One of the most common questions I receive on a weekly basis is on how to become an actor with no experience. Many aspiring actors who are just about to start pursuing a career in show business are confused how to get acting jobs when you don’t have anything on your acting resume.
I can see how this catch-22 situation can be confusing to many, particularly to those who just got out of drama schools or jump straight into the industry without the formal training. I’ve been there before, and so were all others. Every. Single. Actor.
First, the good news: obviously you CAN become an actor with no experience. Everybody has to start somewhere. The key is actually taking action and doing something in order to get that experience, and there are a few things that you can do at this point which I’ll talk about below.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar
There are many ways how to become an actor with no experience, when and where to start your acting career. A lot of these questions have already been partially answered in the Acting for Beginners Guide, and multiple guide across this app.
Tips on How to Become an Actor with No Experience
Once you’ve decided that you want to pursue a career in acting, you’ll need a good plan of action on how to become an actor with no experience. Like we talked before in the how to start an acting career column, planning is key. Your main goal will be to expand your acting resume with skills, experience and training.
There are many things inexperienced budding thespians can focus on in order to advance their careers, and they’re all interrelated. Some of those involve looking for jobs, and others are simply complimentary to your acting career that will eventually result in you finding and booking more auditions.
So let’s get down to it. Here are the 7 tips on how to become an actor with no experience and how do to it in the most efficient way possible.
1. Read and study
First of all, you need to familiarize yourself with the industry. Know the ins and outs of this business, how it works and what people are involved in it. Reading books about the acting business, marketing, talent agents and so forth will give you confidence and understanding of where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.
Depending on the location you’re starting your acting career at, your approach to effectively start booking acting jobs may differ slightly. Once you know the intricacies of this business, you’ll find it much easier to develop your own specific plan of action instead of relying on general advice from websites like this one and many others.
Not only that, but reading a lot will benefit any actor’s craft as well. Read books on acting technique to understand the theory behind truthful acting. Don’t forget to read the most essential plays as well. However, don’t rely solely on books, because you cannot learn acting from that alone. You’ll need to take acting classes or even apply to a drama school anyway.
When you’re trying to find the most efficient ways on how to become an actor with no experience, self-education is priceless. And in addition to learning about the craft and business, reading a lot will increase your creativity (best creativity books) and expand your imagination (best books for imagination).
2. Don’t move right away
By now, you probably know that certain cities in the world have a much bigger theater or film and television industry. If you’re starting your acting career in one of those cities, then good for you – you’ll have plenty of opportunities from the get go.
However, if you’re not in any of the bigger cities such as London, Los Angeles or New York City, then don’t fret about it. As an aspiring actor who’s just starting out, your town will probably have plenty of small-time productions which are absolutely GREAT for getting that experience because those jobs are easier to book.
Big cities are not only very competitive, but they’re also very expensive. So when you’re looking for ways on how to become an actor with no experience when you live in a smaller town, focus on saving money, learning about the business and exploring local opportunities.
Don’t move to a big city as soon as you decided you want to be an actor. You need to check whether this is simply an impulsive decision, or you actually enjoy the craft and will be able to do this for a long period of time. Try to bite off as much of that less-competitive market in your small town and start building your acting resume.
3. Audition and train locally
Continuing my point from the above, your goal must be to move slowly, rather than rush into anything. Remember the famous phrase – acting is a marathon, not a spring. This cannot be more true. Anybody who rushes into this profession will burn out very quickly. It’s not a smart way to approach this business.
An acting career is like a marathon. It’s not a sprint.
Unless you live in towns like Manningtree, UK where the population is 700 people, or Whittier, Alaska with 217 people, it’s likely that your city will have some opportunities for you to act. If you want to know how to become an actor with no experience, then this is how you can do it fast – less competitive market.
So what opportunities can you explore? Anything, really; whatever gives you a chance to act. At this point, you need to start acting as much as you can, anywhere you get the opportunity to. It could be community theater, drama clubs, amateur acting workshops, student films and so on.
If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to already live in a bigger city, there’s going to be a lot more stuff happening, but it’ll be more competitive as well. Nevertheless, actively seek out jobs, audition and do whatever you can to get up on your feet and simply act. As soon as you can afford some local acting class or workshop, try that as well.
The goal is to start building that resume in any way possible. Put anything you can on it. Jump on any project you can. Be proactive!
4. Work on your special skills
Being a good actor should always be your main priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn any “accessory” skills that will help you book more acting jobs. Many actors completely ignore this part, and therefore take themselves out of running for easy gigs that they could’ve gotten if they had some one particular skill.
