May 15, 2024

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How to Become an Actor in 2024 - Comprehensive Guide by Reelarc

Countless actors pursue their dreams of Hollywood glitz and glamor every year, but becoming a successful actor is about much more than just seeing your name in the lights. Your acting career path can take lots of twists and turns. But if you’re prepared and resilient, you can come out a better actor with a more stable career than ever. In this article, you’ll find step-by-step strategies used every day by successful actors to help turn their dreams into reality. Are you ready to start earning rave reviews? Take your first step now and learn how to become an actor.

Discovering Your Passion for Acting

Getting into an acting career doesn't just happen overnight. The film & tv industry is much more than simply showing up at casting calls. It's about nurturing and igniting your passion for the craft - it's about discovering your "why." Why do you want to act? To tell human stories? To foster connection? To produce art? Maybe you never feel more alive than when on set. Maybe you love being part of an artistic team. Perhaps, it's a little of all of the above. No matter what- hold on to your why.

Being an actor is a lot like being an entrepreneur. You are your own product, and it's up to you to market that product. This involves having determination, dedication, and most importantly, a burning love for acting. In fact, for many of us, acting is more than a profession; it's a calling. There may be times in your journey learning how to become an actor when you feel burnt out or ready to give up. It's vital then to come back to your "why."

Developing Your Acting Skills

The road to becoming an actor isn't easy, but with determination, focus, and a true passion for the craft, you'll find your way. Like in any industry, the first steps are acquiring the necessary skills and forging essential contacts.

Jumpstart Your Learning with Acting Classes

Acting requires no formal training (no one on set is going to ask for a copy of your diploma) but attending acting classes or enrolling in an acting school may be beneficial for you. An acting course provides a safe space to learn the basics- like how cue lines work and what a sightline is- along with even more complex acting techniques. Many young actors benefit from an environment in which they can explore their range, work on character development, and get comfortable performing in front of others. You can figure out what techniques resonate with you- maybe you love Stanslavski's (the father of modern acting) approach. Perhaps you'll like Method acting, the Meisner technique, or Uta Hagen. The more you learn, the more tools you must put in your actor tool belt.

Getting feedback is another core part of acting classes. Your instructors and fellow actor classmates will help you pinpoint where to grow. Good critiques will boost not only your acting skills but also your confidence. Don't hesitate to seek out a reputable acting coach, either. They can provide personalized guidance and help accelerate your growth.

When searching for acting classes or an acting coach, read reviews online. Ask other people in the industry you respect for recommendations. Cast a wide net and try out several options if you can. Researching will help you odds of finding the best acting training for you.

Gain Practical Experience Wherever Possible

While classes give you a theoretical base, remember that the key to mastering any craft lies in real-world practice. There are many ways to get practice as an actor, but one common starting point for aspiring actors is community theater or school plays. These local platforms provide an incredible opportunity to hone your skills during your first acting opportunities. It doesn't matter if the audience or gig is small- if it gives you the experience you need, then it's invaluable.

Aspiring to the Silver Screen? Try Student Films and Background Work

Many actors get their start working on student films and with background acting work. Both are  excellent opportunities for the practical application of your acting skills. Student films are often overlooked but can provide valuable material for your acting resume and demo reel. They also give you a taste of what it's like to work on a film set while allowing you to network and make valuable connections within the film industry. Remember that the student director you work for today may be tomorrow's next big thing.

Practically every movie and TV show needs background actors. They are a vital part of every film set. While working on background, you can once again make important connections with your fellow actors and the crew. You can also get a first-hand, up-close experience with how a large-scale film set runs. All of these experiences will help you feel more comfortable and prepared for your moment in front of the camera.

Learn from Networking and Industry Events

You've probably heard the phrase, "It's not what you know, but who you know." This is true in the acting industry. Attending industry events and acting workshops not only boosts your skills but also opens the door to opportunities. You never know when you might meet a casting director or a successful working actor who could provide advice, a recommendation, or even an audition.

