Career Acting Tips

If you want a career acting, here’s some acting tips on how to keep getting acting jobs and snowball your acting career to the top!

CAREER ACTING TIP # 1 – Make your acting job work for you

The phone rings… You got an acting job!

Congratulations! Whether it’s on screen or on stage, as you keep getting acting work, make sure to get the most out of each role:

  • If you don’t have an agent yet, ask the casting director, producer or director who hired you if they can recommend one. If they were very impressed with your audition, they may be happy to help you find representation, plus agents and managers are more willing to meet an actor with a job.
  • Being professional and on time will help you have a long career acting because people will want to work with you again. Get to know everybody on the set or backstage, from the boom operator to the makeup artist. Actors who are friendly and hardworking get a lot of their acting jobs by word-of-mouth and referrals from people they’ve worked with.
  • If you’ve booked an acting role in a play, see if you can get complimentary tickets for industry players (producers, agents, casting directors, etc.) and do a mailing with the flyer of the show.

See if other actors in the show are interested in sharing the cost and workload of a mailing with you. If several other actors are interested, you could create a sheet with a downsized version of all your headshots and send it along with the flyer of the show.

CAREER ACTING TIP # 2 – Write it all down

Keep a record of your career acting by writing down everything you do. Get a logbook and create different sections for:

  • Acting jobs you had.
    Make sure to include the dates you worked, name of the project, acting part you played and name of the producer, director and casting director, as well as their contact information and any other relevant information. You may think now that you’ll never forget anything about an acting job you did, but as you get more and more work, you’ll be happy to have this reminder. That information will come in handy when you want to audition for this casting director or producer’s next project. It’s also useful to keep track of paychecks and as records for tax season.
  • Auditions you had.
    Write down the date, name of the project and role, as well as the contact information for the casting office and who you auditioned for. Also write down any comments about the audition (for example, which monologue you did). Leave some room after each entry to add callbacks later on. Create a system so you can know at a glance how you’re doing. For example, you could highlight the auditions you got a callback for and underline in red the times you got the role.
  • Casting directors you met.
    You already have a log of casting directors you met at acting auditions and callbacks, so keep this section for those you meet at seminars and acting workshops. Make sure to jot down the date, their contact info and where you met them, plus any information they offered on their way of working and the auditioning process. When you have an audition with this casting director, checking your logbook for pet peeves and other such information will put you ahead of the game.
  • Agents and managers you meet.
    Keep a log of your agent meetings, the date and what was said, along with their contact information and how to follow-up. Make sure to include agents you meet at workshops and those who came to see you in a showcase or play, even if you haven’t met them one on one yet.
  • Other industry professionals you meet.
    Whether it’s through workshops to become an actor, an acting job or a networking party, keep note of other people in the business who know you and your work, along with their contact information, how you met, and any other relevant information. This includes producers, directors and theater managers, but also publicists and reviewers you may want to contact for your next show. Also include any crew member you met and would like to work with in the future.

Hit a dead-end in your career?

When you have a career acting, there’s bound to be ups and downs. Even the biggest movie stars have to adjust as their age range changes or as their latest film flops. Think of a roadblock in your acting career as an opportunity to try on new hats and discover new horizons. By keeping track of crew members you meet on acting jobs, you could get a lot of help if you decide to produce or direct your own project one day.

When you want a career acting, it’s important to keep track of your progress. But don’t judge your talent on the amount of acting jobs you get. Instead, look at how many callbacks you’ve had. This is a much better indicator of your acting ability because you will usually get called back if you give a great acting audition, but you may not get the acting job for any number of random reasons, like looks or chemistry.

OK, now that we’ve made a list of everything…

CAREER ACTING TIP # 3 – Follow up

A big part of having a career acting is networking. Now that you have a list of all your business contacts in your logbook, keep in touch by updating them each time you get a new acting job or make an important step in your acting career (for example, when you join an actor’s union or take a master class with a well-respected acting coach).

