How to Get Acting Experience?

How to Get Acting Experience?

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  1. Does Experience Matter in Acting?
  2. How Much Experience Does an Actor Need?
  3. Can You Audition with No Experience?
  4. Guide with Examples and Tips to Gain Acting Experience.

Getting experience as a beginner actor can be a tough nut to crack. It seems like actors need to have experience to land gigs, but these upcoming creatives can't land gigs because they don't have experience. Many actors have found themselves in the midst of this vicious cycle.

Luckily, we were privileged to be joined by Expert Global Casting Director Vicky Johnson, who has cast several talents for films, T.V. commercials, and Corporate videos both locally and internationally. We were also honored to have Ali Clark, Talent Director and Manager, who has worked in the T.V. and film industry for over 30 years. These two professionals will be sharing, from their vast experience(s), the ways to succeed as a beginning actor with no experience and some practical tips on how to get said experience.

Age does not equal experience. This is a common misconception, but even the youngest actors can get roles as long as they fit the bill. After all, the actor's age is usually listed in the casting call. Here are some other things that every upcoming actor needs to know in their journey of experience-building:

Does Experience Matter in Acting?

Experience always puts the owner at an advantage in most fields and industries. For acting, this is the same.

However, for beginners, professional training serves as a good substitute for experience. While an actor may have previously had professional training, they might still find it difficult to land gigs. If this is the case, the actor needs to upskill to the point that they are an invaluable asset — after all, even the most prominent stars constantly upskill to get better.

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How Much Experience Does an Actor Need?

An actor needs as much experience as possible — both training and practical. This is because expertise reduces the level of risk a casting director feels they're taking on. 

The actor should also get trained on the business side of acting as this is a whole different side to the industry, which, unfortunately, not many upcomers focus on. Knowing the business side of acting helps to streamline your career and gets you where you want to be on time. 

Can You Audition with No Experience?

Yes, you can. You are urged to do so. This is because casting directors are constantly looking for new faces that can bring something unique to the table.

The chances of getting picked, regardless of whether you have experience, will depend mainly on how your skills align with the role you are applying for. 

Guide with Examples and Tips to Gain Acting Experience

Join Creative Communities 

Creative communities offer valuable information to members, can be used to build networks, and essentially have a support group.

In addition, these communities allow the actor to collaborate with other Creatives to create a valuable experience for each participant's portfolio. A good way to find communities is by looking through social media. Searching "Chicago Film Actors" on Facebook or any social media network can provide relevant results on joining associations. Actors can also find opportunities on social media through this same method by searching something like; "Actor needed Chicago" and so on.

Standup and Comedic Improv Experience

A common question casting directors ask new actors is, "Can you do improv?" This is because improv and comedic timing are impressive skills, so if you have the experience to back it, that's a major plus on your portfolio. For this reason, you should volunteer and participate in improv performances as much as you are able.

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Self Tapes/Demo Reels/Personality Reels

 Demo reels are a good way to showcase acting ability and experience. However, actors without enough experience to assemble a demo reel are advised to create a personality reel instead. A personality reel is a short clip that features the actor describing their qualities, roles they believe they will be perfect for, and so on. This short clip gives the casting Director insight into what the actor is capable of. You should include the Personality Reel in your portfolio. P.S. This self-tape must be short and interesting enough to maintain the Casting Director's attention because they may have to go through a couple more.

Level up on Cold Reading

 At some Casting calls, the performers might be asked to do a cold read. A cold reading is when an actor is asked to perform a random script in front of the Casting team. There is no easy way to perform something you haven't seen before. However, you can check the script's page and ask what sort of play it is. This will help you know what sort of performance to deliver.

Joining Unions

Some Casting Directors prefer to cast independent actors, while others may prefer union-affiliated actors. This can depend on a number of factors, such as the production studio, the role, and so on. A Union such as SAG offers you an opportunity to be paid more and have access to some exclusive opportunities, among other benefits, but remember that joining a union means you have to stick by the Union's principles, which might mean a restriction of opportunities. Whatever you decide to do, do enough research so you can make an educated decision.

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Training from Colleges, Agencies, and Acting Schools

As mentioned earlier, training can prove to be a good stand-in for experience for new actors. Yet, the actor should refrain from engaging in generic training; rather, they should find something specific within acting that they want to build upon and get trained on. For example, an actor who wants to be a better method actor should attend training that teaches Method acting. This actor has no business learning Voiceover acting or putting that in their resume, especially when applying for Method acting roles.

P.S. The actor should also volunteer for open roles since these opportunities are readily accessible in these places.

All these tips discussed above can prove invaluable for aspiring actors looking to build experience and land their next gigs with or without it.

Despite how saturated it may seem, the acting industry is wide enough to accommodate more budding creatives. The webinar with Vicky Johnson and Ali Clark is an eye-opener to this reality. They shared valuable insights from their own experiences on how upcoming actors can get their first foot into the acting industry and how to succeed subsequently.

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