How to Become an Actor

Want to become an actor? Just follow the five steps below and you'll be way ahead of the majority of aspiring actors without a plan. Starting an acting career is hard, but it is harder if you don't have the right information. Below is a quick video introduction to what you need to be an actor, but read the whole page for more information.

Everything on this page was written by an actress with first hand experience of acting in Los Angeles and New York, and a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actor's Equity. Every step below includes links to more in-depth information, whether you need to find the right acting school, an agent or your first acting audition. You can even ask your acting questions at the bottom of the page.

You may hit some major road blocks while starting your acting career and feel discouraged. Competition is fierce in this business and there's no guarantee that you'll succeed, but as long as you have that drive, don't give up, keep at it! The role of your life may be just around the corner.

1st STOP - Know your type

If you want to become an actor... Are you a leading man? A character actor? The "bad guy"?

If you want to become an actress... Are you a leading lady? An ingenue?

The answer to that question is called your type. It's the first impression a casting director will get when you walk in the room to audition. Of course, you won't always play the same roles. After all, acting is an art. But acting is also a business and knowing your type can really jump-start your acting career (for more information about type, see this past issue of our newsletter).

2nd STOP - Go to acting school

Should you study acting? YES! No matter how talented you are, you need to study your craft to get your talent noticed if you want to become an actor. Meryl Streep went to the prestigious Yale School of Drama, Al Pacino studied under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, Kate Winslet started taking acting lessons at 11 years old! Wouldn't you say these are all talented actors?

acting options
You can take many different paths on your way to becoming an actor. Find out how to choose an acting school here.

3rd STOP - Get a headshot and resume

Your actor headshot is the first thing a casting director or agent will see. It needs to make a great first impression. Getting the right headshot can make a big difference as you start your acting career, especially since you may not have that much experience listed on your resume. For help with getting great acting pictures, check out this step by step guide on actor headshots, as well as this information on finding the perfect acting headshot photographer.

Talking about experience...

How can you write a resume when you're just starting your career in acting? Don't worry. If you want to be an actor, you may have more acting experience then you think, plus there are many ways to gain experience. Click here for tips on how to build your resume! If you already have acting experience and training, visit our acting resume format page to learn how to format your resume or just view sample acting resumes.

4th STOP - Get representation

acting stop sign
Before you read on, the most important thing to remember here is you do not need to have an agent to be an actor or to be an actress!

That being said, it's a good idea to look for an acting agent or manager when you start an acting career, but if it doesn't happen right away, don't spend too much time on it. Concentrate on getting auditions and acting work and the agents will come looking for you!

For help getting an agent, click on one of the following:

Find Acting Agents
The Actor Agent Interview
Actors Agents Guide

5th STOP - Book the audition

Unlike most other professions, being an actor means that you'll be constantly looking for work, especially when starting an acting career, so this is a big one. First, you'll need to know how to find acting auditions and submit yourself. You'll also need to know when and how to use a cover letter.

OK, you've got the audition, congratulations! You're on your way to becoming an actor...

But are you prepared for it?

Auditioning is an art in itself that requires its own set of skills. You can be a great actor but if you don't get the part first you'll never get a chance to shine in the role of your life. So take the time to study audition technique and prepare for each audition. You can also check out these audition tips to help you nail the audition and become an actor.

acting audition phone call

Got your first job? Time to celebrate!

That's the best feeling in the world. Now you can say you've become an actor. Remember all those who said you couldn't do it?

acting tip

Decide what kind of actor you want to be

Do you want to become an actor because you dream of a film acting career or are you dying to be onstage in front of a live audience? Would you be fulfilled as a television actor? What about doing commercials? Consider the different acting careers available to you.

Of course, you may want to be an actor (or to be an actress) who does more than one thing. Just ask yourself: "Of all the actors out there, whose career would I want to have?" If you're not sure, think about what made you want to start an acting career in the first place. Was it a particular movie you saw? A play?

If you want to be an actor, having a clear picture in your head will help you make the right decisions as you start your acting career.

Best of luck on starting your acting career!

Wandering what the next step is?

In my efforts to best help you achieve your acting goals, I have written a new e-book called Become an Actor : A Guidebook for Beginning Actors. I encourage you to click here to learn more about how the book can help you.

Acting Questions?
Get acting tips and help here!

If you have a general question about the acting business or how to become an actor, this is the place to get an answer.

Just fill out the form below to create an actor help page dedicated to your question. You will receive an e-mail as soon as your question is answered.

Before filling out the form, check out the questions other visitors have asked, along with answers provided.

We strive to provide a great free service, but if you can support our site, donations are greatly appreciated!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Click below to see the questions other actors have asked and the answers to these questions...

The advantage of becoming an Extra 
QUESTION: Dear Acting-school-stop, First of all thank you for all the information you gave me. It is an amazing opportunity for any young actor who …

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QUESTION: Dear, First you did a great job creating this highly helpful resource, Thank you! Hope you receive as much as you …

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QUESTION: Hello, my name is Justina, I am 17 years old. Currently I live in Lithuania. My biggest dream is to become an actress. I am asking your advice …

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QUESTION: Hello, I am a soon to be 38 year old male living in NYC who has dreamed of being a screenwriter/actor/singer/producer. I want to work in the …

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QUESTION: I'm a 19 years old girl from Taiwan.I'm wondering what name should I printed on my headshots. Should I print my name that is on my pass port …

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QUESTION: Hi there, my name is Gabriel, and i am from Mexico, recently i`ve thinking very much about being an actor, I`m 22 years old,i spent the past …

movie actor Not rated yet
QUESTION: My name is kanako johnson. i have a dream to be an movie star i don't know what do. could you tell me what is good to do first? ANSWER: …

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QUESTION: What questions do you need to ask yourself to figure out your typecasting? Thank you and God bless. ANSWER: Look at this article on …

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QUESTION: Hi, and thank you for your help in advance and for providing this useful website. I am Portuguese born, though globetrotter since early …

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QUESTION: I have the opposite situation that the 21 year old did. I was acting when I first graduated high school. I was discouraged -- even sabotaged-- …

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QUESTION: I have recently considered becoming an actress and have had experience acting for plays, sketches, skits, etc. on stage, and have felt comfortable …

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QUESTION: I'm almost 19, I'm 5'11, I have a nice figure(I weigh 135 pounds) and I've been always told that I'm very beautiful. Not that I've ever believed …

Acting Advice!  Not rated yet
QUESTION: I love acting, it's the one thing I love to do. It's always been something I love and recently I've decided that I can't see myself doing …

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Now that you've become an actor, learn acting career strategies and how to build on your success to keep creating new opportunities in your career and become a successful working actor.



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