Written by Jamison Haase
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” – Thomas Edison
Oftentimes, there is a disconnect between what we do as actors and how we were raised. No one wants to put themselves out there in a vulnerable way; we were often taught as children that to stand out is wrong, either by our parents, our peers, or society as a whole. From an early age, many of us were told to behave a certain way, to be like every one else, to be a “nice boy or girl” — ultimately to fit in and play it safe. Add to that our own fears and anxieties about separating ourselves from the pack, either by making a bold stand, voicing our individual opinion, or doing something we consider daring? Suddenly we have every reason seemingly to stay with the herd, to do everything in our power to try to stay safe. Read more
Interview: American Idiot’s Trent Saunders Talks Life on the Road, St. Jimmy and Belting Out Green Day Songs
Trent Saunders, who is currently playing St. Jimmy in the touring production of Green Day’s American Idiot, has the life.
When I talked to him for this interview, it was the middle of the day in Baltimore, MD (my home state!) and he and his cast mates were set to play laser tag right after he got off the phone. He’s traveled to Europe – where he said he had a blast – is criss-crossing America and best of all, he gets to sing Green Day songs every night. Like I said, he’s livin’ the life.
I saw American Idiot when it was on Broadway and liked it a lot. The set and lighting design was amazing and if you’re a fan of Green Day, you’ll absolutely love it.
I talked to Trent about his life on the road, how he got the part and cell phones in the audiences. I haven’t heard how his laser tag expedition went, but if I do, I’ll let you know.
You want to learn how to become an actor? Join the club! Most everyone at one time or another has probably thought about becoming an actor.
They watch their favorite shows and movies and think, “I can do that!” They think it’s easy and glamorous.
But what most people don’t realize is that it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a huge amount of fun but yeah, it’s work!
It takes a special kind of person to want to become an actor. They have to be determined, unafraid of rejection and willing to work hard to consistently get better at their chosen craft.
This isn’t a site on how to become famous. This isn’t about becoming a star because odds are, you won’t. Hopefully you’re here because you want to learn how to be the best actor you can be. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York, Ohio or Colorado, you absolutely can make this happen.
One thing you should know from the start though is that being an actor is expensive. You’ll need money for headshots, headshot reproduction and acting classes. Eventually, you’ll need to market yourself with postcards and a website. You’ll also need to add your material to casting websites such as Actors Access. It’s definitely not cheap!
So, if you’re looking for steps on how to get into acting, you’ve come to the right place.
For links and more information on how to become an actor, check out our actor resources page. (coming soon)
One of the first things you’ll need is a headshot. This is not the place to skimp and be cheap because this is your calling card. If you submit an awful headshot, 99% of the time it’ll be filed away in the trashcan. Having a headshot that isn’t professional, it just automatically shows casting directors, directors and producers that you’re not serious about acting.
Your headshot needs to be shot by a professional and needs to look like you. Seriously, I can’t count how many times a casting director has told me that they’ve called in an actor for an audition and they either look 10 years older in person or their headshot was so photo-shopped that they had to do a double take. Your headshot must look like you, not what you want to look like. You should see my headshot… think I want to look like that?
What’s the cost? For New York and LA, paying $400 to $500 for a headshot session is the norm. Obviously, if you live outside of these cities, you should pay less.
If you need to find headshot photographers near you, click on the link.
The next thing you’ll need is an acting resume.
This isn’t like a resume you’d give to someone when you’re applying for a “normal” job. An acting resume is totally different. You can see examples here. (coming soon)
“I’m just starting out and have nothing to put on my resume!” I’ve heard that before and don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere. You can easily fix that! Audition for small roles at your local Community, Dinner theater or join the cast of a Church or School production. If you’re in school then join the drama club. All of these things can be listed on your resume. You can even list any acting classes you’ve taken.
If there isn’t a role for you in the upcoming show, ask if you can help out. Theaters always need a good, responsible volunteer. This will get you in with the theater community and will make it tons easier when you actually do audition. They’ll already know you so it’ll be easier for them to take a chance on you!
Click here for more information on an acting resume. And if you need it, here’s an acting resume template. (both coming soon)
Learn Your Craft
Take a class! I’m sure there is some kind of acting class or acting program near you. I grew up in a small town and there were at least 5 acting classes within 20 minutes of where I lived.
If you’re still in school, try and find a summer acting camp. Usually, these are all day workshops that take place Monday-Friday. You’ll learn tons and walk away a much better actor. Plus, these are great places to meet people who are into the same things as you!
Go to college. There are a bunch of great schools you can choose for acting. You’ll be immersed in all things acting so how can you not improve? You’ll learn everything from movement, costumes, theater history, acting styles and techniques and best of all, you’ll be performing constantly.
I went to college in Baltimore, Maryland and loved my time there. I met some wonderful teachers and made some great friends that I still keep in touch with to this day.
