I want to be an actor! What do I do?
So let me just give a quick disclaimer: the advice I give has to be taken lightly. I do not know the answers of the universe; I am giving advice off of my own experiences. So, within the depths of my own research and experiences I will now answer the biggest question I get: How can I become an actor?
Well. (Deep breath). There is no answer to this question. The path I'm taking right now, I know for a fact no one could replicate. If I did it all over again, I couldn't replicate it myself. Just with any path to becoming an actor, there is not one set path. It's not like becoming a doctor whereas there's this step to step process you spend your life preparing for. However, becoming an actor is much like becoming a doctor…
Oftentimes people tell me of their dreams to start auditioning and booking things. They wake up one morning, decide they want to become an actor and think that tomorrow they will be on the Warners' Bros. lot. For some reason, people think suddenly becoming an actor is very attainable; however, you can't wake up one day decide you are a doctor, walk into a hospital, and start treating someone... so how are you going to wake up one day, decide you are an actor, somehow find your way on set, and start acting? In both scenarios, you will probably be escorted off the premise by security. Even in regards to other art: you can't wake up one morning and paint the Mona Lisa with no technique, or having never held a paint brush. You can’t wake up one morning and hit four different octaves like Julie Andrews. Ya just can’t.
With both these scenarios, the main thing is training, studying, working. Please do not drop out of school, move to LA, (Hmm... sound like someone?) and think that you can be the next top dog without even having been in a play or a film of some sort. Sure, we all hear the stories of Mandy Moore who was casually singing and a FedEx (or UPS? Idk, someone) driver overheard, had a connection into the business, introduced them both to each other, and now she’s successfully been in the industry for years! (wut.) Do not aim towards that. First of all, if you want to be an actor, only become one if you are absolutely in love with the art. It is art. In every way shape or form it is all art. To become an actor is to become an artist. If you are in it for fame, fortune, attention… go for something else. Seriously. Don’t burn yourself out.
I am not saying to not follow your dreams. I am all for spontaneity and chasing your dreams, but even after all my research, experience, and love of the art, I can admit I was a little naive when moving to LA. Even though I wouldn’t change that experience for the world, I do know many people who are less equipped than me who would not survive as easy as one hopes, so I am just trying to preach my point.
So if you’re still reading this and you’re like, “Yeah! I still want to act! This is the only thing I want to do with my life! I love the art!” Then I suggest, take local acting classes with the best teachers you can and take lots of them. Lots. Enough to clear your bank account, then earn some money to clear your bank account again with your training. Training in acting is the most important thing. And do it locally! Become the big fish in the small pond before you even think about getting to that big pond. Learn about the industry. Do something every single day to further your career. Do not be lazy. Ever.
I will tell the tale of a little girl who dared not to be lazy. Guess how many auditions she’s had this month so far? About thirty. During this time she’s managed starting a new job, interviewing for another job, taking 3 classes/week with a four hour commute, going to auditions with a four-five hour commute at least once a week, attending rehearsals with a four hour commute, submitting herself to casting directors and agencies, branding her business, working out to stay fit with the business, all the while looking up new classes to take and new auditions to submit for. You have got to stay strong, you’ve got to work hard, and you have to be completely devoted to this new way of life. If you love what you do, your schedule may look like this: Wake up at 4am, go to work at 4:30am-2pm, 10-minute nap/lunch, run to piano lessons at 2:10-3:30, eat dinner/do homework, leave for the metro at 4:30pm, get to class by 6:30 (cause you’ve always gotta be 15 minutes early - it’s just professional) get home by 11pm, have a snack, research classes, learn some lines, go to sleep. In the car: listen to acting podcasts, audiobooks on technique, run tongue twisters. Repeat.
On the days you don’t have class? Fill that time with picking up more shifts because you’re broke, hit the gym, spend time with your lovely family, auditions, go to rehearsal, finish all work, research more, learn some lines, submit yourself to more auditions, brand yourself. This is typical of the working, motivated actor.
Now, in regards to going to acting school. Please. Do. Research. It was the best thing for me to take this break from school. When I was a senior in high school I had no idea where I wanted to go, what I could afford, what I was looking for… This year off has taught me all of that. Learn the difference between a BA program vs. a BFA program, a conservatory vs. a studio, a two-year program vs. a four-year program, a MFA vs. a PhD, international vs. national, classes vs. private lessons, film training vs. theatre training. Now, once you’ve done all that research and know exactly what you want, now identify whether or not you want: Meisner, Strasburg, Adler, Hagen, Stanislavsky, Alexander, etc. If you do not know these great acting gods and have an opinion on them, please do not start to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into an education. Because most likely, your education will be routed in one of these methods whether or not you know. Without knowing this, school just won’t be worth your time and money. And if you want to go into acting and you have no idea what I’m talking about, please please please study. Study these people. Study plays. Study films. Read scripts constantly. Fall in love with the work! Also, if you do not like reading, you may want to rethink this career.
Now, location. You don’t have to go to LA! Shocker!! People think LA is this glorious city, and while I do plan on going back there someday, LA really is not glorious. Please don’t expect it to be so. I know more depressed people there than happy. Or even NY! I love New York, wow I love New York. But you don’t need to go there! Sure, auditions are closer and cooler and whatnot but you can still access LA/NY auditions without being there. I know an actor who lives in Denver and commutes to LA via plane and he loves doing so. He finds cheap airfare and he can accommodate the expense because he is saving so much in rent, that still saves him money than actually living in LA. Try Chicago or Atlanta or DC or New Orleans or Vancouver… these are all hotspots right now. The best advice I have received is: You will not progress in your career if you are not happy with where you are or what you’re doing.
That’s awesome!! I am so much happier working in the DC market than the LA market. DC is so much cleaner, the people are usually happier, the metro is accessible, the work is steady, I have money in my bank account, I am close to family. Because of my happiness, my career is progressing so much more than it was in LA. One day I plan to move back to LA or to NY, but don’t jump the gun and move straight to these places if you don’t want to. You can become an actor from virtually anywhere. Just figure out how to break into your local market and you’re golden. 95% of my auditions have been self-tapes anyway (meaning you film an audition in your home and send it in)… I am auditioning for LA and NY gigs while living by DC.
I love actors! I love acting! If you want to get into acting, that is great! But there is so much more to take into consideration than just wanting to be on the silver screen. Like, so much. I’ve barely scratched the surface. If any of you have questions and would like me to elaborate on becoming an actor, leave a comment! Or shoot me an e-mail. I check my e-mail about once every five minutes if I’m not training, auditioning, or at work. I probably check it in my sleep.
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Btw, I’m sorry my post has been delayed. Between eight auditions this week, three classes, starting work up again, hitting the gym, wrapping on two sets, and trying to sleep, I’ve finally been able to carve two hours into my schedule to write this.
Let me know how you guys feel about this post! What should I write about next??
See y’all next week!