There is a very strange thing that has happened in the acting industry around drama school training in the UK. Many acting schools have forgotten that it is a business as well as an art form. The truth is, that to be successful in the acting industry today you need to be more than just an artist. You need to be a business person too – and that’s where many drama schools fall down.
It is my belief that to achieve acting excellence you must be great at acting and great at the business of acting. Hollywood has a different approach to the acting industry; it is very driven by the business requirements first and foremost, and there may be an argument for them being more open to the artistic side.
As with most things in life, there needs to be a balance.
Going to drama school and just learning Shakespeare and Chekhov isn’t going to prepare you for the real world of acting. Most Casting Directors are casting TV roles where they need people to be real and believable – and not to act.
As an actor you have to think of yourself as a company – You Ltd.
You need to get up each day and think that your job is to get a job, and once you get the job your artistic side kicks in and we get to see your work.
I actually think that actors have a duty to sell and market themselves very well, because if they don’t we will never see their work – and all that expensive drama school training would have been a waste.
I am often dumbfounded by how badly wrong many drama schools get it. They train people in the art of the craft but don’t provide them with the tools to get food on the table.
The romantic notion of the struggling artist living in a bedsit is for the birds. There is nothing cool or romantic about it. You need to be positive and proactive out there; hustling to gain a position within the industry.
One thing is for sure. No-one will turn
up on your doorstep with a leading Hollywood role for you to play. You need to go out there and claim it; you need to be business-savvy about how to get in front of the right people.
Part of your acting training should focus heavily on this. I know that’s what I drum into my students and we go to great lengths to equip them in the right way.
Your acting training should be a great experience but it has to face you in the right direction to take on the realities of today’s industry.