For a list of acting schools and colleges, click here. (coming soon)
Audition for Community Theater. Like I said in the resume section, auditioning for Community Theater is a wonderful way to get started. I did a handful of musicals for my local Community Theater when I was in high school and I loved every minute of it. Plus, I learned a lot in the process.
Start off as an ensemble member of a large cast (every town does Oklahoma or another huge production at least once a year). Again, by getting involved, you’ll get to know the local theater companies and the people involved. The more they get to know you, they easier it’ll be to nail a part in one of the upcoming shows – especially if you’ve started off with no experience.
Audition as much as you can. Audition even if you don’t want the part. The more you audition, the better you’ll be at it. Learn to love auditioning because chances are, that’s all you be doing the first couple years once you have decided to become an actor.
Start Your Own Play Reading Group. Get a couple of friends together once every couple of weeks and read a play. Give yourself the lead role! The star of Beautiful Creatures, Alden Ehrenreich does exactly that. When I interviewed him, this is what he told me: “Just invite friends over to read a play. Like, me and my friends do that a lot and it just… it promotes that energy and that energy only builds, but you have to get the… you have to start the engine. You know?”
Don’t know what to start off with? Try something from Christopher Durang or Martin McDonaugh. Or, how about something that’s currently playing on Broadway?
Acting Agents and Managers. At this point, you might want to start looking for an agent. Do you have to have one? No, not at all. Especially if you’re not a member of any of the acting unions (SAG-AFTRA or Equity).
Don’t ever pay an agent or manager a fee for joining their agency or company. There are actor scams out there where you’ll be asked to pay an “agency fee” when you sign up. Don’t do it. Ever. The only time you should pay an agent or manager is after you’ve received payment for an acting job you’ve booked and already worked on.
Will you need a manager? Odds are you won’t. You’ll only need a manager when you have a career that actually needs to be managed. Typically, managers to 20% of what you’ve made on each job. That’s a lot of money to give to someone when you’re only working a couple times a year.
If you’re in Los Angeles or New York City, check out our actor mailing labels. We have sets of casting director mailing labels and agent mailing labels updated monthly.
Auditions and Casting Calls. How do you find auditions and casting calls? If you’re not in LA or NYC, check your local paper or their website. Google – auditions ‘my city’ – and I’m sure something will come up. Also, check out Actors Access or call your local SAG-AFTRA office. Most either have hotlines or audition information listed on their site. That’s how I found out about the audition that got me my SAG card.
Also, take a look at our post, Top 11 Reputable Casting Websites.
Acting is a Business
You have to treat acting as a business because that’s what it is, a business.
When you’re called in for an audition, be prepared. Know your scene, monologue or your song. Come with your headshot and resume (stapled together!). Be professional. You might only have one shot with that casting director. Make it the best and show them you have the goods!
Casting directors, directors and anyone who can hire you want to know that you are the answer to their casting “problem”. They need you and they want you to be great! They are rooting for you.
Keep up with what is happening in the entertainment industry.
Don’t go into this blind. Nothing irritates me more than meeting an actor who doesn’t watch TV or isn’t up to date on what is going on in film, TV or theater. This is your job!
My favorites are The Hollywood Reporter and Variety for film and TV news. Backstage is good as well. And of course, Daily Actor (shameless plug) – we feature interviews with actors, articles where actors talk about the craft of acting. We also we have a huge actors resource page. (coming soon)
This Won’t Happen Overnight
I did my first play in Elementary school, did the fall and summer productions in High School and then started to do shows at my local community theater. When I went to college, I moved onto Dinner Theater and found other theater companies to work with. While I was doing that, I auditioned for an industrial film, got the part and was lucky enough to get my SAG card. I’ve been acting for years and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Some people get lucky right off the bat. Some don’t… it could take them years. But, if you work hard, it’ll happen. If you’re prepared, it’ll happen.
Links and Resources – More Coming soon
Scott Foley stars as Henry, one of three estranged siblings, in the new FOX summer series, The Goodwin Games. When he, his sister (Becki Newton) and brother (T.J. Miller) return home after their fathers death, they unexpectedly find themselves poised to inherit more than $20 million. Trouble is, they can only get the money if - and only if – they can adhere to their late father’s wishes.
The show is from the executive producers of How I Met Your Mother and Scott, who after graduating high school bought a one-way plane ticket to Los Angeles, said that even though he loved the script, he took the job “because I was available and it was there.”
I met Scott briefly a long time ago and he’s the most down to earth guy. And honest too based on his quote above. I talked to him in a conference call promoting the show and in the interview he talks about the cast, why he loves working in TV over film and theater and how he’s been very “fortunate” in his career.
