ctors are constantly on the move. As an actor myself, I’ve spent many days sprinting from auditions to my day job to meetings, wasting much of my time in transit. Luckily, podcasts have created an opportunity to utilize that time for my career, whether I’m learning business strategies or hearing inspirational stories. The content out there for actors is only growing, and I’m sure there are even more shows that are incredibly useful, but here are six acting podcasts that have left me with renewed passion and wisdom for the insane industry I am trying to break into.
If there were a starter pack for actors, Off Camera would and should be in it. With over 200 episodes under his belt, Sam Jones has put to use his decades of experience working with actors and artists as a photographer and director. On Off Camera, he employs a casual conversation style to allow his guests to open up and give meandering yet insightful retrospectives on their careers. Jones is able to guide these conversations in a natural and seamless way, which makes for easy listening. The podcast allows actors and artists to reveal the choices and moments that got them to where they are, and it has become a resource for many artists seeking inspiration and strategies in their own careers.
Listen to: Episode 83 – Andrew Garfield; Episode 132 – Jenna Fischer; Episode 157 – Uzo Aduba; Episode 200 – Robert Downey Jr.
Dax Shepard has found his niche with Armchair Expert. As an actor, Shepard has starred in films such as Idiocracy and Employee of the Month, and is now able to use his comedy chops in the podcast world. Often familiar with the actors who appear on his show, Shepard asks questions that other hosts may not feel comfortable asking. Whether discussing personal struggles an actor is going through or asking specific business questions, he’s comfortable enough with his guests to poke and prod, bringing up important aspects of acting careers that aren’t normally discussed. Aided by Monica Padman (Shepard’s ex-nanny and an actor on NBC’s The Good Place), the two start and end the show with friendly banter as they reflect on the episode’s guest.
Listen to: Episode 2 – Kristen Bell; Episode 118 – Bill Hader, Episode 126 – Ben Platt
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This podcast could be called David Tennant Does A Podcast With His Friends, as most of the guests are the actor’s personal acquaintances. Tuning in feels like eavesdropping on two friends having an intimate conversation, and the entertainment comes from the absolute familiarity each have for each other (Olivia Colman’s episode, for example, begins with a discussion of her bathroom use on set and her pet peeves while driving). Tennant’s magnetic personality shines with his pals, and he’s successfully able to abandon the classic interview format and just exist in conversation with his guests. The series allows us to see into the minds of some of the most successful actors as Tennant and his guests dive deep into the nuances of being successful, of being famous, and trying to survive it all.
Listen to: Episode 1 – Olivia Colman; Episode 5 – Jon Hamm
While the first three podcasts on this list are impeccably produced and executed, the guests on those shows are generally actors who have had massive success, and whose stories are at times unrelatable to most people pursuing a career in the arts. With 10,000 No’s, Matthew Del Negro bridges that gap, interviewing people in the industry who haven’t had as much success. The result is an exploration of careers in the industry that are accessible, with the proper amount of time and attention. Del Negro also focuses on the industry as a whole, interviewing casting directors, acting coaches, and showrunners about their careers, which provides vital insight to aspects of the industry that are rarely discussed.
Listen to: Episode 104 – Mark O’Brien; Episode 94 – Terry Knickerbocker; Ep 88 – Carrie Audino
Jen Waldman, an acting teacher and creative guru in New York City, began this podcast with Aussie Peter Shepherd. Across continents, the two discuss creative processes, focusing on the steps it takes to put ideas into action. The podcast is incredibly specific, touching upon what goes on a resume, how artists spend their money, morning routines, and much more. The Long and The Short Of It is among the most practical acting podcasts out there.
Listen to: Episode 3 – Imposter Syndrome; Episode 5 – Content Dictates Form; Ep 22 – Resumes
For actors, artists and creators who are looking for realistic and practical advice on their careers, The Dreaded Question offers insight into the many different avenues one can pursue to support a career in the arts. Most of the people that Lili Torre interviews are actors and something else, whether that be teacher, business owner, or real estate agent. She asks a single question to start — “What are you up to?” — and the conversation moves from there, providing realistic advice from artists who are working and struggling.
Listen to: Ep 7 – Corey John Hafner (Part 2); Ep 15 – CEO-ing Your Artistic Life with Sara Glancy; Ep 20 – Context is Everything (Part 2) with Jen Waldman
Jack Schrader is an actor and writer based in New York City.