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In this episode, Barbara and Marlene discuss:
● What’s the number one rule of business marketing?
● How might other health practitioners get on TV and in films?
● How experienced do you need to get a highly desirable acting role?
“If you’re nice and respectful to everyone, you’re always ready for those opportunities to come your way.” – Marlene Sharp.
Connect with Marlene Sharp:
Connect with Barbara Hales:
Business Website: www.TheMedicalStrategist.com
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Dr. Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors.
I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today, we have with us Marlene Sharp. She is a TV and film writer, producer, creative executive, and proprietor of Pink Poodle Productions, an entertainment consultancy home of the sassy Bichon poodle Blanche Dubois Sharp. For those people that are curious, it is a Bichon poodle mix.
Marlene serves as head of IP strategy in acquisitions for Rainshine Entertainment and as executive producer of Rainshine’s family-friendly film trilogy, Young Captain Nemo. Among other roles, Marlene is a mentor to the neuro-diverse adult animation trainees of the Center for Learning Unlimited in L.A. and its sister cartoon studio, Brainstorm Productions. Marlene has a career history of creative work with merchandise-driven character brands, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Yokai Watch, Postman Pat, Pink Panther, Power Rangers, and Saint Seiya. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in musical theatre from San Diego State University.
Welcome to the show.
Marlene Sharp: Hi, thank you for having me on.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Marlene, are there any low cost relatively easy film or TV marketing tips that also apply to marketing for health professionals?
Marlene Sharp: Yes, I think a good place to start is social media. And I was looking at your previous episode offerings and noticed that you’ve had a few guests on previously to talk about creating videos and having a compelling social media presence. So I’m here to support those guests and hopefully build on that. But that’s something that’s accessible to everybody. And it’s low to no cost, and you can start immediately.
The Number One Rule of Business Marketing
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, that’s all always very helpful. What do you think is the number one rule of business marketing?
Marlene Sharp: Well, for me, personally, that would be kindness and being nice to everybody. Because you never know where an opportunity will come from. It could come from the most unlikely place. And so if you’re nice and respectful to everyone, you’re always ready for those opportunities to come your way. And so it’s a golden rule, right? It’s just something so simple as that. And then I also find that having a sense of humor is helpful.
Also, having a dog, as I do, whether or not you should have a dog as your business partner is questionable. But having a dog opens up many other possibilities because you meet people you might not otherwise come into contact with. And I have several examples of that. The downside is when she’s not spoken to, not mentioning any names, Blanche, that’s you.
Dr. Barbara Hales: I think that’s true. Even around my own neighborhood, I walk around with my dog, and we all know each other. We may not know our names, but we all know the dogs’ names. So, it may be like Blanche’s mommy or Haloe’s mommy or dad, but it gives us the opportunity to speak to people that would otherwise be invisible.
Marlene Sharp: Oh, absolutely. And one of my best dog mom’s friends is a publicist who lives in our complex. And she and I would not have met if it hadn’t been for our two little fluffy white dogs we met several years ago. Yes, I’m talking about Ella. Yes, your friend Ella. And we have collaborated on many, many products, and some of the tips I’ll share today will even be from her. Her name’s Debra, and her dog is Ella. And yeah, that’s a dog connection right there. So I’m talking the talk and walking the walk.
Dr. Barbara Hales: So, for all of you out there that may be on the fence regarding getting a furry friend, you may want to reconsider. It may be good for business. In addition, your tip about always being friendly works very well for networking, which is great in terms of getting people interested in referring to you, as well as getting to know you and maybe using you themselves.
Marlene Sharp: Yes, yes. Absolutely. And also, in the entertainment business, there’s a lot of upward mobility and changing of the guard, a lot of turnovers at companies and so forth. And so today’s production assistant could be tomorrow’s studio head, and the sons and daughters of famous people often start in those lower positions, and not a great deal of fanfare is often made about it. So it’s to your advantage, especially if you’re trying to schmooze people in Hollywood and Hollywood, meaning the global entertainment industry, because not just here, but it does serve you well just to be respectful of everyone because you never know.
Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s interesting. Marlene, how is it that you got involved in this? How did you get your start?
