For some reason the area I grew up in has produced more than its fair share of actors who have made it into regular TV and even movie roles. I didn’t live in a major city with lots of production companies or anything so I suppose it must have been mostly coincidence that so many actors came from such a concentrated area. Speculation aside, it did offer me plenty of opportunities to ask them how they got into acting. I did wonder whether I might like to try myself one day, but life took me down a different path. Nonetheless I can share their tips and advice here for anyone keen to land their first role.
There were two types of actor – those who had formal training and those who hadn’t. The ones who had been through some kind of acting school were much bigger names, having had major roles in blockbuster films after a career in theatre.At school they joined amateur theatre groups and continued their acting as hobbies at university, concentrating on classics such as Shakespeare, from which they launched themselves into paid acting gigs through auditions. Performances at repertory theatres led to West End performances and a successful career which prompted the first offers of TV and movie work.
Some of the advice they offered to people looking to take this route was, first and foremost, to speak up. Nobody is going to hear you mumbling your way through a script from the back of the theatre. These guys have booming, powerful voices and if you can’t project yours, you will need to get training for this. The next things you will need are a genuine passion for acting and hard work. Passion can be aroused by seeing people act and wondering to yourself how good you would be at it, and what you could improve on. Taking tips and trying to incorporate them into your work. Learning to act in ‘Hamlet’ just as well as learning to do stand-up comedy. Working hard at improving yourself over your career.
The second group of actors all originally signed up as extras with studios in Manchester and Leeds – some out of genuine interest and others to earn some cash. The key to getting any work was simply to always say yes and always be available. Once they had been able to put together a portfolio of work, photographs and so on, they could go for small speaking roles. The best way to find work was to find a way for directors to remember you. You could achieve this by following instructions to a tee, being flexible and responsive and being ever present. As soon as a bigger speaking role comes up, you may find that agents are interested in you and you have more time to focus on developing your acting skills. Landing a long-term role in a series such as Coronation Street or Emmerdale is really a jackpot as you are constantly working and continually bombarded with offers to do commercials, interviews and so on.
Your looks are not as important as you might think when it comes to acting. The more flexible your image is, the more successful you will be. That means that whilst you may be auditioning for the role of an unwashed, fat slob, you don’t have to live like one. It wouldn’t hurt to take a look at some home exercise equipment from http://indoorellipticals.com/ and get into shape. You can always put weight back on for a role. The same applies to your features – if you have bad teeth or visible scars, they won’t be a barrier to finding work, but you will obviously not be considered for certain roles. If you were to have your teeth straightened and whitened, plus any scars cosmetically removed, you would still be eligible for the role of a character with bad teeth and scars and that is what make-up artists are paid for.
If it’s your dream to be an actor, or if you’re just curious, there’s no reason not to act on it now. Whether you join the local theater group or sign up with a local castings agency, it could be you first step on the road to stardom.