How Does One Without Experience Start an Acting Career?
Is getting into acting like needing a valid ID just to get very your first valid ID? Is it like needing experience just to get your first job? Fortunately, it’s not. However, it does take quite long for most aspiring actors. Just like any dream career, acting takes grit, perseverance, hard work, and dedication to achieve success.
If you’ve just figured out that acting is your calling, here’s how you get started.
No Experience? Here’s How You Start Your Acting Career
Enroll in classes.
If you’re in it for the long haul, save up and enroll in acting classes. Like any profession, acting involves theory and practice. Additionally, outputs in acting classes will definitely look good on your résumé. Even the class itself counts as training, and the mentor can count as a character reference. Moreover, you’ll definitely rack up important connections and industry knowledge by the end of training.
But don’t stop there. Do learn new things and spend enough time to actually master the skill. Learn new languages or accents, learn how to dance, or learn how to sing or use a musical instrument. Many actors completely ignore this part and therefore take themselves out of running for easy gigs that they could’ve gotten if they had that one particular skill. It’s always helpful to be able to do something that a director can use in the production. If you already can play musical instruments and do more unique stuff, such as riding a unicycle, well, perfect! Hone those skills, put them on the résumé, and see how this can help you with gaining that acting experience.
By now, you probably know that certain cities in the world have a much bigger theater or film and television industry. However, these big cities are not only very competitive, but they’re also very expensive. So when you’re looking for ways on how to become an actor with no experience when you live in a smaller town, focus on saving money, learning about the business, and exploring local opportunities. Don’t move to a big city the moment you decide you want to be an actor.
The easiest way to acquire credits for your résumé is to visit your local community college for some stage work. You can also browse through Facebook groups and forums where people are looking for local actors. Here’s an article detailing the places in your locality where you can find auditions. If you’re willing to do some work for no reward, that means you’ll find opportunities even faster. We don’t encourage working without getting paid, but taking this route as a beginner grows your experience quickly. Just know when to draw the line when you think you’ve acquired enough experience and know your worth when you’re finally worth it.
You can also try cold emailing casting directors. This method may not work for everyone, but it is a great way to get your face out there. In fact, there have been actors who managed to secure roles and meetings by randomly cold-emailing a casting director! It may feel undignifying, but try sending portfolios via email using these important tips. You will be surprised by how quickly your portfolio will start growing if you dedicate some time to this profession. Once you start receiving better acting work, remove your “silly” older credits and replace them with the most recent stuff.
It is often said, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” This reigns true in the world of acting. Become friends with other actors and industry professionals to get people be familiar with you. Network with casting directors, managers, talent agents, makeup artists, etc. You never know who you’re going to meet or if they’ll be able to help you with your career.
As a new actor, you don’t need a talent agent or manager right away. Talent agents and managers are beneficial once you have a good amount of experience under your belt and a fairly impressive résumé. Network with different talent agents and stay in touch with them as you build your résumé. If they’re impressed by you, they may be interested in working with you down the line.
Create a portfolio.
Putting together a good portfolio can help you land that first role or that role you’ve always dreamed of. Once you think you’ve acquired notable credits under your belt—let’s say, 20 film projects—it’s about time you compile your best performances and create your portfolio. An acting portfolio consists of your résumé, headshot, and a demo reel.
If you’ve had a few small acting gigs here and there, you may have noticed how acting portfolios are rarely required to secure yourself a role. But if you’re entirely serious about being a professional actor in the industry, you’ll need an acting portfolio. A high-quality portfolio functions as a document that you can distribute to casting directors during or before auditions, to agencies for representation, or to productions for them to consider you in future projects. It makes you appear professional, serious, and hirable. You can even make it viewable on your official website, if you have any, so you can widen your opportunities internationally.
Build an online presence.
The online community has been providing equal opportunities for aspiring talents to build a name for themselves and to get more people to know that they’re here and ready to take on the challenge. There are a lot of platforms now that rookie actors can use as marketing tools to introduce themselves and let more people know what they are capable of doing.
When it comes to social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the big three. Uploading photos on a regular basis, sharing your interests and goals, and simply talking about how your day went are a few ways you can boost your social media following. Putting up a blog or website is also another effective way to market yourself as an actor. This will serve as your digitized résumé. Many actors and celebrities also found their voice on YouTube, which ultimately helped them land jobs and build fame, like Justin Bieber.
Online, everyone starts with nothing until their following grows bigger. It’s all about how you utilize the digital media and make things work to your advantage. It may not be an instantaneous success, but it’s a good start.
Find an agent.
When you decide that it’s time to get an agent, do some research online about different agencies. Ask your actor friends, teachers, or anyone else you know in the industry for some recommendations of good agents. If they have any personal connections with good agents, ask them if they’d be able to refer you to them. Once you’ve found a few that you think would be a good fit for you, submit your acting portfolio with a cover letter explaining that you’re looking for a new agent.
We won’t lie. Securing an agent is hard. Agents get tons of headshots and resumes sent to them daily, so don’t be upset if you don’t hear back. You should submit yourself to many different agents or agencies, as this will increase your chances of getting a response. Also work on networking and building your portfolio and online following so that it becomes easier bit by bit.
A Final Word
Rejection is a part of this business. A huge part, actually. Remember, you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the whole world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches. While aspiring actors find it hard to break into the industry, agents and casting directors are also overwhelmed by the many new faces they meet during auditions. You are literally competing against numerous, sometimes thousands, of other dreamers like you. No matter how ridiculously talented or experienced you are, there will be producers or casting professionals looking for something else you don’t have or agencies who don’t see your true potential.
If you found out you weren’t the actor chosen for a film you had set your heart on, it’s probably tempting to curl up and take a break from putting yourself out there. The problem is, while you are busy recovering from rejection, other actors are busy getting out there and being hired for the jobs you want and that you’d be perfect for!
If you want to succeed as an actor, you have to use rejections as a tool to help you achieve your dreams. Instead of taking them personally and allowing them to drown you in hopelessness, take them as challenges you can learn from. Move on and keep on going. Your future is in your control.