Lights, camera, action! The world of film offers a highly prestigious career option that many young women would love to pursue. Acting is seen as a gloriously, fun, well paying career and for most, getting onto the big screen is all about the money and fame. While these come with the territory, you must understand that acting is all about your passion for the craft and will not necessarily see you performing you favorite pieces to huge audiences or on film.
It means lots of hard work, long hours in sometimes dreadful conditions, and oftentimes when you start out, the pay is not that great considering the huge amount of work that is required. Most of all, it requires patience as you establish yourself, go to casting after casting and hope that you eventually get that much sought after big break. Of course, all of this is not possible if you have no talent or skills, so here are some of the best tips when you want to learn how to become an actress.
Step 1: Family Support
One of the most important aspects of making it as an actress is having your family’s support. Yes, it is possible to become an actress on your own, however, having help, especially if you are young, is essential to your success. You will have help getting to and from castings, and if your family allows you to stay with them, you will be able to focus all your energy into your acting because you will not be worried about holding down a full time job. Naturally many actresses want to move to the acting Mecca’s like Los Angeles or New York, which is another area where you will need to have your family behind you every step of the way, to help you relocate, give you advice and assistance and be there if you are struggling.
Step 2: Find a Good Acting School
Although many actresses get by without any formal training, it is extremely beneficial to at least attend an informal acting program like the courses offered by The Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute in Hollywood. Other exciting classes and programs include the New York Film Academy. Aaron Speiser Acting Studio in LA, Ted Bardy Acting Studio in New York, and many others. Some things to look out for when selecting an acting school to attend, are the caliber and reputation of the school and its faculty, which other famous actors and actresses have attended these classes, and what they offer in terms of preparing you for the real life acting world. Do they send you to castings? Do they offer any kind of platform whereby you can perform for agents or producers? It is great to learn how to become an actress, but you need exposure to really set you apart and give you a chance to shine in you chosen profession. This brings me to the next point.
Step 3: Gain Exposure
Find any ways in which you can gain exposure in the industry. Attend castings, get to know producers and casting agents, and even if you don’t get the role, the entire aim is to meet influential people in the industry. Remember that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Make sure that you get out there and exert yourself, and even if you are not right for a part, you might be right for the director’s next role, so never underestimate the importance of attending as many castings as possible. The rejection is tough for many would-be actresses, but as long as you remember why you are going through this and that every rejection is a step closer to your goal, you will be fine and you will succeed. You have to develop a tough skin and be ready for anything.
Step 4: Work on your Audition Skills
Now, auditioning and acting are two very different things, so it is vital that you practice and improve your audition skills. This will give you a much better chance of actually getting a call-back or landing the role. Here are the key points to take note of:
- Be adaptable – don’t go there with anything to set in stone, as things change and you could be put on the spot.
- Be able to take direction – This is important, so make sure that you listen carefully and do exactly what the casting agents and directors tell you to do.
- Think on your feet – You must be sensitive and open to your acting and if you feel that something is not working, do something else. If you are asked to improvise, think quickly and be decisive in your choice so that you can make a great impression.
These skills are hard to master and require practice just like you would practice anything else which is why you should go to as many auditions and castings as possible. Also take the time to practice at home and role play an “audition” with someone. Make sure you put a camera on so that you can see how you would look in a screen test. Work on this as well. Find out what casting directors look for in screen tests and play to your strengths. Do not overdo it though. See what make-up and hair works that looks natural, but striking and figure out what works best on camera in terms of how you speak, how you look at the camera, what and how many gestures you do etc. Perfecting your audition skills is half the battle won!
Step 5: Always Have Integrity
When you are so desperate to become an actress, it is often difficult to discern the bad from the good. The lines become fuzzy and many actresses all into the trap of taking off their clothes for the camera or sleeping with directors in order to land roles. This is never ok, and you should aim to get your career going with integrity, so that you are taken as a serious professional. Don’t ever let anyone bully you into doing something you are not comfortable with, even if they threaten to ruin your career or bad mouth you. You will make it if you just stick to the plan, be passionate about your work and give it your all at auditions and when you land jobs. Be easy to work with, but don’t be easy!
By following these 5 steps, you can easily become a great actress. Always keep your goals in mind, try, try and try again, and never give up no matter how bad things get. If you have the determination, the talent and the maturity you will go far.
HOW TO REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL AS A PROFESSIONAL LOS ANGELES ACTOR
A successful acting career in Los Angeles is more like a marathon than a sprint.
All of us want to reach our full potential artistically and professionally in our film, television and stage acting whatever else we do. In addition to having fulfilling relationships with our family and friends, reaching our full potential makes life feel worthwhile.
LA acting school classes should help students access and express their uniqueness in their acting. While attending acting classes in Los Angeles, the most important goal is to express your uniqueness and to serve the script at the same time. Our greatest hope is that when we do that, the world will find the result valuable. That’s the highest high!
So, simple script analysis isn’t enough!
There is only one YOU.
AND – your unique performance of a scene that serves the scene, is what gets you acting work. Why is anyone going to hire you if you do the scene just like everyone else? You go to the movies to see a particular actor because you know you’re going to see something special that no one else will do.
Though we would all love to be given an instant solution, formula or rule to get work and be successful, there are no rules or formulas that guarantee satisfaction or success, and THERE IS NO INSTANT SOLUTION. Any LA acting classes, coaches, or acting lessons that promise instant solutions, rules, formulas are telling actors what they would like to believe; those promises are sheer attempts to get more students and nothing else.
The best actors learn through long-term practice, trial and error, and trustworthy guidance. When you find that, be willing and open minded and give your all.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Each of us comes up against moments in our lives when we just “don’t know what to do.” We are baffled. That’s normal whether we’re marketing ourselves or working on our craft. We may need to work harder than expected or do things we never expected to have to do. Those are the times when we will either grow or contract.
It is very uncomfortable to feel confused, ineffective and incapable. Can we live with that discomfort?
At those times, we need to accept the process without knowing how or when it will end. That is at the core of all creative endeavors! (I recently saw an interview with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslett who talked about this very thing.)
And, living with the part of the process where you don’t know, is essential to personal development. There is no end to new challenges, once we’ve met and conquered the current one. Can we accept that?
When we feel like giving up, we need to find emotional support and professional guidance to courageously persist with the process so that we can enjoy the breakthrough whenever it comes; and in whatever form it comes. And, since you can’t see yourself as others see you, you need that outside eye to develop confidence in the direction you’re taking. Feeling confident is huge.
We give up too soon! We want an easier path. We want someone to TELL us WHAT to do. This methodology keeps us immature and stunts our growth. We need to conduct ourselves as adults in our artistic development AND our career development/marketing.
Ideas and suggestions are great… BUT, they are only a starting point. How we integrate information and experiences, and follow our creative intuition into unknown territory yields our highest satisfaction.
All good acting classes are teaching the same core skills. They simply have different teaching exercises to get you there.
The way Sanford Meisner described the core skills is:
1) your talent comes from your instincts
2) acting is living truthfully in the imaginary circumstances
3) acting is self-betrayal – (quoting George Bernard Shaw) – which is the big one
4) all good performances require risk-taking.
The first step in the actor’s journey is to find out what each of those statements really mean.
Don’t get persuaded by hype, glitz, false promises and slick marketing. If you’re not learning those skills, you’re not in a professional acting class.
The hardest part is to give up controlling how others see you, what they might think, and to be true to yourself.
David Kagen’s School of Film Acting