how to get noticed and become a successful actor
What makes or breaks a career in the acting world?
Having immersed myself in the acting world for several years, I have done plenty of research and observation, as well as training with some incredible tutors and coaches in London. There are several things that I realised will most definitely positively influence your career, and you are the only person who can control them.
The thing about talent is that it needs to be worked on. You can only get better with more training and more knowledge. The old adage of “practice makes perfect” is absolutely true. When you’ve done something a thousand times, it’s easier, and you’re more aware of what goes into that thing you’re doing. Going to a drama school or a class, and then never expanding on the foundation you’ve built, is only creating disservice to you, the actor.
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
Look out for new exciting ways to approach your craft. Expand on your skills by training your voice, keeping your body fit and healthy, and gather information and inspiration from everywhere around you. Meryl Streep said that going to singing classes helped her immensely in becoming a better actor - the telling of a story through a song made her the exceptional actor she is now. You are going out there to add to your toolbox - ideas, talent, skills. Look out what other actors do - if you see something that works well, don’t be afraid to try it yourself. All this adds to your toolbox - after all, you wouldn’t expect a technician to show up to fix your heating with no tools! There are so many options for actors that don’t cost the earth nowadays - even youtube provides many interesting and inspirational videos and lectures. Watch videos with your favourite actors and follow the advice they give out.
It makes a huge difference working with someone who’s professional, on time, prepared, offers multiple choices and ideas to the director and other actors. Be appreciative of the chances you’re getting. Always follow up after the audition with a nice “thank you for the opportunity” email - it doesn’t matter if you’re gonna get the role, or if you’re gonna get through to any other stages. The CD will remember you’re polite and grateful. That’s a trait that will take you a long way. The most successful actors are professional in their approach, and they make sure they remember small things like that. You make yourself stand out by following simple steps.
After you’ve finished doing a play, or making a film, send everyone (or at least director and producers) an email saying you had a great time and you’d love to work with them again. If you’re working on a self-funded / independent project - tag people working on it on social media (with permission, of course! don’t post something about a film or an audition that is still a confidential project!) - help them promote the project you’re all working on.
BE PROMPT IN COMMUNICATION
Make sure you always respond promptly to messages coming from either your agent, a casting professional, a director / producer - whoever is getting in touch with you. They’re taking their time to contact you because they think you’re presenting them with something interesting. They want to see or know more about you. It’s incredibly crucial that throughout the communication you make sure to read the information that is given you properly - don’t email back and forth asking about things that have been explained. Follow through the rules and requirements - they are there for a reason - and most often it’s to help the casting director narrow down the choices. If you’re failing to notice, it’s only an excuse for the CD to pass.
Don’t forget to bring your spirit with you wherever you go - a meeting, an audition, a workshop, the set. Do always make sure you read the room and adjust to situations. You want to be the authentic you, but you also don’t want to put anyone off by being too open and extroverted or too quiet and shy.
Be positive when meeting new people, and never compare - be it other actors against yourself or yourself against others. Never judge either, especially openly and out loud. It’s an absolute no-go. No-one wants to be around people who are constantly talking about how they’re gonna go far because they have a great agent, are beautiful or extremely talented or lucky. Being an actor is all about serving others - other actors, the director, producers and most importantly - the audience. You’re just a part of a bigger cog, never forget that.
By the time you come into the project, other people may have spent years trying to get it to that place. When you join, be an asset. Help everyone around you, make sure you pay attention to both cast and crew. The great Samuel L Jackson says exactly that - be polite to people - today they may just be a runner, tomorrow they may be making a movie you will want in on. “Everybody’s there doing the same job. You’re no better than the guy that’s sweeping the floor at night when you leave. Just remember that.” His rules for working on a film set are simple: “Arrive early, know your lines. Don’t waste people’s time, and don’t overstep the boundaries.” Helen Mirren has only 2 rules: “Be on time. Don’t be an asshole. And that’s it.” Creating great relationships will only help you be a better actor, and people will want to work with you again and again.
A good actor comes in prepared - whether that’s an audition, a meeting or the set. If you’re at an audition, and you haven’t bothered to learn the lines and you’re auditioning with someone else in the room - you’re not only affecting how the casting professionals are going to perceive you, but you’re also ruining the chances for the other actor. I’ve been there - had to audition with another actor who clearly didn’t even know where his lines were. The director only got frustrated with both of us, and that was it. Didn’t matter if I knew my lines and was prepared - he was focused on the other actor who wasn’t getting the lines right and we had to keep going again and again to get it right.
When auditioning it’s important to remember - it’s a chance for you to perform. To show something, to try something out. The best way to approach the material you have at hand is to obviously carefully interpret it, learn the lines (always, even if you are allowed to have the paper in your hand, it makes you look thoughtful and professional) but also prepare 3 different ways of doing the material. The role of the actor is to give options - to the director, to the CD, producers. You need to showcase that you’re flexible, creative, open to ideas and able to play around with the material. This is very appealing - someone who is eager to try new things. After all, the process of acting and filmmaking is through experimenting and finding ways that work better. When coming to the set, or rehearsal, have your own ideas formed about the characters, the story, but do not stick to them no matter what - it’s all a matter of perspective. Ultimately, the audience will add their own opinions to the story, and make it into something completely different for themselves. Leave room for interpretation, don’t give away everything.
It sounds simple enough, and you may have heard it before, but you would be surprised how many actors out there do not take this seriously. Follow casting directors and agents, and you will see same comments going up over and over again, talking about the same mistakes actors do and never learn. The knowledge and advice is out there, it's free to grab, but you need to be willing to seek it and apply it to your own career.
I wish you best of luck, and feel free to email me at any time with any feedback or any advice you'd like!