“Actors are agents of change.
A film, a piece of theatre,
a piece of music,
or a book can make a difference.
It can change the world.”

– Alan Rickman

What does it mean to be an actor? Is it about money? Is it about fame or is it about storytelling? Acting is about the expression of emotions. Actors get to play a myriad of characters in their careers. 

They are one and many at the same time. Switching from one role to another is a specialty only an actor knows. Essaying various roles in a way that it looks convincing every time is the craft that an actor masters in their life. 

You may be thinking to yourself, this is good information to know, but what do I need to do to achieve this – how to become an actor? What is the course of action I must follow to have a career in acting? Worry not, we have answers to all the questions that might be bugging you. As you read through this blog, you will learn about what it takes to be an actor.

What do film actors do?

An actor lives as their character. Actors play the role of the character in a way that provokes the viewers to think and believe that the actors are not playing a character, but they have become one. They understand the role of their character by researching it. They attend workshops with co-actors and the rest of the team to bond with them before a project begins. Actors participate in rehearsals land costume trials to understand the finer nuances of a role, which helps to make the actual performance much more believable. They travel to multiple locations in different cities and countries to shoot as per the requirements of a script. The main aspect of their job is to entertain the audience by performing a role so well that the audience connects with the character the actor is playing either on-screen or on-stage.

Types of actors

  • Film actors: They perform in feature films produced by studios and production houses, and directed by directors from the film industry. They are usually the highest paid and enjoy an enormous amount of popularity.
  • Television actors: These actors play a myriad of roles for small screen shows such as web series or OTT platforms. Television actors are involved in a show for a limited period of time or an infinite number of shows, as demanded by the script or contract. 
  • Theatre actors: Actors who perform live on stage, or in front of a group of people, are called theatre actors. They are highly respected in cultural societies and niche groups for their art.
  • Voiceover artists: Actors who play characters behind the scenes by giving their voice and pouring life into animated or cartoon characters are called voiceover artists. These days, a growing number of film and television actors are also venturing into voiceover work.
  • Commercial actors: Actors who perform in commercials and advertisements where improvisation is elementary, are called commercial actors. A great number of artists begin their careers by acting in commercials and TVCs. 
  • Background actors: These actors perform in the background of a scene in a movie project or television show. These artists usually have a few lines of dialogue or none at all. This is the starting phase for most actors.

How to become an actor?

Take acting classes

Acting takes a lot of practice and needs proper guidance. Having a strong and experienced mentor is crucial to perfecting your art. Acting schools are a great way to start your journey in acting. Enroll in an acting class and learn the intricacies of acting.

Join theatre groups

Having a practical experience where your performance is seen by an audience is something every budding actor should experience. Getting to perform in front of a live audience helps you overcome stage fright, gain confidence, and polish your craft. You can also build relationships with other actors, directors, screenwriters, and many others in the field. This will expand your network, helping your career as an actor.

Make a strong portfolio

A portfolio is a representation of your acting skills and experiences. Keep your portfolio updated, clean, and organized. To build a strong portfolio you must do auditions and take part in acting and modelling projects. You can showcase your portfolio to casting directors in an effort to get work. A well-made portfolio is the first step to an acting career.

Get headshots

Many directors and producers ask for headshots during auditions. Headshots are still pictures depicting facial expressions. These headshots decide if an actor fits the bill for a certain role.

Hire an agent

Agents act as a bridge between actors and casting directors. Whether you want to be a film actor or a television star, even as a beginner one should have an agent. It is highly recommended to select agents from smaller agencies as they tend to focus on getting their clients more auditions. The bigger agencies have a lot of clients, so the competition is much higher, making it tough to secure auditions. 

How to become an actor after grade 12?

In the early days, people wouldn’t really go for acting courses. However, considering the competition today as well as the technical advancements in film making, getting trained as an actor becomes a mandatory requirement.

Preparing for undergraduate courses

  • At an undergraduate level, one can apply for a diploma, certificate course, or undergraduate degree in acting 
  • Pursuing a basic course will give you a clear idea about acting and learning the fine nuances of acting 
  • Joining theatre groups and participating in plays at both the high school and college levels helps to hone your acting skills

Preparing for postgraduate studies

  • Choose your field of specialization before applying for your postgraduate degree
  • Focus on the specialization depending on your area of interest: theatre acting, screenplay writing, scriptwriting, history of acting, film acting, etc.
  • After a postgraduate degree, you can pursue a career as an acting consultant or start an acting school of your own

Acting courses

Acting courses help in sharpening your skills. These courses help actors realize their strengths and weaknesses. It enables them to work on their craft as they understand where they lack and what they should do to better their craft. For the most part, film actors don’t need formal education to become professionals in their field. But many actors go through some kind of learning to know more about acting and polish skills through theatre or art programs.

