How to Become an Actor

by Sarah Bennett

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Acting is a trait that can be stimulated and sharpened with the proper training. Here are several practical steps to take if you want to become a successful actor or actress.


Most people believe that acting is all about exhibiting a natural, instinctive skill that you are born with and hold inside you. In reality, acting is actually a trait that can be stimulated and sharpened with the proper training. While thousands of actors work around the world on a daily basis, there are but a few exceptional actors, who by exhibiting their natural talents have made it big in tinsel-town. Do you have what it takes to be one of these exceptional actors? Do you have the determination and desire to give it your all to achieve your acting dreams, aspirations and goals? Or are you simply looking for a short cut, which will most likely lead to uncertainty and disappointment. If you are willing to stay focused and work hard, you can make it as an actor in showbiz. Read on, if you'd like to learn the practical steps you should take if you want to become an actor or actress.

It is good to have a formal education in acting and drama. There are many schools and universities where one can get trained in acting. If your quest for the theory on acting is insatiable, then there is the Master in Fine Arts for you. While such formal education in acting can teach you the fundamental acting techniques and even history, heritage, and acting traditions, nothing is more important and provides as much training as actually performing on stage in front of a live audience. Therefore, to truly complete your education, it is imperative you begin practicing and performing wherever and whenever possible.

You don't need to move to a major city to find outlets where you can practice and improve your acting proficiency. You can start acquiring your practical on-stage experience in your very own home town. There are plenty of opportunities to perform in community, school and church plays. Don't simply dismiss these plays as amateurish before you give them an honest try. You'd be surprised how many low-budget community and school plays are professionally produced. Plus, many local talent scouts regularly attend community theater productions since many will be friends with the theater's producers and directors. You'll also find it's simply great fun to part of theater or performance troop.

You may also try getting involved with your local college or universities' film or media department. You may not get paid, but you can get yourself on film which could be seen by other casting directors and talent scouts. Plus, you'll get a copy of the finished film that you can use as an audition demo video to send to talent agents.

Once you've decided to give acting in your local community theater a try, you'll of course need to know how to go about auditioning. Scan your local newspaper's entertainment or arts and leisure section for notices of open casting calls. Another simple and more direct way to track down audition information is to call the theater's ticket sales phone number and enquire about future auditions. Some other ways include searching the Internet and also trying to establish contacts in the local school or university where there may be open public auditions that are used for community outreach programs.

In spite of these efforts, if you are still not able to make it as a performer in the play, don't give up yet. Volunteer to help behind the scenes in roles like costume, set design or lighting as this may look good on your resume as creditable experience. It is interesting to note that many great actors started by working behind the scenes, so keep trying.

If you find there just aren't any local theater, film, or drama departments in your area that suit you, you'll have to go at it alone. Buy, borrow, or rent a camcorder and start making your own performance videos. Start shooting yourself acting a scene from your favorite movie. Then move on to classical theatrical monologues you'll find online and in books at the library. After taping several quick video clips, move on to making your own short films. Ask your friends to participle in them with you. And have your friends and family critique your acting ability. Keep making them and you'll improve.

Actor Vin Diesel started performing on stage when he was seven years old. But as he grew older he longed to be in feature films. The problem was, he just wasn't getting the parts he wanted. So he did what he had the power to do - he produced, directed, and starred in his own short film titled "Multi-Facial." Steven Spielberg saw his short film and based upon his performance, he was cast in the Oscar-winning film "Saving Private Ryan." From there Vin went on to become the action super-star of many Hollywood motion pictures.

The next step you should plan for is to build a sound acting resume. With each new acting project you'll have one more entry to add to your actor's resume. And each time you add to your resume you'll have an easier time landing that next acting role. The larger, and fuller your resume, the easier it will be to find acting jobs. And once you have a resume completely filled with your list of acting experience, skills and talents, you can flaunt it and begin marketing yourself. Call up ad agencies for casting in their TV commercials and don't forget to get the contact of the person handling casting for their productions.

Eventually, after you've performed in countless community, school and church productions and successfully appeared in local broadcast and cable television commercials, you might consider making the move to bigger cities, like New York for theater or Los Angeles for film and television productions. You may also consider applying for a membership in the 'Screen Actor's Guild or the Actors' Equity, after you have been hired for a few union productions. Enrolling in these unions makes sense as these unions demand higher wages for their members.

Above all, the best way to get experience and education is by continuing to act as much as possible. Constantly be on the lookout for casting calls and audition notices in newspapers, on web sites, and posted to community notice boards, etc. If you work hard and are dedicated and devoted, you will soon see opportunity come knocking your way.
Copyright © Sarah Bennett. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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