It’s always helpful to be able to do something that a director can use in the production. If you already can play musical instruments and do more unique stuff, such as riding a unicycle – perfect! Hone those skills, put them on the resume and see how this can help you with gaining that acting experience.
But don’t stop there. Do learn new things and spend enough time to actually master the technique to an adequate level where you can at least fake it to look like a professional, rather than simply “know how it’s done.”
What should you be learning? Anything, really. Juggling, accents, languages, musical instruments, sports, martial arts, magic and whatnot. Try some of the unusual things and put those on your resume, particularly if you already do them.
Special skills aren’t the focal point of your resume (which is why they’re usually at the very bottom), but who knows, one day one of those skills may win you a significant role in a big production.
5. Start working on your marketing
When you have no acting experience and you follow the above advice, it’s likely you won’t have too much of your time taken up with filming projects day in and day out. Therefore, you’ll probably have a little bit of extra time on your hands which you can use wisely to boost your acting career.
My suggestion would be to start working on your marketing and branding yourself. It’s not going to do much for you now, but if you start early, once you have that acting experience, you’ll be ahead of many other actors who are just catching up with their actor marketing goals.
So what, can you do to start building a brand around yourself? There are several things, and all are very easy to do and learn, particularly because it’s all based online. Here’s what you should focus on:
– Build your own personal acting website (or you can pay someone to do it for you, but it’s not worth it).
– Create social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and whatever else is out there.
– Become active on your website and with your social media. Share things and communicate with others.
– Make connections online with other actors, directors, producers, screenwriters and industry people.
On top of doing all of this online, you can also start networking a little. Even if you live in a small town with very little film or theater action, there’s probably other aspiring actors, directors, producers out there doing the same thing. Find them, connect with them and maybe start working on something together.
If you try hard, you can also find professionals in the field who are already working. Getting to know these people is harder, particularly when you’re still trying to figure out how to become an actor with no experience, but if you can get their attention, try to utilize those contacts, or save them for later.
In our free eBook, we covered the topic of networking and how plenty of industry people actually enjoy talking about the business and giving advice. Use that to your advantage.
6. Get used to rejection
Rejection is a part of this business. A big part, actually. Many budding artists do not expect this turn of events once they decide they want to be actors, singers, dancers, or other type of performers in this very competitive market. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of show business – everybody gets rejected.
Unlike in other walks of life, you have to accept that Rejection (with capital “R”) is completely normal. It’s not personal and there’s no reason you should ever take it to heart. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad actor or that you’ve done something wrong.
Imagine that you’re casting a project. You only have one part, and 100 actors come to audition for that part. 50 of them were good. Can you hire all 50? No, you cannot. You have to pick one, and it’s a tough decision to make as a casting director. Nobody wants you to fail, but due to the nature of this business, you’ll get betting rejected a lot.
“For every successful actor or actress, there are countless numbers who don’t make it. The name of the game is rejection. You go to an audition and you’re told you’re too tall or you’re too Irish or your nose is not quite right. You’re rejected for your education, you’re rejected for this or that and it’s really tough.” – Liam Neeson
What’s the point I’m trying to make? The point is that you should deliberately put yourself in a position to be rejected as soon as you can. Get comfortable with rejection. Trust me, if there’s one “ability” actors need to have, it’s this one. It’s not easy, but it will save you tons of internal battles and keep you on the right path.
“Actors search for rejection. If they don’t get it they reject themselves.” – Charlie Chaplin
At this point, don’t go out there to win. Go out there to FAIL. Do your best, experiment, play and enjoy the process. As an actor, you cannot try to avoid failure, ever.
7. Finally, be patient and consistent
Honestly, the above six points are enough for you to get yourself onto the path of how to become an actor with no experience, and change that state as soon as possible. If you follow my advice above, you’ll be ahead of the game within a year. Most actors stop pursuing this career by then.
If you seriously dedicate yourself to finding any type of experience, marketing yourself, building your site and network, and getting comfortable with rejection, this will probably take you a year or two. Yes, it’s a long time, but remember that becoming an actor isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Enjoy the process, and look far into the future.
The, important part is to always keep in your head that you finally have or soon will have a strong grasp of how the show business works, what acting industry is all about, and that you’re absolutely serious that you love doing this. You’ll feel like you’re building a foundation, developing acting-related habits and getting reading for a major step.
So be patient. It’s very important, because you will not – and I repeat, you will NOT – see any results in the beginning. Learning how to become an actor with no experience isn’t impossible, but it takes effort. It’s also going to be a lot of investment in terms of time, hard work and even money with no reward for a while.
But stick with it, and with time, you’ll see how gradually the results from the work you’ve done before will start dripping down, and you’ll go “ooooh, I get it, now!”