Becoming a professional actor doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's essential to frequently attend industry events, where you can make valuable connections with industry professionals. Hearing their stories, challenges, and triumphs can shed light on your journey. It can be hard to always "put yourself out there," but seeking out industry relationships and opportunities is worth it in the end.

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Essential Steps to Launch an Acting Career

Launching your acting career can seem daunting- where do you even start? But there are clear moves you can take to begin your journey with organization and enthusiasm. Take it one step at a time. Learn the business, build your network, get professional headshots, make your casting profiles, create a demo reel, audition actively, land an agent, expand your horizons, and keep improving. Let's break it down below.

Step 1: Learn the Business

Understanding the ins and outs of the acting industry is fundamental for anyone wondering how to become a professional working actor. As an aspiring actor, you need to be well-versed with the industry's dynamics to build on your acting career.

There are many ways to go about learning the business- try as many as you can! Attending classes, industry events, and workshops can all help you gain knowledge and experience. Ask questions- be curious. Read what industry professionals are saying online. Keep up with websites like Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter. Subscribe to Reelarc's Rundown for news catered to the working actor. Read acting memoirs like Jenna Fischer's The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide. Follow your favorite members of the industry on social media- that includes casting directors, acting coaches, agents, directors, managers, and fellow actors.

Notably, it's not always about landing the big roles. Start where you can. This can mean featuring in student films, local theater productions, or even school plays. These relatively smaller stages provide essential experience. Remember that it takes patience, determination, and real grit to carve a place in the acting world. But with commitment and resilience, you step closer and closer to your dream of becoming a professional actor.

Step 2: Build Your Network

In addition to formal education, gaining industry experience and making connections is key. Attend industry events and engage with industry professionals. A conversation with a successful actor or casting director, for instance, could lead to an unexpected opportunity or invaluable advice. Look for Q&As as well as networking mixers, expos, and social media meet ups with other screen actors.

Step 3: Professional Headshots

Professional headshots are a vital tool to help you get cast. Having a standard headshot is a nice starting place- a solid picture of you looking your best. But having multiple photos that showcase difference aspects of you as an actor is even better. You may want one headshot that leans more comedic and one more dramatic. You may want a picture that shows you as more of a white collar professional and one as more rural/blue-collar. Knowing your types and what you can sell yourself best is important here. It helps you pick auditions and helps you market yourself best at those auditions.

And remember- a good headshot is one of the first ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd. Before they look at your resume, before they see you act- a stellar photo hooks casting directors. It can make them want to see more before they've even seen anything!

Step 4: Update Your Casting Profiles

Several websites offer casting notice and submission services, including Actors Access, Backstage, and Casting Networks. Paid memberships to these sites allow you to search their database for up-to-date audition notices. You create your casting profile and submit yourself as often as you can for roles that fit you. Keep your profile professional (no selfie headshots) and highlight all your accomplishments on your profile. List any training you've had as well as any work you've already gotten. Don't forget to mention any special skills you may have too! Whether it's a second language or juggling or having a valid driver's license- every little bit helps market you to potential casting directors. Upload your best headshots to your casting profiles and any good demo reel material you have.

Step 5: Create a Demo Reel

Having clips of your acting or a full demo reel for casting directors to view majorly helps your chances of getting cast. If you haven't had enough experience yet for a reel or you aren't fully satisfied with how you're showcased in the clips you do have great news - Reelarc is here for you. At Reelarc, we work with you to determine the best types of scenes to fully market you. You'll leave with clips that show characters and genres you best inhabit as an actor. You may also have scenes from student or independent short films you've worked on. If the footage is high quality and showcases your acting skills, then use it! Upload it to your casting profiles and submit your clips to appropriate casting calls.

Step 6: Audition Actively

When using a service like Actors Access, remember to apply to casting calls ASAP. The industry moves quickly and you don't want to miss out on a possible gig! Several of these casting websites offer services of daily emails alerting you to possible roles that fit your personal acting parameters (think your age range, gender, race, etc). Once you have an acting agent or manger, they will also inform you about industry casting calls and submit you when appropriate.

