Ok. If you read Part 1, you know you’ll need acting experience, professional headshots, and some solid training to get started in this crazy industry. If it wasn’t obvious, all three of those first steps should be occurring at about the same time. Now, some of you might be asking, “How much training and experience do I need before moving on to the next step?” That’s a great question. The answer lies in several factors that are often moving targets. These factors are market dependent, some of which are: how much of your demographic is in the industry, how competitive the marketplace is (i.e. number of actors vs. amount of work), and the size of the market in general. The larger, more competitive the market, the more experience and training you’ll need. Bottom line is start with getting enough experience to fill in a resume with at least 8 to 10 credits spread out over at least 3 categories (Film – a must, Television, and Commercials). If you’re wondering what an acting resume looks like, start with this template. I will be discussing resumes in depth in another post. For now, follow that example. Now, on to Step 4!
Step 4: Submit To Several Talent Agencies
You MUST have an agent to be a legitimate actor in the industry. In the words of one casting director “Why should I bother with you if you don’t have an agent?” It’s that simple. Casting directors and production companies go to talent agents for talent because that’s where the professional talent is. Talent agents are the first “Door-opener” to the industry. Now, if you are unsure of which agencies are legit and which ones might bilk you for thousands, read this first about rip-off “agencies”. In that post I listed some legit agencies in the the Atlanta market.
Almost all agencies have clear instructions on how to submit to be considered for representation. Follow those instructions exactly. If your headshots are great, your resume’ is decent, and the agency is in need of your demographic (that last one is a biggie – many agents pass on talent simply because they already represent lots of that demographic), then you might get contacted for an audition/interview. If you don’t hear from any that you’ve submitted to, continue to build your credits on your resume (i.e. training and experience) and resubmit in 3 months. Once you get that call for an audition: prepare, prepare, prepare! When I went for my audition with my agent, the three other guys scheduled to come were either late or didn’t show at all! Dumb! The agent should give you an idea of what the audition will consist of and may even ask you to come prepared with a rehearsed, memorized monologue (hopefully you prepared one in your acting training – step 3). Follow those instructions to the T as well. Dress in what you are wearing in your headshot (they obviously liked that outfit, so go with it!) unless told otherwise. Be on time, confident, and have fun. Once you’ve auditioned for them, most agents will contact you within a week if they want to represent you or not.
Step 5: Network Your Butt Off!
Just like any other industry, who you know can make all the difference in the world. Get on Facebook, ask around, Google the terms “acting workshop” and “auditioning workshop”, read talent agent blogs and Facebook pages, and get around the people that are in the industry. That doesn’t mean go to a thousand workshops and go broke in the process, but it does mean that if a talent agency is hosting a prominent casting director in your market for a workshop – GO! It would be a double-win for you and might just be the opportunity needed to open the door to representation. Find out about acting groups and industry organizations in your market. Get to know the people who run them. You will find that all these people may not, individually, have a lot of influence (although they might!) but as you grow your network, you’ll realize certain connections that help you get in front of door-openers that you want to see. It can be a long process but one that is fun and a can pay dividends for a long time.
Step 6: Seek Out A Mentor
Wait, what? I know, this doesn’t sound very “Hollywood” but it’s the truth. You need someone to coach with, to counsel with, and even to console with. Look, your acting coaches may be great at teaching acting, but it’s unlikely they will have the time to mentor you in your process to becoming a working actor. As you get past the initial hurdles of representation and a few booked gigs, you’ll need someone who’s been in your shoes, is walking in the industry in their own shoes (a key requirement for a mentor), and can help you navigate the waters that are often pretty tumultuous in this industry. Notice I wrote “Seek Out”. A mentor is not going to come up to you and say, “Hey, I’d like to mentor you.” You have to find them and ask them. You might be saying, “Larry, where do I find a mentor?!” Fair question. See step 5. As you gain experience and network, you will find people further down the road from you with experience that you wish you had. Ask them. Also, be sure the person you’re asking is not in your demographic and would be up for the same roles you would be. It’s not likely someone is going to mentor their competition. Once you do find a mentor, you may find this step in the process one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences you have in the industry. Good. One day, someone may ask you to mentor them and you’ll be able and willing to say “Sure”.
I’m going to reserve Step 7 for my next post because I want to dedicate more space to it. It is incredibly important and can mean the difference between a short acting career and one that goes the distance.
Seven Steps To A Professional Acting Career – Part 3
Red Carpet Photo by Salvatore Vuono
Networking photo by David Castillo Dominici’s
Mentor Photo by Idea go
Larry, this is wonderful!!! My oldest daughter has been begging me to give her an opportunity to act for YEARS!! She actually had an agent as a baby and did some work, but nothing that she remembers. We’ve had many conversations and you’ve confirmed a lot of what I’ve shared with her. (I, too, had an agent as a teenager and worked some down in Miami before heading to college.) Thank you for taking the time to put this blog together. She has such tremendous passion…I think it’s time to help her tap into it a bit. I’m seriously considering enrolling her in the Saturday classes down in Atlanta. (She’s currently casted in her school play and a community theater production and she’s loving every moment of it!!) Thank you again!! 🙂
Happy to help, Stephanie! That’s exactly why I started it. Stay tuned, more posts to come – including tips specifically for kids and parents.