By: Dani Kessel
I’ve been acting for around 16 years now. As a child, I professionally acted and modelled in Japan. When I moved back to the US, I spent 3 years in a modelling and acting school. Then, when I moved to Germany, I was in at least 3 productions a year. It was only during a medical crisis over the past 5 years that I took a break. But, now that I’m getting back on my feet post-surgery, I can throw myself into what I love doing again. While I am doing that, I thought I’d share some wisdom and tips on how to make it as an actor.
Do community theatre to bolster your resume.
You may not get paid for most community theatre, but doing this helps when you’re first starting off. It also shows a dedication to your craft.
Your headshots are the first things that the casting directors see.
So make sure they convey your personality and the roles you would like to receive.
Develop a strong sense of self before entering into this field.
The majority of auditions, you won’t get the job. You need to understand that this doesn’t diminish your worth. Casting directors are looking for a specific image, trait, and/or personality that you don’t quite fit.
Take some acting classes or get an acting coach.
You may have raw talent, but education and experience help shape and fine-tune your skills.
Don’t quit your side job right away.
It may be tempting to throw everything into your acting career, but chances are that you won’t have a completely sustainable income when you first start out. Having a side job will help keep the lights on and food on the table.
Take most any acting job that you can get within your comfort-zone.
Obviously everyone has their own morals and hard boundaries; I am not suggesting that you break those. What I’m saying is that the old adage is true: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Okay, so technically there are small parts, but sometimes the ensemble or the character with only 5 lines can be the most crucial and memorable. Think about Drew Barrymore dying in the first scene of Scream. It is one of the most iconic roles. Don’t turn down a job just because it isn’t a lead.
Be gracious for every opportunity.
Seriously! Having a bad attitude can prevent you from being cast again. Having a positive attitude can make a director and crew eager to work with you again.
Always have at least 2 monologues and song selections (if you are hoping to do musicals) prepared for last minute auditions.
Improve on your special skills too.
As important as acting skills are, special skills on your resume can book you gigs that aren’t as readily available.
Know your lines.
Don’t apologize or point out mistakes in an audition.
Often the director won’t notice or will give you feedback. When you apologize, you show a lack of confidence. Either that or you point out something that wasn’t noticed before. Directors have even said themselves that it’s the biggest mistake an actor can make.
Work as an actor because you love what you are doing.
Fame is elusive for many actors in the business, but your love of the job will shine through. The more enthusiastic you are about what you are doing, the more likely you are to find success down the line.
All in all, acting may be a hard business to break into, but it can be done with enough tenacity, resilience, and hardwork. You may get 99 “no”s but eventually you will get that 1 “yes.” Try to enjoy the hustle. If you really love performing, don’t lose heart. Down the line, you will be the one inspiring up-and-comers like yourselves. I hope my experiences help you along your journey, and feel free to comment with any questions you may have!