Celebrating Underrated Talents to Create a Bingeable Podcast, with Ryan Perez of An Actor Despairs Podcast


Celebrating Underrated Talents to Create a Bingeable Podcast, with Ryan Perez of An Actor Despairs Podcast

As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a “bingeable” podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Perez.

Ryan is a working actor in New York City, and is the host of An Actor Despairs, an inside look at not only how to survive in the television and film industry, but how to thrive. An auditioning actor himself, Ryan speaks with actors, talent agents, casting directors, and more, including voices like Carrie Coon, Glenn Fleshler, and Jena Malone. The podcast gives actors and artists a platform to not only talk about their work but also discuss the semantics of breaking into the entertainment industry and what motivated them to keep going.

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Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?

I’ve been an actor for almost 10 years.

As anyone pursuing acting knows, it’s tough. Not only is it filled with rejection but also a ton of despair. The journey towards simply working is an isolating experience. I often found myself on websites like IMDB or Wikipedia researching how the actors I respected and admired got their start. I’d study their careers, trying to figure out the steps they took to get to where they were. I even went as far as scouring through YouTube to try and find interviews where they may have provided even more insight. I quickly found though that although I would consider these people at the top of the craft, there aren’t so many people clamouring to showcase these “character actors.”

All of this considered, I decided to start An Actor Despairs to accomplish both of these things; to help people like me who are feeling completely discouraged and to create a space that celebrates the talents and roles of people who may not be getting as much public recognition as I truly think they deserve. I approach every episode as a place to learn. My main, and only goal with the podcast, is to create a space for education and positivity.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

When I started this, I knew absolutely nothing about podcasting — it just felt like the best way to approach my goals. I’m an actor; I know nothing about audio or any of the technological components that go into recording and making something sound good. So I had to be crafty and open-minded. I eventually found the right team with the right skills to get us to where we are now.

At the start, I emailed tons of actors and the majority of their teams shot me down immediately… if they responded at all. I reworked my strategy, relying on friends and friends of friends to give me a shot and come on the show. Eventually, that snowballed into bigger publicity houses taking notice of what we were doing and what we were trying to accomplish. I’ll never forget the first day one of my dream guest’s teams (who originally rejected us) pitched us for a booking.

Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started, as I mentioned before, I knew nothing about audio. I bought two of the cheapest microphones I could find on Amazon and rented out theatre rehearsal spaces to record our interviews. In some of my very early episodes, if you listen closely, you can hear actors doing scenes in the adjacent rehearsal rooms.

As I learned more, I started finding recording studios that a friend (and a guest on the show), Giullian Gioiello, helped me work out of called The Positive Mind Center in Midtown Manhattan. They were amazing, but I still didn’t quite understand the engineering and mixing and mastering component, which led me to my current and permanent home, Gotham Podcast Studio. I work with an amazing full-time producer, Raul Hernandez, who is truly the one that makes all the magic happen. Moreover, the owners of Gotham Podcast Studios — Brianna Peters and Matt Peters — have been so unbelievably kind and supportive. I don’t have a major publication backing me so this has been an entirely self-funded endeavor. I couldn’t do it without my team.

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

I started this endeavor in January 2018, so I’ve been podcasting for 2.5 years. We’ve had guests spanning every part of the industry, with young actors like Paul Mescal (NORMAL PEOPLE) and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (LUCE & WAVES) to producers like Jane Rosenthal (THE IRISHMAN) to showrunners such as Carina Mackenzie (ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO) all the way to directors like Lenny Abrahamson (ROOM). We’re coming up on 100 episodes; it’s really hard to believe.

What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?

I want them to know that they aren’t alone in feeling lost on this crazy journey in the arts or entertainment industry. No matter how successful an individual is, everyone has their beginning. I hope that having me as the host, someone who is in the same position my listeners are in, levels the playing field in a way we don’t really see often in the media. From my guests, it’s encouraging to hear them reflect on their career from the start… and to recount all of the “no’s”, they heard and surprisingly, still hear! It’s humbling to realize that no matter where my guests are in their career or how many credits they may have, they really are just people who love to act.

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Ryan Perez!

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Podcast Influencer, Ryan Perez of An Actor Despairs Podcast shares the best ways to:

1) Book Great Guests. Never be afraid to hustle. I’m not suggesting you stalk anyone, keep it professional… but you should never be afraid to approach a guest from as many different angles as possible. I now have a great relationship with a lot of publicists at different agencies and studios, but at the start, and honestly still even now, LinkedIn, production companies, and friends with existing relationships is a great way to go outside the box to get an invitation out there. I try to follow the rules of the industry, but… sometimes you need to get scrappy to make your dreams come true!

2) Increase Listeners. Booking unique guests, being relentless about self-promotion, and posting interesting clips from the interview truly helps. Social media is imperative. Tagging your guests and their work really helps people find your material that otherwise aren’t connected to you. Personally, I also take out ads and promote posts to specific audiences.

3) Produce in a Professional Way. YouTube is an excellent resource in finding ways to soundproof whatever facility/room you will record in — especially in the age of COVID where everything is being done from home! Pre-pandemic, we were recording at Gotham Studios in Manhattan, but now we’re working from home like the rest of the world! Still, you shouldn’t spend tons of money starting out. You can produce an excellent podcast for very cheap thanks to modern technology.

4) Encourage Engagement. Know your audience. Learn where they interact with you most and then take out ads on Google and Facebook/Instagram that target exactly who and where they are. Personally, I email acting schools and studios and ask them to share the podcast (it’s free!) with their student body.

5) Monetize Your Show. Don’t be afraid to be relentless in reaching out to companies/organizations that you think would be a good fit for advertising on your podcast. Every dollar builds on itself, but be smart with the connections you make. The people who support your business should also be reflective of your business and brand.

What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself? 

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine Article about Ryan Perez!

Picture of Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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