Believe it or not, there are quite a number of similarities about how to navigate the entertainment business as a writer and actor. From pitching to knowing when you’re ready for representation, down to making deals that are right for you. Talent manager and actor Chi Muoi Lo has brought his decades of experience working in the industry as an actor, filmmaker and talent manager to his new product The Business of Acting to help inform and arm actors with practical tools and insight into navigating the business of acting.
Chi Muoi Lo’s acting journey began at an early age on the East Coast. He comes from a large family, twelve brothers and sisters, who all seemingly chose safe career routes. Whereas Chi was drawn toward performing at the age of 10 years old. He studied at top performing arts schools from junior high to college. By twenty years old, he had studied under sixty-four acting teachers. He soon graduated from college, packed his bags on a Saturday, and arrived in Los Angeles that Sunday, all in time for a writer’s strike. Once the strike was over, it was full speed ahead for Chi. He garnered early success booking roles, not as much as his white counterparts, but it was a start. However, he missed a key tool while navigating his acting career early on – guidance. Reflecting back, “I would love to have a manager like myself, guiding people how to succeed in the business,” Chi laments. He may have avoided what he states as his “biggest mistake of my career” - directing a movie, he wrote, produced and starred in, Catfish in Black Bean Sauce. The independent film however was a success. It made money from its then theatrical release and did well in home video. But Chi took five years off from booking roles, in order to make this film. He soon became a talent manager, and now with 20 years under his belt as a talent manager, he knows so much more about the business and is adeptly equipped to see outside the box for his talent – red flags that creatives may not immediately foresee.
Even though he spent years honing his craft, at the top schools – he sees these Ivy League institutions as a possible pitfall to a burgeoning actor’s career. By the time you graduate, you’ve aged out of roles and the competition is fierce in New York City and Los Angeles. One of the key components missing during those essential years while honing your craft is learning about the business and how to break in. His goal with his new series is to, “Give you the tools and information from beginning to end on how to succeed.” He peels back the Hollywood mystique and informs his talent about what agents at top agencies are doing and not doing to help push their career forward.
When asked if there are any benefits for a writer to consider taking acting classes, Chi pointedly stated, “The writer should take some acting classes, he or she will improve their writing. It will help you understand how to write for actors.” Further to that point, as a writer taking acting and improv classes, you’ll soon learn and understand how to write realistic dialogue, understand character motivations – their wants, why they feel a certain way – overall, their attitude in that scene and in that moment. It also helps tap into your emotional reserve. As for actors taking a seat in the director’s chair, Chi does have a point worth taking, “Never do that at all. No matter how you slice it, no matter how good you are, you lose at least ten percent of your good work. And you know most big players who have the ability to do that, you’ll find out that they don’t want to direct themselves.” There’s definitely high and low risk involved. We did agree that some of these big players are better off directors than actors (I’ll leave the name game up to you, dear reader).
Chi encourages not only actors to consider signing up for his industry insider training, but he also encourages writers to take part. You’ll learn about agency visits, pitching yourself, working with managers, understanding the inner workings of the business, all so that you can set yourself up for success.
To learn more about The Business of Acting and Chi Muoi Lo click here.