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Establishing an acting career is difficult, requiring creativity, persistence, good memorization skills and even physical stamina should the role call for it. Most actors portray characters in theater, film, television and in live events, and find work that ranges from a single day to a few months, and are often stressed for work. Starting a future in acting requires several years of training combined with the know-how to get an acting gig.
While education isn't a requirement of acting, it helps strengthen the skills of performers and widen their range. Many actors receive formal training from acting conservatories or university programs in drama or theater. Studies are often supplemented with classes in dance and music. Aspiring actors can also take film classes at community colleges and private film schools, but a Bachelor of Arts in Theater is one of the most prevalent degrees for actors to obtain.
Actors are always learning new ways to improve their craft, and the training of an actor is never complete. Even after obtaining a degree, many actors continue their education through acting workshops or through the mentorship of a drama coach. Before landing a paying gig or notable role, actors train by participating in high school, college and local community plays or student films. Life experience is also vital to an actor's training, so many actors take notes from their lives and apply it to their acting to make their roles feel more authentic.
The Head Shot
Actors rely on their looks to land roles that require certain types of people. The head shot is the casting director's best resource to go on when soliciting an actor for an audition. Find a photographer who specializes in head shots, for the type of acting you wish to break into: commercial or theatrical. Commercial head shots show your most warm and attractive side, with actors always smiling to show their teeth. Theatrical head shots are more natural and are used to represent your personal characteristics. Commercial head shots are primarily made to get television and commercial gigs, while theatrical shots are for movies and theater.
Before landing an acting gig, actors need a resume. The resume should be short (less than a page long), and should clearly outline the talents of the actor. Resumes are used in conjunction with the actor's head shot, and may even be printed on the back of it. Ensure directors and producers have a way to contact you on the resume by including your email address, website and all social media outlets you use. Avoid stapling clippings and reviews to the resume. Note your work, education and training experience, as well as any other special skills (such as languages) you have.
Audition for roles representative of your education, training and life experience. Arrive on time, and dressed as the character you hope to play would, without going into full costume unless the audition calls for it. Be professional during the audition. Don't take more of the auditor's time then needed for the audition, and always be prompt and courteous. If you don't receive the part, don't call and ask why, just move on to the next audition. If you do get the part, make sure your schedule allows you to be available for the rehearsals and production dates.
Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.