How To Become A Professional Actor

Bruno Rose as Andre Hall in Your Worst Nightmare (Discovery ID Channel)

Bruno Rose as Andre Hall in Your Worst Nightmare (Discovery ID Channel)

If you’re looking for a quick way to become the next big movie star, you’ve set your expectations too high and are in the wrong blog. But if you’re looking for a reliable, trusted, and true way of entering the acting and film world, then keep on reading! Feel free to explore the additional links under the categories you are most focused on as they will provide some very valuable information.

This Blog is for You

It doesn't matter if you’ve just graduated from theatre school, never acted in front of anyone, or if you think you’re joining too late in the game. The tips I am about to give you will help anyone get started in the right direction to getting signed with an agent and becoming a SAG actor.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, SAG stands for the Screen Actors Guild which serves as a union for professional actors. Any big name actor you know will 99.9% of the time be a SAG actor. If you want to be a professional SAG actor, then make sure to carefully consider the following.

The Mindset

rejection

Being an actor means constantly being rejected. It’s how our career field operates. You may have one hundred auditions but only book, on average, 0-10 roles a year. A professor of mine said that one year he booked 11 episodes on a STARZ tv show, but he didn’t book another role in anything for an entire year. A whole year of not booking a thing sounds like a nightmare. But for many actors it’s the reality. Thus to be an actor you have to be capable of facing rejection, and a lot of it.

Make Acting the “Side Thing”

When I was an intern for the Emmy Award winning Fincannons and Associates Casting office I had a sit down with President Craig Fincannon and he told me one of the most important things I could have ever learned.

He told me that in order to be a successful actor you have to make acting your “side thing.” That’s right. He told me if you put all of your focus and energy only into acting that you will become disappointed, start to hate being an actor, and eventually quit. With his decades of experience he realized that actors who make acting their one and only thing tend to burn out fast when the reality of the acting world hits them smack in the face. Instead, he said to find something you like to do as your main thing and pursue acting on the side.

That way, when the acting world isn’t casting you, you’ll be able to succeed somewhere else, and not dwell on the rejection from the film/tv world. And for me personally, that has made all the difference in my ability to keep working to make it even further in film/tv.

Be honest

So, you have to honestly ask yourself, do you have what it takes? Do you have a natural talent? And do you have the mindset to make it through all the rejection? Can you make acting your side thing? If so, perhaps you’re ready for the next step.

The Job

Availability & Flexibility

If you want to be an actor, you need to work a job that will allow you to succeed in the acting industry. If you were told you have an audition the next day sometime between 9am and 3pm would you be able to make it? Is your job flexible enough to give you the freedom to leave on short notice? If not, you won’t make it very far with an agent. Once you’re signed, if you decline too many auditions because you can’t make it, your agent will stop representing you. It’s their reputation on the line too. Casting Directors don’t like it when talent agents submit the same actors who aren't turning up for auditions.

MONETIZE Your Talents

Thus, you need a flexible job. If you create your own business, like I did, you can create your own schedule. If you’re really great at something, sell your services online at places like Fiverr.com. Otherwise, small business and service industry jobs are great for finding flexible places to work. But most importantly, make sure it’s something you like and is flexible. You’ll need to at least be happy doing something while you work your way into the acting industry.

Training

No matter how skilled you are, continual life training as an actor is important. But, I’ll admit…it’s not 100% necessary. With today’s media market, social media influencers and brand new actors with very little experience have the ability to become quick film and tv stars. It’s an unpredictable market, and you never know what viral video may make the next star. But we can’t rely on fate to bring us an acting job. We have to ensure of it ourselves.

What Classes you should take

If you’re new to acting, start training. Although there is a lot of online content, in person acting classes will always be the best option. A lot of times. a simple google search of local acting classes/drama schools will reveal many options to chose from. The classes you want to take are ones that will teach you How To Audition, Acting For the Camera, On Camera Audition Techniques, and your basic acting classes of course. Theatrical technique training will not properly prepare you for acting on screen. In fact, casting directors will often tell you to play it “smaller” in an audition if you’re coming off too theatrical or “big.

BUILD A RESUME

Before you can get an agent, you’ll need to have a resume and a reel usually consisting of at least 3 quality scenes. Most agents will not want to see footage from theatrical plays that you have been in. You resume and reels will need to show that you are ready to be cast on a professional set right away. So make sure that when you submit to an agent, it’s a quality submission.

Casting Websites

Whether or not you’re a signed actor or not, you’ll need to have a complete profile on the top casting sites to help you get seen. These casting sites will allow you to upload your headshot, resume, reels, and submit to auditions.

These are great if you need to audition for independent projects to use for your reel, or if you’re already signed and looking for more auditions. Check out the blog below!

Find An Agent

What to know about submitting

If you want to be a professional actor, you need an agent. In order to get an agent, you’ll need to have a resume and a reel with at least three high-quality video scenes that represent your best work to submit for representation. If you don’t have anything to show then you’ll first need to learn how to develop a reel. If you’re ready to submit to an agency, you’ll find your best chances at agencies that don’t have many people with a similar look and vibe as you. If you go to an agency that represents a lot of people who are just like you then you’ll get lost in the crowd.

When submitting, most agents will have online submissions. Thus you’ll want to have a PDF version of your resume, and your digital reel(s). I also recommend including a cover letter that introduces yourself, why you’re submitting, and why’d be a great fit for their agency. Including a cover letter will automatically separate you from other actors who don’t include one, and in a career field this competitive you should find any advantage you can get.

I’d recommend submitting up to 10 agencies. If you’re not signed from any of these agencies it does not mean you should give up. It means you may need better headshots, better quality reel, more training, or perhaps they already have talent that fit your vibe and look. This all goes back to what I said about the Actor Mentality…you have to get used to facing rejection.