How to Get an Acting Job

“How to Get an Acting Job”

I’m in an acting class but haven’t gotten an acting job? Why?

I have a few acting students who work really hard on their acting every day. They meet with their scene partner, rehearse, memorize their lines and go on auditions—but yet, they don’t get work. Then they tell me that one of their friends has just booked a series or film and that said friend has no previous training, nor do they currently take acting classes. What is up with that!?

Can you get an acting job without training? Yes. If you’re right for the part and are natural and real at the audition, you may just get the role. So why go to acting school?

To begin with, certain acting roles you automatically will be able to play because the character could be similar to who you are. You may not even need acting training for those types of roles. For example, if you live in Hollywood and are an honor roll high school student, then at an audition for an honor roll high school student will be easy and require no effort on your part. However, if you are auditioning for the part of a homeless girl who lives with her mother on Skid Row, you would more than likely need some training to make that role real.

This brings me to two things that your acting training should be doing for you. First, your friend who just walked into the audition room and got the part, probably got the part because he didn’t care about it as much as you. During his audition, he was able to relax and be himself. The acting training you get should not help you to do “work” the role right, but “work” to do the role like you. To simplify things–just relax and be you. Beginning actors sometimes are able to do this right away because they have not been trained incorrectly. Even if you are in acting training, doing take after take (or performance after performance) can cause your naturalness to disappear. However, a great acting class can get that naturalness back for you. Some of our students work too hard to be the best, rather than allow themselves to relax and trust.

Secondly, being in acting training will help you discover different aspects of yourself that you can then use in your work and your auditions. If you have ever felt lost and had no place to go, you can play a homeless person. Your very own background can help you with a role if you have ever had a similar experiences or if you can just imagine it. The next step is letting go and allowing it all to affect you the way it wants to. Very often, actors don’t do this. They rehearse the lines, plan the gestures, walk a certain way, change their voice, and punch certain lines and words. Or they may do just the opposite. For example, they are so afraid of not being “real,” that they act the role in a monotone, one note range with no emotional connection. They do all the work to prepare for the part, but pull back when the cameras roll at the audition.
Unfortunately, both of these dilemmas are part of the process to becoming a truly great actor. A beginning actor with talent, very often can do wonderful work his first time out. If you are a beginning actor, you need an acting coach that can nurture this talent and keep you natural and effortless.
Acting is different than other art forms. For example, dance. If you’re a dancer and you hold your arm a certain way and move as the teacher instructs, you succeed. But as an actor, if you hold your arm a certain way and copy a teacher, you get a very mechanical robotic performance. As an actor, if you prepare before you go onstage and give into the unknown, you succeed.

The students who work themselves so hard in acting classes, I tell them to relax. Take that energy and focus it on what your character has lived through, what they are using to make it personal, and allow that to take them to the next level. Once on stage, stop working and start allowing. If you feel like you are pushing in the scene, take a second to take a breath, look at your partner, adjust what you want based on what you are feeling. If you are the type of actor who is afraid of not being real. Then, try not being real and see where that leads you. Not being real, means allowing yourself to be dramatic, to get angry, feel hurt and not care. This leads to freedom. Once you have that freedom to be you, there will be no stopping you.

Jeff