not book. Honestly many of them broke my heart with lots of days spent in bed in the dark. I think I’ve gotten stronger and better with rejection as I continue on. Just this morning I found out I didn’t book a pilot that I had been on hold for. I felt the sting and haven’t thought much of it since. It’s always on to the next when something doesn’t work out.
Even when you do book an acting job, you are already hunting for the next. It is a never-ending cycle. I’ve learned that whatever jobs I book or don’t book aren’t going to make me happy. It’s my family and home life that I have to find peace in. Whenever I don’t book something I know it wasn’t part of my path and something else will be a better fit.
Even though sometimes it hurts so much that I have no choice but to let myself feel the pain for a bit. It’s like a bad break up. Time always makes it better though. With all of my entrepreneurial feats, the hardest part has probably been finding clients and actually showing up every day to my businesses. I am not as motivated with my side businesses as I am with my acting career. I’d rather be acting all the time! It’s my favorite thing in the world (after my fiance and dog of course). I struggle with putting as much effort into my side gigs as I do into my acting career.
Finding that motivation to do things that I don’t enjoy as much can be trying. Sometimes I also feel like a fraud with my side gigs. I am great at photography and social media but because I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time training in either field; I worry about it. It got to a point where I was taking pictures every day, and I had to just say to myself, “I am a photographer. This is real. I’m doing it.”
I think because I have spent so much time training as an actor, anything less feels like I’m not a professional. In life, we learn a lot of things by doing, and photography and social media really fell into my lap. I’m lucky that they both help with acting and that I find them enjoyable.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I help actors with whatever they need to get their acting careers moving: letters to agents and managers, self-tapes, producing their own content, consultations, reels, resumes, coaching, headshots, social media, branding, and connecting them with classes, people, workshops that might help them. I am a one-stop shop for actors who need to shake up their careers.
I am proud of all of the actors I have helped. Whenever a client gets a new agent or books apart while using one of my headshots; well that is just the best feeling. I think my personality sets me apart from other photographers and career consultants. I am very grounded and easy going. I will never judge someone, and I get along with people really easily.
A lot of my headshot clients say that shooting with me is the most relaxed and fun session they have ever done. I get it! Getting your picture taken can be nerve-wracking. I try and disarm people and help them feel calm. I use my own career experience to give my clients the best advice I can. I am honest about what worked for me or friends of mine and what didn’t.
I am lucky that I have had success as an actor, but it was not a walk in the park by any means. Also having a lot of friends who are even more successful in different arenas of the entertainment world helps me give advice based on more than my own personal experience. Working with me will be the most relaxed and comfortable few hours of your career.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My fiance Isaac, my parents, all of my teachers and many of my friends all had a hand in my success. I would not be here without any of those people. My producing partner, Kelly Hallmark, helped me make my first three films.
It would have been impossible to make those movies without her. I have had a lot of supportive friends that I have worked with along the way too. Carly Ann Giene and Bethany Walls stand out as two who were always helping spread the word about my work. My old manager would send me photography clients all of the time. Thank you Al Hill! My friend Pat Asanti has sent me countless clients as well.
My agents who built my resume: Julie Smith and Natalie Kollar. My friend Jen Dede Kelly is responsible for the social media aspect of my business. She has given me so many social media clients! Anyone who has worked with me I’d like to thank as well. I love my clients, and they are the reason I am still going! Without them, I’d just be binge-watching bravo waiting for auditions.
- Website: www.alisonmyates.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bigbadyates/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonyatesphotography/
Brett Wheat – @modestpioneer on Instagram