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10 Steps For a Successful Acting Career

Updated on July 14, 2013
Here are your 10 steps to speed up your acting career progress.
Here are your 10 steps to speed up your acting career progress.

Prepare Yourself to be Discovered

As we have already established in How to Get Discovered As an Actor, such practice as being accidentally given the major role in the upcoming blockbuster movie isn't going to happen to most of us out there. Statistically, the chances for just “being discovered” are slimmer than winning a millions of dollars in the lottery.

As sad as that is to learn, unlike winning a lottery, you can do something about increasing your chance of so-called “discovery”. You need to work your way towards the position in your acting career where one day you would be ready to take the offered to you role, perform your heart out and receive your well-deserve acclaim, fame and fortune.

In order to get to that place or “readiness”, you need to learn a little about the acting craft and the business side of it, as well as how the entertainment industry works and what is waiting for you around the corner. Below, you can find 10 steps you would need to take to raise your chance of becoming successful in the acting business and turning yourself into a serious working actor in either London, Los Angeles, New York or any other major film/TV and stage acting city.

Your to-do list of 10 things for your acting career.
Your to-do list of 10 things for your acting career.

10 Steps for a Successful Acting Career

Here is your checklist of 10 to-do things. Write it down and hang it on the wall, somewhere you can always see it so that every day you remember that your ultimate goal by the end of this year (or whatever your deadline) is to check the very last 10th step as “completed”.

  1. Acting training
  2. Industry knowledge
  3. Acting type
  4. Marketing skills
  5. Auditioning process
  6. Connections
  7. Acting community
  8. Keep learning
  9. Give back
  10. Reinstate your passion

Acting training is your first goal. Find a class in your area (take a look at my previous article on How to Find Acting Jobs Where You Live and Acting Classes or Drama School Training for additional insight), apply for their free audit class and see if you like it. When you find one that you feel would greatly benefit you and you enjoy being and learning there, pay your monthly fee and attend every single session. Dedicate yourself to your acting training.

Industry knowledge is important to every beginner actor. You must learn how the process of getting called in, auditioning and being cast works. Do you know who’s responsible for finding talent? Who’s responsible for casting them, who has the final word? To whom should you talk to when looking for representation, how to approach an agent, how to talk to casting directors in audition sessions? It’s all very sensitive as you need to learn every subtlety about this industry to move forward. Every actor needs to learn how to get an acting agent and start auditioning as soon as possible.

Acting in Hollywood is much closer than you think.
Acting in Hollywood is much closer than you think.

Acting type is another important thing you should pay attention to. Here’s the best tip on how you can figure out your acting type and what kind of an actor you are or can be. It’s important to know your range, what you look like, how old do you look like, what parts can you play and which ones you shouldn't apply for, and so forth. This is another thing that will make you look professional, and vice versa – if you don’t know your type, you’re applying to wrong parts, casting directors aren't happy with how you approach this and they feel you’re too amateurish for this business. Don’t let them think this way.

Marketing skills are essential for every actor’s arsenal. One thing is to be a good actor, and it’s a totally different thing to be a good actor with great marketing skills. The first example will be a great performer, but what good can it do when nobody knows who they are? You need to make sure people in the industry are aware that you exist; they need to know your name, where to find your website and what parts you can play so that as soon as that perfect role comes up, you’d be available on an instant. Get a great acting book on developing marketing skills – it’s truly the only way to learn this (there are top 3 best books listed at the end of this article that you should definitely consider).

Auditioning process can be either very simple or very complicated, depending on how well you are prepared. If you haven’t taken any auditioning classes, you better read a few books on how to audition, succeed and book the job (books listed below). After industry people know you as an actor, this is the second most important thing to you – not to screw up your audition. Perform well!

Connections are vital in this business. You need to know people who will get you into audition rooms, introduce you to talent agents and casting directors. Make connections everywhere you can; go to parties, gatherings, expos, film festivals and so forth. Have business cards to give out for an easier way for industry people to reach you.

Acting community is an important part of every actor’s life. You need to always have a circle of like-minded people around you who understand what you’re going through. Family and friends sometimes won’t do this – only other actors, your fellow colleagues will know what it’s like to be an actor. So have your support group with you at all times. Even communicating online is usually a big help to any actor! Here’s a great acting community for every struggling actor out there to ask for tips and advice: Acting Community.

Keep learning on a daily basis; always stay hungry for knowledge and improvement. Don’t ever assume that you know it all! An actor has to stay in training for most of his/her life, so please at least try to do so. While training, read books on the acting business, on marketing, on the craft; read plays and novels. Constantly improve yourself to become a better actor and a better person!

Give back to the community, to people around you, to your friends and family when you come to a certain point in your career. Help them when they need it; give advice to other actors just like you’re receive some now. It will help you to stay sane in this cruel business; it will help you to be a good person.

Reinstate your passion and never forget the first reason you got into this business – your love for acting. When everything gets tough, forget about the business, about the struggle; drop everything for a moment and go play, do some acting with your friends or family. Get in a better state of mind and rest from all the crazy things that has been happening in the entertainment industry.

You love the craft, and you should try your best to maintain that love and avoid developing hatred towards it. And trust me – with the way this industry works, this could very easily be achieved.

There you go – your 10 steps for a successful acting career. Try to follow at least a few of them starting from the top, and you’re already ahead of half of your competition! For more great advice and to learn about marketing, auditioning and the craft, give these great acting books below a shot. Read the reviews on Amazon; these books are amazing.

4 Great Books Every Actor Must Read

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    • alistairjdarcy profile image

      Alistair J D'arcy 

      15 months ago

      Hi Tom, great article. Very important points often missed or skipped by a lot of actors!

    • Tom London profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom London 

      5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Hi epigramman,

      Thank you so much for your warm hello and compliments! I appreciate you taking the time to leave such an insightful comment.

      And yes, I could not agree with you more: first and foremost, it's all about the writer. There would never be anything created without the inspiration that comes from the screenwriter or playwright. It might be this realization that made my passion for acting expand into writing as well.

      The quote you have mentioned is probably the most famous one in the whole industry; everybody inside and outside of the acting world seems to remember it so well. However, it's the biggest contradiction to DDL's approach. Both Hoffman and Day Lewis were/are method actors; Daniel just took it to a whole another level.

      I do share your love for this great actor's craft though! Everything he's done has been plain magical.

      Thanks for sharing this hub, and I hope to see more of you around here! :)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      5 years ago

      Hello and good afternoon Tom and it's so nice to meet you.

      Well has 'she' had her baby yet? lol

      We are in the middle of an oppressive heat wave here in Canada by lake erie ontario time 3:55pm and Colin, that's me and my two cats, Little Miss Tiffy and Mister Gabriel are sending to you our warmest wishes.

      I suppose writers and poets are also 'actors' in the sense of the words they write and the characters they create.

      And as you know even the greatest actors are nothing without a good script so in the profession of acting it really is a collaboration.

      Just like a good song always makes any singer look and sound better.

      I always remember the famous line by Sir Laurence Oliver to Dustin Hoffman during the filming of Marathon Man when Dustin, a method actor, was trying to 'find' his character and 'Larry' said to him "why don't you just try to act my dear boy.' lol

      Big fan of Daniel Day Lewis as he seems to disappear completely into every character he plays and I always loved Maggie Smith's peformance in the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

      I will post madly and gladly your awesome hub presentation here to my FB page with a link for all to see and read

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