194 Acting and Modeling Might be Easier than You Think – Aaron Marcus

What You Will Hear:

  • Always Wanted to Try Acting or Modeling? The Job Might be Easier Than You Think.
  • What You May Not Know about Acting/Modeling
  • Career Path of an Actor/Model
  • Dealing with Rejection in Business 
  • Acting/Modeling as a Part-time Gig
  • Acting/Modeling – Never Too Late to Try 

Listen to ReLaunch Show on iPhone or Android App

More about our featured guest

Modeling coach and actor Aaron Marcus has been cast in 1,223 projects to date. He was cast on the TV shows, Gotham, Do No Harm, Law & Order, Rectify, The Wire, West Wing, Homicide as well as film projects such as Philomena, Eugene, Project Almanac, A Modest Suggestion and Burn After Reading.

His book, “How to Become a Successful Commercial Model” (now in its 5th edition), is considered by many to be the most important book on commercial modeling, and can be seen and ordered on Aaron’s site. Aaron has given his seminar: Book the Job over 500 times in five countries. He also offers private online mentoring programs.

Aaron's Book:

How to Become a Successful Actor and Model: From Getting Discovered to Landing Your Dream Audition and Role, the Ultimate Step by Step, No Luck Required Guide for All Actors and Models

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to Relaunch, your daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, practical steps and solutions. You can think of this show as being your personal prescription for relaunching into the life and business you love. And if you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show. Thank you for tuning in, and thank you for being involved in the before and the after show online conversations. If you are new here, just know that you are among friends. And the question of the day is where do you relaunch? Where do you relaunch? Is it on your daily commute to work, is it during your early morning walk or workout? Is it while you're doing chores around the house, or is it at some other time and some other activity during the day?

[00:57] Joel: We have been having a lot of fun with selfies, lately. People are taking a quick picture of themselves and what they're doing during their relaunch time, and they're putting them on Twitter. And one of the latest selfies I saw, Pei, I think you saw this one, too, was from one of our listeners, Jennifer Rodriguez, posted a relaunch selfie.

[01:22] Pei: She was all bundled up…

[01:23] Joel: She was, she was. Thank you for posting that, too, by the way, Jennifer. She relaunches on her daily commute. And, yeah, go ahead Pei.

[01:31] Pei: Yeah, so if you tweet us, #relaunchshow. It's two words, but no spacing between, and we're fairly active on Twitter and we would love to see that.


[01:45] Joel: Well, as you mentioned, Pei, in Jennifer's picture, she was pretty bundled up, so she probably lives somewhere up north, or wherever she lives, they were probably experiencing a cold front that day. In the background, it looked like she was in a very busy commuter. It was either a train station or a bus station.

[02:06] Pei: So it's the metro city, huh?

[02:07] Joel: Yeah, probably so, probably so. Those are fun pictures to see. Be sure and tweet us your selfies. We will look for them on Twitter. And joining us on today's show, this is gonna be a good one, Aaron Marcus, acting veteran Aaron Marcus. You've seen him in commercials with AT&T, with McDonalds, with Disney World. He's been cast in shows like Gotham, Do No Harm, Law and Order, Rectify and The West Wing. Not to mention, he's been in numerous movie projects. And he is the author of what some say to be the most important book on commercial modeling. And the book is appropriately titled, “How to Become a Successful Commercial Model”. And it's actually now… I don't know if you knew this, Pei, but it's actually in its fifth edition now. And he has delivered his program called “Book the Job”, more than 500 times, and he has actually been all over the globe delivering that program in five countries so far. If the possibilities of modeling or acting are part of your relaunch, you definitely wanna stick around for today's show. Acting veteran, Aaron Marcus. Welcome, welcome to Relaunch.

[03:30] Aaron Marcus: Oh, it's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[03:33] Joel: It is so exciting to have you on, Aaron. And this show is all about the relaunch. And what I generally do is I generally ask our guests to zero in on the one relaunch that has been the most significant or the most transformational for them, and then just kind of unfold the story from there. But before we even get in to that, let me ask you this, most of the women that you work with or that attend your programs or that read your book, are they generally speaking, going through their own relaunch? How does that work? How does that look?

