…My problem is that I don’t know where to start. Can you help?
First of all, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t fulfill your dreams. You can do it if you have a method. I changed my life completely from corporate manager to actor/voice-over artist, host, author, motivational speaker and I’m loving it. This change took place three years ago and I’m still not where I want to be, but I am enjoying the journey and most importantly, I’m making some serious progress! I have agents working for me. I have productions companies and casting directors and agents call me either for work or for auditions. But this didn’t happen over night. It takes time and lots and lots of hard work.
It will take time to build your career and set yourself up for long-term success. I conduct a lot of interviews that I share with aspiring actors and one of the most recent ones was with a noted industry professional who owns an acting school in New York. She said that, “You should plan on at least 2 – 3 years in the beginning, preparing your base so that you can get to the point of being able to compete with well-trained actors who are and have been working regularly.”
Most aspiring actors never make it for several reasons.
1) They think that it is just a matter of getting an agent, no training, no classes, just get an agent! False!
2) They are not motivated enough to ‘see it through’ and to do what is necessary to be successful.
3) They have no business and marketing skills or what’s worse, they don’t realize that they themselves are a product that they must sell and have no clue how to do it.
4) If they do get an agent, they believe that the agent should do all the work and get them all their auditions. Let me take an historical quote from John F. Kennedy and twist it for the purposes of my communication: “Ask not what your agent can do for you, but what you can do for your agent!”
5) They neglect training, because many people around them (family and friends) tell them that they are cute, beautiful, make people laugh, are talented and should go into acting.
What they don’t realize is that most if not all of those people are not qualified to say whether or not you are talented enough or have what it takes.
6) Most aspiring actors neglect probably the single most important show-stopper: Money. They don’t plan to be able to have either enough money set aside to really be able to pursue an acting career full-time or they have not set up at least one or more streams of passive income so that they will be able to concentrate fully on their careers.
7) They have no clue what’s going on in the industry, what the trends are, who casts the types of projects they are interested in.
8) They don’t know what their type is and thus don’t focus their efforts on getting that type of work. Their headshots, résumés and coverletters don’t speak the same language. And the industry professionals they contact are not the right ones.
9) Lack of focus and method and strategy to get what they want.
10) They don’t know themselves well enough. The market is so saturated with well-trained actors AND with people who think that they have what it takes to be an actor. It is ESSENTIAL to find that something special about yourself that will set you apart from all the other actresses out there who are of your type. Otherwise, you will get lost in the crowd! Once you’ve figured that out, you need to find a way to get to the people who could be interested in what you have to offer. Here’s my approach to how to figure that out: http://www.actingcareerstartup.com/actor.html
11) They start out approaching their acting career by asking themselves the question, “I wonder what an acting career will get me?” instead of, “What am I going to bring to my acting career? What do I have to offer?”
So, what to do? If you are really serious about pursuing an acting career, there are several things to do in my opinion.
First: Research: Find out as much as you can from people who are already doing what you want to do.
Learn about the industry: Read Variety, Backstage for starters.
Learn about the different acting techniques.
Research different schools. Interview teachers about their teaching methods, techniques, audit classes if they so allow.
Figure out how much time you will realistically be able to dedicate to an acting career.
Figure out how you will make money so that you don’t have to work 9-5 and don’t have enough time to pursue your career.
Then get into a good acting class with a good teacher and stay there…forever! What I want to say there is that your training never, ever stops.
If you want to in the meantime, you could check with your local film commission to see when Hollywood films will be coming to your area to shoot so that you can put in for some extra work. Check this page link for 17 things you could do today to get started.
Also, you could sign up with some extra casting agencies. That’s great experience at the beginning of your career to learn how things work on set and make a little money at the same time.
You could also get into some community theatre.
Lastly, if you really are serious about becoming an actress, you will find these things to be easy and you won’t be able to wait to do them. If you are not motivated enough in the long run, you will find all these things to be a chore and tremendously difficult.
I know this was a long post, but I get passionate about this!
One last quote from a Hollywood acting teacher I recently interviewed named Bernard Hiller: “The elevator to success is broken. You’ll have to take the stairs.”