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Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips for a 28-year old with no experience

by Eria Kline

(Kokomo, IN – USA)

QUESTION:

I’m 28 years old and have never acted at all, never even did any in school. But now that things have settled down in my life, I would like to give it a shot. Where do I get the funds to help out with acting? I have 3 children and it’s hard to have a lot of money on hand. Would also like to know if they come to Indiana for auditions?

ANSWER:

It is hard for actresses with no experience to start in the business past their early twenties because they face so much competition from actresses with long resumes, but it’s not impossible. Interestingly enough, I would argue that living in a small town in Indiana may actually work in your favor, as you shouldn’t face much competition there. Of course, there’s not many auditions to be found in Kokomo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for an acting class there or find a small community theater troupe. Joining a theater group is free, of course, and you can learn a lot about acting this way. You’ll get experience acting in front of an audience and you could learn warm-up and acting exercises from the other actors. There may be some shows being cast right now for the Christmas season. Ask around and check your local paper or online casting websites.

If you don’t have money for acting classes, go to the library and start reading some acting books. Visit our acting techniques page to get started. We highlight the must-have acting books for each technique at the bottom of each page. There’s also some sample acting exercises you can try at home to decide which technique you want to study.

Community theater is not the only way to start gaining experience as an actress. You can apply for a theater internship or submit yourself for non-union short films and student films (check out these tips on how to gain experience on our actor resume page).

Once you have a little acting training and a few acting credits on your resume, move on to the next step and submit yourself to acting jobs in Chicago. Chicago is one of the top theater towns in the country. Roles in film and TV are also cast there (there’s over 30 agents and casting directors working in Chicago). It’s a long drive but not so long that you can’t go there if you get a call for a really good audition. Just be selective when you submit your headshot and resume and try to get a local number so casting directors won’t be put off by the Kokomo area code.

If you start getting a lot of paying acting jobs, you can move to Chicago down the road (they have many good acting schools there, many of which offer financial aid). But if things don’t work out, you’ll be happy you didn’t leave your hometown.

Good luck! I think it’s very courageous to want to pursue your dream of acting with 3 kids. Please come back to post comments on this page to let us know how your acting career is going.

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Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips for a Non-Citizen who wants to Work as an Actress in the States

I am in the States with an exchange student visa, but it ends in May, 2009. So I am looking forward to be able to change it to a visa I can work with. So my question is, should I start to look for auditions/agents now or when I will have the other visa? I have heard that you can’t get the working visa if you don’t have a job. How does it work in this industry?

Sanita

ANSWER:

I don’t know if exchange visas are different, but a lot of student visas allow foreign students to work in the country for a year after they finish their studies on a “training visa”, so check with your acting school to see if that’s an option while you apply for a long-term visa.

Keep in mind that your work visa needs to be for acting if you want to be able to work as an actor. That can be tough since acting jobs are usually short term. On the other hand, if you find a theater or employer who wants to sponsor you, all they have to show is that no one else can do your job (which is easy, since every actor is unique). This is not legal advice. I’m not an immigration expert but that’s how I understand it.

In terms of looking for acting agents and managers… Most agents are interested in a long-term relationship. They’ll want to make sure you can work legally in America for at least a few years before they sign with you, so in most cases you’ll need a work visa before you look for representation. That being said, if all you can get is a one-year training visa, some agents will still work with you on a freelance basis, sending you out on auditions when a casting requires an actor with a particular accent or nationality.

In terms of looking for auditions… I wouldn’t go to paying auditions until I get a visa (unless you think the company is willing to sponsor you, which may be the case for paid interships and fellowships). It would just be too frustrating to get an acting job you really want and not be able to take it. That doesn’t mean you can’t flex your acting muscles in the meantime by auditioning for non-paying acting jobs. There’s plenty of those in off-off-Broadway theaters and short or independent films. Of course, you need some kind of visa to be in the country.

Hope this information is helpful. The process of getting a visa can be frustrating for foreign actors. While you wait for a visa, I think it’s a good idea to continue training by auditioning and working in your country. You may want to check out this recent post about non-citizen actors.

Good luck!

How to have a career in Hollywood if you’re from another country


QUESTION:

Hi

I was wondering how to get a US working visa as an actor? Can you audition without a working Visa? Can an acting agent or manager sponsor the visa? How do I build a resume in the US without a working visa?

ANSWER:

This is not legal advice, but here is what I have been told by other actors…

You need a work visa to make a living as an actor in the US. If you don’t have a Green Card, you need a work visa specifically for the field you want to work in.

