I recently had the chance to sit down with a working actor who has been in several projects, including Best Picture winner "The Artist". I asked him just what exactly it takes to break into the business, and he gave me a disheartened look, as if the very act of recounting the steps equated to climbing K2. He gave me some great tips, so here they are:
1. It takes lots of time. I mean LOTS of time. HEAPS (as they say in Australia). First of all, you need to know what kind of actor you want to be. Do you want to do serious roles? Funny roles? What genre? And what medium? Are you trying to be Daniel Day Lewis or Gilbert Gottfried? Whatever your ambitions are, you need to study. Study the art and the craft. Watch everything you can get your hands on. Read books. Read about method. Read about style. Watch the important films that broke cinematic barriers. Know your craft, in other words.
2. Acting is more of a business of selling yourself than it is of actually being in front of a camera. Again, this will eat up heaps of your time. You will need a resume. A demo reel. Headshots. Probably an agent. You will need to network like you've never networked before. You need to get in the thick of things. Make people remember you. The product is you, your face. Get it out there. Act like a car salesman, except instead of a Chevy Malibu, the product is the slightly-less desirable you. Be a salesperson.
3. Be in the right place. Traditionally, Hollywood has been the place to be for actors. While that still may be true, other areas have opened up as hotbeds for aspiring screen talent. Cities like Atlanta, Vancouver, and even Seattle have growing hordes of projects shooting all the time. The fact is, you probably won't get too many chances to make projects if you're living in Wichita. It may require relocating, if you're serious about "making it".
So there you have it. Just remember, Dr. Tobias Funke thought he was a doctor for years. Turns out he was an actor all along! Follow your dreams.