“Showbusiness is not so much dog eats dog, as dog doesn’t return other dog’s phone calls.” – Woody Allen
You may have heard that the acting world is tough, cutthroat and merciless, and that at any one time, 92% of those in the profession are out of work. Well it’s important you understand something- it’s true.
The chances of finding success are slimmer than in any other industry, and it’s completely saturated with hopeful actors, who may be every bit as talented as you.
If those odds are enough to send you running for the hills, go ahead, and sprint as fast as you can, because if you can see yourself doing anything else as a career, do it. Becoming an actor will mean putting all your eggs in one, rather flimsy, basket, and before you do that, you need to be absolutely in love with acting, and obsessed with the idea of being an actor.
So, You Want to Become an Actor
Here are some harsh truths about the challenges you face…
1. So much depends on luck
Ever heard the phrase ‘right place, right time’? Well it probably applies to every successful actor you’ve ever heard of. From Mel Gibson bagging Mad Max due to a fight leaving his face appropriately battered, to Charlize Theron getting a shot at acting after a talent agent helped her win an argument in a bank, there are countless stories behind the success of well-known actors who were just lucky enough to be in the right place and have a shot at their dream. The truth is, talent or not, you need to have luck on your side to even get the chance to show what you can do.
2. It will stop you from building a career
To become an actor means 100% commitment, or you may as well not even try. If you get an audition you have to be there, and if you get chosen, you need to be able to make yourself available for however many weeks the project demands. But due to the inconsistent pattern of jobs you’re likely to get, you’ll probably need another job to supplement your income, at least at first. So what kind of industry allows you to work outside of audition and workshop hours? The hospitality industry. Yes, you’ll probably end up working in a bar or restaurant, polishing glasses and dreaming about your big break. You’ll get the time off you need, but a major drawback is you won’t be able to build a ‘fall-back’ career out of it. So while you spend months or years at the bottom of the hospitality food chain, you’ll only be able to watch as your friends and peers get promotions and raises as they travel up the conventional career ladder.
3. Casting isn’t always fair
It isn’t even a secret that Hollywood and the acting world have been known as relative hotbeds of nepotism, pretty much since their inception. Celebrity acting ‘dynasties’ like the Redgraves and the Foxes have been around for decades, and when it comes to casting, things certainly aren’t always down to talent. You may very well run into a situation where you miss out on a part because the producer’s daughter wants to act, for example, and there will be nothing you can do about it. Unless you’re family is firmly rooted in the business, or you have a lot of powerful friends, you have to accept, you may be at a loss before you’ve even auditioned.
4. You might end up doing ads more than anything else
If you dream of serious acting, and splitting your time between the West End and Hollywood, get ready for a shock: the most you can probably hope for is a successful career making ads. Your dream of serious stage acting may well even fizzle out through years of fighting to be one of three chosen to eat breakfast cereal and smile. And with jobs few and far between, you will be grateful to be working at all. You’ll be getting paid, and your face will be out there at least, but it probably won’t be what you had in mind when you first embarked on a career in acting.
To Act or not to Act
So how do you feel about becoming an actor now? Despite it’s glamorous appearance, the acting world is an extremely difficult place to build a career, and will demand everything from you but be unwilling to give you much back.
If that’s enough for you to call it quits now, do it. If it’s scary enough to read about it, it will be 10 times worse living through it: go off and find yourself a safe, regular job.
And if you’re still here, more determined than ever to make it, you’re braver than most people – and you actually have a good chance of making it.
Here’s what you can do to better your chances.
Make Smart Training Choices
If you are new to acting, and are interested in a formal drama qualification such as a degree, don’t be tempted to sign up for three years at a minor university, which is unlikely to offer much in the way of job opportunities after graduation, even if it is easy to get in. You’re far better looking at practical acting courses that will not only teach you about the craft of acting, but also the business of acting.
Actress Rachel Lin offers newcomers some very valuable advice: “sign yourself up for an acting class stat.” Talking about moving to New York to become an actor she writes,
chances are, you will not land a part for the next few months. Taking a class will keep your head in the game while you sort out the logistics of finding an apartment, establishing an income and making friends.
If you’ve just left drama school, or are looking to fill up some free time when work is slow, you will do yourself a huge favour by signing up for a few acting classes.
If you’re looking for a serious training course, or a way to break out of that 9-5 job, and know that acting is for you, consider our One Year Ultimate Acting Class. It offers exceptional training in method acting and concludes with a showcase at one of London’s most prestigious industry private members’ club, in the heart of Theatre-land on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Auditions for the October 2016 intake will take place in June. Acting is a tough world and only those with an unwavering passion for drama can make it. If you think that sounds like you, we look forward to seeing you at the auditions.