So you want to be a Professional Actor, you are confused and don't know what to do? Well having been a professional actor for the past 18 years I can hopefully help you learn from my mistakes in this Article. I am going to cover various points, from acting training, Agents and representation, resources to help you pursue your career to your first job. Obviously I can only draw from my own experiences, and any views I may have are solely of my opinion and you may choose to agree or disagree with me.
So if you want to be an actor but you just don't know where to begin? I believe you have a few options. Before you explore the options, I think you should truly make a decision that an acting career is something you wish to embark on and also ask yourself the question... Am I truly any good? If you believe the answer is 'yes' to both, congratulations, this means you have decided that a life likely full of infrequent paid work and rejection is for you and also that you are talented or have potential much like the other actors out there.
Now you have carefully considered your career path, now you must get some head shots before you go any further. The purpose of head shots is so that potential employers can see your look, you can get headshot's by searching Google for a Headshot photographer in your area, although some may be expensive you do tend to get what you pay for. I always recommend that you research the photographers prior work before you book. If you simply cannot afford to pay for headshots, I recommend finding an amateur photographer, photography enthusiast OR a photography student.
Okay, now you have your headshot you really need some experience. I recommend a few options. You may either a)join an amateur theatre company b)take acting classes or go to drama school c) befriend film school student. Now I will give you a break down of the pros + cons of a/b/c.
A) the positive aspects of joining a amateur theatre company aka 'Am Dram' in my opinion are you get great ensemble experience of working with others, you also learn your strengths and weaknesses in your performance (local paper reviews and comments you overhear) and you learn that magical feeling of performing live on stage... Ok now for the cons... A lot of the time amateur theatre groups are just that... AMATEUR. You will find lots of bitter 'wannabe' actors who are in it for the lime light. This is bad because working with people so self indulgent does nothing to improve your skills as a performer.
B) Acting Classes & Drama schools are great in my opinion but it very much depends which class you are willing to take & drama school you would like to join, Drama schools can be costly so if you aren't prepared to study constantly and spend thousands on drama school you may want to take another rout such as Acting classes. In my opinion, I would only recommend having private classes on particular occasions such as if you wanted to work on a monologue or if you need to privately work on an accent or dialect. Basically private lessons are very much for perfecting your current skills. Whereas group lessons are fantastic for interaction with other actors, learning from others acting styles and working with new people. There aren't any real negatives on acting classes but I would do my research before booking a class, look online for reviews and other students opinions before you book anything.
C) When I suggest that you befriend a Film School Student, It is not on the off chance that your new found friend becomes the next Quentin Tarantino, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh or Ron Howard and will casting you as a leading role in their up and coming blockbuster hollywood movies although don't get me wrong, this would of course be a huge bonus! The actual reason of befriending a film school student if purely for - exposure, experience & a chance to play different acting characters and roles, plus the fact that every short film you act in of theirs you can obtain the footage for your showreel. A showreel is an absolute must for an actor. A show reel is a culmination of media you have performed in which can include, short films, corporate videos, feature films, commercials etc...This is edited together onto a dvd or computer media file such as .mov, wmv, mp4 and enables you to send it to potential casting directors, producers, directors, managers and agencies in the hope of landing a job or an audition at the very least!
The editing process can be expensive and or time consuming for any young and thriving actor however there are a few cheaper options available to you. You can ask your new found filmmaker friend to repay the favour of your unpaid performance in his short film and kindly ask him to edit a show reel for you or you can edit the showreel yourself. When i suggest editing the showreel yourself rather than spending thousands on posh and fancy video editing suits such as Avid and Final Cut Pro, also known as FCP, there is another option out there for you. I recently found a website called www.talentandproduction.com where you can join for free and they have a built in virtual studio which allows you to edit your showreel on line for completely free. Obviously as it is free software you will not be able to use vast amount of features, transitions and plugins however it is literally so easy to use it is literally idiot proof for a first time user new to editing and it will be sufficient for a showreel.
So I am assuming that you now have the following:
1) A set of Acting Headshots
2) Acting Experience
3) Acting Lessons
4) An acting showreel
Now you have the 4 above points in your arsenal, it is time to try and get some acting work! Before I begin on this section, please be aware there is no easy way to get acting jobs, I am simply going to suggest the most effective ways I have found of getting your foot in the door.
Okay, you have several options of landing acting work, the key to everything is persistence and being proactive. If you can't be bother to do either and or think jobs will roll in thick and fast without doing anything you are wrong. Even Actors who have an Acting Agent or Manager still have to be constantly letter writing and networking because an Agent has many clients and will not focus on your acting career 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The old saying "the cream always rises to the top" I am afraid is not the case in show business, a solid work ethic, ambition and persistence however will dramatically help your cause and increase your chances of landing Acting Jobs.
The first tip I would give you as a thriving actor is to perfect your letter & email writing skills. Search various employers such as production companies, theatre companies, casting directors etc, research the type of work that they employ actors for and it is the kind of work you are interested in then make you you are personable in your approach. Do not write 1 generic letter, attach your Resume and Headshot then send it out to the masses... Your letter will end up in the trash. Another tip: It is VERY IMPORTANT that you firmly attach your Resumeto the letter / email and make sure your Headshot is either embedded or stapled securely to the Resume. The reason for this is because employers may lose your headshot and in effect your headshot and resume are useless without each other.
Another few resources I would recommend you join are:
1) castingcallpro.com - useful resource for auditions however you do have to pay a monthly fee to get the most out of the service
2) talentandproduction.com - totally free social networking site with jobs and auditions and the edit suite i mentioned earlier
3) for USA actors: Nowcasting.com - again useful resource for auditions however you do have to pay a monthly fee to get the most out of the service
4) for USA actors: SAG - Screen Actors Guild, Google it to find out more... This is perfect when you have gained more experience.
5) for UK actor: Spotlight - Again, Google to find out more
They key to success in showbusiness is to never give up and keep going to matter what happens. I am aware that everybody has their own views on what is best to pursue an acting career so if you feel i have missed any vital point, please add a comment :)
Good luck everybody
About Author / Additional Info:
Lady E - Actress :)