How to Break into Acting (and Hollywood Movies)
Have you ever seen yourself performing the role of your favorite actor? Have you imagined yourself accepting awards as the Best Actor/Actress of the Year? To fulfill your dreams and achieving your goals, how about you start learning about how you can be on the screen soon.
Becoming an actor takes time, passion and perseverance. Having a career in acting is a journey filled with rough paths and exciting achievements. It takes hard work and can take years before one can get a major role.
As one who is driven by the passion to be on the big screen, you will have to gain knowledge about the profession, attend auditions and give acting a real shot.
Therefore, you will begin to ask yourself questions such as “How do you get involved in a rapidly changing business, where it’s a lot easier to get a talent agent if you are good-looking and young?” and “How do you survive in the movie or entertainment industry where you are up against professional actors that have been in the industry for years already?”
Asking yourself these questions is normal and finding their answers will help you learn more about how best to enter the industry, and how to turn your dreams into a reality.
Firstly, you must first ask yourself why you want to have a career in the acting profession. Then, ask yourself if you want to make a livelihood based on acting or you want to act only as a hobby.
To have a livelihood based on acting, it might be more difficult, but not impossible as professional and more experienced actors tend to bag high paying jobs as they have proven themselves to be capable in the acting world. Here are the basic steps you can take to break into the acting career.
So let us get started!
1. ATTEND GOOD ACTING CLASSES
Although there are actors who are successful but never been to acting school, most of the aspiring actors will have to take some acting lessons the same way doctors go to school to gain knowledge about their craft.
Taking courses in college, enrolling in art school, or getting involved in community acting classes show that continued acting education and practicing performance is the best way to keep learning about yourself as a future actor.
A good acting class will fuel the creative fire that lies in you. By attending acting classes, you tend to stretch your acting capabilities and improve your acting skills on a regular basis.
You also get to meet and spend quality time with professional actors, increase your networking activities, and gain knowledge by learning from the mistakes of others. Acting class is also a great support system, as every struggling actor needs it.
It gives you the opportunity to show your weaknesses and strengths and receive feedback for each – thus, improving your acting skills.
A good acting class provides a safe place where risks can be taken and hidden talents can be discovered. Acting classes also help satisfy your artistic needs while you are improving your skills
. You can search for teachers that are trustworthy so you will be free to ask them any questions and learn in a more convenient environment.
If you do not have any good acting classes around, gather friends together and work on different scenes every week. Get online scripts for yourself and take a video footage of yourself doing scenes.
Be willing to go the extra mile and get creative so you get experience and knowledge when they are not easy to get.
2. SEARCH FOR AUDITIONS FOR NON-UNION MEMBERS
Producers that have no contracts signed with the acting unions offer acting jobs for non-union actors. It is not mandatory by law for producers to use union actors, and it is less expensive for them if they do not.
They do not have to observe strict protocols such as making payment into the employee’s pension and health funds, meeting standard requirements for the work environment and making payment of minimum salaries as determined by the union. Union members have been warned against working on non-union projects.
Therefore, there are many opportunities for actors who are beginners and who do not belong to any union yet. Some of these opportunities are student plays, readings, short movies and so on. Some of these opportunities are profitable and some are not profitable.
Attending auditions for non-union members is a great way for you to gather experiences in the real world. You can create a profile on Backstage.com, and ensure you submit your application for any job post that fits your skills and profile.
Many projects are looking for talented, non-union actors – as these characterizes are hard to find in the acting community nowadays! If you live away from a major film market, then community theater and dinner theater are great options for rookie actors.
3. ATTEND ACTING WORKSHOPS
To become a capable and good actor, you have to go through series of training. You cannot compete in the movie industry without you learning and practicing some basic necessary professional skills.
To improve your skills, you need to be on any learning platforms where you will be able to maximize your opportunities and activities. Some of these learning platforms can betaking private lessons by acting coaches, attending group acting classes, drama schools, acting universities or acting workshops.
The location of the acting workshops does not really matter in the big picture – if they are far away from you, just find a way to make extra money and attend them.
