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I Want To Be An Actor - Where Do I Start?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Does this question resonate with you? Don't worry - we've all been there. You know you want to be an actor... but what now?

Most people want to get right into starring in their own TV show the minute they decide they like what this whole acting thing is about. Trust me, I get it. But there's a lot of valuable learning that should take place before you sign an agent, go to an audition, book that leading role, and move to your new LA mansion across the street from Brad Pitt. Below is a great starter pack for anyone interested in exploring the next steps of your acting journey.

Step 1: Acting Classes

Don't skip this step! I can already feel you scrolling past to step #2 but I promise that acting classes will do so much more for you then just line memorization. Not only will acting classes enhance your comfortability on camera, it will also allow you to network with other actors, coaches, and potential agents in the industry - which is so important. You might think, "I can already memorize a monologue and I've watched enough Netflix to mimic each character from Friends... do I really need classes?" No - you don't need classes, but believe me when I say, the great actors, the bookable actors, and the consistent actors, are the ones that put in the hard work.

Comfortability and confidence in your work is key when going into any audition room or agency meeting. It is always in your best interest to continue learning and growing in your craft regardless of where you are in your career. There is no limit to how much you can learn in this constantly evolving industry. Furthermore, if your objective is to get an agent, then gaining all of the experience possible to increase your talent can only reap positive results.

So do your homework and start an acting-for-camera class. You can find great ones all over Toronto as well as online virtual classes.

*pro tip: It's not a good look to be submitting to the same agencies every other week, and ideally, you only want to be shopping agencies once before signing with the best fit for you. SO don't be an eager beaver and submit before you're ready and at your best. Agencies won't take meetings or even answer emails from the same person submitting every 9 days if they've declined already. So back to my earlier point: classes classes classes. Get that experience! And speaking of agencies...

Step 2: Agents

Once you've become comfortable in front of the camera, and hopefully made some friends in the industry, you might start thinking about representation. Landing a meeting with an agency can be tricky, let alone actually signing with one. But agents are crucial because -

ONE: They find acting gigs for you by setting up auditions and TWO: They offer industry insight that you wouldn't have otherwise.

To find the right agent, don't just submit to any agency that pops up on Google. (This is a fantastic way to find scams) Do. Your. Research. Find reputable ACTRA agencies in your city to differentiate the legitimate ones from the "get famous quick" schemes. Chat with some people you know in the industry (or from those acting classes you took...) to gain more knowledge and find the right fit for you.

"Do I actually need an agent?" is the question I get often.

Teaming up with an agency is the more popular choice, and in my opinion the better one rather than trying to go at it alone. You don't necessarily need an agent but there are so many things an agent provides beyond just getting you auditions. There is so much to talk about when it comes to agencies, so to learn more about the full extent of an agents job, why they're important and how to find the best fit, check out my blog specifically dedicated to all things agents here. (coming soon!)

Step 3. Resume

Think of applying to an agency/audition like you would apply to any other job. An acting resume shows someone your experience, training, special skills etc. related to your craft. A resume is essential because it will provide insight on your work ethic and what they can expect from you as an actor.

It isn't only TV/Film work that is shown on a resume either - so if you're a beginner and don't have a lot so far, that's okay! We all had to start somewhere! The good news is that a resume doesn't only include your experience, but other relevant information for agents and casting directors to consider. It includes a physical description, theatre experience, TV/Film, Education and Training, your special skill set and more. And yep.. going to take it back to my earlier point on acting classes. This is excellent to put on a resume for beginners! Take a look here for resume examples, and what to include if you're just starting out or think don't have enough. (resume blog coming soon!)

Step 4: Headshots

Okay so let's clear something up -- your headshot is not your most liked Insta pic of 2019 or a shot from 4 years ago. A headshot is one of the most crucial parts of getting into an audition room or meeting, so it needs to be professional and current.

Your headshot needs to show: your physical features, your age range, your gender, your ethnicity, your body type, your potential occupations, your personality, your emotional availability, etc. etc. etc. all in one photo... ha. Sounds easy peasy right?

But all joking aside, a headshot really is that important and among the first things that an agency will look at for consideration. If you're just starting out (I mean duh... you've come this far into reading this blog post) then there's a couple of things I want to mention.

I will always recommend a professional photographer specifically niched for shooting headshots for actors. There are so many amazing photographers scattered throughout Toronto for you to find the right fit, but expect to pay a pretty penny for this photoshoot. These shots are definitely worth the money as your headshot literally is your money maker. But if you're thinking of finding representation before doing a pricey photoshoot, that's a possibility too!

Many agents want to have their say in your photos after they sign you. So, you can avoid paying full priced head shots twice by first taking great quality, well lit photos that look like you for a lower budget prior to getting signed. There is a lot more to be said about this and headshots in general so check that all out here. (headshots blog coming soon!)

Step 5: Demo Reel

What is a demo reel?

A demo reel is 2-3 scenes showcasing your range as an actor. Is it really necessary? I mean, yes and no. If you're submitting to an agency then odds are they're going to ask to see your talent on camera.

In my agency meeting, I was 13 years old and asked to perform a monologue from iCarly while my soon to be agent sat and watched. (Most nerve wracking moment of my pre-teen years.) But that was in 2009 before most things were done virtually.

It's 2020 and creating your own demo reel from your smart phone or from acting class is not as tough as it might've been ten years ago. Work with a self tape studio or an acting coach to get insight from an experienced industry professional who's done this with many others before you. This blog here will dive into everything you need to know about a demo reel and how to put one together. (demo reel blog coming soon!)

But NOW what?

Okay so you know which agencies you like, your head shots are done, resume and demo reel look great, but you're wondering how to get a meeting? Check out my blog post here for tips on scoring a meeting with your favourite agents ;) (submitting to agencies blog coming soon!)

Snippet Takeaways:

Acting Classes are so important: get comfortable, get confident, gain some experience, and network within your industry.
Do your research on which agency is the best fit for you and don't submit before you're ready!
Take your time in preparing your headshot and resume.
Shoot your demo reel professionally if you don't have prior work to showcase.

More questions on this blog post? Shoot me a DM on Insta at @joellefarrow or comment below!

xo Joe

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