10 Steps to Becoming a Fully-Invested Actor

Acting is not for the faint of heart. It takes a combination of talent mixed with dedication to the craft to become the actor you were truly meant to be. Breaking into today’s world of stage, film and TV can no doubt be a daunting task. So to get you started, here are Cindy’s steps to get you on your way! 

Step 1: Learn How to Act

Seems like a given, doesn’t it?

Acting is first and foremost a craft. The best actors understand this and no matter how far they have come in their careers, they are constantly looking to improve upon their craft. They take classes, work with acting and dialogue coaches, they study life experiences, etc. They know full well that even after a lifetime of work and study, they may never reach absolute perfection.

So, for you, it’s imperative that you take a wide variety of acting classes. Work in a wide variety of styles with as many different groups of people that you can find. Try it all. The more you know, the more well rounded you’ll be and ultimately, the better prepared you’ll be for whatever roles come your way.

Step 2: Location, Location, Location

I hate telling people this, but if you hope to work in film and/or television as an actor, you need to go where the work is. Now, that doesn’t necessarily doom you to living in Los Angeles or New York. BUT it does mean here in the southeast YOU WILL travel to the other sub markets in order to BE WHERE THE WORK IS.

Step 3: Be Willing to Do What It Takes

No, that doesn’t mean what you think it means. But you must be willing to do what it takes for the sake of your craft. You might ultimately have to sacrifice certain aspects of your life to ensure that you will have success as a working actor.

You must take the time to master your craft. If that means sacrificing a relationship or a few friendships along the way, so be it. I know that sounds rather harsh, but acting is not a 9-5 job by any stretch.

If you’re lucky enough to land a role in a major film or television production, realize that this is not the glamorous job you might’ve thought it would be.

It’s a lot of work, often 14-20 hours per day, in all kinds of conditions and at least initially, for not much money.

Even actors who make millions of dollars per picture still must “work” to earn their keep. They are on location for months at a time and every day they commit themselves both emotionally and physically to their roles. It can be extremely exhausting. You must prepare yourself both mentally and physically for this type of challenge.

Step 4: Commit Yourself

Just as I mentioned above that you have to make certain sacrifices to make it as an actor, one of those is your ego.

The best actors are those who are willing to let themselves be 100% consumed by the role they are playing. They physically become the person they portray.

Step 5: Be Nice

Be nice to everyone. From agents’ assistants to fellow cast members to whomever you meet in the industry. It’s just real simple, common courtesy and being a part of a team instead of making it all about you.

Step 6: Focus on the Craft — Not the Agent

There are many actors I know who spent years worrying more about getting an agent than becoming a well trained actor.

Agents are necessary yes, but they do not make you or break you, as many actors will attest, simply because they have a powerful agent does not guarantee their success.

The happiest actors are the working actors. And just because you might not be getting paid for your acting, doesn’t mean that you can’t be a working actor. Every experience is experience. So, spend less time seeking out an agent and more time seeking out acting opportunities on your own. From small plays to student films — you’ll be happily surprised how many seemingly insignificant opportunities are the ones that make your entire career.

Besides, when the time is right, an agent will come and seek you out.

STEP 7: Know Your Range, Then Break Through It

Many of the better actors will often decided to challenge themselves and break through the mold that audiences, producers and their agents had put them in.

Initially, it’s somewhat important to find a range that works for you. It helps people (meaning, casting directors) know who you are and often when you’re starting out, it’s those memories that get you paid work.

But that doesn’t mean you stop developing as an actor. Use the character traits you’ve discovered to get yourself working. But continue to learn new facets of your personality, from voice characterization to exploring a wide variety of acting techniques. You will find that everything you learn in the acting realm will be put to use someday.

STEP 8: Be Persistent

There is one general rule in Los Angeles — talent won’t get you there, but persistence just might. Those who are gritty and willing to give it their all day in and day out will have a much greater chance of success than the Julliard-trained actor who waits around in his apartment for opportunity to come knocking.

The trick is, you have to get out there. Meet people and let them know what you are doing. It’s absolutely essential to your success.

STEP 9: Have Patience

Rare is the true “overnight success.” Sure, there are those actors that seem completely unknown one day, only to dominate the limelight the next. But the reality is that there were years of hard work and preparation that led them to that “sudden discovery.”

Patience is not only a virtue; it’s an absolute must to keep from going insane. So develop your patience and you will enjoy the process that much more.

Step 10: Be Thankful

Always be thankful for the opportunity to do what you love.

Posted in Acting Tips, Career Advice.