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The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,483 ratings  ·  410 reviews
Jenna Fischer’s Hollywood journey began at the age of 22 when she moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of St. Louis. With a theater degree in hand, she was certain everything would fall easily into place. Never mind that she didn’t know a single person in the entertainment industry. She was determined, she was confident, she was ready to work hard. So, what could go wron ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by BenBella Books
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Jessica Absolutely. This is a disheartening industry. Ms. Fischer describes what to expect in a kind but realistic way. Alot of the information found on the…moreAbsolutely. This is a disheartening industry. Ms. Fischer describes what to expect in a kind but realistic way. Alot of the information found on the internet about acting can be confusing and contradictory (like most things on the internet) so it's nice to have the perspective of a real, working actor to light the way. I think it should be on all aspiring actors reading list.(less)

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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,483 ratings  ·  410 reviews

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Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: acting-related
This book is basically an actors textbook. Please, please, please know this. It was perfect for me cause, hey, I'm an actor. Jenna has been giving out amazing information like this for years, via blog posts and podcasts, and I have been waiting for her to publish it.

But if you aren't an actor and/or have no interest in being an actor and/or have no interest in the art/business/mechanics of's not gonna be for you. This is not about the celebrity aspect of acting. Or even Jenna's biog
John Lamb
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being an actor is not something I ever wanted to pursue, so I am not the intended audience for this book, but I still loved learning about the behind-the-scenes details of trying to make a profession out of acting.
Valerity (Val)
This is written by Jenna Fischer who played on the hit show "Office" for years. I was hooked on that show for a long time which gave me an interest in reading her book. It's written mainly as a guide for those who are bitten by the acting bug and really as a way to help them with tips and ideas on how to get started and keep going in a career in acting. It seems like it would really be helpful for someone with that seriously in mind for their life too if they really have the drive and ambition t ...more
I'm between 3 and 4 stars but rounding up because I read it as a Jenna Fischer fan and not an aspiring actor--the audience it is intended for.

I adore Jenna Fischer and I knew going in it was mainly a book about career advice for beginning actors. I loved her stories about her start, missteps, The Office, etc. and didn't mind the advice pieces for the most part.

I actually listened to the audio book and since it was Jenna narrating, it was as charming and funny as she is.🤗I'm going to need to fi
Chantal  (Every Word A Doorway)
An incredible book for anyone who wants to get into, or is already into, acting. Particularly recommend to actors in Los Angeles as some of the advice is quite location specific.

Note: this book is no way an autobiography, but an actor's manual.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is up there with Tina Fey's Bossypants. What I appreciate about Jenna Fischer is the way she looks out for those up and comers who don't have "connections" in NY, LA or Chicago. This is a great read for aspiring actors but also for those who love television, film and pop culture. I love reading about the ins and outs of the entertainment industry. Bottom line: Jenna says you can make it with lots of hard work, patience, and determination as long as you stay teachable and be sure to cre ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book
This was a surprise! I’m not an actor. I don’t really know any actors. I would actively discourage anyone I knew from becoming an actor. And yet, I really enjoyed this.

Fischer tells the story of of her own Hollywood journey while giving advice and behind-the-scenes information all the while. It was a great mix of personal info and general info. I loved hearing about the complex processes behind auditions, networking, and seeking management. Her advice is reasonable and she adorable. Like most a
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-5-stars
Jenna Fischer's The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide provides wonderful insight into a world that many aspire to be part of, but few have the drive, determination, and luck to make it in.

It took Jenna eight grueling years before she landed her polarizing role of Pam Beasley. The thing that most successful actors all share in common is luck! What is luck and how do you attain it?

