12: How to Be an Actor

How to Be an Actor

This episode is for anyone who has aspired to become an actor. Maybe you’re a casual dreamer who’s occasionally considered auditioning for a local play. Maybe you’re a seriously trained actor in Hollywood working hard to break in. Either way, this episode will have something for you, from the perspective of a couple guys who are usually on the other side of the audition table. For starters, we ask…

Who Should Be an Actor? (3:15)

Not just pretty people. Whether or not you’re gorgeous on the outside, there are likely some roles out there for you. What it really comes down to is determination and contentment even in the face of constant rejection. Because much of an actor’s life involves being told “no,” we recommend, if it’s not an inevitable passion of yours, consider avoiding the heartache now.

What Should You Do to Become an Actor? (7:41)

Do it! Act! More important than taking classes is practicing real performances, whether in a sketch comedy group or an improv class. Studying acting from a purely technical, educational level won’t teach you what you need to know about people to generate a true emotion in your performance.

Once you’ve learned the craft of acting a bit and gotten some practice, you’ll probably want to get a headshot and start crafting a resume and reel. Will recommends being sure your headshot accurately represents you, and Michael represents avoiding looking like a “weird actor glamor shot.”

Backstage.com is a great resource for beginning actors. Also, a reel of some sort is non-negotiable. As director/producers, we need some way to watch your skills. Otherwise, we’re only left to assume you have no experience. If necessary, write and shoot your own scenes to showcase your talents. Lastly, if you only want to focus on one genre, make your reel around that specific genre.

How Do You Get an Agent? (22:08)

If you’re a beginner without any impressive items on your resume in mainstream movies or tv, you probably won’t have a chance at a big agency like CAA or UTA. But, you can send your headshot and resume to a local, smaller agency. These smaller agencies probably won’t go out of their way to find you any major roles, but they will be a good additional inlet to hear about more opportunities.

How Do You Stand Out in an Audition? (26:34)

Be different. When casting our feature, Believe Me, we noticed how the only people we really remembered were the ones who did something different, even if they didn’t end up getting the role. Michael makes a plea for actors to memorize their lines before going into an audition and not to fall apart if they happen to forget a line as they’re performing.

Do You Need to Move to Hollywood? (33:05)

It’s less important to move to Los Angeles than it used to be because performers can create their own stuff and upload it to Youtube or Vimeo. However, it’s still a major advantage to live in L.A. for a few reasons.

  • Better competition forces you to improve your abilities.
  • Similar community encourages you and keeps you striving to meet your goal.
  • More roles available increases the chances you’ll find one that fits your unique look and abilities.

Things to Know Before Beginning Your Acting Journey (40:06)

You can be a great actor and not get cast simply because you haven’t found the right role yet. Most often, the people that make it in this industry are the ones with the most resiliency.

Will recalls an anecdote from our Believe Me cast about how tough it is for actors to go from being treated like kings when starring in one project to being treated like dirt when acting as an extra. Beyond that, actors struggle with the constant insecurity of not knowing how to make the director happy with their performances.

The number one piece of advice we can give is…

Look to serve the project, not yourself.

When you arrive at an audition or on set, make it your mission to create the best movie and the best cast/crew experience possible, even if it means lowering your own chance at fame or praise. In the long run, it will raise the standard of your projects and make more people want to work with you in the future.

Special thanks to Vignesh Oviyan for the drama icon in the episode art.