Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash
No matter where you are in your life, it is never too late to follow your dreams of becoming an actor. Hitting the stage, however, can be a terrifying endeavor for newbies with little to no experience. I am a newbie even though I have done a few plays, movies, and held a few roles.
With perseverance, passion, and some helpful tips, you can achieve your goals and become a household name in Hollywood. Here I’m going to give you seven areas to get started.
1. Take Acting Courses
You can never stop learning and improving. Even the best actors in the world continue to take direction and advice from fellow industry professionals. Find virtual acting courses that suit your interests and learn from the greats (like Kevin Bacon) through videos and tutorials. Want to perfect your auditioning skills? Learn the art of improvisation? Explore comedy? Study the origins of classic theater? There is an abundance of affordable online resources for aspiring actors like you.
2. Work in the Industry
A great way to gain exposure in the acting industry is to find work opportunities at theaters, casting offices, production companies and more. From volunteering for the props department at your local theater to auditioning for a low budget commercial, there is no job too small or insignificant for an up-and-coming actor.
Scan casting calls and start with background and “extra” roles on movie sets. Working in the industry will help you develop a network of connections, build out your portfolio and demo reel, and learn more from fellow actors. Acting is a competitive field, so get your foot in the door in any way you can!
3. Work as a Background Actor
A “Background Actor” (also called extra, background talent, and atmosphere) is someone who performs in a show in a nonspeaking role, usually in the background.
Background Actors make movies and TV shows feel more authentic. They are in a restaurant, nurses in a hospital, students at a high school, and everything in between. When you work as a background actor you get to work on the set and learn what goes on behind the scenes.
You also get to network with other actors. There is even an opportunity to get promoted on the set and work with the principal actors. Background actors are directed by Assistant Directors.
4. Watch Movies
Watching movies hardly feels like homework, but when you’re on the road to becoming an actor, planting yourself on the couch with popcorn and classic films is a crucial part of the process. Watch Oscar-winning thespians work and pay special attention to their styles and methods.
You can invest in a service like Amazon Prime Video or HULU. Another way to watch movies is get tickets and go to the community theater or go see community plays and musicals. Read scripts and screenplays to get a good handle on dialogue, industry lingo and theatrical cues. Sometimes, the best way to learn is to watch, listen and read.
5. Practice Acting at Home
Do a little remodeling in your living room and set up a home studio to practice your acting. Invest in a stand for your phone or camera and a basic lighting kit so that the footage you record is optimal (in case you want to add it to your portfolio later).
Once you are all set up, print out your favorite film screenplay, read lines to your camera and play back your footage. Study your acting techniques and find areas for improvement. You can even share the clips with your friends and family to get an outside perspective!
As a new actor auditioning will be where you will spend a lot of time. Bring your confidence and personality whenever you audition. It can be intimidating but you should always remind yourself that it is only a movie. That helps me get through it.
Auditioning can be a full-time job. You get a script, usually within 24 hours of the audition, and must memorize and prepare a fully developed character. You have 24 hours to prepare a final-edit, cinema-ready character. Try to make a connection with the reader to make the scene natural and believable. Develop a way to know the character and if you have time read the script to get clues. At lease, find out what is in the way of the character getting what he/she wants.
There is a really good book on everything an actor needs to know to get the part, “Audition”. Start with that to become familiar with the process.
7. Stay Motivated
Act like an actor! You do not need years and years of industry experience to break into acting. You will, however, have to build a thick skin. Two of the most essential ingredients for a career in the entertainment industry is confidence and motivation.
I tend to purchase self-help books. There is no shame in my game when I need help. One of my favorites by David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a great starter.