Aspiring actors start here

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Philippa in action Getting into acting takes time and hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s how to help make it happen.

Create your product:

Learn how to do it – save up for, source and attend some theatre, screen and voice acting training. This will tell you if you like it and if you’re any good. Your teachers should help you get better at it. Never stop training. Add extra skills too (stage combat, singing, voice skills etc do sell).

Actors act. Putting training into practice turns knowledge into skill. Source, apply for and audition for every suitable stage, screen and audio casting you can find. It’s absolutely your call, but you’ll probably be doing unpaid work at this early stage. Accept that you’ll be working with inexperienced people and quality may not yet be up to scratch. Get lots of photos of you working, rehearsing, in costume, performing – great for the website.

Be really careful about what you agree to do. Your safety is vital. Plus you don’t want to be sitting on Graham Norton’s sofa with everyone screaming with laughter at what you did way back when.

For stage work, use your networking skills to aim at getting cast in something in London. Invite agents to come and see you. Agents and casting directors are unlikely to travel.

Build your brand:

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – and who knows you. Face to face networking is vital. Go to every relevant networking event and build those personal and professional relationships.

Join theatre and film making groups – your local Shooters in the Pub and fringe theatre companies will have Facebook pages and websites. Get in the loop with what everyone’s doing and become a familiar name and face – people will start coming to you.

You’re a one person business; a brand with one product – you. Your online presence matters. Springclean your Facebook and Twitter profiles and ruthlessly edit anything not on-brand. Develop a professional Facebook Page, start a Linked In profile and keep them current.

Market your product:

Save up for some great quality actor (not model/glamour) headshots from an experienced headshot photographer (no selfies/mates’ photos). That brick wall’s a cliché. Look at Spotlight’s advice on what makes a good headshot.

Write your CV as you go – and keep it updated and out there. Look for places to send it online.

Save up and get your best screen bits edited into a showreel. Sound matters. Three minutes max. Best stuff first. Avoid Shakespeare, poetry and shots of you looking moody. Casting directors want to see and hear you acting and don’t have much time. Keep it updated, weeded and showing you at your best.

Save up and apply for a Spotlight profile – expect to be turned down at first, but you’re unlikely to get an agent without one and you’re unlikely to get cast in anything significant without an agent.

Never pay to join an agency. Agencies should make their money from the work they get you. There are a lot of scams preying on newbies out there.

Extras/background artistes are not considered to be actors. If you do decide to do this (it’s great for experience), keep it a secret.

Persevere. There will be bad, sad and glad times. Most actors are frequently unemployed, so make sure you can do something else too to pay the bills.

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