There’s no denying that acting is a challenging career path. In an industry rife with competition and rejection, breaking in can be a daunting task. But, for those who are dedicated and determined, forging a career as a working actor is absolutely possible. If you’re new to the industry and looking for a place to start, try the steps below to find your way into acting.
1. Take an Acting Class
There certainly are Hollywood actors who have risen to fame with no formal training. Some have actors for parents or other connections within the industry. Some started out as child actors and continued their careers without pause. However, most actors launch their careers only after years of training and countless auditions – and continue to brush up their craft even after finding success.
Having a solid acting technique is a crucial element of delivering consistent performances and an important step toward a successful, lasting career. Not only will formal training make you a better actor, acting classes are also the perfect place to meet others in the industry and forge relationships with potential mentors and future collaborators.
When you’re brand new to acting and looking for a way to step into the business, taking an acting class is the best way to start. If you’re just looking to test the waters and test if acting is your passion, you can always start with a short-term intensive or even an online acting class that you can try at home. If you’re ready to commit to the craft and want to maximize your training and industry prep, look into a longer conservatory program.
2. Build Your Resume
A resume will always be a crucial tool for actors. It reflects not only your training and experience, but also what kind of roles you play and types you fit. If you are new to acting, it can be daunting to create a resume when you don’t have many credits under your belt. Some actors start off by putting scene work on their resume, to provide a sense of the characters, genres, and works they thrive in. Over time, you will fill your resume with school productions or student short films, working your way up until you replace these with professional credits.
In addition to revealing who you are as an actor, a resume also indicates who you’ve worked with. When you create your first resume, be sure to include any acting training you’ve had and who you studied with. You can also include the director of productions or films you’ve been in, particularly if it’s someone prominent. A casting director may recognize a teacher of yours or a director you worked. Sometimes, this can be enough to peak their interest and start a conversation.
3. Invest in a Superior Headshot
Alongside your resume, your headshot is often the first thing a casting director or agent will see. As in any profession, first impressions are very important. Above all else, be sure that your headshot looks like you. If a casting director calls you in based on your headshot and a seemingly different person walks in the room, they won’t likely be impressed. When taking headshots, you should style your hair and makeup to look like you. This also means taking new headshots if you get a drastic haircut, dye your hair, or alter your appearance in any significant way.
A professionally-taken actor headshot is always the way to go, rather than a selfie or business portrait. With that said, professional headshots can be expensive and a daunting investment if you are just starting out. Search for local photographers who may have headshot packages or promotional deals. You can also ask the actors you know for recommendations; some photographers may include a discount for referrals. In the long run, an investment in a high quality headshot is crucial and will allow you to put your best foot forward in the industry.
4. Network, Network, Network
Making industry connections is important no matter what field you work in, but exceptionally crucial in the acting world. You’ll often hear in the acting industry that your success is all about who you know. While there are many ways to work your way up, making connections and forging relationships is absolutely an important step.
You can meet collaborators and other industry contacts in a number of ways. Taking an acting class from time to time is a great way to both refresh your craft and make connections. Some actors will also do background work to gain experience on set and meet new people. When you’re on set – whether as a lead, an extra, or even a crew member – you never know who you may meet.
5. Audition (& Don’t Sweat the Rejection)
When it comes to being an actor, you may have heard the saying, “you’ll get 100 no’s for every yes”. While auditioning is not an exact science, it’s true that actors face a lot of rejection. Recognizing this reality and committing yourself to putting in the work is an important step in your acting career.
When you first get into acting, audition as much as you can. You can find listings through organizations like Backstage, Actors Access, and Casting Networks. Remember that auditioning is, in and of itself, a skill. By going on auditions regularly, you will hone your technique and open possible doors. Keep in mind that every single audition, no matter how small the project and whether or not you book the role, can be a valuable learning experience.