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Top 10 tips for budding actors

Welcome to a new year at WCTT – we’re kicking off 2019 by sharing our top 10 tips for all the ambitious young actors out there.

If you’re a young person interested in a life on a stage – or you fancy taking part in drama as a hobby – these 10 hot tips for budding actors could help to get your acting experience off the ground!

Tip 1: Study

Learning to be an actor is like learning any new skill – you need to study. Acting is a craft, and there’s loads to learn. Most actors say they never stop learning throughout their career.

Talent will get you a long way, but acting skills are essential if you want to succeed. According to Michael Caine: “I’m a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I’ve any talent is beside the point.”

To ‘learn the trade’, audition for a local youth theatre and school productions, watch films, read plays and consider drama at GCSE or A level.

Tip 2: Practice makes perfect

Even the hottest actors have ‘downtime’ when they’re not in a film or play – and they use the time wisely, practising and honing their skills.

Whether you’re reading out loud to improve your enunciation or acting out scenes from your favourite film with a couple of friends, any chance to practice your acting will help you improve as a performer.

Tip 3: Research

Whether you’re preparing for an audition, rehearsing your role or simply mapping out your career as an actor, research is key.

You’ll use research skills throughout your time as an actor, so make sure they’re firing on all cylinders: read everyday (and we mean books and mags – not just Insta stories), watch the news, talk to people, investigate…let your curiosity run wild.

The finest actors are engaged in the world, know their characters inside out and prepare for every opportunity in great detail.

Tip 4: Learn to let go

As an actor, you’ll need to get out of your own head, becoming different people in a huge range of situations.

Learning to relax and to let go of self-consciousness is a huge step towards becoming an actor: these skills can also help you in other life experiences, such as job interviews or business presentations.

Actor Broderick Hunter says the first piece of advice his acting coach gave him was to get out of his own head. “[It] was vital for me,” he says, “because I would over think everything.”

Tip 5: Audition, audition, audition

As well as providing a route to work as an actor, auditions also give you a valuable opportunity to gain experience, practice your acting skills and to meet lots of people in the industry.

If you’re starting out, look for open auditions that suit your age and experience and apply to audition for local productions, school plays and youth theatres.

If you’ve got an audition workshop coming up, check out our ultimate guide for young actors.

Tip 6: Do the work

Acting is fun – and it can be glamorous – but it’s also hard work. If you want to succeed, you’ll need to put the hours in.

As an actor you’ll be expected to learn lines, research the characters you play, learn new skills with every role, attend rehearsals or classes without fail and work anti-social hours.

If you want to build a career as an actor you’ll need to invest your time and energy in doing the work – and making it count. Directors and producers don’t just want to cast talented people: they are looking for hardworking, dedicated and reliable performers.

Tip 7: Stop apologising

As a budding actor, it’s normal to worry, to be self critical and to think you’ve just fluffed your audition or stacked your scene.

Stop apologising for it.

Believe in what you did, accept that we all make mistakes and – instead of indulging in over-the-top apologies – listen carefully to the feedback and direction you’ll get from the people you’re working with.

You might just find that the director thought you smashed the performance, or you win a role after a “disastrous” (in your opinion) audition. Let others be the judge #sorrynotsorry

Tip 8: It pays to network

Ok, it’s a buzzword – but networking is everything in the acting game. The more industry people you meet, the more opportunities you’ll hear about.

Networking can also lead to great backstage gigs that could help you earn some pennies, and work experience, while you pursue your dreams.

You can network every day as an actor by going to local shows, plays and comedy performances, attending film and theatre festivals, using social media wisely, talking to industry PRs and getting invited to industry parties.

(If you’re ready to network, look out for our forthcoming post on networking tips for young actors this spring!)

Tip 9: Become a self publicist

Actors can promote and market themselves.

Until you get an agent (if you decide to go down that route) you can control your own publicity by having an active blog, a carefully crafted CV and making sure your social media is professional.

List all the relevant experience you have on your resume and make sure you have some great headshots.

Having a video channel on YouTube or Vimeo is another way to show off your creative skills and build experience.

Tip 10: Act for the love of acting

Acting isn’t the easiest business. Rejection happens regularly, to every actor, and there are often huge gaps between roles.

As Rogue One actor Felicity Jones explains, acting means straddling some realy challenging emotions: “You have to be totally tough to deal with all those times when you’re being turned down, and then really soft in order to access your character’s emotions.”

And success hardly ever happens overnight. Even some of the most famous actors had to wait a long time for their big break: Steve Carrell was in his early-40s when he broke through as a leading man in The Office and Evan Almighty, Melissa McCarthy was 41 when Bridesmaids made her a household name and Tiffany Haddish was 37 when she starred in Girls Trip.

So, if you want to get into acting, the best advice is to do it because you love it (and all actors do!)

Don’t expect to be the next Lupita Nyong’o within a year of starting: instead, enjoy every role, savour every new experience and rise to every challenge.

And have fun. Lots of it.

Get started at the Young Actors Company

If you want to get into acting, joining a youth theatre is a great first step to take.

The Young Actors Company is free to attend and open to anyone in Merton aged 11-19.

We hold free audition workshops every September and we’d love to see you there.