Contributing Writers


RAY BENGSTON
Actor/Filmmaker/Photographer/Videographer/Teacher

Ray Bengston is a highly recommended and successful photographer/videographer.  Some of his clients include The Screen Actors Guild (since 1990), AFTRA, Equity, Warner Brothers, Disney Channel, Lovinger/Cohn, Complete Post, Sierra West Productions, Cornerstone Animation, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, Air West Airlines, IFX Productions, and numerous agents, managers, acting coaches and casting directors. Recently he directed and edited PSA’s and training films for the city of San Antonio, Texas as well as finished final filming on a documentary about Viola Spolin and the Spolin Players. He has produced/directed/shot/and edited behind-the-scenes videos for Kellogg’s, Kraft, Mazda, Taco Bell, and the Wheel of Fortune.

Ray is co-owner of the award-winning Divisek Casting and has been involved in casting for over twenty-three years. Some of their clients include, the Cohen Brothers, John Singleton, John Ratzenberger,Y&R,  J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Inc., Paul Cade, Traktor Films, Gray Advertising, Footcone and Belding, Uniworld Group, and Leo Burnett. Mr. Bengston has also taught on camera commercial, improv and audition classes for adults and at Warner Bros and Disney.


TERRY BERLAND
Commercial Casting Director and Author

Terry Berland has over twenty-five years of experience of casting on-camera, voice over, animation, industrials and short films and has won US awards including Clio, Houston International Film Festival, Mobius Advertising Award and International Film and Television Festival. 

Terry Berland comes from a strong New York advertising agency background, including casting for J. Walter Thompson, Young and Rubicam and served as Head of Casting at BBDO/NY Worldwide.

Terry has been instrumental in the process of launching many actors careers.  She has been an adjunct faculty member of the Lee Strasberg institute and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy of New York.  Terry has been brought into cities all over the United States to work with talent on their commercial technique and to educate them on the world of advertising.  She is the co-author of the #1 industry how-to book "Breaking into Commercials".


MICHAEL DONOVAN
Film/Theater/Commercial Casting Director

Michael is the 2005, 2006 and 2007 recipient of the Casting Society of America’s Artios award for Outstanding Casting. Michael has cast over 150 plays, 45 films, 9 television series and over 1,000 commercials. In addition to being the resident casting director for both the Pasadena Playhouse and the International City Theatre in Long Beach, California, Michael has also cast shows produced at the Hollywood Bowl, Arkansas Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Arizona Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara, Laguna Playhouse, the Falcon Theatre and the Colony Theatre. Some of his credits include South Pacific (at the Hollywood Bowl) starring Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Fences (at Pasadena Playhouse) starring Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, Amadeus (at the Hollywood Bowl) starring Neil Patrick Harris and Michael York, and Twelfth Night (at Shakespeare Festival/LA) starring Tom Hanks, Matthew Perry, Peter Gallagher, Ray Romano, and Christina Applegate. Michael’s TV credits include the Emmy-nominated The Flight that Fought Back, and his film credits include numerous independent film festival winners.

Since 1990, Michael has been a very much in-demand as a teacher. Michael has taught Auditioning for the Professional Musical Theatre at UCLA, Acting for the Camera at the American Film Institute, Professional Career Preparation at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and Auditioning for Commercials at the Stella Adler Academy. Michael also teaches an ongoing commercial audition class in L.A., and has guest-lectured in various venues throughout the country.


ABBY GIRVIN
Owner, DDO Talent Agency

Shortly after graduating from Purdue University and backpacking through Europe for 3 months, Abby Girvin began her agenting career at a small high fashion agency in DC.

In 1996, after getting her feet wet in the agenting world and realizing the sun was always shining in Los Angeles, she got the car and drove west where she immediately landed a job at DDO Artists Agency. After 12 plus years, Abby is now the owner and director of DDO Artists Agency with her partners Marlene Sutton and Bill Bohl. DDO is a full-service talent agency consisting of well-respected and highly successful Commercial, Dance, Choreography, Print, Theatre, and Hosting Divisions. DDO has expanded with offices located in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and Nashville. The agency provides representation across the country to performers in Commercials, TV, Film, Music Videos, Live Stage and Broadway.

Abby prides herself on the upbeat, fun but hardworking environment at DDO while continually striving for the creation of greater opportunity for DDO’s clients.


