Some fall into an acting profession in some kind of twist of fate, whilst others aspire to be on the stage or on screen throughout their whole lives but naturally pursue a different path altogether. If you are fortunate enough to be able to financially support (or have a family who can help you out) acting schools or an acting class or you are talented enough to have been offered a paid scholarship for acting classes, then you may get into the profession relatively early.
Meanwhile, if you are truly destined to be a performer and your parents auditioned you for roles as a child or teen, then you may in fact be a child star looking now to hone your skill and technique!
Child TV actors are clearly not unheard of, but most acting professionals, generally, are in adulthood when they find success. This is because of the maturity of emotions that’s required by those in the film making industry.
Culkin, star of the famous Home Alone movies, was aged just four when he started acting. Photo credit: Alan Light on Visualhunt / CC BY
So, if you thought you had missed your chance having gone on to follow an entirely different career, then all is not lost. As anyone who has attended a drama class will be able to confirm, pupils of all ages, genders and backgrounds are welcome so if your objective is a life on the stage then your dream is still very much within reach!
As mentioned, if you had particularly pushy parents, you know someone in the business who can offer guidance, or you are spotted by a drama professional (this could be drama teachers putting you forward for scholarships or places at a prestigious school or someone from your modelling class recommending you), then the chances are that your experience of breaking into the world of acting may be made simpler.
Acting school is a prerequisite of the job and is open to all, regardless of age and profession. If you are an older person looking to launch a career quickly in the acting world, then independent adult acting classes may be better suited to you as they are the cheapest and fastest way to see if a life in front of the camera is for you. And, my guess is, if you have finally made the decision to go for it and look forward to getting your life moving in that direction, you don’t have a lot more time to waste. There are no auditions, so no pressure – you can simply enrol on a course and get stuck in.
Since you often pay for acting classes a term at a time, you also won’t have any financial ties like you would have if you applied for a student loan to cover the cost of a full-time acting course.
With all of this in mind, if you are really serious about making it to the next level, then you might like to consider hiring an acting tutor to help you to work on your skills one on one. An acting teacher is someone who gets you and will usually rehearse monologues and accents with you, encourage you to succeed and suggest ways that you can take your passion further.
An acting coach can help you to improve your performance technique and rehearse with you for roles. Photo credit: nican45 on Visual Hunt
Finally, location is sometimes key when an aspiring actor. Ever heard of people moving into bigger cities to showcase their skills, add to their resume and find fame? There is something in this; many high-up acting professionals will be taken to the larger cities and that is why many of those bigger opportunities are to be found in the bustling city-centres of London, New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles.
For those wishing to be centre-stage of a theatre production, then London and its famous West End are an ideal place to be spotted or to audition for roles.
Media company and magazine serving the UK theatre, TV Film entertainment and performing art industry, The Stage (this site will prove particularly useful for anyone starting out in acting, so keep note of the address), provides tips and advice on how to enter the elite world of acting.
The editors confirm that, to apply for a certified drama BA or diploma, you must be 18 or over at the time that the course begins. This legality is purely to ensure that students who are accepted are mature, stable and confident enough to be on set or in the studios.
As you may already have come across, there are numerous different ways to train as an actor. If applying for an official qualification, or likewise seeking drama lessons in your area, one of the most important things you can do is research top acting schools and instructors.
Once you have set your sights on a course, workshop or class, then you can send in your application or apply for an audition. It’s important to note that many establishments have an audition fee of between £45 and £65 (while, there are some funding opportunities available to cover this expense, you should take into account that your travel costs and time off work will not be reimbursed).
Whether a place at your chosen school is resting on your audition, or you are simply going to introduce yourself to a prospective tutor, you should nonetheless prepare effectively for your meeting. If you are asked to prepare a monologue, be sure to rehearse and sharpen this again and again until you are confident that there is no more you can do (however, make sure that you do get some sleep in the nights preceding your audition as you want to be alert and well!).
