I'm 17 years old and I live right outside of Boston. Really, I've known I wanted to be an actor since I was young, but I realized only recently that I don't think I'll ever be happy doing something else, and so I'm going for it. As far as experience, I was in school plays in elementary school, and recently I was an extra in a Adam Sandler movie that happened to be filming in my town, but that's it.
However, being perfectly honest, I think I'm talented, and I think with some training, some guidance on the business, and some luck, that I have what it takes to be a professional. That said, I'm currently lacking training and any knowledge about it, and have no idea how/where to start to auditioning.
Based on what I know right know, I've made a loose plan;
-Right now I'm in my junior year of high school. Whether I'm going to graduate isn't certain at the moment. If I don't end up graduating, I would get a GED. Whatever ends up happening, acting school would have to come after it. In the meantime, I want to be doing as much as I can and getting experience. I have the option of participating in my town's public theater, but I feel like auditioning would be a better use of my time. I also don't love theater acting, I think of myself as more of a film/tv actor. Any auditions I go on or any efforts I make would probably have to be in Massachusetts or close. I don't have a car, so I'd be taking the bus. Any advice on what I should do and how I should start auditioning would be awesome, mainly where/how to look for auditions.
-Once I've sorted out my high school diploma/GED, acting school of some kind. Somewhere close is preferable, so I can still live at home and save money more efficiently, but not necessary. I want to go to acting school mostly for experience acting, I haven't done anything but extra work in years. I am also eager to learn and improve on my ability, obviously. Also, would having a GED hinder my efforts of getting in to a good acting school? I realize it might at a particular acting school, but like, in general, would having a GED be a big problem severely limiting me? So I'd also appreciate any advice/knowledge on acting schools and where you suggest, again, preferably local.
-While in school, work as much as I can, saving for the move to LA, which I know is going to be necessary if I want to make it.
-After school, move to LA and get a job to support myself, while auditioning as much as I can. I'm sure at this point I'll know a lot more about auditioning and what I need to do as far as becoming SAG eligible and/or getting an agent (I know very little about both things at this point, again, any guide is appreciated.)
So that's sort of it right now. Please tell me if this plan is realistic and contribute anything you think may help me refine it. Also I'd really appreciate it if you answered some of the questions in the plan.
And really, any information you have that you think could help me, and you're willing to type, I'd love to hear, haha.
Firstly, it isn't necessary to go to an "acting school" to pursue acting. You need training, for sure, but full-time drama/acting school isn't for everyone. Keep that in mind when you decide what you want to do post graduation.
Second, I believe that it is to your benefit to have the best "back-up" education possible. This way, you will have an easier time getting a day job. The more practical skills you learn and experience you gain outside of acting will give you the most options for this. So yes, you should finish high school.
Next, find acting classes in your area. If you can commute to Boston for this, fantastic. You'll probably find the most options there. If not, find a community college or local theatre in your town. Start by taking classes locally, meet people, and pick their brains about auditioning and acting in your area.
Also, don't get ahead of yourself. Don't limit the type of acting you want to do before you've even started. You might love theater and it might work very well for you. Also, I know you didn't mention this, but do not rule out commercials. It is the smartest way for new actors to get an agent, get into the union, get exposure, and book PAYING jobs.
I've written a few articles about the acting industry (for beginners). There's a ton more information here:
General advice on getting started:
Specifics on Agents, Auditions, Unions, etc etc:
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. And yeah I know acting "school" isn't necessary and classes could be just as beneficial, but I honestly just think school would be more fun.
Well bravo for starting a plan, however, your plan is not a good one.
Continue your education and actually graudate high school. You're in your junior year, you have a year and a half left, thats not that long and will be here and gone before you know it.
Second, you DO NOT have to spend the money to go to an acting school. I see you are so adament about it but I am just trying to pin point why you are so up on wanting to go to an acting school AND which school was it you were looking at into going to. It would be just as beneficial to just take acting classes from a professional. Trust me, those are just as fun.
But you do have to have that training regardless.
Check into your local acting scene and see where would be the best place to start this and build and network out from there.
