Devote yourself to all facets of your career and never stop learning. An actor who stops learning is HISTORY!
WANT TO BE AN ACTOR?
“All the world’s a stage” and you can’t wait to make your entrance! You were involved with some productions in school and maybe added some community theatre roles to your resume. But how do you translate these experiences into becoming a professional actor or finding involvement in some other theatre/film related work such as directing or dance? Many well-known Canadian performers started like you. But how did they get to be famous? And, more importantly, how can you? And have you asked yourself what the acting industry is really like?
Acting is a profession that is not easily understood. What appears to be easy from the viewpoint of the audience is the result of years of study, work, sacrifice and self-mastery. The lifestyle is often fraught with disappointments and rejection. At any one time the majority of professional actors are unemployed. You can find yourself living in very humble surroundings, often not knowing how you’ll pay the rent or put food on the table. There’s very little glamour, if any, in a career in theatre or film.
But being an actor can add to the quality of your life as well as to that of others. It can fundamentally change your life. It does not have to be a singular career choice and having secondary skills is very useful.
WHERE TO START LOOKING WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN ACTING CLASS?
You can get your training in a university theatre program, from a community college or an independent studio. If you choose to study at a studio, how can you avoid being “ripped off”?
The answer is easy: Ask questions!
- What are the teacher’s credentials and qualifications?
- What will the course include?
- Is the emphasis on teaching or performance/studio promotion?
- What is the cost of the course? Are there other costs (e.g. books, class notes, administration fees)? What is the studio’s refund policy?
- How large is the class? Is there a maximum enrollment? Will you be placed in a class suitable to your skills?
- Can you audit the class before you sign up for it?
- Will the studio meet with you in person and answer your questions? Even the most highly rated studio may not be right for you.
LOOKING FOR AN AGENT?
- Be wary of promises that can’t be fulfilled: “We’ll make you a star!”
- An agent should not take money to represent you. In a sense the agent works for you.
- Agents who sell courses, headshot photos, or tell you that you must use their other services are in conflict of interest.
- Ask for an itemized breakdown of all administration fees and the extent of time for which you are covered. Can you pay the agency fees when you get your first job?
- The Agents Directory on the ACTRA website is a great place to start looking.
WHAT ABOUT AUDITIONS?
You’ve chosen your career, or it has chosen you. You are taking classes at reputable studios. The audition is the next step to finding work as an actor. It’s the most difficult part of an actor’s life, filled with disappointment and rejection.
The purpose of an audition isn’t to find out who’s best, but who will fit best in the casting slot. You can be the best actor in the room, but if you’re two inches too short, you haven’t got a chance.
Remember it’s a process and the more you study and audition, the better you become.
WILL I GET WORK NOW?
Not necessarily, all you can do is improve the odds. Network among your friends to find out what’s happening. Stay in touch with teachers who have good contacts. Write to directors to let them know what you’re doing now. There is always something to do if you take your career seriously.