12 Answers to Important Questions About Your Acting Career

Gwyn Gilliss answers questions questions about agents, classes, headshots and more!

Questions about Acting Career

  1. Which is the more important – training or talent? You need both but I’d say talent- if you’re a natural communicator, have a lot of energy and personality- that will go further. Training helps you to create a believable character, learning how to be as authentic and natural as possible in situations the character is experiencing but that you probably never have. Training taps your imagination and helps you master the technical aspects –voice speech, movement and how to work on camera but you need to have the talent and personality first.
  1. Do I need a degree to get in the door? No. A degree is helpful to get teaching jobs and perhaps connect with a fellow alumna currently in the industry who can help you but otherwise is of very little value when in a casting call. They want to see your work -not your certification.
  1. How do I Get a good Agent? Get good training, obtain excellent marketing tools-headshot, resume, demo reel (sizzle) and website. Then meet as many top professionals and get to know them. Agents ask in a preliminary interview- “What Casting Director know you and call you in? With whom have you worked?” You do 90% and agents do 10% of the work of getting you work.Most beginners make the mistake of assuming the first thing they have to do is get an agent. Wrong. The first thing is get your act together, know your strengths ( what roles you’re right for and can play) and build a network of Industry  folk who will think of you for a role.
  1. How do I get cast in a major Film or Prime time TV series? Get training , experience, a network of industry professionals who know you and your work and an agent to negotiate money when you book something. Meanwhile develop relationships with Casting Directors who can call you directly if they’ve gotten to know you- first a small role, then a supporting role, etc. That’s how it works.
  1. Does it matter if I didn’t go to an Ivy League or prestigious Drama school? No. Although it might impress an agent and imply good training, nobody cares about your school if your work is good. Excellent training can be found in conservatories and with many high level acting teachers who are running their own studios.
  1. Do I have to be beautiful? Thin? Of course not. The skinny trend has been over for years. What you have to do is be the best you can be- in shape, have clear skin, good hair and haircut, be neat and have a somewhat current or chic wardrobe depending upon your type- what roles you’re going for. If you play gang members, drug dealers and criminals, then look like them. Otherwise, look great, dress great, have a fabulous smile and a positive attitude. That will get you in the door faster than anything.
  1. Does it hurt my career to have a foreign name? Not necessarily-that’s part of your brand. However, if no one can pronounce your name you’ll lower your number of opportunities. If they’re looking for your specific ethnicity you’re in! If you don’t look ANYTHING like your ethnic name, consider revising or changing it- confusion about your type doesn’t book work.
  1. Is my accent preventing me from working? Yes and no. If you specialize in roles requiring your Hispanic, Arabic, French or British accent- glory in it! That’s your unique selling point/brand. If you don’t look like how you sound, work with a coach to minimize or eradicate the accent.
  1. I’m trained and talented but I can’t get an agent. Why? First, build your resume with credits from jobs you get on your own. Then, obtain excellent marketing tools-this may take a few years as you evolve, develop and refine your “look” and skills. It’s rare that your first head shot will get you there…it’s a constant updating process. Just because you have a headshot and some student film clips doesn’t mean you’re ready for a top Agent. A Marketing Mentor/Coach can look at your tools, advise you on what you need to get signed and help you get there.
  1. Do I need a high fan rating on Social Media to get an agent or work? NO. It has little to do with a major career- no matter what you’ve heard. Your work is what’s important. Only if you’re developing your own web series does your fan rating count to networks. Just DO YOUR BEST WORK…and keep going!
  1. I’m paying to meet Agents and Casting Directors- why isn’t it working? Persist and keep developing as an actor-sometimes although you think you’re ready and up to speed, you’re not. Follow up announcing what you’ve accomplished and what roles you’re cast in. When a CD needs your type or has a small role they’ll call you. As you build your credits, the roles will get bigger and you’ll get more work! The secret is building a large Network of Industry people who know you, like you and realize that you’re a really GOOD actor. A career doesn’t happen from one or two good auditions, but thousands- not from meeting one or two people, but hundreds!
  1. Is it true that women (seniors, minorities, ethnics) aren’t getting opportunities and challenging roles in Series? Films? No…every major Emmy award series/Oscar nominated film currently has actors of all ages, sex’s, types and ethnicities in their casts.Study the market and see for yourself. Don’t buy into the gossip and hearsay. Never give up! And try to find or create your own projects- that’s the best way to have great roles and work a lot!


With coaching clients on both coasts and internationally working in all medias, Gwyn Gilliss is the premier role model and Marketing Coach with winning strategies and first hand knowledge of the TV, Film and theater industries which she generously shares to help new actors succeed.

 Gwyn offers actors a complimentary 15 minute career consult upon request: gwyngilliss.com

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