I frequently get asked about the “Acting Business”, so I’ve taken some Q&A’s and posted them here to help you. Enjoy!
They just want to get to know you as a person. There are no right or wrong answers; just be yourself. Remember, though, that no one-person holds the key to your success. If an agent wants you to do something you’re not comfortable with, tell them you’re not interested and look for representation elsewhere.
You might have to wait a little while. At very big agencies, they might have a whole load of pictures and resumes to go through, and even an independent agent might simply lack the free time to look at them right away. If you don’t hear back from anyone after 3-4 months, send your pics and resumes out again. The best time to hit agents (in Canada anyways) is in winter, when there is less filming going on. When an agent is interested in you, they will contact you (make sure you have your contact details on the resume 🙂 and set up an audition/interview. Most likely they will expect you to have a monologue prepared and to perform it for them during the interview. From there, it depends on many things: whether or not your catagory is well-represented in their roster, whether they like your acting style and think they can work with you, etc. etc.
NO. An agent only makes money when you get a job. They work strictly on commission.
Some agents will want you to have experience (usually the more established agents who are themselves experienced), and some agents will focus more on other aspects (e.g. whether or not they have someone like you in physical type on their roster already.) A good place to start getting some experience is in an acting class. Good training can sometimes make up for lack of experience on your resume.
It is better to get your headshots done professionally. That being said, if you have good photos and you want to get them out there just to check out the response, by all means try it out. Attach a resume with your acting experience. If you don’t have much experience, you may or may not get a response. Even if you DO have experience you might not get a response. But don’t let it discourage you. Take some classes or something and hone your skills. And remember to HAVE FUN along the way. Seriously, for some reason that is the best way to get hired 🙂
Aside from waiting tables, what is an ideal job for an actor to have that will allow time for auditions while putting food on the table?
The service industry (waiting tables, tending bar, valet parking, etc.) is well suited only because of the schedule and flexibility. Auditions for roles almost always happen during business hours, so if you have a job where you have to work the same hours, it will be very difficult for you. Usually, in the service industry, you can ask for night shifts, or if need be you can try to have a shift covered by someone else. That being said, ANY job that allows you to get your shift covered on short notice, and is otherwise fairly flexible with scheduling, can be an ideal job. It depends more on your relationship with your employer. I know someone who works at a bank, which is one of the more unlikely jobs for an actor due to the working hours. However, his employer is so supportive, they will let him sneak off here and there to go to an audition – right in the middle of a shift! It is hard trying to balance the two – acting and financial sustainability. However, with a little luck and perseverance, it CAN be done!
I have always been interested in acting, but felt I should go to college and help my family out financially. I am almost thirty but still have that urge. Is it too late or even worth trying?
It’s always worth trying if you’re interested. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to throw your whole life away to pursue acting. Some people do – they pack up their old cars and “head for Hollywood” and sometimes they make it. Unfortunately there are many more stories of those who don’t. But you don’t have to go into acting with that cut-throat, competitive, or “winner-takes-all” attitude. Have you ever had a friend, or heard the story of someone, who later on in life decided to take up painting because they always wanted to do it? They are not worried about whether or not they’re going to “make it big” as an artist because they are doing for their own enjoyment. Acting, however, has gotten a bad rap because of how the star system and the media portray actors: they focus too much on the success (or failure). Keep your job that you went to college for. And once a week, go to an acting classs. Aavoid the scams. See if you really enjoy acting by trying it out – for fun. Then if you decide to pursue it as a career, you can make the necessary adjustments to your life, like asking for more flexible hours at work, etc.
This might sound like a stupid question, but how much do looks count? I’m not ugly, but I’m not Denzel Washington either, and that worries me.
I’m not going to lie to you, looks count, but not always in the way the you think. Even though Hollywood has made a very narrow set of characteristics the standard for “good looks”, in the end, we would tire of everything they showed us if it didn’t include some kind of diversity. What I’m saying is, even in Hollywood, there’s room for all sizes, shapes and, to a more limited degree, colors. So don’t worry. If you love acting, and you’re willing to put in the time to become really good at it, the industry will not be able to ignore you just because of your looks. There are plenty of actors out there who have successful careers, who don’t look like Denzel Washington, myself included 😉
Even though I am not some big time drama person/actress, is it still possible for me to try out for plays?
