How to Break Into Acting

(L-R) Nicole Kidman, Jason Momoa and Amber Heard arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Aquaman" at the Chinese Theatre on December 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Nicole Kidman, Jason Momoa, and Amber Heard | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Have you always had dreams of becoming an actor? There are a few steps you’ll need to take before your dream becomes reality. The Cheat Sheet reached out to Ashlee Collova, founder of Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions, to learn how to get your big break as an actor. Here’s what she had to say.

The Cheat Sheet: What’s the first step someone should take if he or she wants to break into acting?

Ashlee Collova:

  • Get training. The first step an inspiring model or actor should take to break into the entertainment industry is to look into training. Acting and modelling is just like any other profession and to be successful in your chosen field you should invest in training to develop skills and build on industry knowledge.
  • Volunteer. An invaluable way to acquire on-the-job training is to volunteer with student films or local festivals and theatres. Start small; think of it as work experience. While these jobs are often unpaid, it is the perfect way to put your knowledge into practice and to network with other industry members. You can also ask the producer for a copy of the footage or photos for your portfolio; once you have items to show in your portfolio and show reels, it will be easier to find other opportunities.
  • Consider an agency. Alongside this, aspiring actors and models should consider whether they would like to apply for representation with an agency or if they would like to go freelance. For adults most agencies will only sign talent if they are able to prove their marketability. Having credits on your resume and portfolio footage is essential when applying for agency representation. A few years ago, many artists thought that it could only be possible with an agent on your side. Today it is much easier to source work on your own. If you turn to social media or casting websites, you can find paid and unpaid opportunities for yourself. Some artists prefer to represent themselves as it gives them the flexibility to choose which jobs to go for and manage their own schedule, plus they do not owe anyone commission!

CS: What are some do’s and don’ts?

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

AC: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there; apply for opportunities you feel passionate about, no matter how big or small, as you never know what could come from it. However, with this in mind, you need to be self-aware and keep you or your child safe. There are so many scams on the web, so always do your research. If you are considering applying for a casting or purchasing a service, look into the company or the director to make sure it is legitimate and safe to go ahead with.

CS:  Are there any tools, such as IMDbPro, that entertainers should buy?

Tom Cruise at the premiere of Rock of Ages in 2012
Tom Cruise | Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

AC: It is very exciting as new technologies and the internet have made opportunities accessible to so many more people. IMDBPro is a great tool to use to research anyone and anything in entertainment but there are also some other great tools and services available to assist aspiring entertainers.

In Australia, I started Ashlee Collova Talent Solutions (ACTS), which is an online children’s talent and casting database, to help parents find casting opportunities for their child. Parents can list their child on our website and companies and creatives search our database to select talent for a range of productions across the advertising and entertainment industries. There are other similar membership-based casting services including Actors Access and Spotlight. I recently came across a great app called Slatable, which enables you to record high quality tapes from your phone quickly and efficiently.

CS: If you don’t have industry connections, how can you get connected?

AC: Attending workshops and volunteering for unpaid roles when you are first starting out is a great way to meet new people and make connections with crew and other creatives. Set up professional social media channels to connect and interact with casting directors, producers and other creatives. Not only are you networking but it can help you keep on top of what projects are in the works and you can touch base with the professionals working on these.

When you’re first starting out, and once you have a few credits to show, you can send a package to casting directors or producers and they might add you to their database and call you in for auditions. This is beneficial if you are freelancing, but make sure you research the company before sending your material; some companies allow this while others do not.

CS: How can you stay financially afloat while pursuing your dream?

Terry Crews at Sunset Tower on February 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Terry Crews | Rich Fury/Getty Images

AC: Like any profession there are expenses. Athletes, for example, invest in equipment and coaching (I am sure there are more!) while actors and models invest in head shots, show reels, training, and portfolios. Aspiring artists should carefully budget and research to find services that fit with their budget but can still offer exactly what they are after. Do not rush into things, take your time and do it right the first time.

CS: Anything to add?

AC: Enjoy the journey, including the hard times, because it is part of your story!

Read more: How to Break into the Entertainment Industry

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