DAVID GRAPES
Director of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance

An award-winning director, actor and playwright, David has provided administrative, financial, and artistic leadership for a wide variety of theatrical institutions including two professional regional theatres, 3D productions – a commercial bus and truck touring company, two nationally recognized university theatre departments, a variety of summer stock companies, and a number of large professional not-for-profit regional and civic theatres. Prior to his arrival at UNC, he served for six years as the Producing Artistic Director of Tennessee Repertory Theatre (LORT C). While in Nashville, he produced 36 productions including three world premieres, established an "off-Broadway season" of contemporary plays, expanded the Rep’s education/outreach department, and was the recipient of eight "Tennie Awards" for Best Direction.

During his 30-year career in the theatre, David has produced over 800 major productions that span nearly every genre of dramatic literature. His work as a director (150+ productions) has been seen from coast to coast in such theatres as the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Asolo Theatre, ArtPark, Madison Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Barter Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Blowing Rock Stage Company, Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Seven Angels Theatre, Little Theatre on the Square, Muhlenberg Summer Theatre, Western Michigan’s Cherry County Playhouse, American Stage, The Ryman Auditorium and Dollywood.

Professional acting credits include leading roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Amadeus, The Miser, The School For Wives, A Christmas Carol, Art, The Cherry Orchard, Talley’s Folly, The Importance of Being Ernest, A Man For All Seasons, and The Drawer Boy. Born and raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia, David is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers, the Dramatist Guild of America, and a graduate of the MFA Acting/Directing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

He is the creator/co-author (with Todd Olson) of four musical revues; My Way – A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Christmas My Way – A Sinatra Holiday Bash, Moon River – Johnny Mercer’s American Songbook, and I Left My Heart – A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett, which have been performed at over 300 theatres world wide. He is also creator/co-author (with Robert Neblett) of Simply Simone – The Music of Nina Simone and the play Dracula: The Case of the Silver Scream, a new film noir adaptation of Bram Stocker’s famous novel Dracula. During the summer of 2007, he premiered a new musical revue Babes in Hollywood – The Music of Garland and Rooney, which he created with UNC Professor of Musical Theatre Vance Fulkerson.

At UNC, David is a full tenured professor and teaches directing and playwriting, serves as the Director of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance and is also the Executive Producer for UNC’s 73-year-old professional summer stock company – The Little Theatre of the Rockies. His UNC/Little Theatre of the Rockies directorial credits include: Candida, Rounding Third, Bleacher Bums, Dracula: The Case of the Silver Scream, The Tempest, Tuesday’s With Morrie, The Drawer Boy, Titanic – The Musical!, Bad Dates, and God’s Man in Texas. This fall he will direct Shaw Festival guest artist Jim Mezon in a production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic comedy Heartbreak House.

For more information visit www.summerwindproductions.com


LAURI JOHNSON
Entertainment Industry Life Coach

Lauri Johnson has a career that spans several mediums of the entertainment industry.

Seen recently in TV episodes of Cold Case, Without a Trace, Ghost Whisperer, My Name is Earl, & The Riches, her TV credits also include Six Feet Under , NYPD Blue , Frasier, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond , JAG, Charmed, Angel, Becker, & ER.

Feature film credits include War of the Worlds, For Your Consideration, Waitress The Cell, City of Angels, The Negotiator & Yes Man.

Lauri’s voice work can be heard in feature films such as: Men in Black 2, Prince of Egypt, Antz, the Road to El Dorado, Happy Gilmore, & A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and many other commercials and cartoons.

She has also co-starred with Michele Lee in Mame onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as co-starring at the Bowl previously with John Lithgow, & Roger Daltry in My Fair Lady. Other stage credits include Bark (Coast Playhouse), Billy Barnes Reviewed (Hollywood Cinegrill), Brecht on Brecht and Fraulines in Underwear (Odyssey Theatre).

With over 30 years of coaching/consulting experience in both the the corporate and creative worlds, she has brought a wealth of knowledge, insight, compassion, and straight-talk to thousands of individuals seeking a breakthrough in happiness and accomplishment in their personal and professional lives.


LESLIE JORDAN
Emmy Award Winning Actor

Leslie is the 2006 Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his delicious portrayal of “Beverley Leslie” on Will and Grace.