Remember that applying to casting calls is a numbers game. Don't expect to hear back from every submission. In fact, you may not hear back from most of them. That's normal. However the more consistently you apply, the better your chances are!

So when you do hear back and get invited to audition- what then? Don't panic. You've honed your acting skills and built connections within the industry- now it's time to navigate the audition process. This is essential in establishing your acting career. Agents and casting directors scrutinize your audition more than any other piece of work you can prepare. How to become an actor is tied with how well you fare at auditions.

First, remember that casting directors are human beings too! They are not adversaries but people who wish to find the best person for the role. Interact with them professionally, just as you would with any other industry professional.

From the few seconds when you walk through the door or your face appears on a self-tape, you're being examined. A confident posture and a friendly smile set the tone. Don't forget that each audition is an opportunity to strengthen your acting skills, so embrace it even if it doesn't result in a role.

Another point worth considering: reach out to acting coaches and enquire about acting techniques specific to auditions. Methods to calm those nerves, quickly inhabit a character, and take notes are all invaluable. These are skills you must always keep working on. Enhancing your execution of acting techniques makes you a stronger actor in the audition room and on set.

Many actors swear by practicing in front of a mirror or video themselves. Watching playback can provide insight into any habits you need to break or improvements you can make. Practicing with fellow actors can also provide valuable critique and can help improve your performance under pressure.

Lastly, in the acting industry, "rejection" is a part of the journey. Many successful actors faced their fair share of no's before landing their break. A tip from a professional working actor - don't let rejection break your spirit. Instead, let it fuel your determination to succeed. And remember a successful audition doesn't always mean you land the role. It means you left a lasting, positive impact in the casting director's mind and they plan on calling you back in again in the future.

Step 7: Get an Agent

Landing an acting agent or manager can help kick your career goals into gear. They have connections you may not have and can submit you for projects you wouldn't be able to on your own. Many agents may have workshops you can attend to meet them and where they may offer feedback on your headshot or an audition monologue. You can also submit yourself to talent agencies directly. The process can be disorienting at times. You might feel unsure where to start. How do I market myself? How do I show these professionals they need me on their acting roster? Reelarc can help with this too. We offer branding strategies and sell you to agents and managers in a way you won't find anywhere else.

Step 8: Promote Yourself

Naturally, talent and skills matter in the acting industry but don't overlook the power of promotion. Simply having talent isn't enough. How you display that talent to the world can make all the difference in your acting career.

In this digital age, having an online presence is a must. If your social media accounts are public, remember to maintain a level of professionalism. Regularly update your profile on platforms like Actors Access with your latest work. Create and maintain a professional acting website that lists all your recent news and career successes, as well as your headshots and resume. You can use a company with pre-built templates like Squarespace or Wix or hire a UX designer for a more custom look.

When you're online, remember the best media strategy is to show a human side to your followers. Let your audience see you as a human being first and an actor second.

Step 9: Expand Your Horizons With Continuous Improvement

No matter what in this business, you can never stop growing. Exploring diverse roles, genres, and mediums can help you fully discover your range and versatility as an actor.

Never stop learning and refining your craft through workshops, classes, acting school, and professional training programs. Seek out feedback, whether in acting class or at industry events. Keep making connections and don't forget to foster the ones you already have. Ask for advice from all professionals you meet- from other actors to casting directors to on-set production assistants to directors. Find out what motivates them. What they're looking for in a successful actor. What the biggest lesson they've learned from the industry is. Listen well and invest in the stories of others- and you may well find them invested in your story too.


Perseverance is a trait you'd do well to cultivate on your journey to becoming a professional actor. An acting career entails overcoming various challenges, including constant rejection. But remember- every 'no' brings you one step closer to the 'yes' that can change everything.

So you've got the tools, the tips, and the know-how. Now it's time to put them into action. Your talent and hard work are key, but you'll also need to promote yourself effectively. Get your acting resume and headshots polished. Network at industry events and maintain a strong online presence. Don't limit yourself to casting calls - explore local theaters, create your own material, and work on student film productions. Stay persistent- keep learning through workshops and classes. Always believe in your capabilities. With a blend of these elements and a dash of luck, you're on the path to a successful acting career. Now, step into the spotlight and let your talent shine.

