Starting a career in acting is a lot like starting your own business because that’s what it is actually is, a business centered around getting yourself paying work with quality acting jobs. Once you’ve made the decision to become an actor you will quickly learn there is a lot more to a job in the acting profession than simply acting. Much of what you will be learning is the business of acting.
Setting reasonable goals for your acting career is also best done right at the start. Not everyone can be the next Lucille Ball, at least not in the beginning. The business of landing good acting jobs needs to begin with building a database of contacts and leads that can lead to paying jobs. You will need to check out your local acting jobs marketplace and find out who is actually doing the hiring of actors in your area. You will need to get names, not just addresses. Buildings don’t hire actors, people do.
Schools, workshops and private coaches can be good additional preparation for securing acting jobs. Good instruction can make a difference when you are just starting out. Acting unions and organizations like Screen Actor’s Guild, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and Actor’s Studio can help you land acting jobs and they offer many useful acting workshops and classes too.
You’ll need to put together a professional appearing resume and multi-purpose cover letter you can modify for specific acting jobs. Next, you’ll need to assemble a portfolio containing a fantastic headshot as well as great overall photos. The quality of the photography in your portfolio is critical to securing auditions for acting jobs. This means you need to use professional photographer if you want a chance of landing a part. Your resume, cover letter and photography all serve as business cards in the acting industry. They make the first impression and combined they can make or break your ability to get a foot in the door and get an audition.
Perhaps the most important element in your business plan for success in landing real acting jobs is getting your own agent. A good agent is absolutely critical to your career. Finding the right agent will require some homework. A good agent is motivated to get you paying acting jobs that you are qualified for because they earn a commission on the money you make. If you don’t make any money, they don’t either. Agents do not charge up front fees, are not photographers and don’t charge actors for classes. If an agent tells you it costs money to “join” their agency in order to get acting jobs – they are not a genuine acting agent.
Ultimately you are in control of your business as an actor. How you conduct yourself and your reputation are tools you can use to enhance your ability to land acting jobs. Even after you find work it is still up to you to market yourself and perform your own public relations duties when on the job. You may have to make some hard decisions along the way. If you are limited in your geographic area, you might want to move to a larger market city to increase your odds of securing more auditions and ultimately, more acting jobs