Audiences will recognize Leslie from his performance as “Brother Boy” in the feature film version of Del Shores’ adaptation of his play “Sordid Lives’” with Olivia Newton-John, Delta Burke and Beau Bridges. He has had recurring roles on the television series Boston Legal, Hidden Palms, and Reba.

On stage, Mr. Jordan won the Ovation Award, The Garland Award and The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his portrayal of “Preston Leroy,” the aging, sodden barfly in Del Shores hit play “Southern Baptist Sissies.”


TODD JUSTICE
Los Angeles Theatrical Agent

Todd Justice began his entertainment career as an actor..in Dallas, Texas.  He booked over 30 commercials while attending Southern Methodist University. He entered the Agent Training Program at ICM in 1998, working diligently beside the VP of Talent, with clients including Joan Allen, Glenna Headly, Marg Helgenberg, and Scott Bakula. In 2001, Todd entered the boutique side of the agency business Henderson/Hogan/McCabe, made partner 4 months later, the company was renamed McCabe/Justice. In August 2006, Todd made the leap to head the Theatrical department of VENTURE I.A.B.   Having been an actor himself, Todd’s connection to his clients comes from a place of support and understanding.  He strives to be the kind of agent he always wanted.


HUGH LEON
Agent, Coast to Coast

Hugh is head of the commercial and celebrity sports departments at Coast to Coast Talent Group in LA, one of the leading talent agencies on the West Coast. Coast to Coast represents youth and adult actors both commercially and theatrically, as well as voice-over talent and models.

Coast to Coast handles Academy Award nominees Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Haley Joel Osment (Sixth Sense, A.I.), as well as stars Spencer Breslin (Cat in the Hat, Santa Clause 2), Michael Angorano (Sky High, Lords of Doggtown, Sea Biscuit, Will and Grace), Kevontay Jackson (Everybody Hates Chris), and John Noble (Lord of the Rings).

Hugh Leon’s lifelong experience in show business has contributed to his unparalleled success in representing celebrity commercial talent and sports figures. The Los Angeles Talent Manager’s Association bestowed Mr. Leon with the Seymour Heller Award for Commercial Agent of the Year in 2007.  Hugh has also been featured in numerous television program interviews, and is quoted in countless national industry publications.

Hugh has been an active participant in the entertainment industry for over 3 decades. He began his show business career as a child actor in Philadelphia before moving to New York City, and later to Los Angeles. Hugh is a veteran of several commercials, as well as numerous appearances in television, film, and Broadway.  After graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Hugh went behind the scenes as an agency assistant for Bobby Ball/Los Angeles in 1990. He was quickly promoted to agent status. Since 1996, Hugh has been an agent with LA’s Coast to Coast Talent Group.

Coast to Coast books well over 50 national commercials a month with all major brand companies. Hugh has secured lead roles for his clients in countless major national campaigns, including the “Dodge Hemi” guy (John Reep), and "Billy Bob" (John Mead) from the Sony Playstation ads, among others.

As the director of Coast’s celebrity sports department, Hugh has worked with several high profile celebrity athletes such as Terry Bradshaw, Willie Mays, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Rob Van Dam, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Sugar Shane Mosley, Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin, Steve Garvey, Eric Dickerson, John Salley, and more.

Commercially, Hugh represents several celebrities and “name talent.” Clients include Golden Globe nominee Frank Stallone, Emmy nominee Mark L. Walberg (host, MOMENT OF TRUTH, Temptation Island and Antique Road Show), Mike Richards (host, Beauty and the Geek), Kennedy (MTV VJ), Kevontay Jackson (Everybody Hates Chris), Keith Robinson (star, Dreamgirls and Fat Albert; series regular, American Dreams and Power Rangers), Gary Anthony Williams (series regular, Boston Legal and Malcolm in the Middle), Johnny Kastl (series regular, Scrubs), Johnny Brown (series regular, Good Times; recurring, Sister Sister and The Wayans Bros.), among other notable award-winning, working actors.

Hugh travels around the country speaking to aspiring actors about show business, as well as scouting talent for potential representation. His straightforward and honest approach has brought countless actors to competitive levels. Hugh is also an accomplished musician.


AMY LYNDON
TV & Film Audition/Booking Coach

Amy Lyndon has been entertaining the public since the age of 10. Having grown up in New Rochelle, New York, formal training was as easy as jumping on a train. During her senior year, Lyndon studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse (NYC) and went on to England to tackle the prestigious London Academy of Performing Arts.