Do keep in mind though, without your own personal transportation, that you will have to rely on the pubic transit and you need to make sure you stay on top of the schedule and make sure that with it, you can make classes, auditions, etc on time and when needed.
And I too agree, do not limit your acting. Theatre acting is a good way to get started and to get your resume going. And who knows, you may end up enjoying it.
But before you can run, you must crawl. Like I said, check with your local acting community and start getting involved there first. Get training and start doing gigs here and there to get a better understanding of the industry.
(Also note, extra work is NOT acting work)
Learn about the industry as much as you can and thats typically on first hand experience.
And if LA is where you really want to be, hunker down and save save save and train and learn and get that resume started.
When you get to LA, makes sure you have the money be stable, get that job that will allow you to audition and work, enroll in the LA classes, and get those killer headshots prior to even hunting that commercial agent (which comes prior to the theatrical agent)
And be realistic and patient! It takes a long time. And dont do this if you are trying to seek fame and fortune. Make sure you are doing it because you actually want to.
You're right, college IS fun, but how will you pay for it? If you'd have to take student loans out, definitely think long and hard about it before going through with it. My husband is knee deep in student loan repayment - he went to a private art school and he totally didn't need to (he is a professional illustrator now). These loans are going to affect every financial decision we make for the next 30 years, at least. He would happily give his degree back if he could.
And as SammieD says, training can be just as fun as acting school. I enjoyed my acting classes so much more than ANY of the courses I took in college.
@Shay, yeah, I was planning on taking out student loans to pay for school. I suppose if acting classes truly are just as beneficial, than it would be pretty stupid to put myself in all that debt for the sole purpose of having a more fun experience (and you're saying classes can be just as fun as school). And thanks for the links to those posts you made, really helpful.
@Sammie (and Shay if you don't mind), I definitely want to start auditioning locally while I'm training and saving. My problem is I don't know where to start looking for auditions. As of now I'd say my best bet would be to ask other people in classes I go to, but I'd like to be more proactive. Do you have any advice on where and how to look for local auditions that could help me with this?
I'm not familiar with your area, so I can't give you any specific resources other than Craigslist (which you need to be very careful with) and maybe Mandy.com. The best way for you to be proactive is by doing your own research. Look around on these boards and online. Once you find your classes/local theaters, you can ask the people there for more advice.
There is also a board here called "Acting Outside Hollywood" - you might find some info there. Use the "find" tab up top to search all the topics people have already discussed.
Take anything you hear on a public forum with at grain of salt, my advice included. Finish HS then decide what to do after. At this point in time unless you have substantial credits it is foolish to drop everything and move out to LA find a job and pursue acting. While in HS you should be active in community theatre even if you a painting the scenery. In Boston you have schools like BU and Emerson with film departments that cast for student shorts. Get busy and find them and their casting process. Look for Community College adult ed classes in acting and production. I believe they will accept senior HS students. Even the big schools in Boston have them. Get involved to see if this is really what you want to pursue. As far as student loan dept, look to state schools that are the best bang for the buck. In this day and age you are foolish not to have a college education and expect to find work. UNLESS you already have work in the field by the time you are off to college. Less than 5% of the members of SAG-AFTRA/AEA can support themselves on acting alone.
Don't do it unless you have rich parents....
I echo ^^^ Dad's comments. Hollywood was here before you and it'll be here after you.
The best actors are the most well rounded human beings, with life experience, with some diversity, and having lived a little.
Boston has some great theatre, some excellent schools for fine arts, and I suggest dipping your toe into that area and meeting people.
I'm also opposed to people getting degrees in fine arts, but that's just me. Most college undergrad programs don't teach you how to act, NOT on camera, but teach you technique, teach you various methods, and teach you a heck of a lot of discipline...but the reality is, that only takes you so far if you don't have on-camera proficiency, or understand how to analyze a script in 10 minutes for a cold read audition.
Personally, I'd recommend you get a degree in a field that you can make money at. Why? Because most people don't make a career in acting, and even those that do, work for several years in fields other than acting. Accounting, sales, communications, marketing, etc. All great fields to sustain your financial needs while pounding the pavement.
Don't rush anything. You've got plenty of time.
Best of luck.
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