This month I am taking about something very close to my heart. Acting. I see myself as constantly growing and never arriving, because I believe we learn till we die. So, when people ask me for acting advice, I am honoured, but honestly, I am still trying to figure it out. I can share with you what I have learnt thus far and if you have something to add I would love to hear from you.
I am not one of those people who studied drama and was immediately cast thereafter in a career changing role that opened a lot of future doors. After completing my studies, I started out working as a personal assistant to a wedding planner in the morning and an au pair in the afternoon, both jobs were flexible in allowing me to go for auditions.
Know Why You Are Choosing Acting
The most important thing I can tell you when getting started on this journey is to know why you are doing it. Don’t do it for fame or money, you must love acting. This is not an easy career choice. You don’t build yourself up and then get a promotion or get a yearly increase. As soon as one job is finished you start all over again with another audition. Of course, if you are a big movie star there will be other advantages but trust me, they still audition or work on their own projects.
For me personally, I know God has called me to this, it’s quite a long story on how it happened, and I often wonder if this is what I am meant to do forever, or will it change. I truly love acting, I am a bit shy and will definitely not strike up a performance in the middle of my friends but finding a character in a script brings me great joy! When times are tough, I cling to how it all started, the confirmations I have received along the way, and the dreams I believe God has placed inside my heart. It doesn’t make the tough times easier, but you have peace knowing it’s what you meant to do. I have so much confirmation that I am supposed to do this, but still struggle sometimes.
Study and Network
You need to study or go to acting and auditioning workshops. I still do workshops and will possibly study again. Before doing a workshop, look at who is presenting it, if possible, ask someone who has done it before. This way you make sure that you know what you are paying for and you are getting your monies worth. Joining a network of actors in your area is also a good idea, they can give you advice on which agents are good, which classes they take, and you could work with them on projects.
Get Good Headshots
When you are just starting out, and you haven’t got a showreel to sell your acting with, you need good headshots. Casting directors will ask to see you or not based on your headshots. Get a professional photographer to help you capture the essence of who you are. If you change your appearance you need to get new pictures, when you don’t look like the photo anymore casting directors could feel misled.
Get an Agent
Getting an agent has got major pros, they get fantastic briefs for big jobs, they make sure that you are paid because they want to be paid, they can promote you to casting directors, and get you into the audition room. Agents just generally have more industry contacts, making your chances greater.
This does not mean that you can sit back, you still need to work on your acting skills, learn scripts, practice accents, basically be as prepared as you can be for when the dream job audition comes. It’s very important to choose an agent with whom you can easily communicate and feel comfortable with, so they can understand your career goals and you can work together to achieve this.
The process of getting an agent, would be to visit their websites and see what they require from new members wanting to join. Email all the ones you like, then you have options. Some agents never reply so don’t take it personally.
What if you can’t get in with an agent? Don’t let this get you down, try to understand where the agent is coming from. Sometimes if you haven’t studied or been in a big role, they won’t take you on, they may already have someone that looks similar to you or they have too many actors signed already.
Please Note: You should never pay joining fees at an agency! Their commission should also not be more than 20%, check before signing. Note they must deduct tax when you have booked a job, which is normally 25% but you could possibly get it back from SARS (South African Revenue Services) depending on your yearly income.
Going to Castings
Have confidence, don’t worry if you think you look different to all the other girls/guys, you are there for a reason, own your look. If the casting director brings a lot of people into the room at once, try not to copy what everyone else is doing. Think about the brief (what the casting director asked you to do) and do it in the way you would do it. If they say run, you run, but run like you would, think about why you are running (Are you running away, for fitness, because your excited to see someone). Do what comes naturally to you, because you are unique.
These days self-tapes are becoming more and more popular. What is a self-tape? Its when you get sent the script and you have to film yourself doing it and then send it back to the casting director or your agent. Things to remember when filming yourself are:
- Know your lines well.
- Make sure your sound and lighting are good.
- If your reader is also the camera person make sure they don’t stand right by your camera, otherwise their voice is right by the microphone and your sound levels are very different.
- Try film a medium to close-up shot not full body. (unless specified)
This is not a one size fits all career, what works for one doesn’t always work for everyone.
Keep doing what you can to build your career, study, do student films to get footage for your showreel, get headshots, network and most of all be confident. When you come across as confident, not arrogant, people will see what you have to offer.
If you have any questions or maybe some advice, please comment and let me know.
Until next month xx