There are thousands upon thousands of actors in Los Angeles alone -- each one hoping for that one big break that will launch their career. The sad fact is that only a few people ever make it as actors and even fewer make it beyond a few “b” film roles and television appearances.
So, what can you do to help your chances of success?
For all the things you can’t control (how you look, how you sound, etc.), there are a few things you can do that might just make the difference between getting the part and continuing to work as a waiter. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Learn Your Craft: Too many people think that acting is easy. Just like any art form, acting is a craft and must be mastered. Take acting classes, watch other actors and take the time to hone your craft. There are a number of top tier actors who make a point of working with acting coaches to be sure they remain at the top of their game. You can never know too much.
- Never Be Late: This might seem obvious, but there are hundreds if not thousands of actors out there who simply can’t tell time. Casting sessions are usually just a few minutes and are scheduled at odd times like 7:25 or 6:50 on purpose. Be early or don’t bother showing up. Patience weighs thin at a casting session and few things will hurt your chances more than being late.
- Know Your Lines: Again, this might seem obvious, but there are too many actors who learn a few of their lines and then try to “wing it” and fail miserably. Spend time preparing your lines. Prepare not only what you’re going to say, but how you’re going to say it.
- Don’t Rewrite Your Lines: Never, ever, ever say something other than what’s in the script. There’s no better way to offend a writer then to come up with your own lines. If you want to write your own dialogue, then become a writer.
- Listen, Listen, Listen: I repeated this one three times because I’m hoping you’re listening. Listen to what you are being told. Sometimes the casting director or writer or director will give you a bit of direction prior to the audition or during the audition on a particular line. Listen to what they’re saying and take the time you need to process it. If it’s during an audition, more often than not, they will be happy to give you a few minutes to incorporate the new direction into the lines. So ask for it if you need it.
- Make Sure Your Headshot is Accurate: There are few things more annoying then getting a headshot that looks nothing like the actor who shows up. Be sure your headshot accurately portrays who you are now. If you’ve gained weight, cut your hair, gotten a few years older then make sure your headshot shows this. Your headshot won’t be the one getting the job and you certainly won’t either if you look completely different than what people were expecting to see.
- Commit!: Actors who genuinely commit to a reading are fun to watch. They literally transform themselves into a character. By committing fully to the reading, you will not only dissolve any nervousness, you’ll show the decision makers that you should be considered because you can play the part with a genuine passion.
- No Excuses!: So, you couldn’t learn your lines because you lost your power? Too bad. You were an hour late because you were stuck in traffic? Aw, sorry. You had to rush your dog to the vet and didn’t get the script? Better luck next time. The fact is no one cares that you had any of these incidents crop up. Life happens and sometimes things go wrong and in a normal world, this might be taken into consideration. But know that no matter what excuse you think you have to get you out of a particular situation, there are dozens of other people happy to take your place.
Being an actor is not the easy life it may seem. There are often long periods of financial insecurity, huge amounts of competition along with multiple forms of rejection that make the overall process that much more difficult. But many actors will never succeed simply because they ignore some of the most basic elements and can’t get out of their own way. Give yourself the best chance at success by following these eight simple rules and you’ll quickly find that you’re already ahead of the game.