It is very hard to get a theater or film company to sponsor you for a work visa, so it is not a good idea to audition before you have one.

You can build your resume in the US taking non-paying acting roles as long as you have a student visa.

As I said, I’m not an expert, so you should check all this with an immigration lawyer that has experience working with actors.

Good luck!

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Common Acting Questions

Acting in America

I’m a foreign Actress and I would like to live in the US

by Sunny

(Berlin/ Paris)

QUESTION:

I’m a foreign Actress and I would like to live in the US, but it is hard to get a Visa nowadays. Maybe anyone has any good ideas or tips?
If not I would like to know where other cities are with good opportunities? Paris? Vancouver? Toronto or London?

Many thanks in advance, I really appreciate it 🙂

ANSWER:

If you want to go to acting school, you can get a training visa while you study. I don’t know how visas work in Canada, but there are some good schools in Vancouver, where a lot of US productions are shot.

You may find this previous post useful too.

Good luck!


Do I have to be an American Citizen to become an actor in America

by Isadora

(Mt. Vernon, New York, USA)

QUESTION:

I am 15 years old and really want to be an actor. I have been in 2 local theater shows and have been to acting schools, but the thing that is stopping me from furthering my career is that I’m not an American Citizen. I’ve goggled this question and have not found an answer. So if you can answer my question it would be great help. Do i have to be an American Citizen to become a professional actor in America?

ANSWER:

Adult actors don’t have to be a Citizen as long as they have a green card or a working visa specifically for the field they work in. You can find more information on this issue, including information on training visas from acting schools, by reading my answer to a previous question about non citizen actresses. Also check out these acting tips I gave to a foreign actress.

If you want to work before you reach 18, things may be a little more complicated. In the least, young actors need a work permit and a social security number to work as performers. Check with the NYS Department of Labor. You can find a lot of information on their frequently asked questions page. An e-mail is listed at the bottom of the page. You can use it to ask about your particular situation and whether you can work as a non-citizen and minor.

Hope this helps! If you find out information you think may be useful to others, please use our comment box to add it to this post.

Disclaimer: The above does not constitute legal advice.

Acting in the US for an Actor from a non-English speaking country

by Afshin

(iran)

QUESTION:

I’m from non-English speaking country and I’ve come to the US for acting. I read SOS – Acting Tips for a Foreign Actress by Adrienne from Romania and i want to say yes actor accent is very important but you said «I haven’t met a single foreign actor from a non-English speaking country who can pull this off so far.» but i see for example Golshifteh Farahani,Shohreh Aghdashloo and so on…

But my question is if I’ll go in accent reduction classes in the US and reduce my accent, will I have a chance to be actor?

ANSWER:

Of course, everybody has a chance of being an actor, and many foreign actors who have learned English at a very young age have no accent. I just wanted to point out that a lot of successful foreign actors in American films have first reached a certain amount of success in their own country. I think that’s something to really think about when you’re making career decisions.

For some roles, of course, foreign accents are required. If you plan on living in the US for a long time, tape yourself reading copy before you start your accent reduction classes, and continue to do so regularly throughout the years, so you can return to a stronger accent when you need to for a specific role.

That being said, I’ve noticed that more often than not accented roles are limited and stereotypes that you may quickly tire of playing. They can limit you in terms of your range and the amount of lead roles being cast… but not all the time, of course!

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Common Acting Questions

Acting in Los Angeles before Going to College

by MRS

(San Bernardino)

QUESTION:

I’m a recent high school graduate living in Southern California and am preparing to enter College up North in the Fall, but I am at a loss regarding my future career. I have always had an interest in acting but have never pursued it. I enjoy watching plays but I would prefer auditioning for film roles. I have no experience but am eager to start somewhere now since I feel 17 is too late to begin an acting career. I live 2 hours away from L.A. and plan on visiting frequently throughout the summer. Do you know of any places I can visit that will assist me? Your feedback is appreciated.

ANSWER:

It’s a great idea to take advantage of the summer to explore Los Angeles and what it has to offer to actors.

If you want to get a taste of what it feels like to be on stage, try to find a class that culminates with a performance or better yet, an agent showcase. If you don’t have the money for a class, look into doing an internship over the summer for an agent or casting director who casts film and TV since that’s what you’re interested in. Entertainment Careers.net usually lists quite a few internships in LA. If you’re going to college, it can’t hurt to have an internship on your resume anyway.

