But that doesn't mean she doesn't know the importance of taking a well-deserved break. In her Artist Spotlight, Jodie shares what convinced her to make the move from NYC to L.A. permanent, how being busy actually enriches her acting, and how all her hustles seem to align with one another.
Plus, you'll get a sneak peek of the positive motivation she offers actors in her new book. Read on, my friends.
How did you start acting?
When I was 10 years old back in New Bedford, MA, one of my friends was heading over to the local high school to audition for one of the children’s roles in "The Sound of Music." His mom asked my mom if I wanted to go along and audition as well. So I did - and I got cast! On opening night I was terrified. My first line was to simply say my character name — Marta. I didn't even recognize the sound that came out of my mouth, my voice literally dropped an octave from fear. After the first musical number was over, the audience applauded. From that sound, my body shifted into joy, and I was hooked. And I've never stopped. There was a time in high school that I wanted to be a cardiologist and applied to a handful of pre-med programs. Then NYU accepted me early with a scholarship to their BFA acting program sooooo...yeah, that decided that.
What brought you to Los Angeles?
I started traveling to L.A. in 2010 with my company at the time, The Savvy Actor. Tim Phillips, an acting teacher I greatly respect, had convinced me to take my acting business intensive out west. He filled a room full of actors to hear me speak at a free seminar where I talked about branding and marketing, and 2 hours later, 10 people had signed up for my weekend intensive. Guess I was coming back to L.A. :)
Once that ball started rolling, I was traveling to L.A. from NYC 4-5 times a year until I made the plunge to live in the sunshine full time in July of 2013. In January 2013, I had started producing and produced a film in Los Angeles. That was what really solidified the move for me, not just as a career coach and teacher, but as a producer and actor. Plus, I was in NYC for a long time pursuing musical theater. I was ready for a change. It took me a bit to admit that to myself, but once I did, 6 months later I was in L.A.
The life of an actor can be tough. Have you ever felt like giving up acting?
Giving up? No. Sobbing uncontrollably, drinking wine, punching my pillow, venting to my friends and husband on the frustrations of the biz and how hard it can be? Yes. I mean, of course I’ve thought about giving it up. We get to ask ourselves the tough questions to find the truth. I have other passions and do many things - audiobooks, teaching, career coaching, public speaking. Yet, it always comes back to being in front of the camera. When I am honest with myself, I know that is where I am meant to be.
What keeps you motivated to stay the course in a very challenging/competitive industry?
Two things: my clients and producing my own stuff. I believe motivation falters when we feel like we’re alone. Through my coaching and mastermind groups, I am constantly in the presence of other actors with their wins and their struggles. The energy of that, the intimacy of that, the feeling of “I am the captain of this ship, and we will all succeed together!” - keeps me going. Big time.
On the other side of that, if I didn’t have my own projects I was developing and producing and shooting, I would probably go crazy. ;) It is imperative to have a creative outlet, to keep performing, writing, directing, producing - whatever! Waiting by the phone for a call from your agent is not how careers get made.
Tell me about what you’re working on now.
Currently, I have two films in development that I am producing and acting in, one is a Tribeca Sloan Grant winner of 2016. We are preparing to be in pre-production in January 2019. I also have three TV series in development, a drama called Meltdown, a musical drama series String Lights, and a comedy called Is It Cheating If….. All of them at different stages of pitching. I also was recently cast in an episode of Modern Family. A web series that I’m a series regular in, Blade of Honor, will be premiering this month.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend your time off?
Cuddling with the puppies and my husband watching Netflix. ;) I came into our marriage with one dog and my husband had two, so we have a dog squad of three - Sylvia, Tater Tot and Nugget. I believe it is imperative to have some down time to replenish especially in this business. I love taking day trips to places in L.A. and beyond that I’ve never been to. Travel is a huge part of my life. Anyone who knows me, knows I love wine tasting and game nights. Also, at the top of my list right now, is simply having an unstructured day. With all that I have going on, my week is pretty packed and scheduled tight. So when I can have a day that I set no alarm and stay in pajamas, it’s a little slice of heaven.
