Because there are many different types of actors, including stage actors, screen actors, and commercial voice talent, there are many different paths to becoming a professional actor. While the steps you take on this career path may vary slightly, generally speaking you should pursue the following to reach your long-term aspirations.
- Start Early
It is never too soon to start learning the skills required to become an actor. Most high schools have drama programs, which is where many actors get their start. However, many communities have theater programs and learning opportunities geared especially for younger kids.
- Get Your Education
A college degree is not necessarily a requirement to become an actor. There are many who become successful with no formal training at all. However, studying theater in college can offer you several advantages:
- More experience performing
- Mentoring and useful contacts from your professors
- Attention from producers or agents
Just as athletic talent scouts sometimes watch high school and college sports looking for new stars, artistic talent scouts may also see college plays, so this can be a good way to get more exposure.
- Pursue Professional Credits
While your college experience is important, once you start looking for acting jobs, you will be expected to present professional credits as well. This means going on lots of auditions, probably for smaller companies, and accepting smaller parts, at least at first. Step outside your comfort zone and audition for different types of roles. This demonstrates to casting directors, producers, agents, etc. that you have range. Hopefully it helps to prevent you from being typecast, which is a peril for many actors.
- Hire an Agent
An agent is someone who helps you get auditions and advises you on what roles to take and which to pass on. Your agent gets a portion of the money you make and so has a vested interest in your success.
There are other things you need to do to become a professional actor, such has have your headshot taken so casting directors can see what you look like. However, these steps are some of the most important.