7 Acting Tips For Making It In The IndustrySep 15, 2021
I see it all the time: actors and actresses who don't have the know-how to turn their passion into a sustainable career. They arrive in Hollywood or New York and don't know how the industry works. They don't know how to "play the game" to increase their chances of landing a part.
With over 30 years of experience in the industry, I'm here to tell you that these skills are necessary for every actor and actress. Yes, you can always find ways to improve your craft, but that's only one part of the puzzle.
That's why in this post, I'm going to share my top seven tips to help you make it in the industry. Perhaps in more than any other business, time is of the essence. So let's jump right in.
1. Have the Drive to Succeed as an Actor
Drive is the most important thing in an actor's success. A bad actor can succeed because they are driven and a great actor can fail because they are not driven. Look at your peers right now: you are likely able to tell who is and isn’t driven.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to dive into the industry solo (in fact, my previous post on acting covers the importance of having a support system of family and friends). This does mean, however, that you must be willing to handle the rejection and instability that comes with being an actor and push through nonetheless.
Sure, luck can play some part in actors getting a big break. But you know what? That break wouldn’t have happened if they quit beforehand.
2. Understand the Acting Business
Get as much education about the business side of the industry before you enter it. It’s an unfortunate truth that many acting schools, though great at helping you hone your craft, don’t provide any insights into navigating the industry.
Simply put, most aspiring actors today are only partially equipped to realize their dreams and find success. Fortunately, there are many sources out there. My Mastering the Business of Acting class dives into the secrets of the industry that actors of all experience can take and better their careers.
By understanding the industry, you're not only going to save your dream. You're also going to save time, money, and give yourself more opportunities to succeed.
3. Get Familiar With Casting
Remember, casting is your friend.
That is unless you make them your enemy by being rude, disrespectful, and unprepared.
You have to understand that every casting director who has lasted more than 5 years in the industry looks at it as a job. Very few ever think about casting as a passion or a craft. The ones that do are a lucky few who land projects that allow them to be passionate.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that most casting directors take their roles very, very seriously. They're not there to bicker with you or take advantage of you. Trust me, they’d rather go home to be with their loved ones than deal with the drama that goes into casting.
Talk to your agent about the casting directors and get as much information about them as possible, including personal details. Use this information to strike up memorable conversations so the casting directors can leave with pleasant thoughts about you. This really makes you stand out.
As an actor, you should be comfortable with whatever topics are thrown at you in conversations. It's a really good thing for you when you can leave the casting directors feeling not just impressed, but good about themselves as well.
Just as your representative (i.e. agent) is the gatekeeper for you, casting is the gatekeeper for the producers. Work to get them on your side!
4. Learn What Excites You About Acting
Have you had a particular role in the past you couldn’t wait to rehearse for? Were your excitement and motivation higher for that role than anything else you’ve done?
This is completely natural and expected. The truth is that actors are naturally going to be more excited about certain projects than others. Actors will also tell you they put more time, energy, and focus on work they're excited for and will have a higher success rate in those roles.
So let’s go back to my questions and think about your favorite roles. Was it a comedy or a drama? Was it the type of character you played? The key is understanding which qualities about those projects stood out to you (this understanding can also help you uncover your niche, which I discussed in a previous post).
With those qualities identified, try to focus your career around those kinds of roles. Actors will naturally be more excited for a project they're more comfortable with and therefore put more effort into ensuring they get that gig. This excitement will also help feed your drive to continue with acting when the going gets tough.
Knowing what type of acting you're best at can make or break a career. Try to understand this as early on in your career as possible to set you on the best path for success.
"Actors will also tell you they put more time, energy, and focus on work they're excited for and will have a higher success rate in those roles."
5. Finances Are Very, Very Important
You probably already know this, but I’ll reiterate. Money will be tight as an actor.
Don’t move to LA or New York with no financial support and expect to make it. This won’t work. In fact, you’ll likely sabotage your chances of making it as an actor.
Why? Because nobody in the industry will champion you if you don’t have a baseline of resources ready to go. How can an agent represent you without headshots? Why would they put you up for an audition if you can’t get there?
I break this down even more in the clip below:
Personal finance is a giant monster that you do not want to mess with.
I recommend having at least $5,000-10,000 in hand before you land in LA or wherever you’re going to be working. Ask your parents or any relatives to be your financial backer in case of emergencies.
If you can get to a place where finances are not an issue, you are already ahead of 90 percent of the actors in town.
6. Stay Out Of Trouble
Big cities like LA, New York, and London have great nightlife. Every night, there’s a new party or event to attend or a different club to check out. As we’re slowly entering a post-pandemic world, the urge to let loose has never been stronger
There is nothing wrong with celebrating successes or just letting loose once in a while, but it becomes a problem when partying starts taking over a lot of your time. The industry is small and word travels fast. You want to be known for your work and not for being the life of the party.
Having a job, going to acting classes, and having a few close friends is the best way to stay out of trouble. Addiction, wrong crowds, and a lot of free time on your hands are asking for trouble.
7. Beware of Some Acting Teachers
Acting teachers are supposed to help actors like yourself hone their craft. Yet their classes come at a cost—sometimes a very high cost. In fact, many acting classes, coaches, etc. in LA are nothing more than exploitation.
Remember that it’s always best to study in high school or college, or through affordable classes. Yet acting teachers can provide value. They keep you polishing your craft and can help with preparing for auditions.
The question becomes this: at what point do you stop working with an acting teacher?
My advice is that if you study with a teacher for more than two years, get a new teacher. A good teacher should have their students complete their course within a year. Any more than that, they are probably a fraud. Other things you should look out for when searching for acting teachers include:
- Understand Their Reputation: Speak to your agent about your potential teacher. Try to contact previous students. Get as complete a picture of the teacher as possible.
- Audit Their Class: No matter the praise given to one teacher, what matters is their fit with you. Reach out to the teacher and ask about auditing a class. This will give you first-hand experience of their style and how they interact with students.
- Ask When You Can Join: Make sure to note whether you can enter the class in the middle of the program after you've audited it or just in general. It's not fair to the other students when new people come in whenever. Good teachers do not allow newcomers into the class until the entire program is finished.
- Avoid Co-Readings: Co-readings waste time because this never happens in the business—even commercials don’t require co-reading from actors. Anytime teachers try to justify co-reading, they are BS-ing.
"A good acting teacher should have their students complete their course within a year. Any more than that, they are probably a fraud."
One Bonus Acting Tip: Maintain a Healthy Mind
After five years in the business, a healthy mind is more valuable than drive or anything else in your arsenal. If you've been a working actor for long enough, your healthy mind should have long become comfortable with constant rejection.
Get healthy and stay healthy by being around the right people. Consider going to therapy if you can afford it. Stay away from other actors if you can! Once every three months or so, get out of town.
Most importantly, have a life outside of your acting career. You need to give everything you’ve got into your career, but not at the cost of your physical and emotional health.
There's More to Acting Than "Acting"
With the right knowledge in hand, you can reach the next level in Hollywood. Purchase "Mastering the Business of Acting" today.
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