How To Become An Actor
Ever wanted to become an actor, but not sure where to start?
Getting started in the acting industry can seem daunting, especially when you have no experience and no idea where to start! So here are my tips for how to start your acting journey and to gain experience to build up your CV and even work to getting an agent.
Here’s a little about me: I’m a child actor, and so from the age of 5 I was spent part of my life on film sets. I ended up learning about the industry as I went along, with definitely a few slip-ups on the way! Even now, 20 years on from when I started acting, it’s not plain sailing, which leads me on to my first point…
Is Acting What You Really Want to Do?
Acting is hard. Let’s not beat around the bush here. It’s a wonderful industry, but landing roles in feature films and Netflix shows doesn’t happen overnight. There are so many ups and downs, even for seasoned actors. If you absolutely can’t imagine your life without acting in it as you love it that much, then you should be able to last through the rejections that you will get along the way.
Start Practising Acting at Home
A great place for you to start acting is by practising at home in your free time. Especially when you are just starting out, there is no harm in playing around with some scripts and plays, learning the lines (you’ll need to get used to doing that) and experimenting with the character. This is the time that you can start to learn about yourself as an actor- what roles do you like to play? What genres? Do you prefer creating characters, or acting more naturally?
Practising at home doesn’t just have to be actually doing acting. Do some research! Yes, I’m giving you permission to watch films and Netflix essentially, but one of the best ways to learn about acting is to watch others do it. You’ll find that actors are like sponges – they will soak up any tips and tricks that they like from others, and essentially make it their own.
I believe that as human beings, we can never stop learning, and this applies to acting too! I think acting classes are absolutely vital for you to keep working on your acting skills, and both aspiring actors and seasoned actors return to classes time and time again. This is the step where you can start to learn your craft, and start to come out of your shell more to discover what sort of actor you are in a supportive environment.
Do some research and try and find some that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get to. Also, try and find one that you feel you get something out of every time you attend and make sure that you get on with your teacher and fellow students.
Drama school – to Go, or Not to Go?
In the past, drama school was probably one of the only ways you could become an actor, but nowadays, there are a lot more opportunities for people to have a career in acting that doesn’t involve drama school. If you are looking for a career in theatre, then I would probably advise looking at going to one as drama schools go really in-depth into theatre technique. However, in the film and TV world, you can find that experience (life and on-set) can help people forge their careers.
Look into drama schools and think about whether going would be the best thing for you or not. If you don’t think you’re ready to go yet, or audition and don’t get in, then maybe give yourself 6 months or so to see how things go on your own. I decided to give it 6 months after leaving school to see if I would continue to get work without going to drama school, and I haven’t stopped working since!
Local Theatre Productions
If you live somewhere quite remote, then it can seem harder to become an actor compared to if you live near a major city. However, there are still ways you can get experience, you just have to start by looking locally.
If you’re still in school, look at auditioning for your next school production as they are a great way for you to start to get experience, especially on stage. If you’ve left school, then look at amateur dramatic societies and local theatre companies, as well as local film production companies. The latter might be harder to get involved with, but you never know when they might be casting for a production they are doing, and you might be the perfect fit for the role! If you have a local community page on Facebook, for example, have a look to see if any theatre or film companies are advertising for people to get involved with their productions. This is also a great way to network too, which leads me on to my next point…
Get Involved in the Acting Community
The acting community is one of the most amazingly diverse and supportive groups I’ve come across, and you’ll be welcomed in with open arms if you’re just starting out. As well as making new friends, you might actually come across some situations where fellow actors have written their own scripts and are looking to cast among their friends.
I’ve found the acting community is most active on Twitter, and it’s a great place especially for aspiring actors to get their voice out there. Keep an eye out for #ShowreelShareDay and #HeadshotCVShare as they are perfect opportunities to get some exposure, and some actors have even found representation and jobs from these social media events. Also, make sure you follow casting directors on Twitter as this is where they put out open castings or castings for specific roles that anyone can apply for.
There are also some great Facebook groups like Actors UK, Truly Actors and Actors’ Limbo that are worth joining.
Workshops are a little bit different to acting classes as they are normally more intensive and are one-offs. They can be general meets like casting directors workshops (where you’ll get to do a scene in front of a casting director and they will give feedback and take questions after) or be specific e.g. working on script work, audition technique, puppetry, camera work, Shakespeare etc. As well as learning a lot in a short amount of time, you’ll again also get the opportunity to network with the actors that attend.
If you’re just starting out in the acting world, then take a look at the workshops The Actor’s Company and Mixing Networks put on as they are open to anyone. The Actor’s Guild put on fantastic workshops too, but you do have to have three credits or have trained at drama school to go to their workshops (bookmark them for when you’re eligible).
Get an Agent
Once you’ve started to find your feet in the acting world, maybe gotten some experience and made some connections, then you can start to look for an agent to represent you and find acting jobs for you. Getting an agent is totally your choice, and some people do manage to have a great acting career without an agent getting their own jobs, but in my experience, I’ve found an agent is not just great for getting you seen for more jobs, but also as a support network that is there to help you through your career. Think of them as your own mini cheerleading squad!
Let me just get one thing straight: You don’t have to have experience to apply for an agent. If you don’t have any experience yet, there is no harm in applying for an agency because sometimes, especially if you are a teenager or a young adult, they will focus on your look, potential and skill set (languages, musical instruments etc). Agents are very understanding that some aspiring actors may not have had the opportunities to gain experience when they were younger, and this can sometimes be to your advantage if they think you would fit in well on their books.
To help your ‘look’ come across in the best possible way, maybe consider getting some professional headshots done before sending off any applications. Use Headshot Hunter to help find actor headshots that are right for you!
Georgina Minter-Brown has been acting from the age of 5, and has worked on film, TV, stage and commercials. She also teaches dance and drama at Chrystel Arts Theatre School in North London, as well as being a blogger and Youtuber.