Marlene Sharp: Well, I think that I was born this way. I always felt like I was born to the wrong family in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I’m from. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with film, TV shows, business performance, and so forth. And it certainly didn’t come from my parents, who is a retired teacher and computer programmer. But yeah, I was just always interested in the business. And also, my parents did take me to a lot of Children’s Theatre in New Orleans. There was a good deal of community theatre. And so, at a young age, my mom enjoyed it. So we do that together. And so that’s where it started. And it just got way out of control.
As I got older, I eventually moved from New Orleans to San Diego for graduate school, my first move to California. So I have an MFA in musical theatre. And then, gradually, I moved up the coast to Orange County for about a year and then to Los Angeles, the place I always wanted to be, and I’ve been here for quite a while now.
Health Professionals for the TV and Film Industry
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, you certainly have a lot of exposure to this field and experience. How might a doctor or other health professional pursue TV and film appearances? There are many doctors that may feel in addition to seeing patients, they’d like to get a spot on TV so that it gives them a perceived sense of celebrity or perceived authority in their field that they might not ordinarily have and to a wider audience. So what would you say to these people that would like to look further into it?
Marlene Sharp: So there are a few suggestions. And just note that there’s no secret sauce or a magic bullet. I don’t have it. I wish I had it. Otherwise, you’d be hearing my name in the Oscar nominations that came out this week. But one helpful thing is to take a class in on-camera hosting or commercials. That’s a good place to start. And if you’re in Los Angeles, you can look on any street corner and find one of those classes. If you’re not in Los Angeles, there are so many online options that you can look into. And then, in the alternative, if you want to be cautious about starting, you can look on YouTube. And there are a lot of YouTube and Tiktok tutorials on on-camera presence. And the techniques that you want to focus on will depend on whether you want to play a character as perhaps you would like to play a doctor in a TV, commercial or TV show, as opposed to being a talking head pundit, an authority figure on a nonfiction show or a news program. So the approaches are different. So, familiarize yourself with the on-camera technique.
Sometimes people will try to seek out an agent right away. And that’s more like a middle step. It helps to have some background in on-camera performance. Because otherwise, if you start going on auditions, or even if you get booked on a show, whether it’s a local news show or something high profile, there will be an adjustment period because it’s quite overwhelming to be offset with other experienced people under the pressure of lights, schedules, budgets and things like that that come into play. So it sounds trite and easy. But I say research and try to get some practice in on-camera technique.
Another benefit of classes is that you can network with other students and the teacher; chances are good that the teacher is practicing the craft. And often, agents, managers, or casting directors teach classes. And I find that those are the best teachers because you’re networking right away. And actually, I have gotten a lot of good opportunities from taking classes with people who are already in casting or that aspect of the business. I tend not to want to take classes from somebody who’s just a good actor because it will not get me anywhere except more competition. So sorry to my fellow actors who teach, but my recommendation is to look for somebody who could potentially hire you. And then there are several resources, but one that I recommend, and it’s relatively inexpensive to join, is called actorsaccess.com. And you need to submit a profile. So it’s similar to applying for jobs, but you can put your professional picture and resume onto actorsaccess.com and submit yourself for consideration for various on-camera roles.
You can submit whatever you want when you’re on there. But there are quite a number of projects that would want a real doctor, like when the TV series ER was popular. During a short window of time, when it was on the air, I worked for a talent agency, and we would get these submission requests from casting saying that they wanted real doctors to play various small roles. And so sometimes it was a real doctor or a real nurse, real people casting is a thing for commercials, TV shows, and not everything that happens. I should also preface this by saying that if you do not live in Los Angeles, it will be harder for you to do these roles or do these jobs because most of them will be based in Los Angeles, and some casting calls happen in different regions. And you can research that on the actor’s access website. And then, sometimes, there will be a request to submit for a role where they ask people to record themselves and send in a video audition.
But then, if you get the role, you might need to fly somewhere to do it. And the production might not have a budget for you to stay in a hotel and all the bells and whistles that go with travel. But anyway, it’s worth checking out actorsaccess.com and then just LinkedIn, keeping your LinkedIn profile current with a good picture that represents your personality and how you want to portray yourself. If you are a funny doctor, and she wants to try out some stand-up comedy material that’s based on being a doctor, that’s one kind of persona as opposed to someone who wants to be taken seriously as an expert, or a pioneer in some fields, where you’re going to be on various TV shows pontificating about your inventions and discoveries. LinkedIn is a good place to start and then look into a subscription on actor access.
