WHAT IT TAKES TO KICK DOWN THE DOORS OF HOLLYWOOD . . .
Are you the next MARTIAL ARTS ACTION STAR? Are you dreaming of being discovered for the next martial arts film or TV role? If you answered “yes”, then you must register with the new MARTIAL ARTS PLAYERS DIRECTORY so Casting Directors can find you fast!
The martial arts action film and television genre continues to explode, providing opportunities for talented martial artists. Since Bruce Lee, renowned martial artists such as Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Let Li, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Eric Lee, Karen Sheperd, Michelle Yeoh, Mark Dacascos, Steven Segall, James Lew and recently Tony Jaa have all made their niche in the action-acting genre of film and television, dazzling audiences with their skills on the silver screen.
Actors and stunt performers have their professional registries, now there is one exclusively for the specialized talent of martial arts actors. Members of MAPD have instant exposure to the top Casting Directors for film, television or special events projects. Who better to create this service than Karen Sheperd, one of the worlds most highly awarded martial arts champions and experienced actors.
Karen Sheperd, is in the Black Belt Hall of Fame, Martial Arts Museum Hall of Fame, was the first woman ever to be officially rated the national #1 Forms champion, has starred in many movies and TV shows and has worked with stars such as Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Chuck Norris, Pamela Anderson and Megan Mullally. Karen has also worked on shows such as Boston Legal, Numb3rs, Hercules, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Walker Texas Ranger and General Hospital. Sheperd has relied upon her many years experience in the entertainment business to create an award winning web site to help martial arts talent get noticed by casting directors, producers and directors.
We are excited to present an exclusive interview with the founder of MartialArtsPlayers.com, martial arts celebrity Karen Sheperd:
USADOJO.COM: How important is it to be registered in a professional database?
Sheperd: If you’re serious about your career, you must invest in self-promotion. There are thousands of actors/stunt performers/martial artists who are competing with you. It’s important to put yourself in the best light possible, to look the most professional and stand out among the rest so that you get a better shot for an audition and ultimately…. a job. Being in a professional database is a must, if you are to be taken seriously.
USADOJO.COM: How and when did you conceive of this idea?
Sheperd: It came from my 25 years experience as an actor, my current business as a casting director and a desire to better promote martial arts talent. A few years ago, I was sitting at my computer updating my profiles and paying dues for my professional listings in 4 or 5 actor and stunt directories and also going through my casting files of martial artists. I was thinking how specific our specialty was (martial arts) and about the challenges and uphill battles I’ve endured trying to be seen and land auditions. A light bulb kind of went off in my head and I just envisioned a resource entirely for martial arts performers who are serious about furthering their careers, a place where they are presented in the most professional light to other entertainment-industry casting professionals. I thought, “wow…I’m paying all these dues for registrations, wouldn’t it be great if there was a database that all casting directors could access when needing to cast a martial artist? They could circumvent the casting postings and calls to agencies if they were in a hurry or if they just wanted to go to one resource, fast. And I have so many contacts in the entertainment business that it just seemed natural to put it all together.
USADOJO.COM: Before this, how did casting directors find martial artists?
Sheperd: They would put out a casting notice and wait for agents to submit their clients’ photos and resumes. Sometimes casting directors or production companies would post a notice in a trade paper or online so the performer could submit themselves for the project.
USADOJO.COM: How is the Martial Arts Players Directory different?
Sheperd: A casting professional goes right to our web site and types in a specific search (for example: female, 5’8” tall, 20-30 years old, black belt, sword skills) and up pop the photos that fit that description. They click on the headshots they like and up pop the martial artist’s resume or bio, skills/abilities, video demo and direct contact info. They then contact that person for an audition. Kind of a fast, one-stop-shop for the best martial arts talent worldwide.
USADOJO.COM: You said earlier you are also a casting director. Can people send you submissions even if they aren’t registered in the Martial Arts Players Directory?
