Wondering how to become an actor? Many aspiring actors think that the only way to break into the industry is to move to Hollywood because that’s were all the movies are being produced. This is not even close to being true. In this video, I talk about six steps you can take to get started as an actor in whatever city you live in right now. Even if you have little to no experience.
Way back in 2008, I walked into my first acting class in Cleveland, Ohio. Since Cleveland isn’t exactly Los Angeles when it comes to acting opportunities, I was extremely skeptical on whether or not it was possible to become a working actor in my hometown. Fast forward to 2013, and I was actually able to quit my day job and become a full time actor in Ohio.
You are probably wondering the same thing I was back when I first started. Is there any way you can break into acting in the city you live in right now? Even if that city isn’t a major acting market like Los Angeles or New York?
Well, guess what? Even without knowing your exact city, I can tell you right now that the answer is probably YES.
You see, even small markets, like my hometown of Cleveland, have opportunities available to actors. You just have to know how to find them. So, Here are six steps you can take to get started acting in your city right away.
Step 1. Research and Network
This step should be fairly easy as long as you use a handy tool I like to call “the internet”.
A great place to start is to search for any Facebook groups for actors and filmmakers in your area. Once you join a group, keep an eye out for social gatherings or networking events. The objective here should be to meet working actors in your area and start a conversation.
Ask them some questions about the types of jobs they’re booking or auditions they’ve had. You want to get a feel for the acting landscape in your region. It’s also a good idea to ask for recommendations for acting classes.
Which brings us to step number two.
Step 2. Take a Class
If you’re just getting started, it’s absolutely essential to take a class. Learn your craft. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Becoming a professional actor requires hard work and dedication. and it starts with making a commitment to learning.
A lot of people want to skip acting classes and go straight to a talent agency to get representation.
That’s not how it works.
Talent agents aren’t going to sign people off the street with no experience and no training. So get your education on.
And even if you do have some experience in theater from high school or even college, there are many other types of acting classes that you could benefit from.
On camera classes, improv classes, commercial classes, scene study classes, audition classes, stunt classes, stage combat classes, The Meisner technique, the Strasberg method, Stanislavski, Stella Adler, Chekov, the list goes on and on.
There is always something new to learn and always room for improvement. So ask around for some for recommendations. Or visit the acting school directory on Small Market Actor.com
Step 3. Learn the Business of Acting
One of the biggest reasons why many actors don’t succeed has nothing to do with their acting ability. It’s because they don’t make an effort to learn the business side of acting.
Let’s face it. We aren’t studying acting just to satisfy our curiosity. We are studying acting because we want to make money doing it. There’s no business like show business, right? Well, There’s a reason they call it show-business and not show-play or show-fun.
The entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar machine and the people involved are in it to make money. By understanding the way the business works and how you, as an actor, fit into it, you’ll increase your chances of getting a piece of that multi-billion dollar pie.
One very important part about the business is the audition. I say all the time that acting and auditioning are two completely different skils. Just because you’re a good actor doesn’t mean you’re going to get work.
How do you get work as an actor? You have to audition for it. The audition is the actor’s job interview. So practice auditioning as much as you can. It will be one of the best things you can do for your career.
Speaking of auditioning, once you learn how to do it well, you’re going to have to go on some actual auditions to apply what you’ve learned. Where do you go do find these auditions? Especially if you don’t live in LA or New York?
Well, that’s another important part of the business side of acting. A talent agent can certainly help with getting auditions, and we will talk about agents in a second. But there are also some great resources to help you to find auditions and submit yourself for acting jobs without an agent.
And one of the most important ones is a website called Actors Access. You can create a free profile on Actors Access and start finding and submitting yourself for acting job opportunities all over the country.
This is why I said earlier that you can break into the acting industry no matter where you live. Even though I live in Ohio, I’ve been able to submit myself and get auditions in New York City. And you can do the same.
So learn how to audition. Learn how to find auditions. And learn everything else about the business side of acting as well. Because that’s how you’re going turn acting from your hobby to your career.
Step 4. Get Professional Headshots
I can’t talk about the business of acting without mentioning headshots, the actor’s business card. The two main points I want to emphasize here are not to rush to get headshots done and not to settle for the cheapest photographer.
When you’re first getting started, it’s important to be patient. There’s no reason to immediately get headshots and start submitting yourself for auditions and talent agencies. Take a class and put all your focus on learning first. After a while, you can ask your teacher or other students for recommendations for a headshot photographer.
Not any photographer. A headshot photographer.
Don’t ask your friend to do it, don’t go to Sears to get it done. If you want to be taken seriously by casting directors and talent agents, you need to go to someone who specializes in taking headshots of actors.
A headshot photographer is someone with industry knowledge you understands how a photo best represents you to other people in the industry. So make sure to find someone who knows what they are doing. They may cost a bit more than the guy who takes family portraits at sears, but the extra investment will be worth it in the long run.
Step 5. Find Representation
Finding representation from a talent agency is another huge part of the business side of acting. This is where the people looking for a shortcut to fame try to go first. Don’t make this mistake. Just like with headshots, don’t rush to get signed by a talent agency.
Talent agencies are looking for actors with training who know what they are doing. So it’s important not to go to a talent agency until you’re ready. But if you have taken classes and you’ve got a professional headshot and you’ve researched the business, then you may be ready to consider representation.
Getting represented by an agency will be a major step in your career. Your agent will be able to get you opportunities and auditions that you would never have been able to get on your own. That’s because talent agencies are constantly networking with casting directors, production companies, and corporate clients that are looking to book actors for all kinds of different jobs.
The actor-agent relationship is the most important business relationship in any actor’s career.
But don’t forget to do your research first before signing with a talent agency. Ask your teacher or other students in your class for their input. Because there are great agencies out there but there are also some really really bad ones
Which leads us to the final step.
Step 6. Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, in a multi-billion dollar industry like this one, there are plenty of scammers out there trying to take your money by offering you false promises and fake promotions.
These scumbags are preying on the hopes and dreams of newbie actors who haven’t done their research and don’t know how to spot a phony. The rule of thumb here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Be wary of anyone that promises they can make you a star in exchange for some money. Nobody has that kind of power. I have personally met people that were scammed out of thousands of dollar by these so-called “talent agencies” that promise fame and fortune.
So run away if an “agency” charges you a large upfront fee before they sign you to a contract.
NEVER, EVER pay an agent an upfront fee for representation. Legitimate talent agencies only make money when you make money, meaning they take a commission off of your paycheck after they book you a job. If you aren’t booking any jobs from them, you shouldn’t be paying your agent a dime for their services. Period. So be sure to do your homework and make sure any agency you sign with is a reputable one.
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