Acting is a glamorous career. In a recent survey, it was
estimated that perhaps 50% of the general population wanted to pursue this career at one time. They picture themselves as a Hollywood star, walking the red carpet on Academy Awards night. But it is not all glamor and few find their way to the “big time.” So how do you become an actor? There are actually several paths to this potentially lucrative career, but we will attempt to show you the most practical path. As is true in any of the arts, you have to be flexible, and open to changes and unpredicted events in your career. But here is how to get started:
Suggested Actor Requirements
First, you need raw talent. Most actors are innovative, meaning they can pull from their own experience to communicate a mood or an idea to their audience, and they do this without reservation. If you are a shy, quiet, timid person, acting may not be for you. But if you are outgoing, love showing the world your talents, and don’t mind being rejected at times, then it may be the perfect field for you. Regarding specific qualifications, it varies according to the type of acting job you are applying for. If you just want to be in a toothpaste commercial, a high school diploma will do.
If you want to star as the central character in a Broadway musical, years of training and a music or dance diploma are probably critical in most cases. But, even in “the big time,” producers have sometimes taken on actors with little or no formal education in the field if they are really good. Like Hamlet said, “The play’s the thing.” If you can make the play a hit, you can be a star.
Here is a site which allows you to get the latest acting business news and find out when auditions are in several areas: http://www.acting-auditions.org/
To go through the steps formally that most people do in order to become an actor, you would most likely need a four-year college degree from an accredited institution. But it doesn’t have to be an “Ivy League” school or prestigious one. Steven Spielberg (“Jaws,” “Poltergeist,” etc. ) and George Lucas (“Star Wars,” etc.) were both denied entrance into California’s well-known UCLA film school. But they got in California State, where they pursued degrees in the liberal arts and English. And they still got into the film business in a big way. So, often having a degree in your chosen field is a great asset and is important, but it doesn’t have to be from the top-notch schools.
Steps to Becoming an Actor
Get a 4-year degree in Dramatic Arts or Acting. Try to find one which focuses on the artistic and the technical side of the craft. After you receive your education or training in acting, you will want to pursue these general steps to increase your chances of being noticed as an actor:
1) Become a member of the Actor’s Guild of America and/or the ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Performers). These two highly-respected groups are recognized widely in the dramatic and artistic organizations and it may go a long way towards helping you get a foot in the door in this highly competitive field.
2) Build a portfolio. Be in everything you can, within reason. Try out for plays, films, and special exhibitions, and other chances to show off your talent. The more experiences you can collect in your chosen field, the better your chances are that someone important in the business will notice you.
3) Apply for jobs. Look for opportunities both in the real world and online. There are many online acting groups where you can find jobs being in online films or projects, commercial work, and so forth. The internet allows you to self-publish much more than before. Make a You Tube video showcasing your talents as an actor. While the chances are small, they are increasing because of You Tube and the mass amount of traffic online today. One lady who used to work at Walmart created her own version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and it became viral seemingly overnight. Some people in Nashville noticed it and now she has been asked to perform on the Grand Ole Opry! So what was impossible years ago is now probably with the right marketing strategies!
4) Get an agent. Agents are successful when YOU are successful. So, if you’re serious about an acting career, get an agent. There are reputable ones to choose from online now. Read about them and find one that wants you to be a star. Unlike actors, agents are not artistic. In fact, they tend to be kind of boring people. But they know the business from a practical end, and what it takes to get you noticed. They also get 10% but 10% of a lot is better than 100% of nothing.
5) Grow your network. Nothing is more successful today than social media to grow an audience. Put your work up on Face Book and Twitter and announce what you are doing in your acting career. You’d be surprised what the results will be. Here is a good site which allows you to network learn more about how to break into the acting business: http://www.actingbiz.com/
There are many paths to life as an actor. Sometimes people just meet someone in the business and they make it happen for them. Others, it is a long hard struggle of working side jobs in restaurants and pubs before they even get one good gig. Persistence is the key. As with anything that is unique or artistic, there is a LOT of competition. But be determined and build your skills. Get more training if you need it to be the best that you can be. Who knows, the next Meryl Steep or Mel Gibson just might be reading this right now!
Good luck to you, or should I say “Break a leg!”