Sheperd: Anyone can send me their photos and resume for my files to keep on hand when a producer hires me to cast a project. I accept submissions by regular mail only. People should send their photos, resume or bio and a short demo (if they have one) on DVD. I travel all over, scouting for new martial arts talent at tournaments and martial arts events. I welcome contact from talent because my whole objective is to help promote martial artists with show-business desires and make it an easier experience for them than I had. I want to help them open doors that I couldn’t even find the key for!
USADOJO.COM: Like what, for instance?
Sheperd: Like the time a Vice President at Universal Studios knew of me but couldn’t find me for a job offer. Ouch. That one hurt. He had met me previously but forgot my name. A role came up on one of his TV series that he thought I’d be perfect for but he couldn’t find me because he didn’t remember my name. Had the Martial Arts Players Directory been in existence then, my life could have been changed from being in that TV show. He could have gone to martialartsplayers.com, typed in my description and up would have popped my info and contact number.
USADOJO.COM: Do people who register on MartialArtsPlayers.com have to have an agent?
Sheperd: Absolutely not. The only qualification to register is that the martial artist must be certified or present legitimate references. They need to provide us with a certificate of training or at least two references from credible and well-known martial artists or entertainment professionals. And we do follow up on these. The Martial Arts Players Directory is built upon qualified, legitimate martial arts talent.
USADOJO.COM: So do you also act as an agent?
Sheperd: Occasionally. I represent a select few individuals who have chosen me to represent them. Everyone else registered in MAPD provides his or her own contact information. The casting directors who access MartialArtsPlayers.com contact whatever number is listed for the martial artist, whether it’s the martial artists agent, the martial artist directly or me. It’s up to the martial artist to decide on their contact info.
USADOJO.COM: Do you take an agent’s commission on jobs booked through the Martial Arts Players Directory?
Sheperd: Only for the select few martial artists who haven chosen to have me represent them.
USADOJO.COM: Can anyone access the Martial Arts Players Directory?
Sheperd: Only martial artists who are registered can access their own profile page and only legitimate, verified casting professionals with a funded project can search for martial artists within the Martial Arts Players Directory.
USADOJO.COM: Sounds like you have a lot of integrity built in there.
Sheperd: The Martial Arts Players Directory is the most elite, professional directory for the best martial arts talent. To ensure that integrity, we insist on the verification process to ensure our high standards. We don’t want a “free-for-all” with “who-knows-who”. Casting directors need to know they are getting the “real deals” and that they can rely on the Martial Arts Players Directory professionally.
USADOJO.COM: Is MAPD just a registry or do you feature other things?
Sheperd: The main feature is the database, where casting directors can find the specific martial artist they need for a project. We also feature informative articles and industry-related interviews with martial arts stars and industry professionals such as casting directors, directors and producers. Our expansion will also include resources to assist martial artists in promoting their careers.
USADOJO.COM: Do martial artists pay a fee to be registered on MAPD?
Sheperd: There are relatively low fees involved, but you have to set your priorities. Professionals know that investing in promoting their careers in the most professional resources is paramount to getting jobs. It’s just goes with the territory and is an industry standard. Compared with other such registries, the Martial Arts Players Directory is very inexpensive.
USADOJO.COM: Is registration available only online and how do people register?
Sheperd: No. Martial artists can do it the old fashioned way too. They can send a request and we will mail them an application. It just takes longer. The online registration process is simple though. Logon to the Martial Arts Players Directory web site and fill out the registration form and pay securely online with any credit or debit card. Only when an application has been accepted will the payment be processed and a password released to the applicant.
USADOJO.COM: What can they do once they have their password?
Sheperd: Registered martial artists can then upload their photos, resume or bio and a 1-minute demo reel and they can update these things at any time or they can choose to have us do any of that for them.
USADOJO.COM: Wow, sounds like you’ve filled a void with a very valuable resource for martial arts talent. Thank you, Karen, for this explosive news and for helping promote martial arts talent in such a professional and positive manner. How can people contact you?
Sheperd: They can write or send submissions to: Martial Arts Players Directory, 10153-1/2 Riverside Dr. #623, Toluca Lake CA 91602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.