The Goodwin Games premieres tonight (Monday) at 8:30pm on FOX Read more
With all the recent talk about Kickstarter surrounding Zach Braff‘s decision to use it to raise money for his next film (and Melissa Joan Hart‘s failed attempt to do the same), it’s good to know that there’s a campaign going to support a serial killer.
Okay, let me rephrase that — it’s a campaign to support Patrick Bateman, the titular psycho in American Psycho, as the classic novel is being adapted as a musical.
Duncan Sheik — who is best known for writing the music for Spring Awakening — already has a deal in place to stage the premiere of the musical at The Almeida Theatre in London, but he and the other producers are hoping to raise $150,000 on Kickstarter to add more to the production. He tells The New York Post, “This allows us to up the ante in terms of what the production is going to entail. I think it’s about being able to do things in the space that make for a really cool immersive theatrical experience.” Read more
On May 16th, The Office will be closing its doors. After an eight-year run, Jim Pam, Dwight and the rest of the gang will be moving on to bigger and better things (hopefully). I’ve watched every episode of the long running series and I’ll definitely be sad to see the show go.
Before getting the role of Jim, John Krasinski was like almost every other actor in New York. He’d work his job as a waiter during the week then run off to an audition when he could. He had booked a few things but “not anything that would allow me to claim that I was a working actor and didn’t need another job,” he said during a conference call. Booking The Office was like winning the lottery, “except with a winning lottery ticket you just get money, and with this you get a whole change of your life.”
If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love this interview. And honestly, even if you’re not, there’s some great stuff in here about what it’s like to go from hustling for auditions to becoming a star on a major network show. In this interview, John and Executive Producer/Writer Greg Daniels talk about the end of The Office, John’s audition, his past commercials and more. It’s a long one but it’s really great.
The Office airs on Thursdays at 9 on NBC – for only 2 more weeks! Read more
Alec Baldwin Blames ‘Orphans’ Closing on ‘Tabloid Journalism’ and a Scathing New York Times Review… But is That Fair?
It was certainly an unexpected announcement that Orphans, starring Alec Baldwin, would be closing on Broadway on May 19, several weeks before its originally scheduled closing on June 30. Baldwin took the opportunity to provide some explanation for the closing in one of his columns for The Huffington Post. It’s curious to see exactly what Baldwin — who has never been shy about saying his piece (for good or for bad) — blames for the play’s early closing.
Baldwin compares the experience on Orphans to what he calls his last role in a “legit” Broadway play, A Streetcar Named Desire in 1992. Baldwin points out that during that production any bad publicity having to do with arguments or fights was swept under the rug by the producers. He writes, “Bad press about films or shows of any kind can negatively affect your chances. The opportunity to influence an audience through any kind of well-conceived or well-timed ad campaign is lost. First impressions do count. If ‘trouble’ is that first impression, it’s difficult to swim out of that riptide.” Read more
Interview: Johnny Ray Gill on ‘Rectify’, Booking ‘Harry’s Law’ Right Out of College and Making “Bold Choices”
Johnny Ray Gill graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2010 with an MFA in Acting. While commuting back and forth to LA looking for work and a decent place to live, he auditioned for an episode of NBC’s Harry’s Law. The producers liked his work so much, that 1-episode role quickly turned into a 10-episode arc.
Since then, he hasn’t stopped working. He’s appeared on Bones, a couple of episodes of True Blood and now, he’s starring in The Sundance Channel’s new series, Rectify. The show is about a death row inmate named Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who has to put his life back together after DNA evidence reveals his innocence. Through flashbacks, Daniel relives his prison years and his friendship with another inmate, Kerwin Whitman, played by Johnny.
In this interview, Johnny talks about his education, Rectify and his advice to actors!
Rectify airs on Mondays at 10pm on The Sundance Channel Read more
I’ve been wanting to write a play for the past year or so. I’ve written several screenplays before but writing a play just seemed so daunting. I have an idea that I think is great and interesting but just sitting down and putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – seems like a monumental task.
Perfect timing, right?
I’d honestly never thought about writing a 10-Minute play before. But after reading the book, I’m totally chomping at the bit to start.
Alterman is an actor and now acting coach in New York City and he’s been writing monologues and 10-minute plays for a while now, winning over 40 playwriting competitions. He writes the book from an actors perspective, which makes the thought of actually writing a play more inviting. Writing a play can almost be easier for actors, he says. We are always asking, “What does my character want?” and in playwriting, we get to ask, “What do my lead characters want?,” he writes. Read more
Holy crap, I didn’t see this one coming.
The producers of the Tony Award-nominated play ORPHANS have announced that the Broadway production will play its final performance on Sunday, May 19th.
The show has received several accolades including Tony Nominations for Best Leading Actor Tom Sturridge and Best Revival of a Play. Additionally Sturridge has been nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award. Alec Baldwin has been nominated for a Drama League Award and the production was also nominated for Outstanding Revival of a Play by the Outer Critics Circle. Read more