Remember, your journey to becoming a professional actor is built on a combination of talent, hard work, effective self-promotion, and a dash of luck. The silver screen is waiting for you. Go ahead and conquer it.

Key Points to Remember

Acting classes can play a critical role in honing your skills and techniques. They give an insight into exactly what the industry demands, ensuring you're not just an actor, but a professional actor. Likewise, a good acting coach will guide you throughout your learning process, teaching you the ropes of the industry.

Acting workshops can range from learning how to read and interpret scripts to mastering audition techniques to learning various acting methods. Taking advantage of these courses also offers a platform to meet other actors, acting coaches, and casting directors- all of which can be invaluable to your career.

Local theater productions, high school plays, student films, and producing your own scripts all help you gain experience on your journey to the big screen.

In understanding the acting industry, also understand that you are a product. Your skills and your talent - are all part of your personal brand. A professional headshot and a well-structured acting resume help to strongly present this brand to casting directors. Knowledge on how to professionally market yourself can make the difference between landing extraordinary roles and missing out on opportunities.

Acting resumes and professional headshots play a crucial role in showcasing your potential to casting directors. An acting resume shouldn't just tell; it should sell. Highlight your acting classes, workshops attended, roles played in theater productions, student films, and any professional acting experience you've accrued. Don't forget to keep your headshots updated, showing your versatility and range.

Another aspect that aspiring actors tend to forget is the value of networking. You'll be surprised how many acting opportunities can arise from relationships formed at industry events. Make it a habit to attend as many such gatherings as you can and interact with industry professionals and fellow actors.

When it comes to putting yourself out there, don't limit yourself to casting calls. Explore many avenues - local theaters, community and school plays, or consider acting in your own material. The power of versatility cannot be overemphasized as it enables you to take on diverse roles, making you more appealing to a wider range of casting directors.

Persist, persevere, and have unyielding belief in your capabilities. Working actors will tell you that rejection is part of the journey, but persistence often leads to success.

Book a Call

Reelarc can help set you on the road to success in your quest on becoming an actor. We're here for you every step of the way. From discovering your personal brand, to learning how to sell yourself, to gaining valuable on set experience, to getting the professional reel footage of your dreams- Reelarc is ready to jumpstart your career.

Book a call with us today to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Don't ever feel silly for not knowing the answers to industry questions. Everyone has to start at the bottom. Everyone has to learn somehow. You've already started learning by reading this article! Keep going- stay curious and keep looking for knowledge. You'll be an expert before you know it.

How do I get into acting with no experience?

You simply start. Join an acting class. Audition for your local community theater. Take workshops that casting directors may offer. Join Actors Access or Backstage. Submit yourself for casting notices. Follow the advice we've given above- you can do this!

Is it hard to become an actor?

Yes, but it's tough to be successful in most industries! There are big hurdles you will have to get across, but if you follow the advice above and keep your work ethic strong, you'll be rewarded.

How do beginner actors get paid?

Lots of beginner actors will still work a "day job" (aka survival job) to help pay their bills while training and working to establish themselves in the acting industry. You can apply for background acting work right away and get paid well, though it can be inconsistent. You could also apply to work as a production assistant to earn a paycheck while learning the ins and outs of how a professional set works.

Is 25 too old to start acting?

It is never too old to become an actor! In fact, age may help you in some regards. Having years of life experience under your belt may make it easier to relate to more potential acting roles. You may also have professional skills honed already, like how to make a good first impression or how to nail an interview. That's what auditions are! Don't let a late start discourage you from following your dreams.

Do I have to be beautiful and thin to get acting work?

Absolutely not. Casting directors want to see you looking your best, but that means professional. Clean face, well-done hair, sharp outfit. More than anything, they want to see real people invested in the dialogue and scene. The best way for you to get cast is to be yourself. Authenticity is your strongest acting tool!

Don’t let your moment pass. Without quality demo reel footage.