Dr. Barbara Hales: There is a very active comedian that does a lot of TV roles. That is, in fact, a doctor most people would know even though he plays doctors. Do you remember his name?
Marlene Sharp: Yes, that’s Ken Jeong. His family is Korean American. But when I lived in New Orleans, I judged a stand-up competition he was in years ago. And yeah, he was a doctor at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans. I’m not sure what his specialization was. And his wife is a doctor too. And I think she still practices. They live in Los Angeles now. He became famous for the Hangover movies. And he’s the host of the Masked Singer reality show. He’s done very well for himself as a comedian.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Right. But in making that transition, you’re not going to see him in a doctor’s office or a hospital anytime soon.
Marlene Sharp: Maybe not. Maybe visiting patients just to make them smile and entertain them for a few minutes. But it’s been a long time since he’s practiced medicine.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Giving us the name of the actor’s access is a wonderful tip. And certainly, something that a lot of my listeners will look into. I probably will look into it myself.
Marlene Sharp: Yes, I recommend it. And I personally, as an actor, have gotten many great opportunities from it. And it’s the same tool that agents use to electronically submit their clients. Now, agents also have the schmooze factor where they can call upcasting, directors, or whatever, and then they pitch their clients that way. But it’s the same service that regular folks can submit to it. And agents, it’s all the same service. The only difference is that there’s limited access for regular folks who subscribed, so I think it’s not expensive. It could be $65 for a one-year subscription. And only certain roles are opened up for submission to laypeople actors.
And then there’s the premium subscription which is quite a bit more expensive than the agents and managers pay. Then you also have to prove that you are an agent and have a legit business and everything.
However, they pay a lot more, but still, some of the same roles, especially if they’re hard to cast in certain age groups, ethnicities, and areas of specialization, are hard to cast, especially nowadays, with authenticity being so important in a variety of areas. Age, ethnic background, religion, and various things that there is a focus on getting the casting, as far as having it be authentic to the representation of a certain group. That would make the opportunities steadily increase for just lay people who are submitting themselves.
Getting a Highly Desirable Acting Role or Related Opportunity
Dr. Barbara Hales: A bona fide agent is unlikely to take a newbie. Isn’t that true? How experienced do you have to be before an agent looks at you and takes you on?
Marlene Sharp: It depends. I’m in Los Angeles. There are tons of agents, but it’s tougher to get an agent here because people from all over the world come here and try for that. But if you live in a small or medium or small city, there are agents in your area, like if you’re in Dallas or even New Orleans, because that’s where I got my start when I was in college. That was when I got an agent. And I didn’t have a lot of on-camera experience other than what I had done in school at that time. But I did an interview. There were a few agents there, and a lot of location shooting was struck. It was starting to happen in New Orleans.
There are local commercials and things that happen. Even if you’re in a small market and don’t have Hollywood productions to shoot on location, some mom-and-pop businesses need commercials or print work accessible to you. And so there should be opportunities relatively close as long as is if you’re in an area that gets internet, you should be relatively close, I would say within driving distance, so someplace where you could go to audition for things. But the great thing about the internet is that a lot of the casting now takes place online. So self-taping and submitting video and audio files are quite commonplace. But that only gets you to a certain point.
The director or the client wants to meet you. And you’ll have to do the filming. And not every production has a budget to bring people in from other places. But there are regional agents and managers. So that’s worth looking into in your area. And it’s helpful if you have some experience. But it’s not necessary to even in LA because when I worked for the talent agency for a year, it was a very interesting learning experience. Because those were the days when people would still drop off or mail in physical photos and resumes. And we didn’t have online submissions at that time. And so, I was an assistant, and I would go through the submissions. And many times, people would just mail a photo of their cute little toddler with their measurements and their age or whatever. And if the baby were cute, I would show it to the kid’s agent, and sometimes they’d be like, Yeah, bring him in. And with the child. The expectation is low. Up until age 18, you can get by with a lot less experience, especially if you’re good-looking. And if you’re good-looking, you can coast on your looks for your whole life.
