Who wouldn’t like to be the next James Bond or strut the boards as the star of a West End show? As most of us know, ambitions such as these aren’t usually realised in a meteoric rise to stardom. Starting an acting career is not for the faint-hearted, and between a decision to get into acting and standing a chance to make a living from acting, you still need to bring home the bacon.
Some curveball acting career advice might benefit you. Yes, you can reach for the stars without starving to death in a garret. We look at how to start an acting career while avoiding the hardships your parents so gloomily predicted when you first expressed your desire to be the next Christian Bale or Kate Beckinsale.
Unbelievable? By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll know how to get into acting in the UK without the financial struggle. Will you succeed? That’s up to you and your talent.
What do I Need to Know Before Beginning my Acting Career?
Know what you project. You’ve done your acting school and you think you’re ready for any role. But will you be cast for it? The way you look and the personality your appearance projects represents the roles you’re most likely to get, at least, to begin with. Ask people in the industry for their opinions, and do some thinking of your own. It’ll save you a lot of failed auditions for parts nobody thinks you’re suitable for.
Be willing and eager to practice your acting skills wherever you can. Most successful actors will tell you that the road to success is a long one. And yes, it’s going to involve some stuff that isn’t exactly inspiring: auditioning for ads, for example. As with all careers, success depends on hard work, and you’d better be ready to enjoy it. Condescension isn’t going to make you any friends.
You’ll need a job other than acting. Choose a job that allows you flexibility and where your acting ambitions aren’t necessarily seen as a handicap. Everyone needs an income, and unless you’re independently wealthy, or get extremely lucky, you’ll need a paycheck. On the bright side, any job that requires you to work with and influence people will help you to sharpen up your acting abilities. For example, in sales, the same pitch needs to be delivered differently and even varied to suit your “audience.”
Criticism and rejection are opportunities. If you can’t face disappointments and use them to learn more about yourself as an actor, you aren’t suited to an acting career. Encourage criticism instead of shying away from it. Be brave and keep learning, even when all you have to learn from is a failure.
How Do I Begin My Acting Career?
While stars like Tom Cruise and Meg Ryan never achieved formal qualifications in acting, you’ll improve your chances of success and underline your determination to succeed by getting one. You’ll gain a lot of valuable knowledge and experience in the process, and you’ll present a more professional image once you’ve achieved relevant academic recognition.
The next step is to prepare your résumé. In a sense, acting is like any other job, in that the more experience you have, the more likely you are to be considered favourably. You’ll also need a demo reel and a headshot. Just as ordinary job applicants often tailor their résumés to show why they’re suited for a role, you should consider going to the effort of choosing a headshot and reel that matches the role you’re auditioning for well.
You need to be in touch with the industry. Get an agent. Network. Volunteer. Grab every opportunity for exposure that you can get. Bit part? Extra? You’ll need several “little breaks” before you stand a chance of getting the big one. You can’t be a shrinking violet and get into acting. Get out there!
Before you even ask yourself “Do I want to pursue theatre, musical theatre, film or TV acting?” take whatever you can get. The results may indicate which of these you’ll be best suited for, and with luck, you’ll get enough first-hand exposure to each to know where your real ambitions lie.
How do I Find Roles to Audition for?
You can search online for casting calls and join social media groups that may alert you to opportunities, but the very best roles are likely to require you to have an agency behind you. Your experience will count. Top agencies will be looking for top actors. Quality will matter over quantity.
Like other professionals, you might find yourself wondering how to get experience in order to get an agency in your corner. See above. Every single acting opportunity you can get will count. Industry contacts will matter. It can seem like a tough call just getting them, but here’s an insider hint that also solves the problem of how to find paying work while you work towards achieving stardom, or as near to that as your talent allows. Read on!
Acting isn’t Always Showbiz
As we pointed out earlier in this article, acting talent is applicable to a wide range of spheres outside of theatre, movies, and TV. This opportunity bridges the gap. RSVP, a UK-based business contact centre, expects its operatives to influence one-to-one audiences by representing the businesses it serves as if they actually worked for them. It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to see that this requires acting skills, and RSVP recognizes this to the point where it actively seeks actors as employees.
But that’s not all. RSVP doesn’t just want to be a stop-gap job for out-of-work actors. We believe that you’ll find plenty of scope to practise your art, and we’ll not only be fully supportive of your goals, we’ll work to further them by offering you talent agency benefits. In essence, it’s a career to further your career. Improve your chances at landing the big one AND earn money as you go. What could be better?
The Reality of Show Business
While there’s some truth in the adage that “show business is like no business I know,” it’s still a business. It requires skill, it requires charisma, and above all, professionalism to succeed. As an actor, your business is you and “you” includes everything from your appearance to your personality.
Attributes that are valuable in any form of business are important to you as an actor and the prerequisites for success in show business are very similar to the ones you’d need to succeed in any other type of business. Are you able to influence other people? Do you have empathy and patience? Are you resilient enough to take failures and turn them into positives? Can you be flexible in a wide range of situations? Can you listen to advice? Are you reliable and trustworthy? Are you able to succeed without becoming conceited? Professionalism is as professionalism does.
The reality of show business is that only a tiny percentage of aspiring actors make it to the top. Your determination may not be enough. But in the process of giving it your best shot, you stand to learn valuable skills that help you to become the best you can be. RSVP is willing to expose you to the real world while supporting your dream. Do you have what it takes to be one of our contact agents? Maybe it’s time you applied.