If you’re an aspiring actor, the thought of breaking into the business and becoming part of a groundbreaking film or TV show probably makes you dream about the day you ditch your day job to walk the red carpet. But if you have zero experience, you may have no idea how to even begin.
If you really want to pursue an acting career, there’s no one perfect way to make the leap from aspiring actor to professional actor. But there are some actions you can take to help you blaze your own trail.
1. Take classes.
Education is super important. Get yourself in a good acting class, practice your craft, and keep working out your acting muscles.
2. Observe behavior.
Make people-watching a daily acting exercise (in a non-creepy way, of course). Observe and take notes on how fellow humans behave.
3. Watch projects.
When you view films, TV, and theater, do so from an actor’s perspective. Figure out what the character wants and how they’re attempting to get it. Is the actor’s performance believable to you? Why or why not?
4. Read books.
Devour books about different acting and audition techniques, as well as the business side of acting. Read biographies of some of your favorite actors and directors.
5. Get a headshot.
You’ll need a headshot to bring to auditions. Find a good headshot photographer and don’t go crazy with retouching. You want a photo that looks like you on a good day.
6. Create a resume.
If you’re starting from zero, don’t stress about not having credits to put on your resume. List the classes you’ve taken or are currently taking, and the credits will come.
7. Audition often.
Auditions are how professional actors spend most of their time. Start by going out for local productions. Get your feet wet in community theater. Audition as often as possible and get cast in a stage play or student film…then another and another. The best education is doing, so start doing!
8. Build a website.
An actor website has become an indispensable marketing tool. The good news is that creating a website is insanely easy. If you’re a DIY-er, try Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. But if the thought of anything technical makes your shins sweat, hiring a web designer is probably your best bet. (Remember, it’s an investment in your career!)
9. Build relationships.
Start building relationships with casting directors of shows you might be right for. Send postcards to keep them updated on your progress. You just might get called in without representation if you fit a specific type they’re looking for.
10. Be an intern.
If possible, intern at an agent’s or casting director’s office. You’ll gain invaluable insider knowledge of how the industry works.
11. Produce your own work.
One of the best things about living in the digital age is the ability actors now have to make their own video content. Find like-minded friends and create your own projects. Make mistakes, learn from them, get better, and gain confidence. Use the best clips for your demo reel to show casting directors your work.
12. Seek representation.
When you’ve got some solid training and experience, you’ll be more appealing to agents looking to expand their client roster. When you’re ready, reach out to agents to take the next step in your acting career.
The most important thing along the way is to enjoy the process. Show business isn’t for everyone but if the thought of being an actor truly makes you happy, train those acting muscles, educate yourself on the business, and build relationships in the community. I know there’s a lot to remember, so I created a free cheat sheet to help you stay on track. One thing leads to another, and everyone’s path is different, so just get started and see where your journey takes you. Here’s to your success!
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