Acting is one of the toughest industries to excel in. With never ending competition, miles of commuting and picky directors, becoming a professional actor is now harder than ever. You may be interested in starring in Hollywood blockbusters, or strutting your moves in the West End- but neither will come easy to anybody. Whether you’re having trouble getting through the audition process or you’re just struggling to remember lines; we’re here to offer a few helpful (we hope) tips on improving yourself as an actor.
Confidence is key
It goes without saying that you need maximum confidence to progress in most professions, especially in acting. Now, this doesn’t just mean confidence in speaking your lines or playing a particular character, but instead having full confidence in yourself. Audition processes are very long and tiresome for directors and production crews, they’re looking for slight differences that set some auditionees apart from the rest. They can tell if you lack a bit of confidence as it shows in every little thing you do, from body language to paralinguistic cues. It’s easier said than done, but believing in yourself can reap wonders for your personal performance and improve first impressions of your acting ability. However, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance- nobody likes an arrogant actor (although I’m sure we could all name a few).
Watch and learn
Watching other actors can be very helpful when trying out new acting techniques. Some actors only play certain roles within the industry- they spend years perfecting certain characters and portray similar roles in differing movies. Take Keanu Reeves for example, a wonderful actor who has been in many outstanding movies. Yet he seems to play very similar personas in action packed thrillers such as; the iconic Neo in the Matrix, the badass John Wick in….John Wick and John Constantine in Constantine. Three gun wielding, dry witted men in black suits battling against the world. It’s great to have a whole database of characters, but if you realise you play certain roles better than others- perfect those and audition for roles that suit your acting abilities. There are thousands of auditioning opportunities out there, you just have to pick the right ones for you.
Make yourself busy
Your agent hasn’t been in contact for a while, auditioning opportunities are starting to get a little dry, what do you do? Shoot a short film. Short films can be hugely beneficial for yourself and your career, many positives come out of this filming activity. For instance, creating/directing/starring in a short film can help your creativity flow while you’re out of acting work. The last thing you want is to go to your first audition in 3 months and be very rusty- it shows. Completing activities such as short films will help to keep your head in the game and give you that extra independence you may not gain in theatre, movies, or television- there’s no professional director shouting down your ear every five seconds!
If a sport star is injured/out of the sport for three months, they wouldn’t jump straight back into a game when they’re fit. They’d ease themselves into their work by having extra training and ‘friendly’ matches. Just consider your short film a build up or practice to the real thing, for the next time you audition.
It’s a well known fact that books contain much more explicit information and detail than the movies do. You can lose yourself in a book almost instantly, you engage with the characters further than you would in a film because you’re learning more and more about them as you turn each page. A writer takes great care in choosing the correct words for their novel, just like an actor takes the utmost care in the way they portray a certain character. Interpreting a character for yourself can teach you important skills such as improvisation, emotional expression and most importantly allows you to be unique. Watching a movie can sometimes lead you to copy the character/actor on screen- you need to develop your own acting traits, not rely on someone else’s.
Acting roles aren’t just going to fall into your hands, you need to get out there and find the roles that are calling for you. Not all of you will be lucky enough to have a fabulous agent who throws opportunities at you left, right and centre. Agencies can be very expensive and if you’re at the bottom step of your acting career you may not have the funds to get someone to find roles for you. You’ll need to go out there and discover these opportunities, whether this be at your local theatre, newspaper advertisements or even online. Websites such as The Stage and Backstage are extremely beneficial for finding new roles that suit you. Once you become more experienced and have a decent CV of roles under your belt, you can then look at acquiring an agent to take you to the next level.
Finding an agent
We’ll keep this one short and sweet. For all the need to know info on agents and how they go about their day, check out our ‘What Is An Acting Agent?’ article.