If you want to be a professional actor, it is important that you live in LA or New York. About 20% of SAG actors' annual
Scottsdale Public Library
Pam Beesly wrote a book, ya’ll! Well, that’s not entirely true; Jenna Fischer, actress extraordinaire, wrote a book and it is super informative for the novice actor and enlightening for the day dreamers like me.
How in the world do you get a start in Tinseltown? Lovable Jenna, right out of college with a theatre degree, hit the road and rented out a windowless apartment in Hollywood and expected the roles to roll right on in. Isn’t that how all actors expect their big breaks other than being dis
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Jenna Fischer! I only picked this book up because I love her so much, so, obviously, none of the information pertained to me. However, she writes beautifully and conversationally without condescending to you. If you were an aspiring actor, this would be the book for you!
Rachel Holtzclaw
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
i have no plans (now or ever) to be an actor, but i love jenna fischer. she's great. i hold her and her advice in high regard.
Jared Nipper
For anyone who aspires to be a working actor, this is a valuable resource. Advice like this is hard to come by since acting is a competitive field. She recounts her time on The Office, but also talks about her less successful periods. The latter parts were the most inspiring.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, library
This was fascinating. As a non-actor it was really interesting to get a peek behind the curtain. Mostly because I don't actually have to follow all of this advice!

The first couple chapters are clunky and full of "I took myself so seriously, isn't that silly?!" But after that she settles into it and I couldn't stop reading.
debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
Enjoyable. Jenna is probably best known for her character on the hit tv series, The Office. I thought this interesting and informative. A light readand helpful to anyone who would like to pursue acting as a career. I requested this title on NG because I was listening to a podcast and Jenna was being interviewed about her new book. Jenna states that she wanted to write a book to help anyone else who is interested in making acting a career. She gave a lot of information about navigating the journe ...more
Carmen Marie
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.

There was a time, I confess, when I desperately wanted to be on a sitcom. Okay, it was the '80s when there was no shortage of family sitcoms. Those kids on Growing Pains and Family Ties always looked like they were having so much fun! I reasoned that I was a kid who liked film and theatre and I had also debuted as a preposition in a play about grammar, The Case of the Missing Part of Speech in 6th grade. I mean, how hard could it be to land a role as a funny kid on a sitcom?

I also once
Keith Chawgo
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jenna Fischer’s phenomenal book ‘The Actor’s Life’ is factual, funny and a fantastic guide to the world of acting. This is one of those books that is informative, personable yet so enjoyable that you can’t stop reading. I am not an actor but I personally loved this book and it is one that works on so many levels.

The book starts out with Ms Fischer interest in acting and her school productions and then through her education which includes the many different facets of her experiences. She then mak
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never had an interest in being an actor but I started reading this because I love learning about the way things work. I finished reading it because it was a really good, easy read. It's written in a friendly, light, easily digestible tone which is driven by personal and effective anecdotes followed by straightforward, encouraging advice and caveats. Even though this book is completely and entirely different from Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, I came away from it with the ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This was a really fun, enjoyable read, all about the art and business of acting from Jenna Fischer, star of The Office. It's geared towards actors who are new to the craft, but I think there is a lot in this book to interest those of us who enjoy the work of actors. As always, I also enjoyed the "peek behind the curtain" aspect, including information about the difference between managers and agents, commercial versus theatrical work, the trends in headshots over time, and what a beginning actor ...more
Stephen Pate
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Every project you finish has value," Jenna Fisher.

This book is incredibly insightful and a truly fun read! I originally bought this book for my wife who is pursuing acting, but figured I'd read it in time as well. It's part memoir of Jenna's journey into acting, and part practical guide on surviving in Hollywood Land. It's witty, honest, and inspiring.

I've learned a ton about acting and the world of Hollywood from my wife's journey over the past couple years. It was neat to see some of her ex
Carol Taylor
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not what I expected but I still liked it, mostly because I really like Jenna. The book is exactly what the title says - A Survival Guide to Being an Actor. Jenna goes through her history of landing the part on The Office which was eight years of very hard work. Jenna was determined and that's what got her through. Jenna gives the details an aspiring actor needs to know about headshots, auditions, taking classes, getting a manager, getting a "real" job to support yourself, etc. It wasn't ...more
Mary Beth
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When The Office was still on the air I remember having some downtime and googling everything I could about this weird show. Somewhere along the way I found Jenna Fischer’s Myspace page, which she would sometimes update during downtime on the set. She was always answering questions from commenters about the acting business. I remember being like, “this life is so different than what you think. I should write a book.” Her MySpace voice was cheerful and helpful and interesting to read.

