Become an Actor
Now that we cleared that up, let's focus on your road to a successful and fulfilling acting career. It's important to note that the road to success takes a lot of hard work, training, networking, risk and study with a good deal of being in the right place at the right time. Your personal type, look and style also play a part. For example, how in-demand is your type? Are there many roles written for your type?
First let's focus on your location. Do you live in a place that is conducive to pursuing a career as an actor? Are there a variety of classes and workshops offered? Are there some good headshot photographers around? Photographers that keep up with the industry trends and standards is a must. (A cousin of yours who has a camera may not be your best bet.) Is there a community theater that you can audition for to start building up credits? These are all things to consider about your location.
Once you answer yes, yes and yes to the questions about location, we can proceed to classes. Take classes. These can be classes offered in your high school, college or an outside setting, like private coaching. Some popular classes you may consider are monologue workshops (either one on one or in a group setting), scene study, acting for film and TV, audition technique, acting in soap operas, or voice-over study. Most reputable schools or workshops will offer new students the opportunity to audit a class before choosing to enroll. Take them up on this. It's free for you to sit in on the class as it's going on. Bring a notebook, take some notes and talk with the students afterwards to get their take and to answer any questions you may have. Most importantly, use your instincts to see if you feel comfortable in that setting. Finding a good class or two will set you on your way and you'll gain valuable skills, confidence and contacts. For the record, good professional actors study in some form or another their entire careers.
Next, before you can begin to audition, it'll be time to get professional headshots taken. This is usually an area where you get what you pay for so please do your proper research and take time to find the right photographer for you. Make some calls, and set up meetings with a few different photographers to ask questions, look through their portfolio to see past work and, perhaps most importantly, to see the vibe between the two of you. You really want a photographer that you feel comfortable with. One that you click with. Why? A good photographer will help bring out your best which will be worth your weight in gold at the end of the day when you see your contact sheets. A pro headshot photographer will help you find your style and make sure that your photos 'pop' when they land on the desk of agents and casting directors. No fake smiles or nothing going on behind your eyes if you find the right photographer to take your headshots. Research properly.
Now you've been taking your classes and you got your awesome headshots reproduced. Time to attach your resume to the back of your photo and start auditioning. "But what do I put on my resume?" you say. Remember those classes you've been taking? Or that community theater gig you landed? Or that play you did in 8th grade? Whatever is pertinent at this point, put it on your resume. Sure, it may not be much but it's a start, and we all have to start somewhere. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- ever lie on your resume. At no point in your career will it ever be wise to lie on you resume. This may seem like an obvious note, but you see it time and time again. An actor decides to put xyz credit on his resume and because this industry is so small and everyone knows everyone, it will back fire in a similar style to this: Casting Director: "Oh, you worked with Susan on The XYZ Show?" You: "Yeah!" Casting Director: "That's weird. I cast that show and I don't remember you..." See?!
You've now been taking classes, you have your perfect headshot and your resume is printed up... now what? It's time to take your skills and audition. Not many auditions going on in your area? This goes back to your location. Sure, you can build up training and knowledge and continue to educated yourself about the business, but at some point you must be where the work is. If you are serious about pursuing a career in show business, you may have to relocate to the many cities that support this. I use the phrase 'show business' deliberately to remind you that it is, in fact, a business. Not the topic of this article, but smart to keep in the back of your mind as you continue to learn about the 'biz.
Read, learn, study. It may seem mundane, but it is crucial to know how the industry works. Read books on the subject, subscribe to industry papers and magazines like Back Stage, Variety and Hollywood Reporter. All of those sites have plenty of free content to keep you in the loop. Talk to other actors, get involved in community theater, take classes. Like I said before, the road to becoming an actor is not an easy one. But it certainly is a rewarding one! Get out there, break a leg and keep us posted on your progress. And please submit any questions or comments below.
Side Note: There is a tremendous amount of struggle and rejection in the pursuit of a career in acting. You must get yourself and keep yourself in a positive and healthy mental, emotional and physical state. This is not always an easy achievement especially with outside forces weighing in. For example, we've received a lot of emails with the following content:
"But my parents do not want me to become an actor..."
"I want to become an actor but I have no money..."
"XYZ Associates wants me to pay $600 to audition for all the top agents and casting directors..."
"Is XYZ Associates a legitimate company or are they a scam?"
Sadly, we've heard these too many times and lived through it, first hand. We will address all those and more in upcoming articles.