Odds are that if you’re reading this, you’re thinking about becoming an actor. We’ve put together a free guide, so that you can decide if acting is right for you.
Is Acting For Me?
Hello. It’s Wendy Alane Wright, the Hollywood talent manager, Los Angeles, California. All right. Let’s talk today about how do you know if acting is for you. That’s an interesting question. When you’re young, you’re trying to figure out what your calling is, what’s your purpose. Why are you here? What do you want to do with your life?
Sometimes it’s really hard to figure that out because there are lots of things you’re interested in. But acting for a living, to make money at it, to pay your bills, on a regular basis is very, very difficult. That’s why most actors, no matter how successful they are – and I don’t mean stars. I’m talking about working actors who are part of the union, who work 10 days a year on television or films and they have to have other forms of income to pay bills.
So they often have an online business. They might buy and sell real estate. They might teach yoga. They might tutor, whatever else they do to make money.
But in order to sustain yourself, you’re going to have to have an income. So when you’re deciding about whether you want to be an actor for your life, first of all you don’t know if you’re going to do it for your life. You don’t know if you’re going to do that for a lifetime
Why Do I Want to Become An Actor?
You have to decide “why do I want to become an actor”. Maybe it’s because you love to tell stories and you have something you want to say. You have emotions you want to share. You like being vulnerable in front of an audience. You like working with another actor on material, on scenes, and bringing to life the character, bringing the dialogue to life and making it real and finding ways to make that dialogue real and bring real emotions to that character.
I know when I’m in an acting class and I get a script and I look at that, I love the process of finding the emotion of why I’m feeling that way and how I can bring this to life to make this engaging and captivating and interesting and delve deep into the reasons why that character feels that way. I mean I love the process of acting.
Now I also love the interaction with other actors and I love watching them work and I love the energy, the vibration that happens between actors when they’re working together. I love being on a set. I love working with directors. I love being the center of attention. I love being on film. I love that it’s captured on film and then there it is.
You can watch it back. You can – I just love everything about the medium of the camera and film and television. So the reason why you want to be an actor is really, really important. If you’re trying to be a star, that can’t be the only driving factor because the majority of actors are never going to become stars
Does My Personality Fit That of an Actors?
So if you’re thinking, “Well, does my personality fit in the career as an actor?” well, you know, maybe you’re saying you’re shy and you’re uncomfortable in front of new people. You’re going to have to get over that because as an actor, you’re working on sets in front of tons of people you don’t know. They’re strangers. You show up on a set. Say that’s a Criminal Minds episode. That cast and crew have been working together for 11 seasons. They know each other. You show up as a guest star. You don’t know these people. Maybe you recognize a couple of people in the crew or whatever. But these are actors that know each other, and you have to be confident in front of them.
So learning how to bare your soul or be emotional or express your feelings and emotions, panic, hysteria, rage, cry, love, passion, being turned on, excited, shocked, fearful. All these things that you need to feel in front of other people with a focus so intense on what you’re doing that you’re not really even thinking about those other people. That’s something you have to get really, really good at.
So if you’re thinking about being an actor, you better also be thinking about working really, really hard at being a great actor. That means a lot of hours of practice, a lot of interpreting a script and breaking it down, working on script after script after script, reading plays, reading books, having a life of experiences that you can draw on for your characters. Are you shaped for being an actor? You will find that out over time if you keep sticking with it.
If every day you keep waking up and you’re so excited to get on set, you can’t wait to work as an actor, you know, if you can’t think about anything else, like there’s no other business I dream about than show business.
Whether I’m acting, singing, teaching, coaching, discussing acting, helping actors, doing webinars, seminars, helping actors find strength, courage, bravery, commitment, whatever it is about this business, it has me. Like lock, stock and barrel, hook, line and sinker. This business is the love of my life.
It is the love of my life. It has outlasted my husbands and there have been three. It has outlasted friendships. My love for this business is so deep, I would never want to be without it
You Need to Love The Field
I would never want to work – live without it. I would never want to be in a different field. I don’t want to do science. I don’t want to do history, geology, biology. I think it’s fascinating but I don’t want to spend my time day in and day out doing that. Do you want to spend your time day in and day out acting, practicing acting, practicing lines, practicing feelings and emotions, auditioning, being rejected 9000 times and getting one role, showing up on set and being able to work and then you’re unemployed for six months? Not ever knowing where your next job is coming from.
It’s a roller coaster ride. It’s unpredictable. Is it right for you? You will figure that out as you get into it, as you get involved with it, as you do it. Some people get into it and they say this is not for me. I need something more stable, more consistent, something I can rely on. Believe me, acting is not that. You cannot rely on an income from acting. You cannot rely on – even the job you book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get picked up.
You know, you have to love the actual acting part of acting and so people always say the craft. What does that mean? The actual techniques of acting, the actual taking your talent using your physical instrument to tell a story, to feel emotion, to express and communicate with another human being openly, rawly emotionally. You got to love that process and you have to want to do it whether you get paid or not, whether you get famous or not, whether you work 10 days or 500 – it doesn’t matter. You have to want to act more than you want to do anything else. Those are the people that actually work in TV and film because if you kind of want it, you won’t have the discipline and the commitment and the focus it requires to actually make it happen because there’s a lot of luck involved.
Yes, of course, being in the right place at the right time but also kicking the door in and showing up and showing people you are committed, you are hardworking, you are prepared, your acting skills are phenomenal and you are right for the job and sometimes you will get it and most of the times you won’t. Can you handle that? Time will tell. That’s why I say, you know, don’t decide if you’re going to be an actor for life. You don’t know about what you’re going to do for life. You have to know about what are you going to do for now. What are you going to do this year and what are you going to commit to for the next few years, like really commit to it?
Great Agents and Managers Look for Great Actors
Great actors work in television and film. Agents and managers look for great actors. Television networks look for great actors. So the first goal, if you want to be an actor, is not “Can I get famous? Can I get rich?” Will I be famous? Will I be rich? Here’s what I need to know. Will you be good? Will you become better and will you become great? And if you’re willing to do what it takes to be that great, then maybe acting is the career for you.
But if that seems like whoa, that’s way too much work, it’s going to be a lot of work in a lot of fields. Being a doctor takes a lot of work. Being a lawyer takes a lot of work. It takes less mental work and emotional work to work on an assembly line, maybe coordination, concentration, focus.
But every job and every career has a different skillset. If you’re thinking about becoming an actor, why don’t you start out small and do some theater? Why don’t you write a monologue and practice that? Why don’t you – when the COVID lifts, join a community theater. Do student films, do short films. See if you like acting. Take a lot of acting classes. Like right now, everybody can take acting classes online. See if you like that process of acting.
Acting can be what you make of it. If you’re a creative person, you can act part-time and work a different job in your off-hours. If you want to make acting a full-time job, you better hope that you have the experience level (or ambition to train hard enough) necessary to get your acting career to that point.
If you fall in love with it and it captures you, it may never let you go. So enjoy the journey and, you know, do it if you really feel like you have to do it. If there’s any part of you that’s like, “You know what, I really have to do that,” I feel like I would be better off being a scuba diving teacher or I would rather be an airline pilot or I feel like maybe being a professional cheerleader, I want to be a dancer or a writer, follow your heart. Don’t do this business to be rich and famous because that’s not likely going to happen to most actors. Do it because you love acting..