I want to be an actor. How do I become one?

So I got a quite a few emails lately asking how to be an actor. Here’s some of what I know. Of course there is much more than what I’m about to write but I’m sure this will get you started.

First off, it be easier if you live in L.A. due to there is much more work in L.A. But if you can’t make it you can still act in the town you’re in until you can get to L.A. or New York. But again, L.A. has more work than any other city by far.

So once you get to L.A. I’d get myself into acting classes. It’s just like any other profession you got to keep practicing. There’s a lot of acting schools in L.A. my favorite is www.theactingcenterla.com they get you completely trained as an actor. But go and check out a few.

Once you feel comfortable and think you’re ready for auditions you’re going to need an agent. So first things first you’re going to need headshots. Set aside at least $300 buck for that. Do NOT skimp on headshots! This is how you get auditions so if your headshot sucks its going to suck for you. You can check out some of mine, I get quite a few complements from casting directors (www.elviswinterbottom.com). To find a photographer just type the keyphrase “headshots los angeles” and start shopping.

Now that you have your headshots you’re going to get them printed (again, don’t skimp here, find a good printer) and submit them to agents. To find the addresses for agents you can go to a store here in L.A. called Samuel French. It’s a store for just for actors. It has tons of books, plays, monologues, etc. You’ll ask them for agent labels. ($20) Put your headshot in a manila folder and put the label on it stick it in the mail. Also, you’ll staple your resume on the back of your headshot. Again, go to my website and you can see how I made my resume, its the “accepted format” for resumes. If you havent done much dont worry about it. Put down what you’ve done. Many people have booked gigs with no experience. If you don’t let it be a stop then no one else will.

When an agent calls you you’ll have to do a monologue for them so have at least two prepared. Maybe a comedic monologue and a dramatic. If you don’t want to comedy then have two dramatics or vice versa. Up to you. There is also commercial agents that only work on submitting you on commercials. Commercials probably wont make you famous but you can make really good money doing it. If you hate doing commercials, then forget them and focus on what you want to do.

It may be a little nerve racking but the fact is the agents, casting directors, directors, producers, want you to do good. They’re on your side. If you do good then they’ve got their actor!

Next you won’t wait for an agent to get you work. There are auditions that you can submit for on your own. There’s really 2 main websites that have auditions. 1. www.actorsaccess.com and 2. www.lacasting.com Go to these sites and set up a page, it’ll walk you through how to do it and you’ll have access to auditions and can submit to things that you’re right for. L.A. Casting will have more commercials on it. They cost about $15 a month or so.

What I did when I first came out here from Chicago was submit to a bunch of student films. I didn’t know what it was like being on set and needed to learn so I did about 30 student films. Best school I ever did. What your striving for is self confidence. All the great actors have one thing in common. Self confidence. The way to get it is to do it over and over and figure out what you don’t know. That’s why you stay in an acting school and try to perform as much as possible. A good acting school will teach you what you don’t know and performing will let you apply what you just learned. This combination will build your self confidence to a very high level.

Also, there is voice over. Can be very lucrative. I have friends making deep 6 figures a year in voiceover a year. But again you’ve got to work at it. I’d suggest starting at www.voiceoverinfo.com They can train you from start to finish on everything you’d ever need to know. Plus the lady that owns it is actually a working voiceover casting director. Plus she’s nice. Be warned, voice over is much more expensive to start. Set aside a good $6000. But the good thing about voice over is you can do many auditions from home now days and can live anywhere really and still have agents all over the country.

Now if for some reason its just not realistic that you can get to a big city and you live out in the boonies dont give up. You can still act. It’s called YouTube. I have a webseries that I wrote, directed and starred in called The Dick and Jane Show. It’s done very well for me. Now days you can even make quite a living online. Some of those YouTube stars are making well into the 6 figures. So you can start a web series and then promote it. Which is really the important part. Make sure you promote it. You may need to learn about Social Media Marketing. Theres quite a bit of free training on that online as well. If you don’t know how to use a camera go to www.viddler.com. They’ve got free training on that as well. And for sure don’t forget sound. People will forgive bad lighting, but bad sound you’re a dead man. Get a good mic or lavalieres and learn what you can with sound. As far as editing, you can get Final Cut Pro which is what many blockbuster films are edited on for $300 now days. Just go to apple.com and check it out.

If you think you could make commercials better than some of the ones you’ve seen on TV many companies are crowd sourcing now days. You can go to sites like poptent.com, mofilm.com or togal.com and do a spec commercial. I have some friends who just started doing this and have done almost 20 commercials in their first 4 months! But again, they work hard at it.

It all comes down to what it is you want to have in life. First decide that and then figure out what you’ll need to be in order to have it and then do the steps that align with your goals.

And never, I mean never, listen to anyone who tells you not to try or tells you it can’t be done or you’ll never make it, etc.

Hope this helps.