How To Become An Actor From The Ground-Up

by Catherine Watts Leave a Comment

by Catherine Watts

Have you ever had the dream of becoming a famous Hollywood actor or actress one day? Luckily for anyone with that dream, becoming an actor is easier than ever before. Although it is easier to become a professional actor, breaking into the industry still requires a lot of hard work. Alongside hard work is passion and dedication. If you are just starting to explore acting as a career. You must make it to Hollywood, then you should follow these rules in order to increase your odds of success.

How to Become an Actor

Study Acting In School

Though it’s possible to get into acting without a formal education going to school for acting can be extremely helpful for actors just starting. By studying acting in school, you will get exposure to professionals, learn about standard techniques, and get more opportunities for open auditions. The school will also help you to build your resume, get exposure, and set up a network of contacts.

Hire An Acting Coach

An acting coach can give you more personal attention in order to work on your weaknesses and expand your strengths. Look for a coach with a lot of industry experience and connections if possible. Try to find someone with experience in multiple fields so you can train and get pointers in a few different areas.

Stay Informed About The Industry

Check out industry news regularly in order to stay ahead of the game. Websites like Variety, Backstage, Hollywood Reporter, and BusinessWeek can be very useful to find out about current trends in the acting business. You should also stay up to date on emerging playwrights and directors as well as any possible new theaters in your area.

Gain A Variety Of Experience

Seek out small playhouses and theaters where you live and audition for various roles. Contact your local theater (s) to see if they have any special events or seminars coming up that you could attend or volunteer for.

Join An Improvisation Class

Improvisation in a movie can often make the film much better or even iconic. Robert Deniro absolutely embodied his role as Travis Bickle in Taxi. But did you know that the classic scene of him staring in the mirror saying “You talking to me?” was completely ad-libbed?

The skills that an improvisation theater or group can teach you are extremely valuable for both new and experienced actors. If you ever have the misfortune to forget your lines halfway through a live performance, knowing how to improvise will be quite useful. Not only can you use improvisation when you are in crisis mode, but improv is a great way to learn what you are good at in acting and discover more about your acting range.

Get Your Headshots Taken

When I say that you should get your headshots taken, let me clarify by saying that you should have your headshots taken by a professional photographer. By using a professional to take your photos you can be sure that you have the best-looking pictures. Update your headshot every 2 or 3 years so that casting directors will know what you currently look like.

Create A Resume

Act in as many roles as possible in order to build up an extensive resume. Audition for commercials, music videos, and live performances so that you can pad your resume with lots of related experience. List your acting-related strengths or special abilities that you have such as dancing, singing, or dialects. You can list both paid and non-paid work, as long as it’s tied into acting or the performing arts in general.

Go Where The Work Is

If you want to work on Wall Street, you don’t move to North Dakota. The same can be said for the performing arts. Consider moving to New York, Florida, Los Angeles, Austin, or Atlanta if you’re in the United States. If you can’t move at this time or in the near future, start out by working in the local film scene or in areas that you can easily get to. In the meantime, you should be saving money so that you can move to a larger city where more acting roles are available and movies are made frequently.

Learn Several Different Monologues

Monologues can often be used to help get you cast in television, plays, and movies. They also allow you to quickly yet effectively showcase your talents. Take the time to look up several 1-2 minute monologues online. Choose a monologue based on the type of actor you are. For example, don’t read a monologue about a short man if you are a tall man. You should choose monologues that contrast in order to better show off your craft. Even if you always play the funny man, have a couple dramatic monologues ready to call on when requested.

Look For Parts In Commercials

Search for casting calls on websites like Hathart, Backstage, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety for local commercials. Be sure to dress for the part you’re auditioning for so the casting directors can easily picture you in the role.

Commercials are smaller roles, but it will give you exposure to a wide audience and get your face out to the public. Dean Winters can sometimes be seen as a cop on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but most people know and love him as “Mayhem” from the Allstate commercials, that douchey presence that can hilariously f**k up your day.

Join A Union For Performers

Join organizations such as AEA and AGVA. One of the good things about unions is they provide you with benefits and insurances while you are working. Once you have been a member for at least one year and have worked under a union, you will be eligible to join the Screen Actor’s Guild. Annual SAG fees are $201.96 USD and 1.575% of the earnings you make in that year. Be sure to check with the union you’re interested in to see what their annual rates are.


Build your reputation as a professional by networking. Reach out to others first and show a genuine interest in the people you know and meet. People in your network can connect you to available jobs and provide you with valuable insights about the acting business. Use websites like Hathart or Linkedin to connect with others in the acting community.

Increase Your Internet Exposure

You should always be trying to increase your internet exposure. Build a personal website with an easy to remember URL, like your name. You can quickly and cheaply create a personal website using WordPress or Squarespace. Set up a page on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram where fans can like and share your content. Use popular hashtags in your posts so you can get the maximum amount of exposure. Put videos of all your performances on YouTube. After building a social media presence, sign up on other acting-related sites like Actors Access to connect with people in the industry.

Develop More Skills

The more skills you have, the more versatile you will be and the more likely you are to land roles. Here are some skills that are particularly important:

  • Excellent communication: Acting is about setting a scene, conveying emotion, and connecting with the audience. Five-star speaking skills are critical.
  • Great memorization: Memorizing a script in order to perform long, unbroken scenes is a must for any actor.
  • Projecting your voice: Since audience members may be sitting rows away from the stage, work on enunciating your words clearly and loudly.
  • Improvisation: You need to be able to think on your feet for a career in acting so improvisation is a must-know.
  • Dialects: The best actors are always the ones that can truly embody a role, especially when it comes to perfecting the character’s accent.
  • Singing: Singing is a great skill to have, especially if you want to break into plays and musicals.
  • Dancing: Just like with singing, dancing is a great skill to have, particularly for plays and musicals.

Be Persistent

Talent is overrated. Persistence is always better than talent. Performers need to have a lot of grit and persistence in order to make it in the acting industry. Those actors who are willing to give it there all day after day will have a much greater chance of success than the naturally talented or the Julliard-trained actor who waits for opportunities to find him.

Additional Resources

  • Ace Your Audition-This site connects actors with a monologue for auditions.
  • Actors Equity Association-This labor union for actors provides help with benefits, working conditions, contract negotiations and more.
  • The Actors Fund-This organization helps actors with common issues, including housing, healthcare, social services, and financial assistance.
  • National Association of Schools of Theatre-This organization of schools, colleges, universities, and conservatories strives to provide a top-notch educational experience through proper accreditation.
  • National Endowment for the Arts-This independent federal agency offers to fund for a variety of arts across the United States, including theater productions.
  • SAG-AFTRA-The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists brings together two powerful unions to provide important protections and information to those in the entertainment industry.

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"Hello!My name is Catherine Watts and I am the founder of Hathart."

Catherine Watts
Catherine WattsHow To Become An Actor From The Ground-Up