[04:09] Aaron: You must be a psychic because the majority, not just of women, the majority of the people who either take my workshop, buy my book, study with me privately online, it's mostly women. These are not typically a 16, 17-year-old girl who is interested in getting into the fashion modeling world. These are women. These are women who primarily have worked all their lives. They've taken care of other people. They've done things for other people. And they get to a point in life where they say, “You know what, I want to do something fun for myself. It's time for me.” And they want to do something different, something new, something they've thought about for many, many years. And for a lot of people, they start thinking, “Well, you know what, I'm already in my 40s, 50s. I'm too old to get into modeling or acting. I'm not tall enough, my body's not perfect enough, I'm not thin enough.”

[05:15] Aaron: And the interesting thing is most people just don't realize that in the world of commercial modeling, which is very different than the fashion world. In the fashion world, those are very young women who are getting started and they are promoting high-end designer clothes. You've got to be 5'9″ to six feet tall, typically your measurements are going to be 34-24-34, and it's a very difficult business. And there are a handful of people… I'm exaggerating a little bit, certainly there's a lot more than a handful, but there are very limited amount of people in the world who become super models. What a lot of people don't realize is that there's a whole other world of modeling out there that has nothing to do with fashion, and it's called commercial modeling. We are the people that you see in every non-fashion magazine, brochure, direct mail piece, posters, billboards, ads on the sides of buses, on the internet, and we are promoting and being associated with many, many, many different products.

[06:17] Aaron: And it could be anything from health care, to pharmaceuticals, to banking, to real estate. And they need everybody. They need infants, they need people in their 90s, and everybody in-between. People with different heights; some people are tall, some people are short, some people have great bodies, some people don't have such great bodies. And so, that's what I find is that these are people who want to do something different, something they've thought about all of their lives. And they've gotten to a place where they stop hearing the people who say, “Oh, you've gotta be more practical. You've gotta do something where there's more of a guarantee.” And for most people, they're not trying to make a living as an actor or a commercial model. If they book a few things a year and see themselves in a magazine ad, that's what it's all about. It's not about the money. So, yeah, absolutely. These are women who decide, “It's time for me. It's my time. I wanna do something fun.” And I'm able to teach people how to do it and how to go about getting work.

[07:27] Joel: Well, let me ask you this… And you've worked with so many people delivering that program 500 or 500+ times. Is there a common theme that you've heard, from a lot of people that you've spoken with about, what they've done in their first half, or in their past life?

[07:48] Aaron: Yeah, I've had people attend… Anywhere from doctors, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, all different types. And what the common theme is, “I have no idea how to get started.” You hear all these horror stories and… No, sometimes it's even for their kids. Sometimes it's for their children as well as for themselves. But the other common theme is, “I don't live in New York. I don't live in Los Angeles. I don't live in Chicago. I don't live in Miami. I live in a small town. How could I possibly find work?” And what people don't realize, is that there is work available virtually everywhere throughout the United States. Some of the best jobs that I've done have come from very small markets; places like Richmond, Virginia, could be Columbus, Ohio, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, small towns in New Jersey. Being in a small town doesn't prevent you from finding work. It's a matter of learning how to find the work, how to put together the right materials, how to find legitimate agents. Because, unfortunately, in our business… Like, I guess, in many businesses, there are scams. There are people who know what to say to you to extract money from you. And so, you've got to really be very knowledgeable, and know how the business works, and what is acceptable and, that way, you can make really intelligent decisions…

[09:27] Pei: Very interesting.

[09:28] Aaron: And to find work, yep.

[09:29] Pei: Yeah, and you were actually talking about the limitations people assumed about this acting and modeling world, and thank you for sharing that. So, speaking about the past life for those other people that… Your clients that came to you and learned… You pretty much opened up this new world for them. What about you? What about your “past life?”


[09:58] Aaron: Yeah. No, I'm kind of laughing a little bit because it's a… To make a long story very short, so at one point in my life, I was a musician. I was a full-time musician. I studied music in school, and I toured for six years, and I was working with my brother, and when he decided that… He really didn't like performing. He didn't like the traveling. He gave me a year's notice to figure out what I wanted to do, and I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist. So, I went back to college. I start taking all the courses that I avoided all my life, taking Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Zoology…

[10:44] Joel: Just let me jump in right there. Why did you land on that particular occupation?

[10:48] Pei: Right, yeah. That's quite a jump.

[10:50] Aaron: That's a good question. It is, it is. I've always… Well, I guess, overall, I love working with people.

[10:58] Joel: Okay.

