Saturday, October 8, 2011

Building an Acting Website

After almost two years of having an acting website I built myself from a simple Yahoo template, I’m finally working with a web designer to construct a custom site and very excited at the prospect. First, of course, I had to find the designer, a task that not only involves searching for someone who has talent and is priced within your budget but also a person who has a personality and sense of design that complements your own.  An effective working relationship is all about chemistry.

Happily, I belong to two online acting forums so getting recommendations was as simple as shooting out an email saying, “Hey, I need a web designer!”   Some of those recommended were commercial design firms, others were individuals doing it as a side business.  (Those designers below marked with an asterisk were recommended by more than one actor, so if you’re considering a custom site their samples may give you some design ideas.)

I then sent all of the designers a mock-up of what I kind of had in mind (above) and a detailed description of how I wanted each tab to function.  I used to think with vendors that if I really “spelled it out” I’d be limiting the person’s creativity and insulting them as a professional, but that thought only led me and the respective vendor down many a blind alley.  So I now go in with a core idea of what I want, but remain open to suggestions.

After I heard back from everyone (noting how long it took each to respond) I looked at all of the samples and finally decided on Los Angeles web designer Shannon MacMillan.   Being an actress herself she seemed attuned to what an acting website should look and feel like.  In terms of pricing, she was about in the middle.  She also understood my desire to keep the site (as she puts it on one of her own samples) “minimalist, hip, and inviting.”  Looking at her samples I had additional thoughts on the design, so by the end of the year everyone will see how it actually turned out.

One final thought: be sure than any animation programs used on your site are viewable on IPads and other Apple products.  You don't want to build a fancy site and then find that half your casting people can't view it.   Also, if you're not yet ready for a custom site, you can build a fairly sophisticated site for free by using the templates at WIX.  An actress friend used it to create her site and it's really quite good. Check it out at

Web Designers:

Shannon MacMillan:

Dennis Baker:

Nate Barlow:
Samples at:

Natasha Chernyavskaya


T.C. Gunter: Dabeka Inc.

Derek Houck:
Samples at:

Justin Kropp:
The SoJK Design Studio

Jordan Callier:

*Clay Teunis:
Tunarelli Sound and Design
Samples at:

Tim Kenney Marketing

Swood Media:


  1. Dear Kathryn,
    Your blog on acting was a great discovery.
    I've been an actor for almost ten years and I live in NYC. I have a blog on acting myself (you can view it at I also studied Michael Caine's Acting in Film, and his book became a precious source of learning and inspiration (not to mention his performances).
    It would be great if an experienced actress could read my articles and critique them.

    All the Best,

  2. Dear Jacopo,

    Happy to take a look at your blog and comment if I think I have something to add. As I note in the title here, I consider blogs to be personal diaries so I wouldn't "critique." If something specific is on your mind, perhaps we could dialogue a bit. And feel free to call me Kay. I'm only Kathryn in the credits. All the best.

  3. Hi Kay,

    I was actually pointed in the direction of your blog by Jacopo who contacted you above. I am an actress based in London and so pleased I came across your blog - you offer some very useful and honest information, which it is very generous of you to share.
    I was interested to see you are a fan of Lesley Manville - I had the pleasure of working with her at The National Theatre in London 3 years ago - she is wonderful. I am hoping to see her in the new Mike Leigh play 'Grief' in the next couple of weeks.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  4. Stephanie,

    So good to hear from you! Yes, I am a huge fan of Lesley Manville. Caught her in Another Year a few months back with Jim Broadbent (another fine actor). My God she has an expressive face! She says more with a look than I could convey in a page of lines. Wonderful actress. Envious that you had a chance to work with her and that you'll be seeing her in a new Mike Leigh play. Ah, to be in England....