become an actor or actress
Unfortunately, becoming an actor is not effortless and to make it to the pinnacle of your profession is not so simplistic as showing up in Hollywood and yelling, "I'm here!" If you're prepared to put your blood, sweat, tears on the line, then you might have a shred of hope.
Can you act? We're not talking about faking sick to get out of your pop quiz or coming up with excuses about that other girl your wife saw you with. Acting comes naturally to some, yes, but you will still need to hone those innate skills of yours through proper training and experience.
Keep in mind that acting is an ongoing process. As sappy as this might sound, you have to tune into yourself and figure out exactly which extreme you can take yourself to when it comes to emotion. This is not the time to get shy on the world. This world can be demanding both physically and emotionally so be prepared to expose your emotions if need be. If you want success, you'll have to sell out one way or another.
Get your hands on any acting gig you can when you first start out; behaving as if you are the chosen one is not recommended also. Many actors including Tom Cruise tried out for many TV commercials, let alone acted in as many theater productions as possible. So get out and get busy, you have a lot of work to do. Try your best to get any parts here and there; be seen as much as possible. It's very important that you take initiative and make the most of every day by taking note of what's going on around you.
You might think that you're going to mail your resume to every major studio in Hollywood, but that's not the way it works. You will need to get yourself an agent and it will not be an easy feat. An agent will want 10 to 15% of what you earn from each acting gig, any more than that you should stay away from. When you do apply to join an agency, be cool about it. Call the agency to inquire about whether they're accepting new clients. If so, send them your photo and resume and follow up soon afterwards for an audition. It sounds simple because it is, it just take patience and perseverance to continue on until someone is interested because it may take a while.
Are you any good at ad-libbing? If so, prepare to do a few monologues for the agent, as well as a cold read. If you have any talents, this is your time to shine. Show them what you've got. If they take you on as a client, be honest about the extent of your talents and don't make false claims. Your agent should begin finding you auditions to attend and hopefully you will be what the casting director is looking for. And remember, good actors are made; they're not born.
Think about it, you can get paid millions upon millions of dollars to spend a few months playing the role of a man who is married to Angelina Jolie or George Clooney. You get to be involved with these talented and beautiful actors on a daily basis and when the shoot is over, it is all in a day's work. Now that is a great career.
Get professional headshots
The first tools that you will need are an 8 x 10 photo and resume. Your photo (a.k.a. headshot) and resume have specific professional guidelines. The photo is definitely the actor's most important marketing tool, so let's discuss this first. People need to know what they're getting when they call you in to audition. So, if you are not a model-type, please do not get glamorous headshots. But if you are gorgeous, let the viewer know. In this industry, APPEARANCE IS PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING. Lasting impressions come from that first glance. Your headshot is your business card. Remember casting directors will glance once at your picture, so you have only one chance to capture their interest. Professional photos are very expensive, but you won't get very far without them. You can spend anywhere between $50 - $1000 depending on your needs. Sometimes the best photographers are well connected so this presents a chance to acquire referrals on the local agencies.
Find an established talent agency
It is your responsibility to select an agent which is right for you, and you can do so by simply sending out your picture and resume to all the agents in your area. They will call you back and schedule an audition only if they are impressed with your picture. Every city or town has well-established talent agencies. Contact a few different agencies and see what they say. The key to success is an agent that is established and experienced! Ask for references and credentials before signing any contracts. We advise you to sign a non-exclusive 1-2 year contract with a local talent agency to make certain they perform their duties professionally.
seek training from acting schools
Acting may seem easy. Often enough actors don't get the part because they lack the training and experience. There are many schools and classes that specialize in different entertainment fields such as commercial acting, print work, runway modeling,etc. Decide on what it is you're best suited for and most interested in, and focus your training on that. Great training may cost a substantial amount of money, however it will play an important part in reaching your goals. Be careful in your selections because there are many frauds. Always check references & credentials.
Go out and audition
Once you've mastered everything there is to know, get out there. You've been trained by the top acting schools, you've put together a fine looking resume with a top quality headshot to go with it. You've even been picked up by a pretty good agent who is helping you find auditions. The rest is now up to you. Many people have a hard time accepting the fact that their fate is in their own hands. Once you've reached this point, it is all up to you. Show up on time, be prepared, and knock their socks off. You will learn even more about the acting industry once you begin to attend auditions. In fact, you will discover there is even more to learn about once you're on the other side of the door. You've been trying to get your foot into the door for years and you're finally through. You will discover that there is a vast world of potential just waiting to be accessed. It's up to you to go out there and take advantage of it.