[10:59] Aaron: I also found learning about the human body incredibly fascinating. And so, what I did was I decided to volunteer at an orthopedic hospital, in the physical therapy department, just to get an idea of what that world is like. And I spent 600 hours volunteering, and I thought, this is what I wanna do. It seems to fit all of my requirements, working with people. I loved the idea of a steady job, I never had one in my life. And I would get a chance to heal people, which felt incredible to me as well. And learning about the body was just fascinating. So, [chuckle] right before I got married, the plan was… I was taking all my prerequisites for physical therapy school, and while I was going to college again full-time, taking all these science classes, I needed to support myself.

[12:04] Aaron: And I happened to meet an actor one day, and he was telling me what he did, he was talking about commercials that he had done, he talked a little bit about commercial modeling and some movies that he had done. And I thought, “Oh, this sounds like fun. Maybe I could do this on a part-time basis, while I'm a full-time student.” ‘Cause it has very flexible hours, when you do get the job, it pays very well, and it seems like it was fun. So, that's what I started doing. And I was doing it part-time for two years, and to be very honest, I started having dreams about being a very successful physical therapist and being unhappy with the work of doing the same thing over, and over, and over, and over again.

[12:46] Joel: Interesting.

[12:47] Aaron: And I was getting… I was very excited about the acting and modeling work, and I was getting some work, even as a full-time college student. And right before…

[12:56] Pei: So, you're saying you were having those dreams even before you were working as a physical therapist?

[13:04] Aaron: Oh yeah, oh I wasn't even… Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I was just beginning to apply to physical therapy schools. So, I decided to listen to that inner thought in my brain that was telling me, “It seems like the acting is really exciting you.” And I thought, “You know what? If I don't give it a try, I will regret it for the rest of my life.” I can live with not reaching a goal, that I can live with. What I couldn't live with, was not trying it. And so, I spoke to my fiance at the time, and I said, “Nancy, I'd like to try acting full-time.” And this is now about a month before we're getting married, and she thought she was marrying a guy who was going to go to physical therapy school. And she was great, and she said, “Yeah, try it.” Because she didn't want to be the one to say, “Oh, I don't think I can marry somebody who's gonna be an actor or anything.” So, that's what I did, I decided to try it for one year, and then reevaluate. And see if, number one, I could still continue to get work, whether I could that kind of lifestyle of the unknown, of being self-employed, and really stomach the uncertainty of that kind of lifestyle. And after a year, I evaluated things and I thought, “This is great.” And that's been almost 30 years now. And so…


[14:28] Joel: What a great story.

[14:29] Aaron: Yeah, so I mean the whole… And look, for most people, most people don't pursue this on a full-time basis. Most people have full-time jobs, most people have families, most people have other things going on in their life. And they periodically take time off, and whether it's working as an extra, whether it's being in a TV commercial, whether it's seeing themselves up on the billboard when they're driving down the street, for most people that's the excitement, not trying to do it on a full-time basis…

[14:59] Pei: Right.

[14:59] Aaron: And you don't have to, you really don't.

[15:03] Joel: Let me ask you a question here Harry, and I'm gonna see if there is a connection here, because what I found, and Pei and I both found this, is a lot of times, things transfer into different occupations, different jobs, different lifestyles, when it's the same common theme. You said that one of the interests for becoming a physical therapist was because you wanted to heal people.

[15:29] Pei: And he was fascinated about how the body works.

[15:32] Joel: Exactly, exactly. So, I'm wondering… Now, if there's not a connection here then that's fine, just let me know. But I'm wondering, in the work that you do now with people, how are you helping heal people in this capacity?

[15:49] Aaron: Oh, you are right on track. It's exactly the same. It's a different modality, but it's the exact same process.

[15:55] Joel: Okay. Break that down, because I think a lot of people struggle with that. I think they take their desires, “I want to teach”, or “I want to heal”, or “I want to empower”. And I think people, with the best of intentions, they quickly put an occupational hat on what that's supposed to look like. Well, it's like, “Well, if I wanna teach, that means I have to be a traditional schoolhouse teacher”, or, “If I want to empower, that means I need to be… ”

[16:24] Pei: A minister or…

[16:25] Joel: “A pastor, or a minister”. “If I wanna protect, or keep safe, well, that means I need to be a police officer.” So, I think that's just kind of how we've been conditioned.

[16:37] Pei: Yeah, box ourselves in.

[16:39] Joel: So, yeah, break that down, because I think is an important piece that we need to cover.

