Acting School or Other Degree

by Mike
(ohio)

QUESTION:

My name is Mike and i am 17 years old, i am currently studying the first year of Mechanical engineering in Ohio, i have some question that i hope you could answer me, i am really passionate about becoming an actor and becoming an actor is my biggest dream, at the moment i have no idea what i have to do to become an actor, should i change my field and go to university and study drama in the university? does it work if i go and study acting in university? or should i go to New York or Los Angeles ? or i just go to acting class while i study in the university? should i look for an agent and get a talent agent? although i have read all of the tips and ways to become an actor, i really don't know what to do to make my dreams true.
i really hope you could help me,

ANSWER:

I get this type of question all the time, and as much as I'd like to help, I really can't. Deciding to become an actor is a personal decision. All I can do is share my experience and what I've learned. Here are some highlights to keep in mind:

- making a living as an actor is very hard. There is a lot of competition, even for non-paying roles. The majority of actors don't make a living from their craft.

- studying drama helps, but is in no way a guarantee that you will find work as an actor.

- if you decide to study acting, you should pick your acting school very carefully. Shoot for the top acting schools in the nation, and if you can't get in or tuition is too high, pick a school that has many recent alumni working in the field and offers the best performance opportunities and career preparation possible.

- Los Angeles offers the most on-camera opportunities for actors and New York probably has the most on-stage opportunities, but there are other cities with opportunities for actors, like Chicago for example.

Usually, there's no point in spending too much time looking for an agent at the beginning of your career, but when you're very young, you could find an agent who is willing to sign you, even if you don't have any credits yet, so it's worth doing at least a mailing once you get headshots.

In the end, as I mentioned elsewhere on the site, it comes down to asking yourself how badly you want to be an actor and what kind of safety net you want to have if you can't find any acting jobs. It's very possible that having a degree in something else will allow you to have a good flexible day job that allows you to pursue your acting career on the side. Unskilled day jobs usually mean long hours and less time for auditioning, so that's something else to think about.

If you haven't already, sign up for an evening or weekend acting class. That should be the first step. See if you like acting and training as an actor first for at least a few months before making any decisions.

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