I realise it’s quite an optimistic claim to make. That by reading this article, any young actor will be able to break into the industry that they desperately want to be a part of. I’m afraid that’s not the reality.
As any actor who’s been around the block a few times can tell you, getting consistent well-paid acting work is the stuff of legend. Luck plays a massive part of being successful in the creative industry. It’s about being seen by the right person in the right place at the right time.
However, for a young actor starting out looking for acting opportunities, there are always ways to improve your odds, and get seen for more and more work…
‘It’s all about who you know’ as the old saying goes. But unless you’re good friends with Christopher Nolan or you happen to be an ex-pop star, you may have to be slightly proactive. Liverpool, and every other city like it, has a vibrant group of artists making exciting work and with social media, it’s never been quicker to make those all-important connections.
For Liverpool based actors, look no further than the brilliant Actors Family; a social media group that has regular castings and tips posted, their motto is: “actors help other actors…become actors”. The brainchild of Josh Hogg and Philly Robinson, this collective has a strong Facebook presence and is a great place to find the jobs that will get you noticed.
It is incredibly difficult for a young actor, you may have to juggle school or work, but nothing will help you more than getting some serious acting work under your belt. Not only will it provide you with invaluable experience from learning on the job, but it bolsters your CV and shows to new directors that you’re proactive in getting work, and that you must be good!
The more short films, plays and adverts you do, the more people you work with. You adapt to working in different mediums and with different directors. However, often the work you get when starting out pays very poorly, or not at all.
A personal bugbear of mine is the phrase “unpaid opportunity but great exposure”. For the working class actor, this is simply not good enough. I completely understand when it comes to collaboration between young artists who simply want to create, but when it’s an established theatre/company making money from people buying tickets to see you, then I feel that the younger performer is getting exploited with a piss-poor deal.
A fantastic example of young theatre-makers working together is the Young Everyman Playhouse’s annual director’s festival. A season of exciting free plays in which young directors, actors, technicians and producers work together and perform in the iconic Everyman Theatre.
Another great way to hone your acting skills and to meet new creatives is to attend workshops. Many run throughout the year in various venues in Liverpool and Manchester. They vary greatly, from audition advice to practical skills that can go on your CV such as learning a new accent or movement training. It’s another great way to get that all important experience and learn some new techniques that are also taught at Drama Schools across the country.
Getting involved with a youth theatre can open up lots of acting opportunities and give you access to workshops. The Unity Theatre, The Everyman, The Royal Court and many more have youth theatre opportunities for ages up to 25. You get to perform in these prestigious theatres but you also get to meet with people who make the theatres tick, and an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
Another pet hate of mine is the assumption that if you’re a young actor, then you’re not a professional. I’ve met plenty of ‘professionals’ who act unprofessionally, and even more ‘amateurs’ who handle themselves like seasoned veterans. Turning up on time, with a good attitude not only makes the director’s job easier, but it also means they’re more likely to use you in the future.
Drama school teaches you mostly common sense, to work hard and don’t swear at the director too much. For the young actor who wants to make a good impression and work with the director again, this is possibly the most important piece of advice. Work hard. Go the extra mile. Show to any director, agent or producer that you mean business, and eventually, they’ll give you business.
Starting out in this industry is never easy. How are you expected to go from an obscure performer to a well-respected actor? How do you get those all-important acting opportunities? How do you get your foot in the door? A lot of it is down to luck.
But as my old Dad used to say “The harder I work, they luckier I seem to get”…