Create a quality resume
There are certain standards for an actor's resume. It must be well-written and professional. List all of your past and current training, experiences, talents, skills, etc. Attach you photo back-to-back with an 8 x 10 resume with staples neatly in each corner, or get resumes professionally printed on the back of your photos. Your resume will have your name at the top, then the names of any actors' unions to which you belong. A voice mail or message service phone number should be prominent so that the agents will know how to contact you (this will eventually be replaced with your agency information). Your height, weight, eye and hair colors come next. Below that, begin listing your credits, or the things that you've acted in (extra work doesn't count). If you have any film experience, that comes first under the heading "Film." Television credits are next on the page, followed by Theater, Training and Education, and finally Special Skills (e.g., surfing, gymnastics, certified scuba diver). Once you have an agent, he or she will probably have specific layout preferences. Don't stress too much about the resume if you are just getting started. Agencies are much more concerned with your look and your personality than your experience or your talent. Here are some notes and tips to help you put together a professional looking, quality resume.
- When you create your resume, don't get all fancy and fluffy. No one likes to search for the information they want. Start with your name; it should be on top in the middle of the page and written in bold.
- List your stats; your height, weight, eye color, hair color, date of birth, and the age range that most people think you are in. Assuming you want to be in film, the work you have done in the past should start with film and work its way down - the dates aren't all that important.
- Start with work in the Film Industry, then TV Commercials, Industrial, Radio, and finally, Theater work. These titles should be written in bold and on the left side of the page. List the name of the project or show that you were in on the left under the appropriate title, along with your role and the production company or producer's name.
- Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you were only an extra in a film, that doesn't count. Only if you're applying for the role of an extra should you list "extra" in the appropriate field. Otherwise, when you do state your role, mark it as star, principle or actor.
- Also, you have to include your training; the schools you attended, the workshops you were in and so on and so forth. List your degree, the name of the school you attended, and the name of your instructors.
- Forget about your hobbies; you need to include "Special Skills" on your resume. For instance, if you can ride horses or pop wheelies on motorcycles, write it down. Also, include any sports you're good at, languages you can speak, accents you can fake, and weapons you might know how to use.
- Last but not least, don't forget to include all the numbers you can be reached at, at the bottom of the page. And since your appearance is very important, you might want to put all this info on the back of your 8.5x11 glossy black and white headshot (you can always do each separately). Professional shots will cost you anywhere from $35 to $500, so shop around, ask to see the photographer's portfolio and strike a pose.
10 tips for actors and actresses
- Decide whether you want to be a professional actor or you just want to act for fun on the side. If you want to be a professional then you should take it seriously, which is why you're still reading this.
- Eventually you will need to move to a major city like New York or Los Angeles, but as you build your résumé of experience you can work in other major metropolitan areas that have good theater or film communities.
- Enroll in acting class. Good actors study for the duration of their entire lives. Acting classes will not only teach you valuable lessons, they will also help you network with new people who are involved in the industry. To choose a good class, ask trusted, successful professionals for references.
- Get a headshot. Sounds easy, and it basically is. Find a good photographer who you trust, and get some nice looking professional headshots.
- Compose a résumé of all the work you have done so far. As your body of work grows, drop the less professional work such as school plays from your résumé.
- Send your headshot and résumé with a brief cover letter to all the casting directors and agents in your area. Follow up with postcards every four to six months, updating them on your current acting projects. This lets people know that you are serious about your career, and that you're working hard to get there. Industry professionals like that, a lot.
- Read the trade papers regularly. There are many resources for actors to stay involved in the loop. Know what is being cast where, and send headshots and notes directly to directors and producers whenever possible, requesting auditions.
- Always accept invitations to industry events and parties, and meet industry professionals whenever possible. Who you know is extremely important and these are another fantastic opportunity to network. Remember not to appear desperate, remain professional.
- Persevere. You will hear "No" more than 9 out of 10 times. Most people trying to get involved will quit before they even attend 10 auditions just because of the rejection. Here is a news flash...this is common. Brad Pitt was turned down, Jessica Alba was turned down, and you will be too. When you fall of the horse, you must get back on if you want to become successful. If you are uncertain, try some amatuer theatre first.
- Ignore negative clichés about actors and the entertainment business.