Hiring Base

Beth Maitland (ex-Traci, YOUNG AND RESTLESS) and actor Joel Brooks recently launched www.auditionsla.com, an educational Web site for actors who want to learn the ins-and-outs of auditioning. Digest caught up with Maitland, who explains how AuditionsLA came to be.Soap Opera Digest: The site looks great — very accessible.

Beth Maitland: Thanks!

Digest: Where did you get the idea for it?

Maitland: My partner, Joel, and I have been friends for 20-plus years. He’s done movies and sitcoms; he’s a wonderful character actor. I taught at a film school for almost 20 years and he taught privately, and he does personal coaching now. We were talking about how so many people along the way have given us a leg up and have been generous in giving us advice, and how great it would be to give back in a difficult business that isn’t always generous. And so we came up with the site. There are hundreds of articles, blogs and tips; we’re going to be interviewing our friends who are casting directors, producers, writers … all different people from the business who have advice they can share. They’ll discuss pet peeves, what never to do, what always to do, that sort of thing. This gives the information to people who are all over the place and not just in Los Angeles.

Digest: Does it cost to sign up?

Maitland: Because everyone is trying to save money these days, we decided we’d charge for the videos, but everything else on the site is free. We’re thinking of offering a subscription for a modest fee where subscribers will get extras.

Digest: What’s been the response?

Maitland: It’s been great. The videos that are up on the site are taken from 20-minute lectures from our ongoing class in Hollywood. We teach a class together on auditioning. So we started with sending out the videos and the information to our current students. Then we sent to actor friends of ours and other industry professionals. Now that it’s launched, the response has been mainly word-of-mouth, and it’s been really positive. The comments on our blogs have been very encouraging, that the site is, in fact, meeting a need and reaching people. We’ve gotten great suggestions from people, too, and we’re still tweaking things.

Digest: What else are you adding to the site?

Maitland: Links to theater companies, photographers, sites that give instructions on how to structure a resum&eecute;, things like that. We’re trying to do cross-linking to expand the information. We’re also going to be adding forums so that actors can communicate with each other and share their information and experiences.

Digest: It’s kind of like having an acting teacher right in your home.

Maitland: Exactly. You can go online and find a million references for acting school or books on acting, but no one talks much about the tools you need to be even able to show that you can be an actor. Because until you can book the job, you’re stuck. You need to study to even know how to audition.

Digest: What’s your real-life class like?

Maitland: Our class that we teach is specifically on auditioning for TV. I can cover daytime, which causes me to be pretty rigid in terms of my expectations of actors. Joel, on the other hand, is more broad since comedy is his background, and thinks out of the box. We balance each other well. I’m the basics and he’s the imagination aspect of things.

Digest: Which bit of information do you think is the most valuable?

Maitland: “What is your pet peeve?” is one of my favorite questions because after a while, you see that everyone’s pet peeves cross over and there are things that aggravate everybody in the audition process. That is very helpful to know. We also advise actors to be aware of how they present themselves, even if they’re just outside doing errands or at their job at a restaurant. The site is helpful to those who are in the middle of nowhere and just don’t know how to even get started. I’m from South Dakota and Joel is from a small town in upstate New York. Both of us made the choice to act from far away. We’re hoping that we can eliminate a lot of the trial and error we had to go through and a lot of the mistakes we had to make.

Digest: Your site might be so helpful that casting directors will have a more difficult time eliminating actors!

Maitland: Well, wouldn’t that be great [laughs]? We want to help out as many actors as we can.