The acting workshop is a platform for acting training by having other actors and coaches critiquing your performance as a preparation for a role. The acting workshopprovides you with a challenge that each actor desperately needs to identify his or her mistakes and fix them.
As someone who is attending workshops, you must not be afraid of changes and you should learn never to stay within your zone of comfort.
Attending acting workshops enables you to find a circle of people that are ready to accept you. Attending workshops enables you to meet and build relationships with other actors and acting coaches, with whom you can share some ideas and opinions.
It is always awesome to meet folks that are as passionate about their acting career as much as you are about yours.
This circle of people provides you with the adequate support and understanding; for example, you can rely on your acting coach for career advice even after you attended his or her workshop.
There is a place for everyone in this acting business. The acting talent is important, but it is also important to follow your dreams and to do what brings you happiness. You ought to learn acting skills, get yourself educated about the business, and relate with people who will help you and support you on that career path.
You might have acted or taken many acting classes for years, yet learning the craft of acting never stops. There will always be something you need to improve on, grow from, or that challenges you.
You must learn to always be open to suggestions from others, and be willing to change. Do not get offended when your acting instructor is giving you some constructive criticism.
Actively listen to the critiques they have for your acting, and constantly seek advice from them on how to improve it.
4. NETWORK AND BE AN EXTRA ON A SET
Networking is a huge part of becoming an actor–the more people you know, the more acting opportunities you are likely to find. It is important for you to start meeting people in the acting industry as soon and as much as possible.
Being an extra on a set requires no previous experience and it is a good way to explore the industry from within, to see that the people involved in the movie industry are humans too and not superheroes.
Get conversant with people while you are there. Talk to different actors, compare notes gotten from the conversations and observe what their paths look like.
Breaking into the acting world does not involve only one way, as every actor will have his or her own peculiar success story. Having conversations with them shows you some of the available options that you might also have to break into acting.
Networking will give you the opportunity to find out what it is really like to go out on auditions, and how to pursue a professional career in acting. When you speak with working actors and the struggling ones, you will be motivated and enlightened – this helps you to prepare mentally for what is to come.
Tips and advice can be gathered from people who have already been down the path or the journey you are just starting.
You can also have a professional presence on social media to network and connect with people. Get familiar with and learn to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to your advantage to follow and learn more about actors that inspire you.
Also, endeavor to learn about trendy events, shows, and companies.
This gives a great way for you to start a personal connection with people involved in these trends.
Additionally, you can launch a website that exhibits your work, resume, headshots and so on to create an even stronger online presence.
5. LEARN HOW TO AUDITION
Before you can start getting acting gigs, you need to gain knowledge about how to audition properly, and the best way to do this is to sign up for available casting workshops.
Some of these workshops might give you access to legitimate casting directors.
These workshops are also a very important tool to learn how to get comfortable in the audition room. On some occasions, an audition can even come straight from these workshops sessions.
Get auditions by yourself
If you do not have an acting agent, or you just want to explore acting opportunities out there, local acting websites are awesome resources to check out for local auditions and casting calls.
Many film productions tend to post ongoing project work and auditions that you can check free of charge. Should you hear about acting opportunities on media platforms such as the radio, or in the newspaper, there might be a chance of it being a scam.
So, just be careful with information on audition websites that require you to make payment in advance or to open an account with your credit card details so that you find acting auditions. Scammers might be involved in this kind of fraudulent acts.
Get auditions from an agent
That is one of the reasons for you to get an agent from a talent agency to search and suggest suitable and genuine auditions for you. There are times in which casting directors and film producers will publish open calls for movies without many details.
If you have an acting agent – they can make use of their contacts and insider information to help you with more information or bag acting auditions and acting jobs for you.
It is the responsibility of acting agents to find you work, which is how they make their money. They will work to set up meetings with casting directors and get you auditions.
Agents will make use of your personal relationships, connections, and networking skills to search for jobs that fit you the best. Agents also have access to details you would not have an access to on your own. Few useful tips when dealing with talent agents are:
- Endeavor to get a franchised SAG agent as these agents usually have many connections, and appear to offer a legitimate representation.
