Haven Books Film & Media

Erin Gray

Mara Purl

Act Right

A Manual for the On-camera Actor


Winner, 2006 EVVY Award

Gold (First Place) – Legacy

The Midwest Book Review

from “Gary’s Bookshelf” at midwestbookreview.com

Do you have a question about acting? This is the book to learn all there is to know about breaking into the profession. The authors who know their stuff have packed this book with lots of good information. They discuss such things as auditioning, why you should have your own wardrobe, stunt work, professional photos and why you have to have them. These are just some of the areas they touch on. Unlike other books of this type, the authors have brief summaries of the most important aspects at the end of each chapter. Many may remember both authors. Mara Purl started acting on “Days Of Our Lives” and Erin Gray is most noted for her role on the popular “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”. Both have a wealth of experience which they share here in this expanded edition that should help anyone trying to get into this profession.

More About This Book

Readers’ Comments

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Here’s what other readers have said:

As the founder of the Theatre Department at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, I highly recommend “Act Right” by Mara Purl and Erin Gray. It’s exceptionally well written, and the most practical book on the technical aspects of an actor’s work. It’s invaluable for anyone going into professional acting work in TV or film.
— Lee Salisbury, Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

“Act Right” is supremely entertaining and informative in a myriad of aspects; thanks to Erin Gray and Mara Purl for filling a much needed gap with such a publication.
— John Wilson, Virginia

“I am blown away by the clarity and completeness of Erin Gray & Mara Purl’s book. If you want to be a professional actor…and you want to work…”Act Right” is required reading.”
— Joan Van Ark, Actress (“Knots Landing”), Director, Producer

“The ‘Shooting’ chapter was so complete and well written, that I have nothing to add — except my endorsement of Act Right: a must read.”
— Dan Hamilton, Emmy Award-winning Director

“As a professional First Assistant Director on ‘Deep Space 9,’ frankly I wish every actor who came to work on our show read this book first. It’s a wonderful book, full of step-by-step instructions for the novice. I’m very impressed. ‘Act Right’ is an incredibly good idea, and very, very well done.”
— B.C. Cameron

Congratulations on “Act Right,” the great book on acting. As an actor, writer, producer and PR person, I was impressed by the presentation, content and overall style. I’m recommending it to the cast of the show I’m co-producing. Cheers to Erin Gray and Mara Purl.
— Gordon Durich, Thousand Oaks, California

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Act Right! It was a quick read, very conversational and one on one, and the humor ranslates very well. Act Right contains a lot of useful information. I must say, watching TV has turned into a completely different experience for me. I’m watching with a much more discerning eye, checking out the technique and such. I found a new respect for all TV and film actors, regardless of where they are in the cultivation of their abilities. I’ve always had an idea of the complexities of being an on-camera actor, but it was wonderful to get a sense of the controlled chaos of a set, of putting the actor’s job in perspective with everything else that’s going on.
— Valina Cutler, San Francisco, California

All I can say is “Wow!” I had no idea actors had this much stuff to think about in addition to acting! An awful lot of what Ms. Gray and Ms. Purl had to say never would have occurred to me. Of course, I am not an actor and am not aspiring to be an actor, but I do find I am fascinated by all that actors have to do and put up with. The call sheet alone… holy cow! I can see a good 16 hour course on that piece of paper alone! Like I said, I’m no actor, but I can see “Act Right” should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to act. Anyone who does will only save themselves a lot of embarrassment and keep from looking too much like a newbie on the set. I guess what I’m taking too long to try to say is: “GREAT BOOK!”
— Kelly Young, Maine

I would like to express my sincere THANK YOU for sharing your book Act Right with me. What a wonderful tool for up and coming actors! I have referred to it, and quite honestly RUN to it for answers. When I am in a job and not sure what is expected of me, I can go to Act Right and “hit my mark”. Not only is it informative and fun, but it also provides tangible tools for the trade. Act Right is a MUST for every aspiring actor. Thank you for helping me succeed!
— Kendra Marshall, Christian recording artist/songwriter/actress

Quotes & Excerpts

Mara Purl and Erin Gray have this say….

…On synchronizing head and heart….
“The work of being an actor exists on both conscious and unconscious levels, and must be tackled from the points of view of both head and heart.”

…On Collaborating….
“A painter can work in the solitude of his loft; a writer can commune alone with her computer; a potter can find himself in the spin of his wheel. But when it comes time to work as an actor, you cannot do so alone.”

…On living as an artist….
“We strongly believe that to be an artist, you must learn to honor and nurture yourself. In America, we don’t live in an artist’s society, we live in a business climate. If you say you’re in business, you’re immediately respected; if you say you’re an artist, people wonder when you’re going to get a ‘real’ job.”

“In our culture we’re often made to feel guilty if we’re “indulging” ourselves as artists. We’re perceived as being irresponsible and childish. In fact, we’re being free-spirited and childlike because as artists, we must ‘play’.”

…On working with a scene partner….
“Scenes are an exchange of energy between you and another actor. So you need to develop your skill at both sending and receiving the energy that is moving back and forth. Many times your most interesting work on film will not so much be action, as it will be reaction.”

…On Listening….
“Talking is easy. It’s listening that takes discipline. Don’t be trying to remember your next line while your acting partner speaks. Actually listen to what they’re saying. This is your time to gather the energy being sent to you. Accept it, respond to it from the depth of your character’s understanding. You will form your response from the energy you receive; if you don’t receive that energy — which you can only do by listening — you won’t have anything to give back.”

…On being wary….
“You’re coming into a business full of sharks and charlatans. You have to deal with these people. And you have to live with yourself. You have to decide for yourself what your boundaries are. We can only point out the pitfalls.”

…On life experience….
“(Many of) the important things you’ll bring to your acting work you will already have learned from life itself, so we hope you view life as a continuing education, filled with reading, observing, interacting, and real experiences.”

…On succeeding….
“(When we were in acting classes) we could almost always spot the actors who were going to succeed. They were the ones who worked the hardest, were the best prepared, and were the most willing to face their fears and insecurities.”

…On credits….
“Begin thinking of the credits as a guide book to the people who work in this industry.”

…On auditioning….
“Auditioning is like taking off in an airplane. A plane isn’t built to trundle down a piece of asphalt on wheels. It’s built to fly. But unless it can make it down the runway, it can never get up into the air. Actors aren’t built to audition, they’re built to act. But unless you can zoom down the audition runway with the right energy and attitude, you’ll never get the chance to fly as an actor.”