How to Get Experience so I can Get Into an Acting School

by Seb
(Canada)

QUESTION:

thank you for your website, i've been finding it very helpful but I had a couple questions. I'm at university right now, aimed at a career that I hate. So I have been looking into other options; namely acting schools near me. There is a pretty good one near me but the auditions process has me spooked. Getting into my current university was based on my grades, i've never had to actually present myself based on talent in order to get into school.

I've been dancing around the entertainment industry my entire life, always trying to find a place where I could fit in (for awhile I was trying very hard to get into prop making, for example). My biggest fear is that I never took any acting programs in Highschool. I was always too self-conscious and too afraid to go into any of the programs. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to get in there and start trying by we can't change the past.

Because I never took advantage of the drama program in high school and am only now realizing that this is something I want to truly pursue, I feel left behind. I've only helped out on one no-budget short film for a 48 Hour contest in my city (we didn't win, but it was amazingly fun). I did take a required course to join the IATSE union a few years ago, but I never got my membership because at the time I had not yet realized (or rather, accepted) my desire to act.

So my real questions are:
How much acting experience should I have before I try for an audition at a school?
How do I get that experience without any background?
Also, are there any good books out there that I should be reading or anything else I can be doing to try to catch up?

(The audition process for this school requires me to have prepared a song excerpt and a movement piece, again things I have no real training in, so I am proactively making plans now to get vocal lessons 1:1 and i've picked a dance style I like and will be going to group lessons weekly, I am also trying to find acting opportunities amongst my friends who are aimed at the industry already, but with no real experience, I don't feel confident going outside of my circles).

I feel terrified to try to go up against other people who have been acting since forever. That being said, I feel there must be some way I can make this happen, I just need some guidance.
I look forward to your feedback,

ANSWER:

What school are you interested in? That will make a difference in the amount of experience they would expect you to have before you audition. If it's one of the top acting schools where competition is fierce, you may want to work with a good acting coach to prepare or take audition classes. If not, remember that you are auditioning to go into an acting school that will then train you, so they shouldn't expect you to have much experience. They may just want to see potential and maybe also how you'll fit in the ensemble if the class learns and is cast in performing arts projects as an ensemble.

I assume you have to do a monologue in addition to the 8 bars and choreography, so pick something that you think will best show your potential as an actor.

In terms of books, you can look at the section on acting methods on the website. Once you find a method you like, there are book suggestions for each. But you will learn all that in school. What matters most is you pick a piece to perform that you feel really connected to and are excited to work on. Forget about experience, that's what school is for. Some acting teachers may be happy you didn't pick up bad habits before starting to train seriously. So just focus on controlling the your stagefright (since you mention being really scared) and projecting your voice (if the audition takes place in a theater, you need to be heard).

Also try to prepare a little bit for the interview part of the audition. You may find this information helpful.

Good luck! What's the worse that can happen? Auditioning in itself is experience, and the more you do it, the better you will get at it.

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