What to Do to Become an Actor
By Eric Hammer
If youre interested in finding out what to do to become
an actor, then were sure youve heard the old joke
about how to get to Carnegie Hall, but well repeat it here
anyway because it is really one of the keys to success in becoming
a successful actor. A man stops someone on the street in New
York City and asks him how to get to Carnegie Hall. The answer,
"practice, practice, practice."
No matter how many times you hear that mantra repeated over
and over again on your way to becoming an actor, it can never
be enough. Being an actor means being 100% committed to your
goal. It means learning constantly about your craft and it means
constantly taking the time to learn more and more about how to
act and act well.
Most actors who are successful also report that they use something
called "method acting." This means that they actually
"live" the life of the character they are portraying.
One person once observed that a group of successful Hollywood
actors got together at a reception of some kind and because they
were all so used to playing a role, he says they ended up seeming
like they were actors playing actors at a reception rather than
real people who happen to work as actors. Whether thats
a true story or not, it does show you what it means to be a successful
How Much Can You Make?
Heres another myth for those who want to know what do
to become an actor: the vast, vast majority of actors in the
world make very, very little money. We see names like Harrison
Ford or Julia Roberts, who make millions of dollars and seem
to have glamour and fame surrounding them and tend to think,
"thats going to be me someday." Sure, its
possible. They both started somewhere, but the reality is that
for every Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford out there, there are
thousands of others who spend their whole lives just barely scraping
Now that you have been properly warned, here are some facts:
An actor in an off Broadway show (still a professional show,
but not quite the big lights) might earn between $440-$763 per
week gross according to New York Magazine. According to Salary.com,
the average salary for an actor ranges from $24,000 to $73,000
per year. A living, but hardly the glamour life we might expect.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Many actors end up becoming waiters or waitresses while they
wait for their "big break." However, many also try
their hands at modeling and singing if they happen to have the
body or talent for those professions.
Distasteful as it may seem, if you are comfortable with your
body, you may also be able to make good money working in adult
films. Keep in mind though that if you ever do get to be famous
someday, that adult film you shot when you were 18 years old
and desperate for cash could come back to haunt you.
Consider also working in and around the field of acting, working
in Hollywood or New York film studios as a light person, camera
person or any other job that happens to be open. This will allow
you to get your foot in the door at least.
And speaking of those two towns, while you dont absolutely
have to be in New York or Los Angeles, it does help quite a bit
to do so because that is where most casting calls take place,
even if a show is ultimately filmed elsewhere.
One more good tip: Talk to everyone you meet in the acting
world and be nice to them. You never know where your big break
will come from so it pays to constantly meet people, remember
who they are and to be friendly to them. Even that errand boy
who you think just fetches the donuts may someday become a casting
agent and you can be sure, hell remember that you were
a total jerk toward him when you were on the set of some two
bit show where you thought you were special because you were
an actor and he was merely the errand boy.
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements or qualifications to become
an actor. If you happen to have natural talent for the job and
you get the right break, you could lack a high school diploma
and still land a job. However, realistically, if you want to
act, it pays to go to acting school and to spend as much time
as you can perfecting your craft. Take every crappy role that
you can get your hands on. You never know who may see you and
think youd be perfect for a bigger role they are casting
Start by learning your craft. Go to school and learn what
the professional say about what to do to become an actor. Take
roles in small scale plays and local commercials. Dont
turn something down because you think its beneath you.
Everyone has to start somewhere. The one exception to this rule
is, as previously noted, adult entertainment. You may be able
to land work in that field more easily if you have the body for
it and doing such material doesnt necessarily mean youll
never work in regular acting again, however things done when
youre young and broke do sometimes come back to haunt you.
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about what
to do become an actor:
About.Com: How to Become a Film and Television Actor
A really good article detailing lots of tips and information
on becoming an actor or actress.