After earning her BFA from Syracuse University, Lyndon flew out to LA to debut opposite Andy Garcia in the Feature Film A Night In Heaven directed by John Avildsen.

Lyndon has 40+ films to her credit. She can be seen in 5 LionsGate Feature Films: B.T.K, Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest,

Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck, Ed Gein: The Butcher Of Plainfield and Are You Scared? She also has 4 more Feature Films coming out in ’09: The House That Jack Built with Joe Mantegna, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Trinity: Gehenna and The Vanquisher. Lyndon also starred with Chris Pratt in Cursed Part 3, dirrected by Rae Dawn Chong.

On Television, Lyndon guest-starred in over 25 television shows including: NCIS, Ugly Betty, Entourage, NYPD Blue, JAG, Recurring Roles in The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, Young and The Restless and a recurring guest lead in Freddy’s Nightmare.

On stage, Lyndon’s wacky performance as Bobbi Michelle in "Last Of The Red Hot Lovers" at The Tiffany Theatre garnered critical notoriety and earned her a Marquee Comedy Award.

Lyndon worked her comedy skills at The Groundlings, The Comedy Store and The Int’l Blend Comedy Troupe with Rick Overton. Ms. Lyndon has also worked as a Voice-Over/Commercial Artist on tons of National Campaigns.

Additionally, Lyndon is a Multi-Award Winning Director/Writer/Producer. Her film Odessa starring the late Yolanda King won top awards on the Festival circuit.

As a Writer, Lyndon won the "Spirit of Moondance Award" for Best Family Screenplay in The Moondance Int’l Film Festival and as a Director her World Premiere play The Parasites was produced by The Met Theatre to sold out audiences. Award-Winning, a recent film that Lyndon directed, is currently winning Major Awards on the Festival Circuit.

Amy Lyndon owned and operated Gold-Levin Talent Management for 9 years and has been a Booking Coach for close to 18. She created The Lyndon Technique – A 15 Guideline Map To Booking and has helped hundreds of students learn how to book jobs and work as series regulars, stars in Feature Films and consistently earn their living as actors.


ANTHONY MEINDL
Los Angeles Acting Teacher

As an actor, Mr. Meindl performed Off-Broadway in several shows including Queen’s Blvd. (The Players Theatre), Message To Michael (Theatre Off-Park), Titus Andronicus (SoHo Rep),
Taxicab Chronicles (Tribeca Lab) and Party (Douglas Fairbanks Theatre). L.A. credits include The Ovation
Award and LA Weekly Award nominated Cabaret (Cliff) & Merrily We Roll Along (Franklin Shepard) at West Coast Ensemble; Bells Are Ringing for the Pasadena Music Theatre Guild at the Pasadena Playhouse. Regional credits include lead work at The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, The Caldwell Theatre, The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre and The Texas Shakespeare Festival. TV credits include: Will & Grace, Family Law, Any Day Now, Diagnosis Murder, All My Children, Guiding Light. Film credits include the lead role in the award-winning indie film, Get Your Stuff (Audience Award Runner-up: New York and Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival), Minor Details with Peter Sarsgaard and Death of A Saleswoman.

Mr. Meindl has done over a dozen national commercials for Diet Coke, Philips Electronics, Bank of America, Nissan, Michelob Lite, Sears, Acura, Del Taco, Mervyns, Behr Paint and others.

Mr. Meindl is the founding member and artistic director of the newly-formed Meta Theatre Company. He has his own Actor’s Lab where he teaches numerous students of all levels the art of Meta Theatre, is founder of the Director’s Workshop where guest tv/film directors come to the studio to work with actors involved in the Lab, & he also
teaches monthly meditation workshops for all people – actors & non-actors alike. His studio incorporates a holistic
approach to the artist’s work, offering yoga, movement, dance, voice and meditation classes.

In Meta’s first-ever season of producing plays — 2003/2004 — Mr. Meindl directed the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful productions of Dogs Barking, The Dead Eye Boy, and Swimming in the Shallows. All shows were recognized for their artistic excellence. Mr. Meindl received an LAWeekly Award Nomination for Best Direction for Dogs Barking and Best Comedic Direction for Swimming in the Shallows. The casts of both shows were also nominated as Best Dramatic Ensemble and Best Comedic Ensemble respectively. His production of The Dead Eye Boy was listed as one of the "Top 10 Productions in Los Angeles Theatre in 2003" by ReviewPlays.com and it’s star, Lindsay Frame, was listed as one of the "Top 10 Female Performances." Swimming in the Shallows was also listed on LA Times theatre critc, Rob Kendt’s "Most Memorable/Noteworthy LA Productions of 2004." Mr. Meindl also directed comedian, Mercy Malick’s, critically-acclaimed one-woman show, Tales from the Catholic Church of Elvis and the LA premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s Blue Surge this year.