The way to keep in touch is by mailing actor postcards. This is a postcard size of one or two of your acting pictures with a border on which is printed your actor name, contact number and union affiliation. You can get those printed at the same place you get your headshots.You can also use actor postcards to send a thank you note to agents and casting directors after an initial meeting or workshop.

While you get your actor postcards printed, consider also getting acting business cards. You can hand out these business cards with your picture on them when you meet industry people in informal settings like a networking party, where you normally wouldn’t walk around with your headshot.

CAREER ACTING TIP # 4 – Work with your agent

A good win-win relationship with your agent is a big part of switching from wanting to become an actor to having a real career acting:

  • Make sure you talk to your acting agent regularly about where your acting career is going and what you can do to grow as an actor.
  • Always make sure your agent has your latest acting pictures, resume, reel and contact information.
  • Invite them to see you perform every time you get a role.
  • Keep attending open calls and looking for acting work on your own, and call your agent when you hear of an acting role you think you should audition for.
  • Ask your agent to get feedback from casting directors on important auditions.

CAREER ACTING TIP # 5 – Build an acting reel

Rolling sound… Background… Action!

As your film acting career grows, you will eventually have enough footage to get a film reel. When you’re ready, read this step by step information on how to get an acting reel.

CAREER ACTING TIP # 6 – Join the Unions

Choosing a career acting means you’ll eventually sign up with at least the 2 main actor unions:

  • AEA – Actor’s Equity
    This is the union of theater actors. You join this union by getting an equity contract acting role or by accumulating equity points at participating theaters. An audition notice will usually state weather a theater is union or non-union and if contract roles or equity points are available. Once you become an Equity actor, you will have access to a wide range of open calls for theater roles.
    This is the union of film actors and television actors. Getting your SAG-AFTRA card is a big step in an actor’s career, so read about when to join and how to join.

You can also join one union once you have been a member in good standing of another union (as long as you have worked as an actor or 3 days as an extra under that union’s jurisdiction).

Becoming a union actor will do a lot for your acting career, but don’t rush!The best time to join the unions is when you HAVE TO (when you get a union role). Membership initiation fees are high ($1,100 for AEA, $3,000 for SAG-AFTRA) and you’ll need a big paycheck to cover them. More importantly, keep in mind that once you join any of the unions, you are not supposed to audition for non-union acting jobs anymore. Non-union acting roles are a great way to start building your resume at the beginning of your acting career. Once you are in the actor unions, you will compete against much more experienced performers. You want to be ready when that time comes, so resist the temptation of trying to get into the unions by all means!

Got your union card?

Congratulations! It’s one of the great milestones of having a career acting. Make sure to update your resume with your new union affiliation.

CAREER ACTING TIP #7 – Move to a Major Entertainment City

If you don’t already live in a major city, you may want to consider a move to New York or Los Angeles once you have some strong credits on your resume. Pick New York if your main interest is Broadway acting and Los Angeles if you mainly want to do film and television acting.

Check out our acting in LA page for more information on making the move to Hollywood. You can also read more about TV pilot season here.

CAREER ACTING TIP #8 – Set Acting Career Goals

Here you’ll find acting advice on how to develop your acting career after you start getting your first few acting jobs. If you’re just starting out and want to become an actor, visit our how to become an actor page first.

Learn how to set goals for your acting career here. If you’re not reaching your goals to become a successful actor, see what’s holding you back.

Is it lack of quality training?

Take acting classes, voice over workshops, join an actor group, study our free online acting lessons, learn about film acting.

Is it stage fright?

Learn techniques to control your public fear.

Is it lack of auditions?

Work on networking, take more casting director workshops, get a website, learn how to use Facebook for actors and other actor marketing techniques, interview publicists…

Hopefully, these tips and acting career information will help your career grow and snowball!

As you get more and more acting jobs, don’t forget the most important part of having a career acting…


Acting school should never be over when you’re a career actor.

Oh, and one more thing…Have fun!

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