I think the most common dilemma we as actors face when first beginning our acting journey is how exactly do I do this?! What do I do first? Do I need professional head shots? Should I get an agent? How do I book film work with no film experience? So many questions!!!! Well fret not I’m here to help and offer my very limited knowledge and experience.
I think the first thing every aspiring actor should know and accept with absolute certainty is that we know absolutely nothing! My biggest piece of advice for a new actor is to go out and learn above all else. Take classes, acting classes, vocal lessons, and workshops should (and was for me) the entire first year of becoming an actor. I took community theater classes (most community theaters offer courses in many aspects of acting from stage, to camera work, even stage combat), I worked with a private coach who not only provided acting and vocal lessons but also provided a wealth of information on getting head shots, and applying to theater and film opportunities, and even had a connection to the agency I’m signed with now! (Btw if you’re reading this Joan Pearce with Encore Music & Arts you have my eternal gratitude!) Another fun tip for finding places to hone your craft………community college courses! They’re open to the “community” and to be honest I’ve met some super talented student filmmakers and actors that way!
Next on the list, Head Shots. Yes to be an actor you NEED to invest in quality head shots. Your resume and head shots are your calling card and how casting will first get to know you! Know your type (or at the very least the type of character you think you are) and dress and look the part in your head shots. Your head shot should be an accurate representation of what you look like right now, not 5 years ago, not touched up like a glamour shot, but 100% you!
And now for the million dollar question……how do I build a resume and book roles when no one will hire me with no experience!? Well I would like to first reference you back to the beginning of this post, take classes! Classes and training can arguably be more important to casting directors than the roles you’ve had, if casting sees you’ve been constantly working on your craft and are a true professional they’re more likely to give you that first opportunity you’ve been craving. Another thing you can do to further your relationship with casting and production is to be an extra, now I don’t mean fall into the same trap I see so many extras fall into of thinking you’re going to become a star by being a career extra……it’s flat out NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! But extra work is a great opportunity to gain set experience, get to know production and industry professionals, and even network with other actors! The key to extra work is to not try and be the star but just show up and be professional, plus you get paid! Finally the two best and most effective ways to build your resume is through student films and community theater. Student films often will have pretty decent production value because these are young professionals with the resources of the university behind them, these films are not only great for your reel and resume but also give you a chance to connect with the great directors and cinematographers of the future! Same with community theater, you’ll be a part of a professional level theater production with actors who truly have a passion for acting!
All and all the best advice I could give any actor in how to get started in acting is to just simply go out and act! Act in anything and everything you can, hone your skills and work on your craft, get on set, and chase your dreams. You may not know everything and you’ll probably fail and make many mistakes starting out, but guess what……….we all do! So don’t stress, just act.