You don’t have to be a “big-time drama person” to try out for stuff. In fact, sometimes it’s the non drama people that end up getting hired because they don’t have that whole need-to-get-famous thing that can get in the way of good, honest acting. I would suggest you try out for stuff if you’re interested. It’s fun doing auditions whether you get the part or not. Think of it as 5 minutes with a captive audience 🙂 As far as finding classes and such, usually I direct people to SAG (the actor’s union). But I don’t think there is an office in Richmond, VA. Go to their website and find the contact details for the office nearest you. Then call them and tell them you’re looking for actors’ support resources and good classes in your area. Hopefully they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
How can I get into acting if at times I have confidence problems, and I’m not in Theatre class at school?
EVERYONE has confidence problems, MOST of all actors 🙂 You are definitely not alone there. As you practice more and more, just like anything else, you will improve your acting skills and your confidence in them will naturally become stronger. Don’t worry about that. As for classes, if you aren’t enrolled in Drama at school (even though it’s a great place to start) it’s not the end of the world. There may be good acting classes outside your school at a private institution or theatre. There are a lot of scams out there to avoid.
If you live outside of Los Angeles and you can’t afford the traveling costs to make it to an audition in Los Angeles,what should you do?
That’s a really good question. A lot of actors face a similar problem. The only thing I know of to help with that is to put together a good demo reel. Every time you work on a show, make sure you ask them for a copy of it on VHS. Then pick the scenes that feature you, and edit them together into a montage of your work (or have it done at a video post production house). If you don’t have any professionally shot material, shoot your own. With digital video, you can actually make a decent looking demo at home. Elijiah Wood did it to get his part in LOTR. Your demo reel is ideally 5 minutes long. Slightly longer is okay, but never longer than about 10 minutes. With this, your agent has something to send to casting directors who are out of town. Additionally, you can get your agent to submit you to the castings in LA, but instead of going to LA, put yourself on tape. Meaning, when you get the sides, tape yourself doing the audition, and get your agent to send THAT in. It’s the next best thing to being there yourself. If they like your tape and want you for a callback, then at least it’s a better & better reason to shell out for the bus ticket or go on a road trip! I’ve been cast from a taped submission before. Last but not least: DON’T GIVE UP!
I have a problem. I want to be an actress a little later down the road, but I can’t do it alone. I need to take classes and things. I don’t have money though. I want to tell my family, but if I do my dad will try to change my deams like he always does. I don’t know if I should tell them or not.
You’re right about it being hard to do alone. Acting classes, an agent, support from your friends and family…these things are almost prerequisites to a career in acting. I know it’s very frustrating when financial restrictions seem to hold you from your dreams. Some of the closest people to me have gone through the same dilemma, and myself as well, to a lesser degree.
There are several reasons why your Dad might be trying to “change your dreams”. It might ease your mind a little to know that he is probably not doing it to hurt you or keep you from being happy, but in his own way he is trying to do the best thing for you. That being said, DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! Your dreams are yours and yours alone. No one can take them away from you unless you let them. Anything is possible if you try hard enough and are lucky enough 🙂 If you ignore your dreams, you might end up with that unfulfilled feeling for the rest of your life!
Dreams, however, are not easy to fulfill. You’ll have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. I DON’T mean in your safety, self-respect, or anything like that. Don’t let people take advantage of you by promising to make your dreams come true. ONLY YOU can do that…but you’ll have to work for it. Maybe your Dad doesn’t have the resources to put you through theatre school or acting classes. You might have to get yourself a part-time job to pay for it. This has been the path of many actors, and thus the old waiter/actor cliche. (by actors I mean actresses too)
When you have decided you are ready to dedicate yourself to your dreams and contribute to their realization, then that would probably be the best time to tell your folks. Instead of saying, “Dad, I wanna be an actor,” which may lead him to believe you are just dreaming, wouldn’t it be great to say, “Dad, I wanna be an actor, and I know that acting classes are $350/month. I’ve just got a job at _______, where I’ll earn $250/month. Can you help with the rest?” This shows your family a few very important things:
1. Initiative. The fact that you went out on your own, did the research and got a job shows that you are capable of motivating yourself to action, and are thus more likely to find success in your endeavours.
2. Maturity. You demonstrate your understanding of the costs involved, and that you’ve spent time analyzing the situation and have come up with a solution.
This is just one suggestion on how you can go abouts this. Also, I’m also assuming you are old enough to legally work 🙂 My point is, though, when dealing with parents, you have to show them you mean business and that you’re not just interested in acting for the fame and glory. If you are willing to really dedicate yourself to it, and can show your parents this, chances are you will gain their support.
How do you know if you want to be an actor/actress when you have never tried it before? Are there ways to tell?
Acting is hands-on. The only way to know is to try!