Who/What inspires you?
Vulnerability inspires me. Raising social consciousness through my art inspires me. Telling great stories about how we are all connected inspires me. My friends inspire me. I find inspiration when I travel, meditate, connect with those I love and meet new people. Honestly, I feel inspired whenever I look at Netflix, Hulu, Freeform, Blue Pills or any other digital platform - there are so many people creating work! There are so many opportunities out there. That keeps me going.
What is your dream role?
A series regular role on a character driven legal drama as an obsessed lawyer fighting for justice and exposing the truth that runs FOREVER!!!!! Well, at least for 5 seasons. :)
Are there other things you enjoy pursuing?
I adore narrating audiobooks. I have 27 titles on Audible, and I have a blast doing that. I already mentioned teaching and being a career coach, as well as a producer. I’m also a self help book junkie, I love reading and listening to audiobooks by Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Marianne Williamson, Michael A Singer, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. Digesting that material also supports me in being a better coach. I’m addicted to software and organization, and I love finding new ways of systemizing how I run my business.
Do you have any advice to young creative artists beginning their career?
Yes, I wrote a whole book all about that will be released this year called The Working Actors Business Guide: How to Accelerate Your Career in the Digital Age. :)
Here’s what I feel compelled to say - there are a group of people we all call ‘they’ that ‘seem’ to have the ‘answers’ in this business. “They” say don’t call an office, “they” say don’t do drop bys to an agent, “they“ say mailings don’t work, “they” say you need co-star credits to get guest star credits, “they” say you need co star credits to be considered for film, - here’s what I have to say to that. It’s ALL bullshit! Who cares what “they” say! Yes, you are in a business, the acting business, AND it is an outside the box business. All the success stories that you hear about and love didn’t happen because actors listened to the imaginary “they”. It happened because they played the game, but by their own rules. So my biggest advice is learn the game, learn the players then decide how you want to function in that.
Is there anything you’d like to share that I haven’t asked about?
If anyone tells you - “If you can do something other than acting, then do it” - please just laugh in their face, thank them for their advice and walk away! There are MANY people who are saboteurs. They gave up on their own dreams and will unconsciously deter others from fulfilling their own. Not maliciously. It’s just too painful to see others have courage when they gave up. Never forget, YOU are an artist. Never forget, YOU have courage. Never forget, YOU are amazing and YOU get to trust and surrender to your path while being intentional in your action. Not many people have what it takes to actually pursue their dreams. It’s not for the faint of heart. I acknowledge you for your commitment to your passion. Also, be nice to EVERYONE. It just makes life so much nicer.
Jodie Bentley is an LA-based actor, producer, audiobook narrator and career coach. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Acting, she worked consistently in the NY theater/musical theater scene for years before moving to LA in 2013. AT that time, she switched gears into Film & TV as well as producing. Currently, she has three TV series in development as well as two films, one film being a Tribeca Sloan Grant winner of 2016. Jodie tells female driven stories that raise consciousness and connection through the lens of truth.
For the past 10 years, she has also been educating actors on their own personal truth in building a business plan through branding, marketing and sales fundamentals. Jodie is currently teaches the business of acting program at Studio School in Los Angeles. She has also created a best selling program called Reinventing Crowdfunding to teach other filmmakers how to raise money for their projects. She has taught workshops on all the above at SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity, Comicon, Comikaze and over 50+ universities and training programs. She runs The Artists’ Mastermind Group and rounds out her schedule with a handful of one-on-one career coaching clients.
For more info on Jodie, to connect over social media or to sign up for her newsletter, go to www.jodiebentley.com. And you can sign up for her free webinar - Actor Mailings: How to maximize your results, money and time - by clicking here.