If you are auditioning for a theatrical role, then be sure to have practised your dancing and singing in the studio.
The panel is looking to see your personality, imagination, creativity and authenticity so don’t be afraid to do something in your own way rather than how your drama teacher has told you to do it – go on and be brave but believable.
There are many different introductory paths for newly trained actors. Regardless of where you see yourself in the years to come, your artistic or theatrical training will be key to enabling you to reach the heights you want in this challenging field.
While there are numerous workshops and classes to participate in that will help you to further your career as an actor, here I am going to focus on the qualifications and experience that have come to be expected of most drama professionals.
Drama school is a fantastic option for launching a career in Film TV and media, as it offers three-year training, full-time, giving you a good grounding and teaching you about the industry you are about to work in. Acting lessons, meanwhile, are a good choice for those who can’t commit to full-time education, because they can’t afford it, are working and need a flexible class schedule or have a family to support.
Other types of courses available are improvisation, comedy classes, improv comedy, cold reading, acting tips for commercials, acting for film for beginners, acting classes for kids, intermediate adult classes, singing lessons and dancing lessons.
Below are a couple of courses that are highly regarded in the profession, and which many auditioning panels will expect you to have taken part in in your approach to building an acting career. Remember, while some get lucky, breaking onto the film scene or into the entertainment industry can be quite a ruthless and competitive ordeal so don’t make the mistake of thinking that classes are beneath you.
Acting Technique classes are one of the most common among hopeful and successful actors.
If you are not planning on going to drama school, then this well rounded master class really is a must to give you a foundation in the industry. Individual classes will differ in style due to different approaches from their teacher (i.e. depending on the way they run the class: using the acclaimed Meisner Technique, Stella Adler, Method Acting or other) so investigate two or three classes at least and go for the one that you feel most comfortable enrolling on.
Research possible classes and see if you can sit in on a session to get a feel for it. Photo credit: 412 digital on Visualhunt.com
When watching TV programmes like The Only Way Is Essex, it is hard to believe that there is any level of acting skill involved, yet many reality shows are in fact loosely scripted.
The Sanford Meisner Technique is a great example of actor training to present you with, as its core values are that “acting isn’t lying, it’s telling the deepest truth”.
The Meisner Technique is an acting approach that you will come across during your training. The classes are are made up of cleverly put together exercises which are designed to help the student achieve a greater emotional freedom, more versatility and greater imagination. With a focus on how to act in the moment, producing performances that are presented with more grace and depth than other learning methods whilst the support of other members in the small groups provide a safe and welcoming environment to express yourself in.
The respected Meisner Technique and related studies are taught as part of drop-in classes or in stages designed to draw the best out of you. For instance, Stage 1 focuses on emotional connection, Stage 2 emphasises the importance of improvisation and explores relationships, meanwhile Stage 3 develops character text and scene work. The Meisner Technique, like many other types of acting, has been influenced by the Stanislavski method.
Equally an important class to attend, these lessons place emphasis on the audition process and how to nail it. Auditioning is normally far more nerve-racking than performing, as you are surrounded by a panel of unknown faces, unsure of what it is they are looking for. At least once you’ve secured the role, you can be confident that you’re doing things right! You’ll learn to analyse and break down scripts, and generally how to impress the judging panel.
One Audition Technique masterclass that is available for students is that held in London in collaboration with the National Youth Theatre. The most recent class took place during February half-term, making it ideal for those youngsters looking to chase an acting career immediately after school.
The innovative course is designed to fill you with confidence, learn how to recognise your USP (Unique Selling Points) and which speeches are suitable for you, understand how to present yourself at audition, give you the opportunity to speak to professionals in the industry and experience mock auditions in front of a panel of experts.
Remember that acting classes aren’t just for those who want a career in the film industry. Even if you want to be a casting director, acting instructor, playwright, voice over actress or actor, a vocal coach, a comedian or you want to get into screenwriting, then the above classes will still benefit you and give you valuable experience.