Some of the best acting schools in India are:

  • Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, Mumbai
  • Film and Television Institute of India, Pune 
  • Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata
  • Barry John Acting Studio, Mumbai
  • National School of Drama, New Delhi
  • Asian Academy of Film and Television, Mumbai, Kolkata, Noida & New Delhi
  • Whistling Woods International, Mumbai
  • Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment, Mumbai
  • Zee Institute of Media and Arts, Mumbai
  • Centre for Research in Arts, Film and Television, Delhi

Diploma in acting: A diploma in acting will teach you everything about the dynamics of this profession. You will learn about acting history, theatre art, methods of adopting different personalities of a character, and receive training on classical dramatic traditions.

B.A. Honours in drama: This is a three-year undergraduate program that helps students experience and gain knowledge about performing histories,  theatre, approach to acting, and direction.

Postgraduate diploma in screen acting: This is a higher-level course that delves deeper into understanding the cinematic environment. Students learn to awaken their imagination, and how to convey emotions and intellect through enactment. 
Entrance exam: Most institutes undertake an entrance exam for candidates who wish to enroll. The National School of Drama (NSD) conducts entrance exams based on auditions.

How to become a film actor abroad?

Students can apply for acting courses abroad. You can complete your acting degree in a foreign country and start an acting career there. A number of successful film actors have pursued acting courses abroad before joining the Indian film industry to get an extra edge.

Becoming an actor in the USA and the UK

The eligibility criteria and other requirements for becoming an actor in the USA and UK are:

  • Be over 18 years of age 
  • Minimum of 65% and above in grade 12  
  • Minimum of 60% in a bachelor’s degree from a reputable college in a relevant stream 
  • The credible score in IELTS or another English language course should be 6.5 or more

Becoming an actor in Canada and Australia

Canada and Australia have some prestigious universities where you can apply for acting courses. The eligibility criteria is similar to that of the USA and the UK.

Benefits of becoming an actor

Becoming an actor is about more than just fame and money. There are certain perks which add up to the entire experience.

  • Pay package: Though there is no defined salary in acting jobs, as you keep developing your skills, your pay will continue to increase. Currently most movies are crossing the INR 100 crore mark. An actor’s fee depends greatly on their role in the project, or their brand value. An actor can charge upto 30 crores for a single project, or even earn as low as INR 500-2000 per day. 
  • Job security: There is no such thing as job security for actors. There is a high chance of losing a project because of committing a mistake, bad media, or a random act blown out of proportion. Some projects may also get shelved leading to loss of jobs. However, with an increase of online platforms and increasing popularity of regional films, actors can look for work anywhere in the world.
  • Being a role model: An actor usually ends up becoming a role model for a great part of the population based on the roles they play. Receiving recognition, accolades, awards, and fame are way more important for an actor than money. Actors have the power to drive the world towards positivity as they are role models for a lot of young people. Therefore, leaving a positive impact is one of the greatest perks of being an actor.
  • Dynamic experience: Actors get to travel a lot. They travel to different locations within India, or even abroad. They learn a lot of things throughout their career like speaking foriegn languages, public speaking skills, and can shed their inhibitions by performing in front of numerous audiences during live shows, interviews, and for promotions. The best part about being an actor is leading a dynamic life full of excitement.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are there any books you can read to improve your acting skills?

There certainly are! Here is some recommended reading to improve your acting skills:

  • An Actor’s Actor: The Authorized Biography of Sanjeev Kumar by Hanif Zaveri & Sumant Batra
  • Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner & Dennis Longwell
  • Acting is Believing by Charles McGaw
  • Actors Talk About Acting by Lewis Funke & Jones E. Both
  • In The Blink Of An Eye by Walter Murch

Is there a search for new faces?

Casting agencies normally have a plethora of clients who are looking to become actors. However, many contests are announced from time to time at colleges and universities to look for fresh faces and new talent. 

What counts as a good headshot?

Casting directors are always looking for talented actors  for their projects. One mistake that every new client makes with their headshot is that they click normal pictures with them wearing casual attire and with a face without a smile. In order to stand out, you must aim for pictures that tell a story, and capture intense emotions.

What are the must have skills for an actor?

  • Ability to learn dialogues correctly 
  • Researching abilities to learn about a character and understand what it requires to embody them 
  • Discipline to attend rehearsals and workshops 
  • Maintaining an impressive image to create the right impression
  • Self motivated to carry on despite rejections 
  • Teamwork skills to work collaboratively with other performers and learn from them

Life as an actor is interesting and dynamic. You spend your life playing one character after another. People follow you with love and get inspired. To remain committed, and navigate a career pathway in a systematic manner, get in touch with the international career success coaches of LaunchMyCareer.  They can provide guidance for your journey towards success. Visit LaunchMyCareer today, book a counselling session, and steer your dream career in the right direction.