Veteran television and film actor Markus Flanagan will speak to Theater, Musical Theater and Westminster Choir College students about his book One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor’s Survival Guide, on Thursday, October 22, in the Yvonne Theater. Flanagan’s enlightening appearance is sponsored by the Office of Career Services and the School of Fine and Performing Arts.
Flanagan, who made his big-screen debut in the 1988 Neil Simon comedy Biloxi Blues, has since appeared in numerous popular television programs, including Northern Exposure, Melrose Place, Seinfeld, That ‘70s Show, Numb3rs and Heroes. In all, the Los Angeles resident has starred in three prime-time series, made 50 guest appearances and TV shows and acted in 10 feature films. He has also had roles in five stage plays and five movies of the week.
In One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor’s Survival Guide, Flanagan sought to clarify the often confusing path performers face in carving out a career. On his Web site, onelessbitteractor.com, Flanagan says that “the key to becoming a successful actor is staying sane enough to do your best work every time.” In his appearance, he promises to share advice he calls “un-findable anywhere else” on the life-issues aspiring actors face, and to “dispel the many myths and misconceptions actors are handed about their profession that invariably lead to insecurity, bitterness, and bad choices.”
Miriam Mills, an assistant professor of Fine Arts who helped arrange Flanagan’s appearance at Rider, says that the students who ultimately choose careers in acting will find his advice invaluable.
“For many in the know, One Less Bitter Actor is the actors’ ‘bible’ for surviving the audition process,” Mills said. “Markus Flanagan’s experience, wisdom and generosity are extraordinary and his willingness to meet with our students is a very special gift. I expect, after reading his book, that Mr. Flanagan will help our students solidify the information they have been given in class and perhaps make the transition from student to actor easier and more successful.”
Flanagan says that the idea for One Less Bitter Actor arose from his desire to share the things he has learned over 20 years as a successful actor – lessons he had to learn the hard way.
“There are no acting mentors – actors are very competitive,” he told Good Morning Colorado on Denver’s Fox 31. “They don’t share secrets because if I give you my secret, you might get a job I wanted. You can get a lot of really bad advice from a lot of bitter people along the way.” Actors are quick to share their misery, but not necessarily their formula for making their journeys easier, he added.
Rachel Messler of Career Services says that her office is “excited” to team up with the School of Fine and Performing Arts to bring Flanagan to Rider. “Markus Flanagan offers advice and confronts the myths about the issues that one faces when pursuing an acting career,” she said. “We are thrilled to have him at Rider University.”
Former Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert, who more recently served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 200 to 2004, says the material contained in One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor’s Survival Guide is essential for all aspiring actors. “Save yourself five years of learning the hard way and read this book,” she said. “If I could, I’d make it required reading for everyone who dreams to be, was or is a member of Screen Actors Guild.”