We were always on the search for good-looking people, even with no experience, like super good-looking people who could do print and commercials. And then sometimes somebody would submit to the agency. And they would be something that we knew we needed like we would have seen a lot of casting calls for African American men who could ride horses, and we get an actor who was like an expert equestrian. And he was between this age and this age, and we knew that we had gotten some calls or seen some breakdowns. So somebody like that comes across our desk, let’s call them in, and then we would have them in for an interview. So it’s worth a shot. It’s worth trying whatever. Because you never know.
It’s important to emphasize your special skills, which is what a doctor is. And there are so many medical procedural shows, legal procedural shows, nonfiction magazine shows, and true crime shows where it would be very helpful to have a real doctor playing supporting roles. Like one thing that comes to mind is, it was on Hulu. It’s called Dr. Death. It’s a podcast that each season is about a heinous crime committed by a doctor, I hate to say it, but it’s compelling listen, so I highly recommend the podcast. But it was made into a scripted series. I’m not sure if it was on Hulu or Peacock, but I saw it. I loved it.
Alec Baldwin starred in it, and Christian Slater. And the story that’s shown on camera goes very deep into surgical technique. And this crazy doctor, played by Joshua Jackson, messes up his patients. And it’s a true story. And the doctors can show them a lot in surgery. And then there’s a lot of dialogue about what they’re doing, what went wrong, and the blood spurting out. And some of those supporting Doctor characters must have been real doctors and nurses because it’s easier for them to look comfortable in that kind of setting and deliver very technical lines. They understand what’s going on. And the same is true with lawyers and other professions and other special skills that can get you to cast very often. I once got cast in a commercial. The casting call was for Ugly sleepers. And I am hideous when I’m asleep. This is not a talent that many people have.
I know that I’m an ugly sleeper. And so I had an agent at the time my agent submitted it, but I just walked in there so confident because I was thinking nobody’s going to be an uglier sleeper than me. And sure enough, I got cast. So you never know if the weirdest talent that you have could land you in some kind of highly desirable acting role or related opportunity.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Just as an aside, what is an ugly sleeper?
Marlene Sharp: Maybe you’ve heard of ugly crying? It’s it. And you just look unattractive. And it’s someone who went sleeping, I snore. From a variety of experiences through the years, I’m able to ugly asleep on cue. Some people can cry on cue, I can ugly sleep on cue, and by golly, I don’t think I had told my agent ahead of time, this was one of my skills, but they must have sensed it at the agency. And now, it was a robust test in commercials. So it was a nice opportunity. So I’m glad that even the most obscure and even something that you don’t feel comfortable with, there probably is a call for it somewhere down the line. If you have something about yourself that you’re not happy with, I can guarantee that there’s a role that calls for it. So yeah, take lemons and make lemonade. That’s another of my life’s philosophies.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Absolutely. Do you offer consulting services?
Marlene Sharp: Yes, I do. So I do have a background as an actor. And we’ve been talking a lot about acting and on-camera stuff today. So I have coached people on that before, but lately, for the past few years, most of them, like consulting, has been about writing and producing. I have a lot of experience developing shows for kids and families and animation. And so, writing scripts and preparing the materials that it would take to go into a network, streaming service, or studio and pitch your project to potential stakeholders, whether it’s a distributor, an investor, or something like that. That’s mainly the type of consulting I do nowadays, but I’m flexible. And I always love to meet new people and see if there’s an avenue for collaboration. So yeah, the answer is yes. I do consulting.
Dr. Barbara Hales: How do our listeners find you?
Marlene Sharp: My website is pinkpoodleproductions.com. And also, I am a maniac on LinkedIn. So I’m just Marlene Sharp on LinkedIn. And please link with me. I also moderate the women in the animation group and the LinkedIn group for networking; we have about 20,000 members. And it’s great if you’re interested in animation, and even if you’re not visual, visual effects, or graphics. We talk about all kinds of things in that forum. You can Google me and probably find a lot of other places where I live online because I’m very active on social media for business purposes. I’m not going to spout off about political views or anything. I’m all show business all the time. So it’s great.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, it has been an absolute delight having you on the podcast today and speaking to our listeners, giving them some wonderful advice.
Marlene Sharp: Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Barbara Hales: This is another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Til next time.