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Spotlight Interview: Jodie Panek and Nicole Callahan, Acting UP Network

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JodieandNicoleAlexandra: Why did you decide to start Acting UP Network?

I think we both knew that there was a need for a place that goes beyond the casting director workshop. Yes, that aspect of networking is important, but it is more than that. Actors are being told all the time that they need to create their own work, but most actors did not go to film school and that seems overwhelming to them. We wanted to create a space to come and REALLY network to achieve those goals. While also offering the traditional casting director workshops, classes and showcases we will have seminars on how to write and produce your own work.

Alexandra: How did you come up with the name “Acting UP Network”?

We wanted something playful but to the point. Acting UP combines the idea that actors come here to “level UP” their careers and have fun and get creative.

Alexandra: What makes Acting UP Network different than other networking studios?

We think NETWORKING makes us different. Of course you can do casting director workshops at a lot of places. But the vast majority of actors don’t see results from doing workshops alone. It’s about getting out there and creating content! We are building a database of not only actors, but crew members and film makers and writers to create networking groups that meet weekly. Within these small groups people will form relationships that MAKE careers. It’s like the old saying, “a rising tide raises all boats.”

Alexandra: What are your individual backgrounds?

Nicole Callahan: I have been working as an actor in LA for about 6 years. Before that I worked as an actor in Austin for 3 years. I started working as a career consultant about three years ago, and fell in love with it. I love watching actors achieve their goals and succeed. I am part career adviser, part life-coach, part big sister to my clients.

Jodie Panek: I moved to LA in 1999 with a Sales and Corporate background. Being in LA, I really wanted to become involved in the local industry but I wasn’t an actor! Soon I realized that my business experience really did blend into the industry and started running an acting school in 2000 and working with actors. I had found my true love and passion. On and off for the past 15 years, I have helped to coach, guide and inspire actors to “Live The Dream”. All the while, building relationships with agents, casting directors, directors, producers, etc. My dream is to bring everyone together.

Nicole Callahan: And if I may circle back, something Jodie just said reminded me of another main Acting UP objective. We really want to teach those elements of sales and business to our actors. When we counsel actors, we are teaching them not only about the specifics of the industry we are in, but sales and marketing and business 101 that they did not get in their drama schools.

Alexandra: Where do you see Acting UP Network in 5 years? 10?

We’d like to see us having classes for writers and directors as well as actors. We want to host a film festival annually for our members and maybe even have our own digital TV network where our members can post their content and reach a large audience and grow their social numbers. We see Acting UP Network as being the place to go to when you have a creative idea….you want to work….you are looking for talent…you are looking for community…you want to be heard!

Alexandra Boylan

About Alexandra Boylan

Alexandra Boylan (Producer, Writer, Actor, Co-Founder Mustard Seed Entertainment and Mirror Tree Productions) Alexandra is an award-winning filmmaker. MirrorTree Productions, has produced numerous feature films, including "Home Sweet Home" and "At Your Own Risk". Her company Mustard Seed Entertainment's film "Catching Faith" had a two year run on Netflix and was on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Her most recent film "Wish For Christmas" sold to Pure Flix Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Alexandra’s script "Switched" was awarded the winner of the Kiaros Pro MovieGuide award for best screenplay. She is the author of "Create Your Own Career in Hollywood: Advice from a struggling actress who became a successful producer" available in Kindle and print on Amazon, and is an active member of Woman in Film Los Angeles where she served on the WIF PSA Board. Alexandra co-collaborated on the book "Thriving in Hollywood!" for msinthebiz.com