Chi Muoi Lo’s Advice for Aspiring Actors

Chi Muoi Lo has been part of the entertainment industry for more than 30 years. He recently spoke with Showbiz Cheat about how actors can establish themselves and thrive in the business. He also shared information about his video series, Mastering the Business of Acting. Here’s part two of our chat.

Protecting your acting career

Chi Muoi Lo
Chi Muoi Lo | Hilary Jones

Part of Lo’s series addresses, among other topics, how actors are sometimes exploited and how can they avoid being taken advantage of. The goal of his series, Mastering the Business of Acting, is to arm actors with the tools they need to protect themselves and get the best projects possible. Lo says exploitation can happen when it comes to acting classes and coaches, agents and managers, and producers and studios.

“An easy way to spot bad acting classes and coaches is if they teach co-reading, allow class audits, and people can join in any time they want,” Lo tells Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “It’s not fair to students already taking the class and have to repeat material because of new students. Variety has said that it’s a $300 million a year industry of exploitation from classes and coaches in LA alone.”

Lo says a good acting class should have clearly outlined start and end times. “Good classes should have a clear beginning, middle, and end,” says Lo. “The best classes are the ones that are in schools that you have to attend for no more than two years and don’t have audits.”

Finding a good acting coach

According to Lo, it’s helpful to find an acting coach who has had some acting experience. “Good coaches have some success as an actor under their belt,” he says. “At the very least, they should understand the changing business. Most importantly, they don’t coach your direct competitors.”

He also advises actors to watch out for fake auditions. “With agents and managers, there’s too many clients and too little supply of representatives,” says Lo. “They lie and create fake auditions to keep actors happy and to give them a sense of busyness. Only one third of their clients can be properly handled and taken care of. The rest simply will not be helped.”

Finding a manager who is the real deal might take some time. Lo advises staying alert and vetting potential managers. “Real managers are a dying breed,” says Lo. “They’re now just mostly agents who have been fired or have decided to become managers but are really agents in disguise. They don’t actually perform the duties of a manager. Any manager that has more than 30 clients are really agents in disguise. That means that more than 90% of managers in town are simply not real managers.”

Avoiding exploitation: Lo’s advice to actors  

  • Make sure your agents send you real auditions, real self-tapes. A simple way is to ask for a full breakdown. Especially look to find the character’s ethnicity and age. If your sides (audition materials) do not have your name on them, they’re fake.
  • A good manager should have no more than 30 clients. Ideally, if you can comfortably talk to them about anything that troubles you, they’re keepers. If they treat you like a friend or family, that is someone you need to hold on to. 
  • Producers and studios will underpay you if they get the chance. If you don’t have the right people to fight for your value, then just like in any other business, they’ll try to book you for as cheap as possible.
  • Make sure your people get you the best deal. Once you get the deal, call other peers on your level and ask if they’ve gotten similar offers. That’s why movements like #MeToo have been so important in exposing not just sexual abuse, but other kinds of abuse as well. They can no longer ask for things like your quote. It forces producers and studios to be fair and not exploit you based on gender, race, disability, etc.     

Follow Sheiresa Ngo on Twitter.