Read these 13 Career In Acting Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Acting tips and hundreds of other topics.
Technically, a working actor is someone who is paid to perform dramatic (or comedic) works. In order to call yourself a professional actor, you must be paid for your work. Keep in mind that a working actor may have a steady stream of jobs, but not be able to support him-/herself by acting jobs alone. This does not mean the actor is not working, however! The sad truth is that most actors are never really able to settle into a long-time job. There is always the next audition, the next gig... The important thing is to keep getting out there and keep being seen.
There are so many "rules" in acting, and one of the biggest is this: The director is god. In other words, if you're going to take on an acting job, be sure you share your director's vision of the role you've been given and of the production as a whole. Check your ego at the theater door (or studio gates, as the case may be). There will inevitably be points of disagreement between you and your director, but don't waste the director's, crew members', and other actors' time by getting into argument on stage (or set). The best way to handle conflicts is to ask to speak with the director after the day's work is done. In the end, however, remember that the director has final say.
Once you start your acting career, one of the smartest things you can do for yourself is to hire an accountant. It may sound daunting, but a good accountant may be able to save you money year after year. S/he will be able to tell you which of your expenses are tax deductable. For example, did you know that your headshots, postage for mailings, trade magazines and newspapers, classes, and even transportation to and from school and/or auditions are all tax-deductable!
If you want to be a film actor, membership to the Screen Actors Guild is critical to your career. Membership insures that you will receive the optimal wages, as well as payments from producers to your pension and health insurance accounts. As a member of the SAG, you will also be able to collect residual payments from your work. There are several ways to get into the union. Visit their website at www.sag.org for membership information.
If you're just starting out as an actor, is it worth it to hire a publicist? Probably not. Unless you've just completed a major project such as your first feature film, the best bet is to keep your publicity confined to mailings to industry professionals. However, if you do have a major announcement to make, it's not a bad idea to hire a PR writer to write up a press release. Press releases are a great way to get news out about advances in your career. Publicists who specialize in promoting actors are relatively easy to find on the Internet. There's a good chance, too, that your press releases will be distributed online as well, through such newswire services as PRWeb and iNewswire.
A huge part of your career is fostering and maintaining connections. Create an evolving database as you meet acting industry professionals like casting directors, actors, agents, and managers. Be sure to record details about them: where they are from, what they do, and with whom they have worked. Maintaining accurate details helps to strengthen the bond of each connection by making it more personal. If you follow up on any your meetings, be sure to record the results.
Acting in student films is a valuable way to gain both experience and exposure. Each spring, New York's film schools offer numerous opportunities for working in student films. Participating actors get to work with the industry's up-and-coming directors. A role in a student film allows you to practice your acting skills while enhancing your resume. Student films are often shown at international film festivals, providing a valuable opportunity to display your acting talent.
Part of setting up your acting career is recognizing your “type.” This means having a strong idea of your identity and the strengths and weaknesses that it entails. Take note of the roles you've felt the most comfortable with in the past, and what roles you are currently auditioning for. Don't be afraid to ask friends, family, co-workers, and past directors about their opinions of your personality. This feedback will help you learn to capitalize on the roles most suitable for you.
There are two primary websites that handle networking online in New York City, a must for the acting careers of budding thespians:
Actor's Access (www.actorsaccess.com) allows you to submit yourself for projects within the city as well as Canada and the West Coast. NY Castings (www.nycastings.com) allows you to submit headshots and resumes directly to casting agents and casting directors through their electronic database. Both websites allow actors to submit and host their own video portfolios. There are also plenty of online groups that allow you to network with other professionals. A quick search in any search engine will bring a number of results you can sort throught to find the most appropriate community for you.
A key part of beginning (or transitioning into) your acting career is insuring your financial stability. Make sure that you have a supply of cash in place before you begin, taking into account the higher costs of urban living. Spend some time researching banks and credit unions in the city, noting interest rates and checking fees. Search for affordable housing. Keep in mind that this could take some time as well as trial-and-error situations. Commit yourself to a reasonable budget; you don't want unpaid bills delaying the start of your career.
Your foray into life as an actor will be made much smoother if other aspects of your life are in order. If you're moving into a new city, spend some time setting up a comfortable apartment. Even if you share a space, be sure you have an area that is quiet enough for your private time. If possible, set aside part of your living space for your work as an actor. This “office” will help to create a physical focus for your budding career. Join a gym. Involve yourself in the local community, especially in the arts.
The Internet opens the door to many opportunities to network yourself without ever making copies, postcards, or taking on many of the other costly endeavors that were the only choice for actors of the past. One of the best things to do to keep people informed about your career is to email periodic announcements of upcoming shows and appearances. You may also consider building a website that hosts your headshot(s), resume, and brief bio.
How do you get involved in a student film? Check the notices in Back Stage and other industry publications. Check the casting boards at The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts and NYU every semester. Online groups are another way to get daily listings of audition notices. The most direct way to get involved in a student film is to call the film departments of local universities and inquire about student films. Follow up your research by sending in your resume and headshots.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|