Hi, I'm not sure if this was the right forum to post this, but here goes.
Basically, I am almost 24 years old and I've been wanting to be an actor for a while now. The only reason I haven't pursued it, is because many people were putting me off, saying "it's not a real job" etc, etc. So I just thought to myself "well, maybe they're right. I should focus on something else" but I came back to acting because it's something I'm really interested in. I love watching actors on screen, and hearing them talk in interviews about projects...I find it fascinating.
I also understand the amount of work that goes into becoming a high level actor. The thing is, due to my age I don't really feel like I want to go down the traditional route of drama school. I feel that I could use them 3 years travelling, making contacts and taking independent lessons and training in acting.
I live in England, but I was seriously considering moving to L.A for a few months and trying to find work. There's a lot more to just moving though, I will also need a work visa. But I feel that L.A is the place to be for aspiring actors. London is great and all, but it's not L.A.
I don't really know what else to say. But is there any chance you could lend some advice to me on what I should do?
I see the likes of Daniel Craig, Jason Statham, and Tom Hardy come onto the scene and make names for themselves in America, and I'd love to do the same. I understand that luck is a big part of "making it" too, as it all depends on who you speak to and make contacts with. I am also in great shape, I box in my down time, I have a lean/muscular physique, I have pretty decent looks, and I'm willing to work hard and get to know whoever it is to get my name out there. When I say "I'm willing to work hard" I am literally willing to sit up until 5am learning lines, I'm willing to get into the best shape possible, I'm willing to take as many acting classes as I can to be the best possible, and anything else I need to do to prove myself. Talk is cheap, I know, but I need the chance to DO THIS!
Anyway, I've rambled enough. Any advice you can give, would be great!
Where do we start?
Can you become an actor without studying? Yes. You can become a chef without going to cooking school too. You can do all kinds of things without studying.
But here's the thing. If you were naturally an actor and inclined to just do it, you would probably be doing that already, without asking anyone's permission. You wouldn't be able to help it. The fact that you're asking our guidance suggest that you need... guidance. If that's true in terms of your career, it's likely to be all the more true in regard to your craft.
Then there's the English part. Do you have a green card? Do you have any prayer of getting one? Don't imagine you can come here and just start to work. The administrative details really DO matter.
Personally, I'd say you'd do well to study in England (no, it doesn't have to be in a school, but it should be a pretty serious place) and then start getting work there before even thinking about coming here. And then only if you've worked out the papers thing.
But let's see what others say.
author of "Acting In Hollywood: A Newcomer's Guide"
Thank you, sir. Well I am going to be starting acting lessons at an academy in London next month. I am starting on the beginner's course, but this is to get a taste of acting. If I don't feel that acting is for me, then I will know from these classes.
I was not trying to sound delusional from my post. I really don't want to come across like that because I understand that there's probably a lot of aspiring, professional actors on here and I don't want to sound like a know it all or disrespectful towards them, especially since they've most probably been perfecting their craft for years.
I am just new to acting and would love to be a success. I am not in it for the fame, In fact I dislike fame, but I would just like to "make it" as a professional actor. I've watched a lot of films and seen actors who I've thought were not good at all, but still they get parts.
Anyway, I'd love to hear from others on here who are in the business.
Technically, your friends are right. Acting is not a "real job", it's an art. You either understand it or you don't. I feel your friends are part of the latter.
Get yourself in a class and hone your art.
"Hard work" in this business does not include staying up late to memorize lines, as you put it. The hard part is being persistent and focused when you get no bookings or even auditions for months, when you can't get an agent, manager, or CD to look your way, and times when you have to hustle at a restaurant to make a month's rent. Acting itself shouldn't be considered "hard" if you love it, it's everything that's gets in your way that makes it hard.
Thanks, but do you think I can still make it without drama school? I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. I don't think friends really understand what acting is about. They just see it as not useful in the real world, which is frustrating. I mean without television, it would be a very boring place.
