So, maybe you have been acting for awhile or maybe you're just starting out. These 10 questions are going to work for everyone.
Sometimes it's important to step back and reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Wether you're struggling or successful these are our top 10 most important questions you can ask yourself about your acting career.
1. Why am I doing this?
When you really start to think about this and answer yourself truthfully then you'll know what to expect. Consider the 'why' so that you can accomplish your goals with purpose. If you want to become an actor in order to be famous, then you will take a different approach from someone that is pursing their dreams.
If you don't know your 'why' yet, take a few minutes to write it down (on paper). Maybe you used to know why, but it has changed over the years (and that's ok), just figure it out now. It will save you a lot of time on your journey.
2. What are my goals?
Sure, your 'why' question might have a goal built into the answer, but that's an overall, large goal. This question is more about finding the goals along the way that will help you get to the 'why'.
Perhaps your 'why' was to follow your dreams of being in feature-length films with Chris Pratt. Are you going to start doing that tomorrow? Possible, but unlikely. You need to work your way up to being along side A-List actors. Wherever you are in your career it's important to write out your goals and keep reminding yourself or updating them along the way.
Some things to think about: How am I going to get there? What roles do I usually get? How can I adapt myself to fit the roles I want? What is in my community that will help me move forward (community vs professional theatre)? Do I have the right agent? Does my resume reflect what I want to do? Do my headshots show the personality of the character I want to play?
If you are a stage actor and you want to be in film, perhaps it's time to consider on-camera acting classes. Or, if you have done commercial work maybe it's time to consider how to become a stage actor.
3. What do I need to forget about?
Perhaps a little more emotional compared to the other questions, this one seeks to find that moment you are holding on to and releasing it. Maybe it's a bad audition, maybe it's a mistake during a performance, or maybe it's a bad relationship with another actor. Whatever that is, it's up to you to fix it or move on. You cannot move forward while holding yourself down.
Whatever it is you are holding on to, if it does not spark joy then let it go...
4. Is Talent more important than Training?
Long story short - you need both. However, if you have a lot of personality and you communicate well, then it might be time to focus more on training. With proper training/classes you will learn to develop your character so that their situations (things you may not have experienced) are believable. It will become easier for you to understand, relate, and create these characters as well. Learn to adapt your voice, speech, movement and how to work on camera or stage through study and practice. This will all be balanced with the right personality and natural talent.
Don't think that you have to be the extrovert in the group, though. The "Talent" is who you are and how you learn to work with your natural behaviors. Define your strengths and turn your weaknesses into tools that make you unique. The right instructor will help you find that and use it to your advantage.
5. How important is an agent?
While an agent is a very important tool to have, many believe that the first thing you need is an agent. This is not necessarily true. Before you find your agent you should know your strengths and what roles are your target.
Get your headshot and resume together and start taking some classes. Also, consider a demo reel if you have one and a simple website to showcase your talent. Proper training will be crucial to knowing yourself and how to properly audition. Don't embarrass your agent with poor auditions. They are putting their own name out there as much as yours. Stage and camera have different expectations and challenges, so know before you go.
And with that, the right agent will help cater to your talents (once you know them) and find you the perfect role instead of tossing everything (or nothing) your way to see what sticks.
When looking for an agent consider who they work with, what their primary business is (stage, commercial, film, modeling, etc), and look for some success stories (so-and-so cast in XYZ film).
6. How do I get cast in Film or TV?
Working on what we have already discussed - resume, headshot, demo reel, website, and proper training, now it's time to get to know people. Meet industry professionals. Get your name and face in their head when they need to cast a role. Start with small roles, then supporting roles, and so on.
Or, shoot for the 1 in a billion chance that someone will see you on the street or at work and want to put you in their next big Hollywood film. Like most things in life, it's going to take practice, dedication, and goals.
7. Do I need to be beautiful or physically fit?
I'm happy to say that these are absolutely NOT required or important. These days we work in an industry where businesses are hiring models of all shapes and sizes and without hesitation. It's an amazing place to be where what makes YOU unique is what makes YOU ideal for being cast. The trick is that you need to learn to become comfortable with who you are and work on being cast in the role that speaks to you.
If you are auditioning in a suit with a fresh haircut you better be going toward a role that needs that look. The 1979 film Alien had a cast that was hired to look like a group of truck drivers. They cast based on what the role needed. The guy in a suit and fresh haircut would mostly likely get passed on compared to the scruffy guy in jeans.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was told that he was too big to ever be an actor. Let that sink in. He became one of, if not the largest action movie star of the 80s and 90s. The point is, don't let anyone tell you that you're not right for acting or modeling. There is always a part for you, but you need to put in the work.
8. Will my accent prevent me from getting work?
Going back to Arnold, he was also told, much like Sylvester Stallone, that he wouldn't be hired due to his voice. Well, again, we have great success stories to be told. You accent is another unique strength that you can use to your advantage. You are authentic. However, this is where you need to work to your strengths. Audition for the roles where an accent could work or are required. Not all roles are built with the voice/accent in mind, so there will be times that your natural voice is what gets you the role over the other actors.
With that, it's still a good idea to adjust your accent by working with a coach for the roles you want, but don't allow for accents based on the character's background. This is why we see Hugh Jackman nail the American English accent despite being from Australia. Regardless of your unique accent it's a good idea to be able to do more than one to land more roles.
9. What happens if I get rejected?
It's all part of the game. Get used to being told "no", or realistically, told nothing. Most auditions have "call-backs" which is typically only done for the actors they want "back". When this happens go back to question #3. Let it go and move on. After all, Julie Andrews said it best:
"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th" - Julie Andrews
If there is one skill every actor should have it's becoming comfortable with rejection. A Casting Director has 100 people in front of them, 20 of them were good, 8 of them were great, but they can only pick 1. Don't take it personal. Learn to be comfortable with auditions and have fun!
10. How long until I make it?
First, what is your definition of "making it"? It's connected to that goal back at the top. Understand your definition of making it and create goals along the way before you worry about the time frame. Considering that most actors stop in about one year of starting, the main advice here is, Don't Give Up.
Be patient. Becoming an actor by tomorrow isn't impossible, but it's highly unlikely. So, stay in it and be ready to invest a lot of time, hard work, and even money before it pays off. Go back and reflect on these questions and your answers over time and just remember that you you are doing what you love!