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?
You can take many different paths on your way to becoming an actor. Click here to explore your different options, from getting a theater degree to taking classes or a summer acting course.
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
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.
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?
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.
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