We get a few messages a month either by email or on Instagram from people looking for advice on how to get started in acting. Many people think it’s something they would enjoy but aren’t sure how or where to begin. In this article we will talk about training, networking representation and a few things you shouldn’t do as well. Depending on when in your life you want to give acting a try we have some guidance that we think might help.
How To Get Started In Acting
Things You Shouldn’t Do
Let’s get all the dont’s out of the way so we can focus on all the do’s. Many people who aren’t yet involved in the craft don’t really know much about how things work. They see actors on TV and someone told them once they could be an actor and they immediately want to try to get an agent. All actors meet people who say “I want to get into acting but I dunno how to get an agent”. If you are just getting started, getting an agent should not even be anything you are thinking about. People hate to hear that and sometimes even think you are trying to hold them back but it’s the truth. First off, you aren’t ready for an agent from a craft level OR from a business level. It’s hard enough for actors who have already been working to get representation let alone someone that has never acted before. So although you are excited to get your acting career started, you should slow down and take things slowly. Representation will come when the time is right, but first plan out your journey.
Planning Your Journey
Planning your journey simply means deciding on a path you would like to take. This can vary for people of all ages. If you are a teenager, in your twenties or already well into your forties your journey will be different. Don’t let age discourage you, the great thing about the arts is that there are many paths to take. You can create your own path if you stay dedicated and do things right. Plan your attack and set goals.
Always think about training first. I know, your mom said you would be a great actor and we love your mom but its not that simple. If you are in high school and decide you love acting then you should consider going to a four year acting program. Obviously a degree in acting doesn’t guarantee any work but it will immerse you into the craft over a period of four years. If starting at a young age going to school and becoming classically trained and learning how to use your breath and voice can really set you apart from the rest of the pack. Training is vital and really dedicating yourself at an early age will better set you up for success. If you are in your twenties and thirties and don’t believe you have time to go to university don’t sweat it. You can still start your training with some incredible acting teachers all over the world. Those who want to get good will learn no matter where they are. Research teachers and classes in your city and pick a few you like. We suggest getting into a class that works on plays and staying with a teacher that pushes you. You should feel uncomfortable and class should feel hard because it is. If you are working with teachers that always tell you you are great you are probably in the wrong class. Find teachers who push you and stay in class for at least 4 to five years. You can still work and do whatever else you have going on in your life but stay in class. Try other classes from time to time. If you are in a regular scene study class that always works on plays, try an on camera class from time to time. They are very different and both are very helpful and necessary.
Understand Your Craft
You should approach acting like any other profession and study it to get a better understanding of your craft. While you are training you should read books on the origins of acting and all the great teachers. You don’t have to do this but reading about the history of acting can make you fall even more in love with the craft. Acting is personal and can take a lot out of you over the years so you MUST LOVE IT. Learning about the theater and all the wonderful teachers and playwrights will bring you closer to the craft and make working on plays more enjoyable. Become your art, learn everything about it. There are times as an actor when you will want to give up. When I feel that way, I pick up a play and I just know that this is what I love and want to do. Be passionate and about it, that passion will keep you going.
Build Your Community
Be around other actors. When you get involved in class you will start to make a lot of actor friends. If you are in a great class, that class can start to become like family. You should surround yourself with other artists who are just as passionate as yourself. Your community will push you and support you. Also, having a great group of artists around can lead to a lot of creativity. You can write and create together. Relationships can last a lifetime and it can start at any age. Be around creative passionate people and it will fuel you to become better and work harder.
Ok now we can discuss representation. When you feel you are ready to go out there and start auditioning, reach out to your community of friends. Actors in your class have seen your work and can vouch for you. When you don’t have many credits its super hard to get an agent or manager. Getting a referral will almost certainly be the way you first get signed. A friend will reach out to their rep and say, “look this is my friend, they don’t have a lot of credits but they are really good. Here is their headshot and resume”. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. If that doesn’t work then you can do agent showcases. Believe it or not these actually do work. People get signed from them all the time. It is never a guarantee but if you are starting out this is a great option. Work on a monologue for a while and really tighten it up. Once you have a great piece you are ready for the agent showcases. If you have zero credits we suggest shooting some material for a demo reel with some friends. Put a few scenes together that showcase your range and that can be what you show potential reps. Whatever you can do to help your chances of getting signed is what you should do.
Stay On Course
After you get a rep, the work begins. It might seem like you are finally getting somewhere and you are. Getting a rep is certainly a big deal on your journey but now you must stay focused and not get sidetracked. Work hard to prepare for your auditions. Continue training and keep your mind and body right. Acting requires all your wits so stay in shape both mentally and physically. You are now out and auditioning and it is where you want to be so be even more focused so you can book work and become a working actor. Once you are a working actor…..well thats up to you to steer your own ship. Stay close to your love of the craft and make decisions based on your heart and you will be fine. This is a journey and remember to let your journey be the prize not the outcome.
Now go out there and get it done.