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Landing Your First Professional Role


How Will You Break into the Acting Profession?:

Competing for professional acting jobs puts all the experience you’ve gained to work. You have set goals, made a plan, acquired needed skills, improved your craft, and stuck with it.

The competition is tough, but you can set yourself apart.

Be the Professional You Want to Be :

    Acting is a profession and a craft. Now, it’s your job. As in any workplace, little things count and add up to a good or bad impression.

  • Dress for success
  • Be on time
  • Have professional-quality headshots and bios
  • Be prepared for whatever is expected of you
  • Be a positive part of auditions, rehearsals, or productions

Be the Best Actor You Can Be :

The ease with which actors appear to work on stage is the result of training and hard work. Get the training you need to be the actor you want to be. Very few actors simply stroll into success.

Getting an Agent :

Reputable agents are looking for talented actors. They make money when you do. Obviously, there are many more agents in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago than in other markets, but professional opportunities are in almost every large or mid-size city.

Finding a Reputable Agent::

  • Ask theater professionals you meet as you build your career.

  • Even actors with whom you are sometimes in competition typically will share good information.

  • The Actors Equity union has a list of agents. If you are not an Equity member, the list is available for a fee.

Most agents will look at your portfolio, and those who won’t make it clear. Only submit where submissions are accepted, otherwise everyone’s time is wasted.

Keep trying. There are more actors wanting agents than there are agents available for them. But you haven’t let the odds stop you yet. Many actors work years to get an agent.

Finding Roles :

Trade papers, such as Backstage and Show Business Weekly, are good sources for auditions. Many of these jobs will be for members of Actors Equity, which is the actor’s union. We’ll discuss below what that means for you.

Local commercial theaters will post audition schedules at their facilities, on their websites, and, often, in the theater listings of local papers.

Theme parks, cruise ships, and industrial shows also are a great source for beginning professional roles, so check their websites. Trade papers often list regional auditions for these employers, as well.

Actors Equity :

The best source for information on Actors Equity is Equity’s website. Getting an Equity card requires time, hard work, and dedication. But it can open opportunities to compete for many roles.

Of course, belonging to a union costs money and subjects you to the organization’s rules. Talk to union members for their take on the value of membership.

Watch Out for Scams :

Finally, a warning: In acting, there are those who’ll take advantage of your passion.

Offers of “exclusive access” to this theater or that director should be viewed with suspicion. And reputable agents will not ask you to pay up front for representation.

Check with the executive directors of successful local theaters. They will know the teachers, agents, and coaches with a reputation for helping actors succeed. Many acting schools are preying on your heartfelt desire to forward your career and actually have little to offer. It’s good to find out whose careers they’ve helped.

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