If I have acting experience, do I need college

by Samantha
(Washington)

QUESTION:

Hi! My name's Samantha, and I'm 18 years old. Don't worry; I won't ask what's the first step in becoming an actor, or what I should do to get famous. I'm already an actor in craft. I have loads of theatre experience under my belt, and some film experience.

Most of my performances have been in my high school, where I watched my roles grow from Messenger #2 (Much Ado About Nothing) in my first year to Jean Maitland (Stage Door) this year, with many roles in between of various sizes. I've done community theatre as well.

Though I love acting on stage, movies are my passion and it's my ultimate dream to pursue film acting in Los Angeles. If all goes according to plan, I'll graduate NYFA Los Angeles with a BFA in Acting for Film in about 4 years. Sounds great, right? Maybe even flawless? Well, here's where my question comes in. Will this degree really help me? I know there are lots of professional actors either don't have a degree and went straight to Hollywood, or got a degree in something "practical" (as my mom likes to say) before getting the acting bug and eventually making it big. I'm worried the time and money I plan on spending on college could be spent on an apartment and gas as I nose dive into the circle of auditioning every day. Is college worth it, for an actor? I'd love to hear your opinions. Thanks in advance!

ANSWER:

I think it's important to have some training outside of your high school drama class, but it doesn't have to be college. It can be a conservatory or other acting school that doesn't offer a degree. No casting director will ever ask you if you have a degree or not, but many will look in the "training" section of your resume to see where you studied to be an actor.

So what's important is not the degree, but the school you go to. If you haven't already, read these tips on choosing an acting school on the website. Make sure you pick a school that will be "worth it" for you, as you say. Talk to industry professionals and see which schools they like. If you have the opportunity to speak with agents, see which industry showcases they go to when it comes to acting schools. If you don't know any industry people, you can take a few casting director workshops. They usually include a Q&A where you can ask about good schools.

When you are looking at schools, find out how many of their alumni are working actors. Don't focus on famous actors, but really look at how many alumni are working, famous or not.

The one advantage of having a degree in acting is that you will have a bachelor's degree, which will be helpful if you need a day job while pursuing your acting career.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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