How do you Break into Acting? – Casting Call

Written by | The Craft of Acting

For many that question is the first step in their acting career – find out what Catrine has to say! Additionally, she answers questions about having to be “good looking” to be an actor and what you should consider when getting your headshot done.

I am not the most handsome guy on Earth and am balding. I have always wanted to act but everyone laughs at me. Do you really need to be a Brad Pitt type to become an actor? -Jake R., Branson, MO

Your question – because I hear it a lot – always breaks my heart. The Brad Pitts of the world are few and far between, and if you watch TV and movies, you’ll notice that those pretty boys are in fact in the minority. Often, people think that only the real lookers will get the leads and the less than society’s version of the perfect person will only get character roles. First of all, there is NOTHING wrong with character roles – they often have the most fun, quirky scenes. But let me point out a few non-traditional leading men: Jack Black, Steve Buscemi, Joe Pesci, John Belushi, Paul Giamatti, Robert DeNiro, Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, and Jared Hess. Ever heard of any of those actors? You need to realize that the life experiences that JAKE brings to a role are unique to JAKE. Take pride in who you are, just as you are!

How do you break into acting? Crane H., Baltimore, MD

When someone can figure out a one-paragraph, clear, concise answer to “How do you become president?” I may be able to figure out a one-paragraph, clear, concise answer to “How do you break into acting?”

There is not a simple answer to this question, and though every working actor may have similar elements of how they got to where they are, each of their stories will be quite different. Some people work on their craft for years, pursue every lead they can, and have a great agent, but they only acquire a few roles, if any. Then, there is the actor that has just started and is at the right place at the right time. I know many actors who have moved to LA after becoming whales in a small pond – they are talented, have credits, feel that they’ll soon be stars – and most of them eventually end up “back home” to raise a family. Yet, I knew one young actress who moved to LA (and I must say, I was not convinced of her ability to succeed) in her teens and booked a soap opera weeks after getting to LA. She has since done many movies and TV shows. Go figure. But whatever your circumstances are, you must study your craft from a legitimate source. Remember the guy from Iowa who jumps into a New York City cab and asks “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  The cab driver answers: “Practice, practice, practice.” The same holds true for acting.

Someone told me I had to have a headshot to be an actor. Where do I get one, what does it need to be, and how much should it cost? Brandon A., St, George, UT

YES, YES, YES! You must have a headshot. There are trends that come and go in headshots, but the one thing that doesn’t change is that it needs to be an 8×10 format. Here are the other stylistic considerations that you need to discuss with your photographer:

  • Should it be black and white or color (the current trend is color)?
  • Should it be horizontal or vertical (either is fine–I happen to really like a GOOD horizontal headshot)?
  • What should I wear?

How do you find a good photographer? Ask other actors for recommendations. Ask various photographers to see samples of their work. Be very clear on the price before you start. You should pay somewhere between $75 and $300 for your photoshoot. I can’t imagine having to pay more than that. You will also have to find a good printer. Ask around and do your homework before you commit. Here are some considerations for the printing of your pictures:

  • Should my headshot have a border?
  • What graphics need to be on the picture (if any) besides my name?
  • What font should I use?

For more advice about headshots check out our column 8X10 written by photographer Robyn Adamson for all the info you need before you book your next headshot session!

For more on acting from Catrine, check out her book Acting Across America!

– Catrine McGregor

Catrine has cast well over 400 projects, including films, TV, IMAX, commercials, webseries and video games. She is a member of the prestigious CSA (Casting Society of America). During her forty year career in the film industry, Catrine has worked extensively all over the US as well as Europe and Africa. She prides herself in discovering and developing new talent, and has done so with many people that you see every day in films and on TV.

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Last modified: August 13, 2017

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