How to Become an Actor

How to Be a Successful Actor

Want to be a successful actor? Setting acting goals and designing a battle plan
to reach those goals can make all the difference in your acting career.

If you feel you’re not getting enough acting jobs or not getting the type of acting work that can move your acting career forward, maybe it’s because you don’t have a plan.

After all, how can you move forward if you don’t know where you’re going?

Big things almost never happen to those who just wing it and go with the flow. Entrepreneurs who start a business have a business plan, a marketing plan and long-term written goals and strategies. A successful filmmaker has a finished script in hand, an entire cast and crew, an editor and distribution plans before they even start shooting the very first scene.

If you want to become an actor beyond acting classes and small roles, you need a strategy too!

Writing out your acting goals and designing a battle plan on how to reach those goals
is one of the most important things you can do for your acting success.
Of course, you know you want to be a successful actor,
but what does “successful” mean? How will you know when you reach your goal if you haven’t defined it?

The first thing you can do for your acting career is define your lifetime acting goal.

Write it out specifically. Is it to be an internationally recognized film actor? Is it to make a million dollars a year from your acting? Is it to win an Oscar for best actor? Is it to be a respected character actor with the luxury to choose only to work on projects you find interesting? Is it to be a Broadway actor who gets film contracts once in a while?

Once you defined exactly what you want out of your acting career, stick it on the wall in a prominent place where you will be reminded of it every day. If there’s an image that symbolizes your acting goal, put it on the wall too, so it will help you focus and continue to see the “big picture”.

Now that you got a very clear picture of what you want out of your acting career, write down where you want to be 5 years from now. Be realistic but optimistic. Goal-setting should always give you a little bit of a challenge. If you want to have reached your lifetime goal by then, that’s OK, but just realize that you are going to have to work extra hard.

Now make a list of all the things that need to happen for you to reach your 5-year acting goal. There are 5 different areas of focus to consider, each with the potential to be an acting career stepladder or stumbling block.

    1. Training: Do you feel you have the training it takes to reach your 5 year acting goals? Are you getting callbacks (unlike acting jobs, if you’re not getting callbacks, you usually need more training). Do you have good acting technique but no audition skills? Do you need to expand your vocal production skills to do more theater? Do you need a good screen acting class to get better results when you audition for film and TV?
    2. Marketability: Do you know your type? Do you need good headshots to market yourself? Are you aggressively going after acting jobs that reflect your type? Are you working on your look and how you come across to people?
    3. Access to acting jobs: What kind of auditions are you getting? Do you have a good agent who understands your goals, are you building relationships with casting directors and networking with other industry professionals?
    4. Acting Experience: What can you do to build your resume to reach your goals? How can you book the auditions you get, get more auditions, or different auditions that are more right for you? How can you get experience without auditioning?
    5. Work on Self: Are areas of your personal life standing in the way of your acting career? Are you struggling with self-confidence issues that need to be addressed before you can really show your talent on stage? Do you need to change your look to build your brand? Do you need to find a way to make a steady income first so you can concentrate on your acting career?

Now you have a list, pick the 5 most important things you need to do to reach your 5 year goal, then organize them in the order each needs to happen for you to succeed. For example, if you need more training, you would put that before looking for an agent, since looking for representation before you’re ready could waste you a lot of time.

Now you have five one-year goals to reach over the next five year.

Make sure your goals are very specific. For example, if your goal this year is to get more acting experience, then spell out exactly what roles in what projects (for example, “this year I will land 2 guest star roles in television shows”). This is very important for your acting career. The more precise you are about what you want, the more focused energy you will put into it.

Now all you need to do to finish your action plan is to develop 3-months strategies to reach each goal. If you take the example above, here’s what some of your strategies could be:

    • Pick 5 TV shows that are casting in my area and are right for my type, then study them.
    • Sign up for 10 workshops with TV casting directors, preferably from the shows on my list, and follow up with each of them.
    • Join a cold reading class or audition for TV class.
    • Get a reel featuring me in similar roles from the ones I am targeting and send to casting directors.

Put all your acting goals and strategies up on your wall in a place where you see them every day and track your progress.
You may not reach all your acting goals, but now you know how to be a successful actor and you will see results.
It’s a simple law of nature that more things happen the clearer we are about what we want! With all the directions an actor’s career can take you in, it’s good to have a compass and a specific idea on how you’re going to make it.

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