For Actors

If you are interested in working as an actor, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Self (elizabeth.self@vanderbilt.edu) or complete THIS form.

What are the actor needs for Fall 2021?

Tuesday, September 14 (12:45-3:45PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a Spanish-speaking, Puerto Rican mother who is conferencing with your son’s teacher.

Wednesday, September 22 (12:30-2:15PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a Black, 10th-grade student who is meeting with her teacher after a classroom outburst.

Monday, September 27 (10AM-12PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a white mother who is sharing her concerns about a recent unit with the teacher.

Wednesday, October 6 (3-5PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of two high school students, one who is conservatively religious and opposed to gay marriage and one who is gay but not out to his classmates.

Wednesday, October 15 (1:15-2:30PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a white high school student who is conferencing with her teacher about a piece of writing.

Tuesday, October 19 (12:45-3:45PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a Black, 10th-grade student who is meeting with her teacher after a classroom outburst.

Wednesday, October 20 (12:30-2:15PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of an Arabic-speaking, Kurdish mother who is conferencing with your son’s teacher.

Monday, October 25 (10AM-12PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a Black mom and dad who are conferencing with your son’s teacher.

Tuesday, November 9 (12:45-3:45PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a veteran white teacher who is meeting with a new teacher about some of his students.

Monday, November 15 (1:15-2:30PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a white high school student who is conferencing with her teacher about a piece of writing.

Wednesday, November 17 (12:30-2:15PM) — Looking for actors to play the role of a veteran white teacher who is meeting with a new teacher about some of his students.

Date and time TBD — Looking for actors to play the role of a Christian high school student who is meeting with her teacher about concerns about the class.

What do actors do?

Actors in SHIFT simulations play the role of a student, a parent, or coworker in one-on-one interactions with future K12 teachers. Actors are recruited to play a specific role and then meet with Dr. Self to get trained in that role. All actors receive a Standardized Interaction Protocol that explains the scenario being simulated, which also provides “triggers” — things the actor must say during the encounter or things they might say, depending on what the teachers do or say in the interaction. Actors study this at home after the training.

On the day of the encounters, actors stay in one room and interact with teacher, usually one at a time, to enact the scenario. These are video recorded and last approximately 10-12 minutes. Actors may encounter as few as 6 or as many as 12 teachers, in 15 minute rounds, in a given simulation. For some simulations, actors are asked to provide feedback on the interactions to the participants and/or attend the group debrief, if available and interested. For all scenarios, actors are asked to record a personal introduction so that participants know your real identity and background.

What if I don’t look like a high school student? 

That’s okay —  to a point! Most of our student roles are played by undergraduate students, and it works just fine. If you are older than that, we can likely use you for other roles — as parents (or other family members) or coworkers. If you’re interested, we want to know, regardless of whether or not you think you fit a current need.

What if I don’t match the call for actors?

Almost all of our scenarios are written specifically for a role that requires an individual who can be read in a certain way. For example, this may mean racially, in terms of gender, or wearing a particular piece of jewelry or clothing. While it is not necessary that actors identify exactly the same as the role is described, it is important that actors feel they can viably and authentically portray the role in some way. For example, at least two of our scenarios feature the role of a student who is read as Black or African American. Someone who identifies as biracial may choose to play this role, knowing that in the role they will be read as Black or African American. In another scenario, we feature the role of a student who is gay and comes out to the teacher in the interaction. Someone who identifies as gay or bisexual may choose to play this role, though we prefer it not be played by someone is straight and has no experience as an individual minoritized as a result of their sexuality. In some instances, we can also slightly shift the scenario to match the actor playing the role, so long as it does not impact the overall goals of the interaction.

So the main criteria for saying “yes” to a role are: 1) would someone reasonably “read” you in a way that lines up with the role being described, 2) do you share at least some perspectives and lived experiences with the role being described, and 3) do you feel comfortable playing this role, given any differences between the role being described and who you are.

What is the time commitment?

Actors tend to spend 3.5-5 hours for a given simulation: one hour of in person training, one hour of at-home training, and 1.5-3 hours of interactions. If actors attend the group debrief, that adds an addition one hour to the total.

We can sometimes use actors that are not available the full length of the simulation (ie. some run 3 hours, but the actor is only available for 1-2 hours). If you have availability and interest, please be in touch regardless.

Why should I participate?

  1. Because we pay you! Actors are paid $20/hour, including training time (NOTE: As a result of changes in university policy, we are now required to pay actors using gift cards rather than with a check. We realize this is not the ideal way to remunerate adults for their time, but we are bound by this policy. Generally, we issue Amazon gift cards as they are the easiest to purchase and distribute within the bounds of the policy. You will have to specify your citizenship status on the payment form, and if in the U.S. on a visa, provide additional information.)
  2. Because it’s interesting. Past actors have found this work to be fun (but also challenging) and engaging. Many actors come back and work with us again or send their friends to work with us.
  3. Because it’s important. These scenarios are intended to shift the way teachers think about interactions with students, parents, and coworkers in ways that we hope will ultimately improve the schooled experiences of students and families from historically underserved and marginalized backgrounds. While we wish no one had to bear the brunt of this learning, we hope that by training and working with actors who volunteer for the role, we will minimize the harm done to children and families out in K12 schools.

What else should I know before sharing my information?

These interactions can be stressful for actors, depending on the scenario. The encounters deal with issues of racism, Whiteness, deficit orientations, Eurocentrism, heteronormativity, homophobia, ableism, and more. In some instances, actors are playing the role of a minoritized individual who is confronting the teacher with something they have said or done that is potentially harmful, which can cause teachers to be defensive. In other instances, the actor is saying or doing things that are offensive, which can likewise cause teachers to be confrontational. We want actors to know what they are in for before committing to a role. We work with actors to prepare them for what they are likely to hear and see in the encounters and to work together in a way that takes care of the actors who participate in these encounters. We are always learning and trying to improve these relationships and welcome actors’ feedback at any time.

Want to know more about the SHIFT Project? Go HERE.