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How To Become an Actor

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Starting an acting career is one of the easiest things to do! There is literally no barrier to entry to become an actor and you can be just days away from getting into the entertainment industry and the acting world.

To get started there is no need for formal education, acting experience, or any hidden talents. Literally anyone can do it and that includes you!

Don't get me wrong! It is true that becoming a GOOD actor, a professional actor, and most importantly a WORKING actor, and creating a successful career is a MUCH BIGGER CHALLENGE. This will rely heavily on your talent, look, acting skills, network, and determination. But the path to STARTING an acting career is an easy one.

If you are an aspiring actor, below are several things that you can do to start your acting career today:

Take a professional actor headshot

The first thing that all aspiring actors must do to start setting up for submitting to acting jobs and networking in the acting industry is to get a professional headshot photographer to shoot their professional headshots.

I, myself, am an NYC based actor and photographer (who travels to Los Angeles a lot) and you can see my headshots for acting rates here.

Your actor headshots will be your first impression to industry professionals and so throughout your entire career it imperative that you always have up to date professional headshots that will give a filmmaker, talent agent, or a casting director an up to date idea of what you look like.

You can see actor headshot examples here.

Prices for headshots can be costly, but they are a very worthy investment towards beginning a successful acting career.

Click for a great article on how to find a good headshot photographer near you.

Sign up for all necessary casting websites

Professional headshots are also important because all casting websites will need one and the second thing that you will need to do to start an acting career is to sign up for all of the necessary casting websites.

The three most important casting websites are Backstage, Actors Access, and Casting Networks.

These casting websites are where you can find a lot of casting opportunities for student films, short films, independent theater productions, local commercials, independent television shows and pilots, and many independent feature films, which is how many actors started their careers.

And while there are tons of lower level productions on these sites, there are also casting calls from many legitimate casting directors and acting opportunities for a lot of major film projects, national commercials, and high end theater productions.

Submitting to casting websites

If you are really looking to push your acting career path forward quickly you have to commit to dedicating time daily to casting website submissions and self tape submissions. Once you set your site filters to show you projects that have roles for individuals that have your characteristics, you have to submit to every single thing that you deem worthy of your time. This submission process will take 15 minutes to an hour of your time DAILY. Furthermore you will also be asked to send in self tapes of the lines (usually referred to as "sides") for the projects and this can take an addition 15 minutes to two hours of your time DAILY.

My recommendation is that you do all of your casting submissions at the end of each day, and that you do all of your self tape submissions first thing each and every morning.

In the beginning the goal is to get involved with as many projects as you can. This doesn't mean you should work on every single project that you come across. You should be selective and choose to work on projects that you deem are worthy of your time. But you do want to start stacking up your film and theater experiences.

You want to do this for several reasons:

Firstly, you need the practice so that you can see yourself on camera, understand your attributes and qualities, and gain confidence and experience. That will be invaluable to your career.

Secondly, you want to begin to build a film and theater network. Often times actors get some of their best professional credits from people that they met and worked with in the past, often times on smaller projects. Creating film and theater content is all about collaboration and if you can get yourself into awesome and busy film networks, it will help your acting career grow a lot faster.

Third, you need content to build a demo reel. Within a few months of acting the hope is that you can get a few roles under your belt to put together a decent demo reel. A demo reel is a video compilation of your best work on camera, cut into a short one to two minute piece.

You will need a demo reel to even submit to many projects on some of the casting websites.

What do to before getting a reel: learn and record a monologue.

In order to submit yourself to many film projects you must have a demo reel uploaded to your casting website profile. On many websites (like for example), many casting directors require a demo reel for all casting submissions. This means you can't even click on the submit button to get a casting director to see you for projects without one.

The cheat code around this is simple.

Do some research and find a great monologue that you can learn and record yourself doing.

Spend a few days (or a few weeks if necessary) perfecting the monologue and then spend some time getting a perfect video recording of you doing it.

Be sure to be mindful of the video quality, the lighting, and the sounds quality when you shoot it. You don't want to submit to a legitimate audition and they can barely see you or hear you.

But with this, you will be able to add a video to your casting profile and submit to all projects that require a video.

And not to fret! While, yes, most casting directors are looking for an actual demo reel of your acting work in different film and/or theater projects, there will be times where you fit perfectly for a character that a film director or casting director has in his or her head, and your monologue will be just enough for them to see that.

You are now in the game

With this you are now in the acting game. You can start to submit to online castings and be asked to attend auditions. At this point it is all up to you. The more things you submit to, the higher likelihood you have of being casted for projects. And all it takes is getting an acting role in one great independent feature film or short film, or a couple or really good low level theater productions before you are being noticed by a talent agency or a bigger casting director.

Working on the craft

Everything mentioned above is in reference to being an aspiring actor who wants to dive right in without doing any of the necessary things that many other actors do to become great!

If you are a natural, which many people are, this may work well for you. But ultimately it is important to set a goal to be great at the craft of acting if you really want to go far.

You can do that by attending acting classes, hiring an acting coach, joining an acting school, taking an acting class, doing community theater, working with acting studios, taking drama classes, attending casting workshops, joining a drama club, working with acting coaches, joining an improv group, signing up for acting workshops, or even trying stand up comedy and going to comedy clubs to perform.

Every actor doesn't need to do all of these things, but many are important and can help you to become a better actor and enhance your journey towards a great acting career path.

But ultimately, with these first few steps, you are on your way:

  • getting professional headshots

  • signing up for casting websites (ie, Backstage, ActorsAccess, and Casting Networks)

  • learning and getting video footage of a great monologue

  • staying active on acting websites and submitting yourself to as many film and theater projects as you can

  • and then building a great demo reel and submitting yourself to more projects

If you do these things for long enough and incorporate the things mentioned in the "Working on the craft" section, it is only a matter of time before you land yourself a major acting job.

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