How to Become a Professional Actor in 5 Steps

Acting is a challenging and competitive career that requires talent and persistence. Read on to learn about how you can prepare for this field through practical experience opportunities and formal training. Schools offering Film degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Actors Do?

As a professional actor or actress, you may perform in theater, television, film and a variety of other industries. Your main role is to artfully portray real or fictional characters for entertainment purposes. You may use body language, facial expressions and speech patterns to transform yourself into these personas. A director usually supervises your performance as you work closely with other actors and film staff.

Step 1: Know What to Expect

It takes a lot of time and work to land lucrative, glamorous acting gigs. As you try to land bigger and better roles in major films or Broadway plays, you can carve out a living working as an extra, filming commercials and doing voiceovers. You may have to spend a great deal of time and energy seeking out acting roles, since regular employment can be hard to find.

Step 2: Gain Acting Experience

As an aspiring actor or actress, experience may be one of your most valuable assets. You can start early by participating in your high school drama department or performing in shows. You may also join a local community theater company and learn from more seasoned actors or actresses.

Step 3: Pursue Formal Training

You can complete a formal training program through an acting school or college to gain further experience and networking opportunities. You can choose from degree programs in acting, film and theater to better understand your role and processes as an actor or actress. As a student in one of these programs, you may study improvisation, movement, voice control and singing in addition to theater history, script interpretation and dramatic literature.

Step 4: Obtain an Agent

Finding an agent to represent you can be a major asset for your career advancement. An agent can help you find work, negotiate contracts and manage your career. Your agent typically earns a percentage of your pay for each part he or she helps you obtain, but can be instrumental in helping you gain exposure.

Step 5: Audition for Jobs

There can be intense competition for available roles, so you may have to attend a great number of auditions before getting your first job. You may want to have an up-to-date headshot and resume that you can send out to apply for these auditions. Keep in mind that, while you may find acting jobs all across the country, most opportunities are centered in the entertainment hubs of New York and Los Angeles. You may need to join the Screen Actors Guild to seek certain unionized roles.

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