Friday, November 1, 2013

Starting out as an actor

I often receive emails asking me simply: “How do I become an actor?” (I use the term “actor” to mean either a male or female performer. This has become standard practice in the entertainment industry even though the awards shows still give out awards for “best actor” and “best actress”.)

The problem with giving a simple answer to the question, “How do I become an actor?” is that it contains no information about what kind of actor the person wants to become. There is a big difference between an actor who wants to do a sitcom, and an actor who desires to perform in Broadway musicals. The training is different, as is the practicing of the craft. And the paths to achieving those goals are very different. We'll discuss specific paths in another post. But, let's look at how we can start our journey.

Let's start with knowing what kind of actor you want to be. How do you figure that out? Well, watch films, TV shows, and plays. Which one has the most appeal to you? Which one of those mediums would you like to work in? (Many actors work in all kinds of mediums: film, television, plays and the internet, but they usually have a good idea which one is their favorite – at least right now.) Also, do you want to be a comedic actor or a dramatic one? Again, some actors do both, but are usually drawn more to one or the other.

If you can't figure it out, this is where a good basic acting class comes in. If you are in a class and have a chance to do scenes or monologues – which ones do you relate to the most – comedy or drama? Does one of them feel more like a “good fit” for you? Does one of them move you and excite you more than the other?

Do you love to hear the laughter of the audience, or does an audience holding their breath as your character reacts to some devastating news appeal more to you? Often we can only figure things out by having some experience doing them. That's why, even if you think you know what kind of an actor you want to be, if you haven't taken a class, you should start with that. Try a bunch of different styles and see what really moves you. If you are just starting out, I would avoid limiting yourself. Even if you're a silly person, who loves comedy, I would try doing at least one dramatic scene or monologue. There are two reasons for doing this: one – you never know what might turn you on if you don't try it, and two – you can learn a lot from doing something that is the opposite of your personality.

When I was starting out I did both comedy and drama, and found I liked comedy better. But guess what? I get hired to do just as much dramatic work as comedy! Why? I don't really know – some people just see me more as a tough, hard kind of guy than a funny one. And they are usually really surprised when they see some of my comedic stuff (in which I'm usually really silly).

Up close with George Lopez

Just because you start in one area (like comedy) doesn't mean you have to do that your whole career.

I will say this, however – if you want to be an actor, any kind of actor, then training is key. We've all heard of a few well-known actors who had some natural talent, managed to get real lucky, and kind of just fell into acting, or got “discovered” while they were doing a modeling gig, but that's very rare. Let me repeat that – it is extremely rare that a professional actor does not have a background of training and experience.

Do you want to depend on lots of luck, or do you want to work toward your goals? Having a dream is a great way to start. But it isn't enough to just be a dreamer – you have to be a doer as well. That is the only way to achieve those dreams.

I know that some of you are in small towns, or other places in the world where it doesn't seem like you can go after your dream of performing, but there are ways to get started even in those situations. We'll be talking about them in an upcoming post.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share a question or comment.