- To get an agent, ensure you do research on them first and note down which actors they are already representing. You can go through the reviews written about them, or also check them up on the Better Business Bureau to see if they have or previously have claims or lawsuit filed against them.
- When you find an acting agent you wish to work with, initiate a meeting with that agent, or send them over your portfolio. Ensure that the selected agent also has a mutual interest in working with you.
- Make sure that you never pay an acting agent before you get any acting audition or job.
Get prepared for acting auditions
Memorizing scripts is one of the most necessary abilities you need to have mastered for an audition. Learning scripts by heart gives signals to the casting director about you taking the job seriously, and that you can be professional.
Asides from just knowing the lines, you must ensure and be able you to understand the character you were given to act.
You should be practicing auditions at home in front of the mirror, or in the presence of other people, so you that you will be able to have a good feel for the part you are to play, and to gain confidence.
Ensure you practice the part or character so well that it feels natural and believable and this shows you are well prepared for the audition.
Ensure you show good manners at auditions
If you give people the first impression that you are disrespectful, it will not matter how skillful and professional the performance you gave for the audition as you might destroy your chances of getting the acting job.
The following tips are to be kept in mind at your audition:
- Stay away from any of the technical equipment or food at the audition. You are there as a visitor, behave like that and you show respect towards everything and everyone present around you.
- Ensure you check your personal habits before entering the audition room. You should not smoke or chew gum before or during an audition, except if that is a part of the character you are auditioning for.
- Show gratitude towards the casting director, and anyone else who helped you to make your audition possible even after your audition.
6. EXPOSE YOURSELF TO AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITIES
Out there are many websites that deal with how to get jobs as an actor, which includes Actors Access, LA Casting, and Now Casting, that publish information on big movie projects, but also about student films and theater plays.
Ensure you sign up for receiving notifications from any or all of them, and then keep updating your profile with current pictures and any new acting experiences as you book them.
Student films and plays that seem like a small-scale production can help build your reel and enlarge your network.
The production of big projects might be looking for someone like you and its casting director might see you in a student project and then wants to give you an opportunity. Situations like this tend to happen all the time.
This might end up in a great audition even if it does not end up as a booking. You making a mark in a big and successful casting office is a major milestone.
Also, ensure you attend every available legitimate audition you get, no matter how big it is. Many actors tend to skip auditions because deep down, they are scared that they are not professional enough at their art, therefore, encourages you to prove yourself wrong.
Even the bad auditioning experiences are something you can learn from on how to improve your skills – and as a result become a better actor.
Show up afraid and ready, if you have to, but just ensure you show up. You will be way ahead of those actors who got scared.
7. STAY OPTIMISTIC AND DILIGENT
While pursuing your dreams, one thing that can give you problem is keeping your focus on your goals.
The desire for comfort and security can divert the focus even of a professional and successful artist, but also the desire to be famous or have luxuries such as a nice car and branded clothing can push actors to use their full potential.
You need to prioritize, save your extra money for acting classes and headshots instead of focusing on luxuries.
To succeed in the acting career, you must know exactly what you want, why you want to follow this particular career path. Attend acting classes and acting workshops, because besides these improving your audition skills, they are very helpful for building your social networks.
Since you have decided to give all of your attention and free time to pursue your career in acting, you should endeavor to dedicate at least one hour of a day toward your acting dream.
Always seek information about new auditions, see plays in theaters, watch and study movies, and keep your acting resume updated – you never know when your big break will knock on your door.
The acting career journey, though it might take years, is full of rough patches and joyous achievements but with perseverance and time, you can achieve your dream.
Meet and surround yourself with people who are likeminded. Stretch yourself to improve your skill in the craft and ensure you stay focused. But most of all, believe in yourself – make us believe too.
Have you ever been at work, sitting at your desk, and just staring at the clock waiting for it …
I was there quite recently... Fresh out of college: mum and dad were so proud, I was happy, life was …