Well, like 1
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was not sure what kind of genre to put this book under. so I gave it a few genres. Jenna Fischer writes a unique book for people who want to go into the acting business. I am not that person but I found this a very helpful book for those who are interested in becoming an actor. She is very detailed of all the steps a person should take. Like getting an agent and what to be careful of. Getting headshots. and all the details of rules and regulations to do. Wow. I did not realize how much is invo ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I basically inhaled this fantastic book from Jenna Fischer and enjoyed reading about her life so much. This isn’t a book about a famous actor and their rise to fame and it isn’t a comedy biography, this is a handbook on how to make it as an actor. Jenna goes through the steps with informative advice and knowledge while also sharing her own personal events, tips and tricks. You’ll follow through the process of acting classes, headshots, agents, callbacks, rejection, success and more. I have no in ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jenna Fischer wants to help YOU become an actor (and she wants you to survive so she includes a recipe for Actor's Pizza.) This book isn't a celebrity memoir, although you do get to see many glimpses into Jenna's personal and acting life. This is truly a guide to help someone navigate the world of acting in Los Angeles. It talks about how to get an agent, how to get a manager, how to avoid scams, shoulds/should nots, etc. I enjoyed reading this, despite the fact that I'm not interested in a prof ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, memoir, nonfic
I was not the intended audience for this book; I picked it up hoping it would be more of a straight biography. Though she does share much of her story, this is truly first and foremost a guidebook trough professional actordom. As someone who has never dreamed of being an actor, and never been attracted to the world of Hollywood, I found myself often zoning out through the more instructional/advice-y bits, waiting for the anecdotes from Jenna’s life to pop back in and catch my attention.

Thus I c
Michael Mazur
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I liked Jenna on The Office and follow her on insta so I figured that, despite having no fascination in being an actor, I could find something interesting in this book.

Good thing I did. She claims the book is really only for people who intend to begin an acting career, but it think it has a lot of life lessons for anyone who wants to start a career. She has some straight up advice on presenting yourself and realizing the world around you. While it doesn't apply to me directly, the advice still r
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not the intended audience for this book, but I loved Jenna on "The Office," and the book was on sale, so I decided to pick it up anyway. While I'm not an aspiring actor, I still enjoyed reading about the behind-the-scenes stuff that actors go through. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the creation of TV shows and movies. Most of her advice is geared towards actors, of course, but she also gives good general advice for anyone wanting to chase a dream.

If you're interested in becoming an
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really liked this. I picked it up because Jenna Fischer is a fellow Truman State alum and I’m rewatching The Office, but it was more than I expected. It’s one part memoir, one part advice, one part “how the sausage is made” of the tv industry. I would recommend this to anyone who was interested in being an actor, but also anyone who, like me, is interested in how other people live. It is well-written and also gave me a lot of new perspective into why people go into acting.
Joelle Gibson
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not planning to become an actor any time soon, but if I was this book would have been immensely helpful! I'm just a huge fan of The Office so sort of biased in anything any of those actors produce. I love it all. This book was not only full of interesting information about the industry but entertaining and sweet.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I am not the intended audience for this book, however I am still very much obsessed with The Office. Forever. So I read this, and did enjoy the behind the scenes look, and stories of Jenna’s personal experiences. I skimmed a lot of the advice that was very technical (I will never need a headshot) but overall still liked the book.
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Former receptionist, Mom of two, coffee mug collector, loves to travel.

Jenna Fischer is best known for playing Pam Beesly on the acclaimed television show The Office for which she received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress and two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Comedy.
She's also starred in a variety of films, including 'Blades of Glory' and 'Walk Hard: The Dewey
“Every project you finish has value.” 3 likes
“The single best thing an actor can do, both professionally and personally, is to create their own work.” 1 likes
More quotes…