Jack Hornaday
Jack Hornaday

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The Afflicted: Kris Arnold, Potomac actor whose playable age range is “30-something.”

Diagnosis: Free-agency fright. In his 10 years working in local showbiz, Arnold has had to act alone. “When you’re an actor, you spend most of your time auditioning and networking, and it’s essential to have an agent to help you,” says Arnold. “Agents don’t exist in Washington.”

Symptoms: Strike-break. Arnold has landed some of the area’s few meaty roles, networking with local casting directors and listing his personal contact info on IMDB. His solo hustle has won him appearances on America’s Most Wanted, Homicide, and The West Wing. But when the Writers Guild of America went on strike against movie and TV producers late last year, Arnold couldn’t find work. “There was no film or TV coming through Washington,” says Arnold. “There was nothing for me to do.”

Treatment: Upward viral. When the strike hit, Arnold forged some virtual connections, creating bloggable parodies of Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs, and Bill O’Reilly. “At first, I was hesitant to get involved in YouTube and MySpace. I was a professional actor and I felt like I was above that,” says Arnold, who will next appear as Gretchen Mol’s lover in the JFK-era film Boy of Pigs. So far, Arnold’s videos on YouTube, Funny or Die, and his own site, channelkris.com, have garnered a collective 270,000 hits. Strike over, Arnold’s now supplementing his Web presence by seeking work in a slightly smaller market—New York City.

Artist with a problem? E-mail problem@washingtoncitypaper.com.