[16:45] Aaron: Well, there are a number of things involved here. One of the things that I find is that, when I do my private, either online mentoring, or in-person workshops, I learn from other people. I learn from teaching. It's an amazing experience for me, so what I find is that I not only learn from the experience, but I really enjoy and love giving information out. And sometimes what it also does for me, it really makes me feel better about what I do. When you do something, and you do it well, and you've been doing it a long time, sometimes you take things for granted, and you don't appreciate what you have done and accomplished. But when you're working with other people who are just getting started, and you can really teach them step-by-step, how to get started, how to do things, how to avoid bad situations, it's a wonderful feeling for me. And so, it really combined a lot of very similar concepts that I had.

[17:59] Aaron: And it's true, you don't have to be a traditional teacher in order to do what I do. I don't have a degree in… Actually, I don't have a degree in anything, 'cause I've been in and out of college a lot of times. I'm waiting for an honorary degree, to tell you the truth. [chuckle] So, but… Because what I do is you don't have to have something written… You don't have to have a diploma for it. I mean, what I do is I take my life experiences, what I do on a daily basis, and I teach people, but what also is extremely helpful, and I guess here's another hat that I do wear, it's not only just the technical aspects of the industry. This is a head shot. These are the photos. These are agents. It's really a psychological part of it, as well. How do you deal with rejection? How do you deal with your fears? When you are scared, and you're going into an audition, how do you do that? Because it can be overwhelming, and it prevents a lot of people from having the success that they want, and it even prevents a lot of people from getting started because speaking in front of other people, from what I've read, is one of the biggest phobias that people have, the biggest fear. Some people say they would rather jump out of an airplane than talk in front of a group of people.

[19:23] Aaron: And so, one of the things that I do with people is not only just the technical aspects of how to run your acting and modeling business, but also, the psychological parts of it as well. So, that's where the other healing part comes in.

[19:37] Pei: Yes.

[19:38] Aaron: And so, in some ways, I'm a psychologist. I'm a psychotherapist practitioner. So, for anybody who has expertise in a certain area, going out and teaching other people, whether you charge them a fee or not, just going out and charging other people, can be a wonderful experience, and it can also… It also brings people to you because you are seen as the expert, as the guru, as the person to go to, and I guess as a general, overall philosophy, is I just find that the more I give, the more I get.

[20:19] Joel: Indeed.

[20:20] Aaron: And so, that's what I like to do.

[20:20] Pei: I love that.

[20:21] Joel: Absolutely.

[20:22] Pei: So, you were talking about the rejection. Of course, when you ask for a job, and that layer of rejection and the confidence, but what about… Have you come across helping people overcome the confidence about presenting their body in front of camera? Yeah.

[20:42] Aaron: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, and that's a major part of what I talk about with people. Here's the key thing. In this business… And I think this is probably true in most businesses, but especially in our business. We are sales people. Actors and models are salesmen. And what we are doing is we're not selling computers. We're not selling health care plans. We are selling ourselves, so it's a little bit different that way because it's easier to take rejection if you are selling a certain…

[21:15] Pei: Software.

[21:16] Aaron: Long distance service.

[21:17] Pei: Yeah.

[21:18] Aaron: And somebody says, “Nah, I'm really not interested in that.” You go, “Okay. That's fine.” And you knock on somebody else's door. But for us, what people are saying is, “We don't want you.” And so…

[21:29] Joel: That's tough.

[21:31] Aaron: So, here's the trick. You've got to understand, it's nothing personal. These are business decisions. It's not a matter of, are you a good person? Are you nice to other people? That has nothing to do with any of this stuff. These are business decisions. Here's a perfect example: There was somebody who took a private mentoring session with me who told me the story that I love sharing. She auditioned for the pilot for a major television series that everybody watches, and she did not get the part. And her manager was told by the casting director, everybody loved her, and they said, “Well, then why didn't she get hired?” Because there are two daughters on this show. The older daughter had already been cast. This girl was auditioning for the younger daughter who happened to be taller than the other girl who's already been cast, and they were not going to cast somebody who was supposed to play a younger daughter who was taller than the older daughter.

[22:42] Aaron: So, it was her height. So, it's nothing personal, and I'm not saying that sometimes, you go into audition, and it's just a bad read. You just weren't very good that day. That stuff happens all the time. Still, this isn't any statement, whether you book the job or don't book the job, as to who you are as a human being, and that is really important to understand. It's nothing personal. These are just business decisions. And even very successful people, most of the auditions they go on, they don't book. And so, you have to really disassociate yourself from taking it on a personal level, and I think that really helps with the rejection.

[23:25] Joel: I think you're right.