You are an adult you can pursue any thing you want. I think the best thing is to not let your "friends" get involved with your acting career if they think what you pursue is a joke. Next time if your friend ask about it again tell them it's none of there business and pursue your dreams quietly with no negativity around you especially when your learning acting. Surround your self with positive people. dose your family support you in england?
I don't think anyone has answered your real question, which is stated in the thread's title.
The answer is yes.
I find we're awfully hung up on this work-ethic-based idea that we have to have a certain amount of training to become successful actors, when the truth is, there are actors with phenomenal amounts of education who can't get any work and many with no training who work all the time. Maybe we don't like the idea that someone can get ahead without putting in the approved amount of preparation, but it is, nevertheless true, more in our profession than others.
I also want to point out that Enigma is only asking about foregoing drama school, not foregoing training altogether.
There is far less correlation between training and success in our business than in most businesses you could name.
Thank You, Sir. I understand why people may feel It's impossible to do well without a drama school education. I'm also aware that people who have trained at drama school probably think I'm a lunatic, posting on here saying I want to become successful without 3 years of schooling in the art. I understand this, but I just feel that I want to give it a try. But I'm obviously curious about drama school as well. I am not ruling it out, I'm just wondering if it's possible to make a success of myself in acting, without drama school.
It would be great to hear some views from Professional actors/actresses on here, if possible. I would really appreciate the advice if you could share yours.
Have you searched the various boards for "drama school", especially the New Actors board?
These are issues which are discussed pretty regularly here.
author of "Acting In Hollywood: A Newcomer's Guide"
Thank You, Stanislav. I did not know about that forum, but I will definitely post in there.
You've already heard from some professional actors who've answered your question from the American perspective. Of course it all depends on what you mean by "successful." Over here, it's actually the norm that successful TV and Film actors didn't go to drama school. They tend to have trained in non-scholastic studios and some who typically started very young have mostly worked with private coaches. And there are a few - very few - with virtually no training at all. Successful stage actors on the other hand more often than not did. Especially in the realm of classic theatre. Somewhat less so in the realm of musicals and contemporary straight theatre.
It's really a whole different ballgame in the UK where having gone to drama school is much more the norm, so you'd be better off asking on Thestage.co.uk forums since you'd probably need to become successful over there before you could move to the US unless you have dual citizenship or an in for the proper work visa. Just remember that there's a reason the British and Australian men in particular are currently kicking their American counterparts' butts on the international market and it doesn't necessarily have all that much to do with natural ability ...
Hi. thanks for the advice. The stage.co.uk doesn't have a forum, so I can't ask on there. Do you know of anywhere else where I could ask? I've pretty much tried asking everywhere else, but everyone's 50/50 on it. Some say that drama school is the best route, others say that you don't need to go to drama school. It's all very confusing for me. I want to decide what I need to do, but not many people can give me concrete advice. Sometimes I wish I lived in USA, be so much easier to get to LA. Bloody work visas and green cards, such a nuisance. But even then, do I still need to be offered work in the US for me to get a green card? How is that possible for an actor? Because most immigration departments won't see Acting is a career of any use to the country, will they? Not like a healthcare worker or lawyer.
Don't even think about coming to LA until you are already a working actor. And then only if you've got someone high up in your corner.
Nothing about all this is new. People come from all over the world to LA thinking they'll be able to work somehow. But they can't, not without their papers in order. And still less so if they are not already experienced actors.
Go become an actor. Get that down before you worry about where you will be able to sell skills you don't even have yet.
Again, nothing you're asking is new or unusual. You are simply speaking with the voice of hope that brings so many to LA every year. Unprepared.
If you really and truly want to be a working actor, do that where you have the best shot at it: in your home country. Any fantasy that being in LA - where every other person, whatever their age or origin, is or has been an actor - will help you advance that is exactly that: a fantasy.
author of "Acting In Hollywood: A Newcomer's Guide"
Yes, Entertainment Professional is recognized by the US government. Maybe you could go for an H1 visa, a temporary visa for nonimmigrants. To have a green card you need to be sponsored, which would probably mean a permanent job. Or an American spouse.
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