If you can’t commit to coming in the city every day, there’s still other things you can do. Look for castings of short student films at the film schools in LA when you visit and drop off a headshot and resume. Sign up for actorsaccess and other legitimate casting websites to see if you can get a few auditions. Also check Backstage – The Actor’s Resource for any open calls you could go to.

If you want to get a feel of what it’s like to be on a movie set, you could also do a few days of extra work (www.extrasaccess.com), just don’t put it on your resume and obtain a work permit first if you’re not 18.

The LA Film Fest is also starting June 16th. You can get a student pass for a really good price, see tons of screenings and possibly have an opportunity to meet indie filmmakers.

Good luck!

Categories
Common Acting Questions

Acting Jobs

QUESTION:

If I study acting what jobs are available?

ANSWER:

Here’s a list of different acting jobs out there:

  • Theater acting – This includes performing musical theater roles on Broadway, performing straight acting roles in large Equity Theaters and working in all size theaters all the way to small Off-Off-Broadway productions. Some actors choose to do improvisation, stand-up comedies or one-man shows. There are also acting jobs in regional theater and touring theater shows.
  • Film acting – A few actors get to act in Hollywood movies, but there are also acting jobs in independent films and short films. Some of these films get released on the big screen, some go straight to video and some don’t make it past film festivals. There are only a few lead roles in every movie, but there are a lot of supporting roles and small roles that need to be cast in every film. You can also work as an extra.
  • Television acting – There are more screen acting roles in television then in films. TV acting jobs include series regular, recurring roles, guest starring roles, co-starring roles and featured roles. These jobs can be in TV series, sitcoms, MOW (movies of the week) and any other type of fiction program you see on major networks or cable TV. There are also more and more acting jobs available for Internet programs.
  • Commercial acting – A lot of actors work in commercials to make a living while they pursue a career in theater or movie acting. Booking a national SAG commercial can be very lucrative and provide good exposure.
  • Voice Acting – Voice overs provide a lot of acting jobs for actors ranging from commercials to narration and video games.

You can find out more about voice overs here. We will also add special pages on theater acting, movie acting, television acting and commercial acting in the future (sign up for our newsletter to get updates on new pages added, as well as monthly acting tips).

This is just a list of the major acting jobs out there. Many actors work in other areas as entertainers, presenters, etc. Acting is a very competitive field so the more skills you have, the better!

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Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips for a Teen with No Experience

(Indiana, USA)

QUESTION:

I am a fifteen-year-old teen that has been interested in acting for years. I have a few problems with becoming an actor, though:

—I live in the middle of nowhere, not even close to New York or California. The closest large cities are Chicago and Indianapolis, but both are hours away. I live in a town with a population of about 700!

—My parents don’t realize how much I want to act. They don’t know that I want to act professionally and not just at small, amateur theaters.

—I have hardly any experience. I’ve been in only a few plays with only small roles.

So how do I start out? How do I tell my parents how much I really want to act? And how do I find any business where I live to start out? The odds seem stacked against me, but I will do just about anything to begin acting professionally. Help!!!

ANSWER:

If you’ve already been in a few plays, then there is an opportunity to do some acting where you are. Your first goal should be to move on to the bigger roles. You know, in terms of talent and experience, there’s not always much difference between some amateur theaters and professional ones. Actually, a lot of experienced Equity Members (members of the professional theater actor union) here in LA work for free or very little in Equity Showcase productions or other small theaters.

I’m saying this because the important thing when you want to act is to ACT, regardless of the size of the theater. And guess what? If you really work on your acting and get those bigger roles, your family may just be moved enough by your performance to understand how important this is to you.

As I mentioned in other posts, there are a lot of young actors who rush to Los Angeles or New York with no experience, only to find out they can’t get an audition or an agent because they just don’t have the training or experience it takes to succeed. So in a way, being far from it all is a good opportunity to just work hard on your craft, get in those stage hours (no matter what the stage) and show how committed you are.

Once you’re old enough to decide where you want to live, you can decide to go to acting college or a short term acting school in a larger city where you can quickly learn the business of acting and start professionally.

I think you will also find my answer to this post helpful, as well as this other post on making your own film.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

Categories
Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips for Teen Actors

by Rosie

(MA)

QUESTION:

What do casting directors look for in teen actors?

ANSWER:

Training is number one, especially with teens, because as mentioned in the interview below with a casting director, teen actors have to be able to deliver on a show, which means having strong comedic and dramatic acting skills and an acting technique they can rely on.

