August 12, 2012
Forum School Of Acting
I am 21 years old and a senior in college. I came across your site tonight while looking for tips about acting, obviously. I found your site to be helpful, especially coming across inexpensive ways to learn about acting.
I’m e-mailing you in hopes of getting some advice. I have always had the desire to entertain people and make people laugh, and I’m damn good at it. I’ll admit, I don’t know the first thing about acting, but I think I’m at a point in my life trying to figure out what it is I want to do.
I will be graduating this year with degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice, and then will be furthering my education well into graduate school. I’m beginning to wonder if this is what I truly want to do. There is something inside of me telling me to take a chance, and try something new, but I’m terrified.
But at the same time, I know I have what it takes to make it. I’d bet my life on it. I’m not sure where to even begin with these thoughts and desires of mine. I’m from Cleveland, nowhere near Los Angeles or NYC, and I can’t just pick up and go. Do you have any advice for me?
This is something I can’t let go of, it keeps me up at night, hence why I am e-mailing you at 1:12am. If you can’t help, I understand. Just thought it was worth a shot.
Have a good night – Rita
Thanks for the email.
As for the advice, I’ll give you what I can. If you want to pursue acting, you don’t necessarily need to be in LA or NYC to get started.
The truth of the matter is that you’ve got a lot of elements to put together before you’ll have a viable shot at booking work on a television show or movie. The first thing you have to do is learn to act. As you said that you’re already a naturally entertaining sort of personality, the skill set might come a little easier to you, but acting is still very much a learned skill.
The nice thing about it is that you can start learning even while you’re in school. Whichever university you’re going to probably has a theater department. So, take some basic theater acting classes. It’s going to add to your workload, but I personally think it’s a far better option than dropping everything based on a feeling. You might find that you love acting, but then again you might not.
Even if you didn’t want to pursue it at school, the local community colleges are sometimes a good resource and often you can find private acting schools in most major cities. The reality is that you’re going to need at least a two or three years of pretty dedicated practice and research just to learn how to act.
After (or, ideally during) that time, you’ll also need to learn to act specifically for film or television and THEN you’ll need to figure out all of the marketing stuff like headshots, getting representation, joining guilds and all that. It’s a pretty steep learning curve, and if you’re not doing it full time, you’ll probably be looking at something like 8 to 10 years to get it all down and be seriously ready and able to book acting work.
The worst part about this job is that even after you’ve spent all that time and energy, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever consistently book acting work. My book Acting For Film And Television realistically breaks down the job. If you’re super dedicated, sincere, severely disciplined and willing and able to constructively practice 20 to 30 hours a week, you could cut that 8 to 10 years down to maybe 3 or 4. The truth is most people simply can’t, won’t or don’t.
In short, I think you’re doing great right now! You’re about to get two well respected degrees, you’re moving on to a graduate level education AND you have plenty of opportunity to get started acting right where you’re at. If you really want to learn more, a good place to start is to read my book. People who want to act for a living usually have two reactions after reading it…they either: Get sick. Or, they get excited and they get to work.
There are a TON of people in the first camp…very few in the second. Acting is the hardest career on the planet…it’s literally easier (and one is more likely) to become an astronaut than to make a lifelong career out of acting professionally.
If you’re not doing it out of sheer passion, love and devotion to the craft, you’ll have a really hard time keeping going when the going gets tough. I personally think a good test will be to try and attend acting classes while you’re working on your Master’s degree. You pull that off and you’ll have two great things: A Master’s degree and the knowledge that you’re dedicated to acting for acting’s sake.
Does that help?