[23:26] Aaron: And just one other really quick thing is whenever I go to an audition for a job, my number one goal is not booking the job, which I know is kinda surprising for a lot of people to hear 'cause they think, “Well, this is what you do, and your goal is not booking the job?” It's not. That's not my number one goal. My number one goal is to have a good time. I want to enjoy myself during that audition. The second thing is I want to learn from the audition. Sometimes, I walk out, and I think, “I did everything I wanted to do. It felt right to me. It was a good day at work.” and that has no bearing, quite often, as to whether you book the job, because everybody's gonna do a good audition. Then the third thing is, if I happen to book the job, to me that's just icing on the cake, but that also helped take some of the pressure off. I'm not going into the audition feeling needy or wanting, or “I've gotta get this, I've gotta make sure they love me”, and all that kind of stuff. I'm going in there like they're inviting me to a party, and I take over the party.

[24:25] Joel: Love that.

[24:26] Aaron: And that helps tremendously, whether it's dealing with being scared and nervous, and also dealing with not booking the job.

[24:35] Joel: Love that.

[24:36] Pei: I love that. I mean, life is a… If we take life as a party, it's all about fun, right?

[24:41] Joel: Talking with Aaron Marcus today. HowToModel.com, that is one place to go. Aaron, as we come in for a landing on this, really appreciate your time today, and for being on this show. If you can think about one of the clients that you worked with personally, and just share a little bit of her coming out story or maybe something that she discovered about herself. You can tell us about the job that she booked, or didn't book. I mean, that's fine, too, but an empowering story that maybe even caught you by surprise. Go ahead.

[25:18] Aaron: Yeah, actually that's a great question. There was somebody who took a workshop with me, and she sent me an email about a year later, and she said “I've just… I've gotta let you know, your workshop was great. It opened up my eyes, and you know what I found? I found that my passion,” which is a key word here, “Was not being in front of a camera.” She wound up becoming a make-up artist, and she found that that is what really turned her on, that's what she gravitated towards. And one of the things I do talk about with people is that you've got to keep things open. You just never know where your brain and your heart are going to start bleeding. And listen to yourself. If something is telling you something, don't just dismiss it and try to get rid of it; follow it. And she just found that when we were talking about make-up as just another place in the industry where a lot of people might have an interest in going to, and that's what she decided to do. And she's working as a make-up artist now and I thought, “You know what? That's great. That's wonderful.”

[26:29] Aaron: And I've even had some people walk out of my workshops and say “You know what? Your information was so good, I just decided this really isn't for me,” and I think… I know sometimes people might say, “Well, it apparently wasn't a very good workshop.” I see it as a real compliment, because I was able to give people the information and the realities of this is what it takes, this is what it's all about, and if it's not right for you, then congratulations. You've figured that out, and you can scratch that off your list of things to pursue in life, and then move on to something else that you do feel passionate about.

[27:05] Joel: Absolutely. And I think that when you keep your mind open, and when you attend live events and conferences or you work with a coach, and you don't give yourself the pressure of this has gotta work, this has gotta work, this has gotta work, this is my last chance, when you free yourself of that pressure then you can be open to making new discoveries like, “Oh my gosh, you know what? I don't particularly wanna be in front of the camera, but, oh my gosh, the world of being a make-up artist is so fascinating.” or some of the other wonderful discoveries that are available. Pei?

[27:40] Pei: Yeah, I just wanna add a real quick comment. That actually reminded me a couple people we spoke with recently, asking us about podcasting, and they, of maybe 20, 30 people, two said, “I'm not sure this is what I wanna do,” so that's great, because that's what we're here for, to offer you, tell you what it's about.

[28:03] Joel: Absolutely. And as long as you learn something about yourself and you're able to move forward with that new knowledge and understanding, it makes it a win-win.

[28:14] Joel: Aaron, this has been fantastic. Aaron Marcus, who we've had as our guest today. HowToModel.com, one of the places to go. Of course, we'll have the links to all of the social media hotspots in our broadcast show notes. And Aaron, this has been a pleasure. You're welcome back here on the ReLaunch Show, any time. Thank you for joining us today.

[28:37] Aaron: Oh, it was my pleasure. And really, any time you would like to have me on, love to come back.

[28:43] Joel: Have a great rest of your day, Aaron. Bye-bye.

[28:44] Aaron: Thanks.

You can also connect with Aaron on FacebookTwitter and on Aaron’s site.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

1 Comment

  1. Mohit on December 22, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Thanks for sharing the article about 194 Acting and Modeling Might be Easier than You Think – Aaron Marcus. Very interesting article. Great tips in included in the post. Once again thanks for sharing views. Have a great week ahead.

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