The other important thing mentioned in the video is that casting directors look for teen actors who are actively pursuing acting careers, so if you want to act as a teen, you have to keep at it and audition regularly. This shows that you are serious about your career. Casting directors often don’t cast actors the first time they audition, but if they like them, they will call them back for the next project they have.

Finally, singing and dancing training can be very helpful for teen actors, as well as any other skills like playing an instrument or excelling in sports. Make sure you mention it all on the special skills section on your resume.

Finally, just like adult actors, teen actors have to think about type. Are you a lead type, a best friend/girl-next-door type, a character type (high school nerd, rebel, etc.)?

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Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips to Become a Voice Actress for Animation

QUESTION:

How do I become a voice actress for computer animation movies and TV shows like Star Wars the Clone Wars?

ANSWER:

To get started, read our section on voice overs. It goes over the skills you need to audition for animation voice over jobs, as well as how to get voice over auditions. We talk about learning lip-synching, getting an agent, putting an animation demo together, etc.

The voice over artists featured on some of the videos work a lot in animation, so make sure to also read this exclusive interview with them for the Acting School Monthly Newsletter.

One great tip they share about video games that also applies to animation in general is that immersing yourself in it really helps. So in addition to all the things mentioned above, if you want to become a voice actress for animation, you need to watch a lot of animation! That’s probably to best way to start learning, by watching what other voice artists have done. It also really helps on auditions if you know the shows and characters you’re auditioning for.

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Common Acting Questions

Acting Tips to Get an Agent

by Chelsea

(Clark)

QUESTION:

How do you get an agent? And how do you get your first role when you are first starting as an actor?

ANSWER:

First, read this information on acting agents. You’ll find the answers to most of your questions, including the big question – how does one get an agent?

Keep in mind that if you don’t have any acting experience, getting an agent can be hard, so don’t spend all your energy looking for an agent if you’re starting out. You can easily get your first acting role on your own.

Actually, the easiest way to get an agent is to start working. If you get a good role, the casting director in charge may even suggest an agent to contact. For acting tips on how to get your first acting roles, visit our actor resume page.

Here’s one more thing I strongly believe in…

If you’re college age and want to give yourself the best chances of having a successful acting career, go to a good acting school. Agents and managers get a lot of their clients from graduate showcases of acting schools. They want to help promising actors grow from the start. Of course, not all graduates get representation straight out of school, but even those who don’t have more opportunities to network and get involved in acting projects through other alumni. Starting an acting career without going to a good acting school can be very hard and time consuming. Four years to get an acting degree can seem a long time right now, but most aspiring actors with no strong training will take much longer to break into the business and find a good agent on their own.

If you’re not college age, then your best chances of making it are just to start working. Get involved in as many acting projects as you can to start with. If you’re in a community theater play that gets a good review in the local newspaper, make copies and attach the review to your resume when you send it off to agents. Don’t worry about whether acting jobs pay or not at the beginning. Audition for student films (not only will it help you build your acting reel, a good student of non-paying independent film can jump start your acting career if it gets exposure at a good film festival, plus the student filmmakers you meet today will work on larger projects when they get out of school).

Intern, network, take acting classes, go to open calls… Spend 90 per cent of your time training, performing and looking for acting work, and only 10 per cent looking for an agent or manager. Once you start getting a lot of work, finding representation will be easy.

Good luck! Add comments to this page to let us know how you’re doing.

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Common Acting Questions

Making my Own Films to Start my Acting Career

by Jonathan

(CA)

QUESTION:

If I were to get together with a few of my acting friends, and we were to write, direct, act, and promote our own short films and put them on youtube,and other websites, would these videos be okay to put on an acting resume. Then when I send my resume into acting agencies, along with a headshot, would agencies take this as real acting experience and decide to represent me as an actor?

ANSWER:

That’s a great question. It really depends on the quality of your short film. If you just get a few friends and a consumer camcorder without a good script or any preparation, chances are you won’t have a very good film. You can write it on your resume, but be ready to answer an agent’s questions like who directed the film and where did it air or what festival did it go to (YouTube doesn’t really count unless it becomes hugely popular).

That doesn’t mean making a movie to promote your acting career is a bad idea. If you take the time to write a good script or find a writer, cast fellow actors and get a small crew together, you could have a short film of quality that enters film festivals. If you feel you’re just not being given a break, it’s a great thing to become proactive about your career and if you make a good film, you can put it on your resume and get an acting agency to notice. Just take the time to do it right. You may find that you really love wearing a director’s hat. Good luck!