DAVID SWEENEY
Talent Manager/Film Producer

David started his career as the co-producer of the Sundance hit: Wigstock: The Movie, which received national distribution.

Then he shifted his focus to talent management, where he has developed several successful careers, including those of Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew), Constance Zimmer (Entourage), Erinn Hayes (Worst Week), and an Emmy-Winning soap star Natalia Livingston (General Hospital).

David has recently returned to producing, serving as an Executive Producer of The Winning Season, which premiered in 2009. He has several films in development and continues to manage the aforementioned talent as well as several new, promising young actors.


ALICIA RUSKIN
Los Angeles Commercial Agent

As a theatre major she attended Brandeis University, The Sorbonne in Paris and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.  During this time she performed at the Kennedy Center and on tour with the USO in Germany and Italy.  After graduating with her MFA she moved to New York where she worked on local stages and toured in musical theater productions throughout the United States.  After leaving acting Alicia started on the reception desk at Kazarian/Spencer & Assoc as was promoted to agent 18 months later.  She is currently head of commercials and a partner at the agency.  Alicia is a member of the Television Academy, a published poet, an active supporter of local theatre.


BERNARD TESLEY
Founder, Telsey + Company Casting

Casting director Bernard Telsey co-founded New York City’s MCC Theater with actor Robert LuPone and founded Telsey + Company Casting. His Broadway casting credits include Godspell, Equus, In the Heights, De La Guarda, The Drowsy Chaperone, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Wicked, Hairspray, Rent and, of course, Legally Blonde. Bernard has also cast actors on the big screen, including Sex and the City: The Movie, Across the Universe, Dan in Real Life, Rent, Pieces of April, Finding Forrester and The Bone Collector. As a member (and New York VP) of the Casting Society of America, Bernard Tesley is now ready to take on The Search For Elle Woods!


KEVIN E. WEST
President of The Actor’s Network

Kevin E. West has been working in Hollywood since the late 1980’s. Kevin has been a guest on multiple television shows such as Diagnosis Murder, Melrose Place, The Pretender, In The House, Matlock, and ABC’s movie of the week, The Texas Cheerleader Story and many others. He has also portrayed Tim Reese, on ABC’s General Hospital from June of 1991 through March of 1992.

Kevin’s film credits include Made in Heaven with Timothy Hutton and Monolith with Bill Paxton, Mirror Images II and many others. In 1998 he shot a new film called, Pedestrian. In 1996 he starred in two films for Concord Pictures. Expose, from Concord, was at Cannes in 1997.

On May 1, 1991 Kevin founded The Actor’s Network, a professional business networking organization for the serious actor. It has been featured on Entertainment Tonight three times, CNBC twice, and was the feature story in Back StageWest in 1998.

Kevin has worked in various aspects of the entertainment industry. He also produces his own cable show called, It’s A Crazy Life. In 1993 he directed, "Together We Can, Together We Will", a post-riot event held at the Masonic Temple and featuring Rev. Cecil Murray of the First A.M.E, church, Jim Lampley and Sinbad.

Mr. West also speaks annually during career week to o the students at the UCLA Film/Television/Theatre department.

"Most every new actor I talk to is seeking direction, what to do and where to go to become a successful actor. The first few years are crucial for building the actor’s craft and career. This is why I wrote HIT THE GROUND RUNNING – to supply the necessary information, tips and insights to create the foundation and to help start a career in acting." - Carolyne Barry

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Endorsements

"Carolyne Barry is a respected authority and a brilliant communicator. She provides the effective information to help actors start their careers."
- Rob Light, Managing Director of Creative Artists Agency, LLC

“Many people dream of having some sort of acting career but don’t know where to start. To all of the dreamers out there I have finally found the answers to all our questions on how to start a successful career in acting. The answers lie in the book, Hit The Ground Running The First Years of Your Acting Career, written by Carolyne Barry.”
- Adriana Davalos, Splash Magazine