Friday, November 15, 2013

How do I get started on a career in acting?

Let's start by asking the question “Why do I want to act?” After all, it's one of the toughest careers to make a living at. You may answer: for fame, for money, to be popular, for revenge, or because you have tried acting and you love it. That last answer is the best one, because if you don’t feel passionate about what you are doing, all the fame and money in the world will not make you feel happy or fulfilled.

Now that you have an idea of why you want to be an actor, it’s time to explore the world of acting, and the best way to begin is by seeing some plays. Whether they are comedies, dramas, or musicals, you should get the feeling that you want to be on that stage - almost as if you were being “pulled” up there. The type of show you most strongly respond to may also give you an idea of what type of performance area you’d like to start with (and remember, any training you get in one area will help you in other areas as well). All actors, even if they want to pursue a career in film or television, should start with theatre. Most cities and towns, even small ones, have school drama clubs or community theatres, and it is there that you can put your training into practice. (Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to watch good films and television shows as well.)

If acting is in your heart, start attending classes. If you want to do musicals, begin by taking singing and dancing lessons. If it’s drama that interests you, get into a good acting class - one that offers training in voice and movement, as well as in an acting method. The same is true for comedy, with the addition of improvisation training and, if possible, a class that has a performing troupe and/or also performs sketch shows. Going to classes allows you to begin to experience what it takes to be an actor.

Reading plays, acting books (to learn about different methods), actor biographies, magazines (such as American Theatre), and trade papers (like BackStage, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter) is a great way to learn about the business and stay connected. Many of the above may be available at your library, local bookstore, or online. If they aren't, consider joining or starting a drama club and chipping in with others to buy a trade paper subscription, or a few acting books, to share.

Learn some monologues. Pick ones that are appropriate for your age and how you see yourself. Memorizing monologues is also good for exercising your memory muscles.

Get in decent physical shape. You don’t have to have the figure of a fashion model or be “ripped,” but you do need to be healthy. Professional acting can be demanding on your body; it often involves long hours and physically strenuous work, along with less-than-healthy eating and sleeping patterns.

In all areas of the entertainment business, training and experience are very important. If you're in a good class, you will love the training as much as the performing. It's all really the same – every time I'm working on a set, I learn something new – usually about myself and my craft. When we're doing something we love, we want to keep growing and finding new ways to express ourselves.

We'll talk more about ways to get started in specific areas of acting in another post.



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