How to Become an Actor or Actress
How to Become an Actor or Actress
Being a world famous entertainer is a glamorous dream. If you want to learn how to become an actor or actress, you’re going to need patience, perseverance, and the ability to take criticism. Most people in the acting profession wait years for their big break, going to endless auditions and improving their ability to act. Persevering doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become a big star, but it does mean you’ll give yourself a chance.
You’ll need certain skills to become an actor or actress. You’ll also need to take certain steps to move forward in the profession. These skills and steps comprise the traditional path to becoming a Hollywood, Broadway, or television actor.
Move to Los Angeles or New York City
You won’t be “discovered” in Peoria. People need to move to the places where the jobs are in their field. Acting jobs are found in New York and Los Angeles, so if you want to become an actor or actress, that’s where you need to be.
If you don’t want to move to one of these two cities, your chance of getting a job becomes much lower. You might become a skilled stage actor in a local theater, or enjoy a hobby as an amateur actor or actress in community theater, but you’re not going to become a big time celebrity or Hollywood star. If have no interest in living in Manhattan or LA, that’s all right. But you won’t become a successful film actor.
Take Acting Classes
Join a drama club or take a drama class. Be on stage performing and get whatever instruction you can. Learn the craft and decide whether or not you enjoy being in front of an audience.
Successful actors and actresses improve their acting ability their entire lives. While models, singers, athletes, and celebrities of all types might get acting jobs, if you’re none of those things, improving your ability to act is your ticket to the big time.
Find a good class and an acting instructor you trust. Learn your trade.
Get a Head Shot
A head shot is a photo you include with your resume. Producers are looking for people with the right look for a part, so your head shot tells them if you have the look.
Before having your head shot taken, get your hair styled by a professional.
To become a famous actor, it helps to be attractive and have nice features, especially if you’re female. But even if you aren’t, there are jobs in television and movies that need an unorthodox look or an everyday kind of attractiveness. Character actors are often the most-skilled actors on the set.
Build a Resume
Start building a resume of the acting work you’ve done. Get in front of an audience or camera any chance that you can, so that you have something to put on your resume. Do school plays, commercials, and anything else you can.
Once you start to build up your list of acting accomplishments, drop the less impressive performances off your resume. This way your resume is constantly improving.
Contact Agents & Casting Directors
Write a brief cover letter, then send your head shot, resume, and cover letter to the casting directors and agents in the city. Follow up with an update every 4-6 months of your current projects.
Getting an agent is important, because they can help you network for jobs. Do your homework and sign with a reputable agent. A good agent will be able to advise you on which acting gigs are realistic and which acting gigs will help your career move forward.
Getting an agent and sending your resume and head shot around gets you in the game. A producer might not think you’re right for their current project, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be perfect for their next production.
Read the Trade Papers
The trade papers let you know what’s being casts and where to send your head shots. Read the trade papers all the time, no matter how depressing your lack of current work might get. Keep your eye on the prize. Most actors didn’t become famous overnight.
The trade papers you need to read include Variety, Backstage, The Ross Reports and Dramalogue. Finding online trade publications that keep you updated too. Any publication that gives you the names and mailing addresses of relevant producers and directors should be among your reading material.
Network the Entertainment Scene
Accept invitations to any industry events or industry parties you’re invited to. Entertainment is a who you know business. Networking and meeting new business contacts is essential.
Even if these people may not be on top of the world, almost everyone at these industry parties is ambitious. A few have big talent. You never know when one of these people will become the next big actor, director or producer. Make friends with everyone and avoid making enemies.
Get Ready for Disappointment
Read a few Hollywood biographies to see how long some people faced disappointment and rejection. Actors and actresses talk all the time about the dozens and dozens of auditions where they read and never got the callback. That’s the nature of the business.
Keep persevering, keep networking, keep improving, and you might just get your big break. The acting profession is one of the most highly competitive fields in the world. Who doesn’t want to be a movie star?
Keep Your Head in the Game
If what you’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, take more classes and improve your craft. Stay at it in the gym and don’t get out of shape. Look at everything you do as a way to further your acting career.
- The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts: Industry Tips: The Ins and Outs of the Acting Business
- Open Directory: Arts: Performing Arts: Acting: Actors and Actresses
- Open Directory: Arts: Performing Arts: Acting: Actors and Actresses: Databases and Casting Services
- Open Directory: Arts: Performing Arts: Acting: Education