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How to Get Discovered As an Actor

Updated on July 13, 2013

How to Get Discovered As an Actor

I would imagine that being discovered means sitting one day in a coffee shop, drinking your average quality over-sweetened latte when an acting agent suddenly stops right beside you, stretches out his hand with the business card, at the same time giving out complements on your looks and inviting to a meeting. This is something not only you yourself have imagined many times before, but most likely a lot of other people, too. It's an amazing fantasy.

We hear stories of how currently celebrities – actors or models – got discovered this way, and we painfully envy their luck and success. However, the truth is those stories are not true. They are made out by their publicists to make an actor sound more appealing and interesting to the general public. To put it in other words, being discovered as an actor is the dream of those people who are looking to lose 45 pounds in just one week’s time. It’s simply not going to happen.

Now having said that, this doesn't mean that you cannot become a working actor in any of the major theater and film/TV cities be it London, Los Angeles or New York; possibly even achieving all the success that your idols movie stars have. But there is one thing that you will have to change about yourself and that is to stop fantasizing about being discovered and work yourself up to that position within the society if becoming a successfully working actor is your honest wish.

As soon as the idea of making a living on stage or screen hits your head, you must think it through thoroughly and take a long while to do so. Not a day, not a week; months, at the very least. It’s a big commitment that will take over your life, your expenses and personal space and everything else that you have in order to provide you someday with fame and fortune. Read as much as you can about what it takes to become an actor in London, Los Angeles or New York City.

Talk to your friends and family, your wife or husband. The important thing is to listen, take it in and then make your own decision. You will get a lot of discouragement, but if that is truly something you are passionate about, do not feel like you should drop the idea as soon as someone told you: “You’re going to fail.” You will fail only if you’re afraid to pursue your dreams.

Now, if you have decided to embark on this long, difficult and even cruel but rewarding journey towards the show business, you’re going to need an action plan for the first 6 months of your so-called new career. Let’s talk to-do list then!

First thing on the list are headshots. Find a good, not overly expensive photographer in your area that does headshots. Those are not portraits, and you should see the difference as soon as you research what both photography styles are. Acting headshots are the single most important marketing tool an actor has, so take care of these first.

Second thing you’re going to have to acquire is a demo reel (or show reel in the UK). This is a montage of various video clips of your performances for the camera. To get these, you will need some footage, of course. For your very first reel, the footage is easy to get – apply to some student films in your area, and after they’re done, the director will always send you the material. Have that material professionally or semi-professionally edited into 2-3 minute montage show reel.

Third thing is your acting CV/resume. A fairly easy thing to do, but you need something to put on there. The very important parts are you experience and your training, of which you have to take care of in the first 6 months of pursuing acting career. Get yourself into some community theatre, maybe even drama school and if you have an acting class in the area, book some sessions there to. When finished, put those on your resume alongside your student films, description of yourself and your special skills.

Your Acting To-Have List

So your to-have list must look something like this:

  1. Perfect headshots
  2. Great resume
  3. Nice show reel
  4. Acting training
  5. Some experience

Lastly, after the first three checkpoints have been marked “complete”, you must register on one of the casting calls websites. You’ll need to pay for the monthly membership.

Create your actor’s profile over there and put up your resume, headshots and show reel. Now you’re all set, and you have everything a starting actor needs! Begin submitting to various projects around you area and wait for offers start pouring in. Spend at least another 6 to 12 months working on these projects from the casting calls website, building your experience and collecting footage for your new, more professional show reel.

After all the said has been done, one another thing -- aside from constantly doing acting training and gaining filming/stage/TV experience -- you can do is networking. This means meeting new people from within the industry or that are somehow connected to the entertainment business. These people could be actors, screenwriters, playwrights, producers, directors, talent agents, casting directors, filmmakers, etc. They could be completely new, up and coming or established veterans.

When you know places around your town where those kinds of people are hanging out, try your best to join them as often as you can. Establish true, meaningful relationships and work at those relationships. Let them know that you're an actor and that you have your own website with headshots, show reel and acting resume. You can even have some business cards done for yourself, print them off and carry in your wallet. This way whenever you want someone to remember, this is the easiest way -- just give them your business card. One day, these connections will pay off and you'll get that very important phone call that will change your life once and for all.

Get to know all kinds of industry people.
Get to know all kinds of industry people. | Source

Final Words

There’s a lot more to becoming a successfully working actor in one of the major cities, but there isn't enough paper on HubPages to write about all this. Most of the things you’ll learn by yourself, from the experience and from meeting other actors. Other things you should learn by reading such articles like this, visiting websites like Acting in London, magazines or anything else that covers the city you live in. Don’t forget to read books on the acting craft as well as the business side of it – there’s more than enough advice there.

Most importantly, do not be afraid to dream big and just keep at it! It’s not going to be easy, but with hard work and dedication, someday you’ll become who you truly were meant to be!


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