You Want to Be An Actor? How Bad?
Quite often I have been approached in regards of people having interest in being an actor. It never fails that I will always get that question "How do I become one" or "Where do I start"? So, I wanted to just write a brief post for newcomers.
First, I am just going to be blunt on this. The answer to the question's above is there are no answers. Yep, its true! There is no golden path on how to make it or where to start, but there is always a way to start. Your first year should be focused on nothing, but taking classes, reading books, & getting involved with your local film community so you can meet people. Everyone always start off on the wrong foot by thinking they need an agent first...no. That's actually the quickest way to embarrass yourself. This industry is strictly business & at the end of the day, if they can't make money off of you then you have no chance. It's hardly ever anything personal.
I did start acting when I was a little girl & even did modeling, but I wasn't serious about it at that time. As I grew older, my passion for acting grew stronger. My entire first year I did nothing, but focus on putting myself through classes so I could figure out who I was as an actor & know my potentials. I would also read consistently rather it would be through articles online or books other professionals recommended. I wanted to know everything about the industry so I took entertainment law classes online, read business books, & learned some stuff on film editing. Then there were social events that I would attend so I could start meeting others that were in the business. As time passed, opportunities began to present themselves & when they did, I was ready. Being prepared is KEY in this industry & I mean prepared on everything. Why? Because thats how you seperate the ones who are serious from the ones who aren't. In addition, you will need/want a part time job. It will be a LONG time before you can depend on acting financially & having a part time job will help keep your mind off the outcome of your audition etc.
I always ask people. "How bad do you really want to be an actor"? What majority of the people don't entirely understand is that it's not all red carpets, glamour, & money making that is shown in magazines or on TV. In fact, there are some insanely good actors who work consistently, but aren't famous like "Angelina Jolie" or "Brad Pitt". Fame happens by luck & only to a handful. So, if you're in it for fame then you picked the wrong industry! In addition, you're putting in at least 3 hours a day, 7 days a week of work towards building your career because it is solely up to you. And when I say YOU, I mean YOU & only YOU. You are watching your own back because no one is going to hold your hand & feel bad for you when times get very tough. No one will give you a shoulder to cry on when the Casting Director says "Thank You" when you're only a minute into your scene during an audition. No agent or manager will think twice on dropping you from their roster because they no longer have a need for you & you won't even get a reason. You will be expected to prepare for 3 auditions the night before & you just worked a double shift at work, but you also have a class tomorrow night. Very often you're doing this on little sleep as well. There will be other jobs you will want to work on set to gain experience & its typically 14 hour days with getting no special treatment whatsoever. So, how bad do you want it?
Being realistic with yourself is the best advice I can give you because the industry is so unpredictable & difficult; having high uncertain hopes will kill any motivation you have. You also need to remain truthful to others in the industry that you meet. Meaning don't go around making claims that aren't true. If you really have a big contact then great, but if you don't; thats okay too! If you really booked a big gig, thats awesome! If not, that it still okay. Everyone is in the same boat with you or has been there so there is no need to give false information because I promise you, they will eventually find out. So understand the amount of experience you have under your belt & always be realistic. More people will be accepting of you.
Understand the difference between quality & quantity. This is the biggest mistake newcomers make when starting off & that's saying "YES" to everything. Please don't. I understand you need a resume & a reel, but it doesn't do you any justice if the project is poorly done. You will only,again, embarrass yourself. I auditioned my butt off & didn't book my first big role till 2 years later. Mark Ruffalo, a famous actor, auditioned 400 times before he booked his first. It takes time & patience because you have to earn the trust of others as well as prove yourself as an actor. So don't feel pressured to film anything you don't want to so you can just get a credit. Wait & continue to progress as an actor in the meantime then your chance will come!
There will be MANY days where you will wonder if this career is worth it or will you ever catch a break? But if you truly have a passion for it & keep going, you will have a good chance at making it. I promise the victory makes it all worthwhile as well. I still have a lot to learn & a good ways to go. I still experience days where it is tough financially & mentally. However, The experiences you experienced & the people you meet outweigh all the tough times & sacrifices you endure. Like they always say, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it". Hope this helps! XO-Kayla