This step may elicit a “duh!” from many people, but it’s not as obvious as you think.
Wanting to be an actor can mean as little or as much as you want it to. To some, it will mean eventually being up against Jennifer Lawrence or Ryan Reynolds for a $20 million-dollar role for Sony Studios. To others, it will mean auditioning for a role in a local commercial. Both goals are completely legitimate, and both will take effort and commitment. I can tell you unconditionally that there is no formula, plan, rhyme, or reason for the path your acting career will take. It is not an algebra equation saying, “if I do this, and then I do this, then this will happen.” The one guarantee I CAN give you is that your career will take on a life of its own, and what I CAN do is provide you with the tools you need when you face those forks in the road. Wanting to be an actor can mean as little or as much as you want it to.
Wanting to be an actor can mean as little or as much as you want it to.
So, your reason for deciding to act can be based on so many things. Many people knew from childhood that this was for them. Some people don’t have that ‘aha!’ moment until much later in life. Either way, once you make that decision – and you’re committed to it – you need to own the fact that you are an actor. Does that mean that the second you decide to be an actor, that you will start booking? Probably – and hopefully – not. You need to respect your new craft enough to study and learn about all the ins and outs at the beginning. However, since there are no levels in acting, you may as well call yourself an actor now, with the disclaimer that you are learning. On top of this, you will continue to learn – forever. I will discuss this more in future steps.
We all need support. When you have decided to really give acting a go, you will need to find your own support system. One type of “support” is the “arm around the shoulder – ‘you’ll do great’ – wink, wink.” No one needs to have that kind of condescending “support.” A true supporter will and can come on many levels, including financially. The spouse, partner, parent, or friend who offers to help (with acting classes, headshots, resumes, etc.) is a huge asset. Yes, the funding is nice, but to see someone “put their money where their mouth is” shows that they believe in you. We all need people to believe in us. You should be able to draw that strength from within, but no one is that confident day in and day out.
The money is nice, but it is certainly not the only form of support that you need. There needs to be big shoulders when you don’t get a part that you really wanted, when you get rejected by an agent, and when you’ve disappointed yourself – that support system needs to know when to console, and when to tell you to just move on (gently). They also need to tell you when your behavior is getting out of control, when your head is swelling, and when they see red flags with your agent. Support is not always positive, but it needs to be realistic – and you need to be able to step back and listen.
Fellow actors can also be a remarkable support system, as they understand. You will meet other actors at auditions, in classes, and on the set. If you find someone that you can relate to, get their contact information. Networking is crucial in this wacky business.
Here is a checklist for you. Dig deep and think through these points so that you are clear on your goals, your abilities, and your needs as you move ahead in your acting career:
- Am I willing to accept myself as I am?
- Am I willing and able to make a financial commitment to acting in the form of headshots, classes, etc.?
- Do I understand that there are no guarantees of creative or financial success?
- If the time comes, am I willing and able to move to LA or New York to advance my career?
- Am I psychologically able to accept the rejection I will face from agents, casting directors, and producers?
- Am I able to lovingly let go of jealousy and nay-sayers that surround me?
- Am I willing to listen to criticism, work on what is valid, and leave the rest behind?
- Can I remain grounded once I achieve success and avoid the many pitfalls?
Are you ready to move ahead – are you prepared to do this based on the above questions?
OK, good. So, what jobs are there for actors? How can you start getting paid as an actor? There are a lot more jobs relating to acting than simply acting in a film or TV show – you just need to know what your personal parameters are.
- SAG/AFTRA films
- Non-union films
- Student films
- Industrial films
- Reality (yes, much of it is cast!)
- Talent shows – being on any of the popular ‘talent shows’ (shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, etc.) can launch a career, even if the participant doesn’t win.
- National commercials can mean an incredible amount of income!
- Local commercials
- Web series
- Web commercials
- Personal YouTube channels
- Voice overs
- Green screen work
- Convention presenters
There are more and more jobs opening up for actors, and the beauty of this is that much more of it is in your control. For example, I cast and produce video games for a company called Big Finish Games, which created the popular Tex Murphy series of interactive movie/games. This game has, literally, millions of fans, yet no one has ever approached me about being cast in one of the games. As opposed to a studio casting director who may be very difficult to approach, it will be much easier to approach the creative entity of a video game company. Be pro-active. Believe in yourself.
For more info about various forms of acting jobs, please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to help.
Repeat after me: “I am an Actor.”
“I am an Actor!”
“I am an Actor!”
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Last modified: August 13, 2017