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How to Start Acting or Modeling at Any Age!

Updated on April 4, 2019


Did you know anyone can be on TV, do print modeling or in commercials? Just about anyone can be an actor as well! You don’t have to have a supermodel quality figure or have studied acting in New York City. As a working actor and print model who has worked in both Chicago and New York; I can share some advice on how to be an actor or model at any age. Of course, it’s not for the faint of heart and if you cannot handle disappointment now and then, I do not recommend this field. If you want to know how to start acting or modeling at any age, check out this advice.

Agencies are always looking for new talent who are fresh and different than their current database. Think of all the commercials you have seen with regular looking guys and gals doing something very every day…do you ever say to yourself; I could do that? Well, yes, you can! Print modeling is the same thing. Don’t let the word “modeling” throw you off. There are just as many Sears catalogs and home improvement ads looking for everyday individuals to pose for their ads. In fact, this is a huge industry and you can make big bucks! My brother was a model for quite some time and posed for a popular pasta brand almost 2-3 years ago; would you believe he is still making $1200 a month for just the one ad. It’s all about the run of the ad and the residual payments.

It may all sound overwhelming but if you like being in front of people and are eager; you can do well at this. I will share some step by step ways of getting into the business from personal experience:

Becoming an actor is no different than starting up your own business. You have to be business minded and follow the simple steps in order to get started.

First of all, if you want to an actor or model at any age, you should get an agent. What you should most likely do prior to getting an agent is sign up for a local acting class. You can also audition for local theater in your area…if there isn’t any then start your own small production. Also, check out craigslist under the talent section; often there are audition postings there all the time. Keep in mind local theater doesn’t pay but it is a lot of fun and can build your resume.

Now the goal here is to put together a short resume. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or super impressive. It does need to be formatted accurately and show agencies you understand the business. If you can’t find any productions to be involved in; that is okay, agencies are often looking for new faces. Simply include classes you have taken or a brief bio about yourself and your strengths. Always include your stats and info on your resume.

Black and White Headshots are Great for Theater or Film

a standard headshot
a standard headshot

Acting and Modeling Headshots

Learning how to start acting or modeling at any age involves photos as well. Once you have a basic resume put together you will need to get headshots made. Agencies like to see two-three types of photographs.

Headshot: Generally a black and white

Full Length/Body Shot: Yes, they want to see what your whole body looks like. Like I said it isn’t about how attractive you are it is about where they can market you. Ie: Plus Size clothing, Sunglasses, Long Legs, Lanky, etc.

You can usually find local photographers who will do these photos for you. You will want to have quite a few printed so you can hit the streets and target agencies.

Next you should look up acting/modeling agencies in your area. Sometimes they only represent one or the other – Actor or Model – but sometimes they do both. Do some research to find out which. Many times if you call the agency they have open casting sessions. It is important to define what it is you are looking for. For example if you are not a supermodel type; I don’t recommend showing up to a casting call for high fashion. This would be models who are 5’8”-6’ tall, etc. Ask specifically for the print modeling division. They also have a kids division so you can do the same thing with your children if they are aspiring to get into the business!

Once you have targeted the agencies you will need to either mail or drop off your headshots/resumes. Usually you would mail these in and sometimes a non union agency will contact you right away for auditions or castings. It is always good to send a cover letter with your resume/photo as you would for any job. Acting and modeling is a business believe it or not and it takes leg work and effort.

Another place you will want to send your info would be casting agencies. Casting agents work directly with the talent agents. Typically it works like this: Director So and So calls up X Casting Agency. X Casting Agency contacts X talent agency and says, “hey, I need to do a casting for a grandmother and a middle age balding man in his early 40’s.” Then the Talent Agency will call you if you are a fit to come to an audition.


The scariest aspect of learning how to start acting or modeling at any age can often stop at the audition process. Many beginners are nervous about getting up in front of people for the first time. This is where you will have to swallow that fear and take a leap of faith if you really want to do this.

Auditions for Acting and Modeling are very different. For acting gigs such as tv, film, commercials or theater they are called auditions. You generally will be given a short script upon arrival to read. This is called a “cold reading”. You will read this aloud either to a panel or the casting team or perhaps the director. If it is for on camera than generally it will be recorded.

For theater sometimes you will be asked to prepare a “monologue”. A monologue could be any brief (around 1 minute) character. You can pick your favorite from a movie, book, play. Whatever. Just find someone you connect with and who fits your character type. You will need to memorize the monologue and be able to perform it in front of a casting person(s). Generally local theater, etc. will have you read from a script. Also, many times for film or commercial auditions they will also have a snippet of the script available for you to read through at the audition.

Always wear either something that fits the character you are auditioning for or if you don’t know, something very neutral which allows you free movement. Before your audition it is wise to meditate, breathe and relax before going in. Get grounded and remain in character even if you slip up on the text. Make bold choices and stick to them. For example if you feel the character you are portraying is whiny; go with it and stay with it all the way through.

When auditioning for Theater; remember bigger is better. If you are cast; keep in mind you will be performing on stage and the audience will need to be able to hear you and see your expressions. Practice in a mirror and don’t worry about over doing it. Directors would much prefer to have to tone someone down then to raise someone up.

Film auditions or on camera will be more of a close up scenario. You have to be more subtle but still be believable. When you are on film it is okay to take moments to think (if that is what your character would do) you can pause more and show what is going on in your mind.

Finally, have fun! Being an actor or model at any age can be a lot of fun and you will meet great people. Don’t worry about not being cast on your first several auditions. Keep going! The more you go the better you will be and soon you will start getting cast. BREAK A LEG!

© 2009 dagny roth


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