Taking the plunge into acting takes guts. There is a lot at risk for actors every time they step into an audition room, a rehearsal room, onto set or off the stage. The risks are many and varied, but a short list includes ‘Will I make a fool of myself?’ ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘Will I look stupid’ and most terrifyingly ‘What happens if people dont like me or my work?’ I mean… just writing those questions down puts a knot in my stomach. I think to answer the question is acting right for you (having never met you) I am instead going to ask you a few questions, and depending on your answers, you will work out for yourself if acting is right for you or not! Sounds good? Let’s get into it!
Acting is right for you if you enjoy it! If you like working collaboratively with other creatives and if you have a real passion for storytelling. If you are looking for money and fame you are far better off becoming a professional golfer!
Why do you want to do it?
The thing about the modern world is that we are surrounded by great acting. Everywhere from Netflix to TikTok to your local community theatre, there are people doing really great work. The temptation to see someone on a sensational Amazon or Netflix show and think ‘I could do that’ or even ‘I could do better than that’ is massive. However, this is just like watching the high jump or the discus at the Olympics, just because a professional makes it look easy, doesn’t mean it is!
What you don’t see is what has happened before then for that actor, the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the years and years of hard graft and application to craft that has gone on to get them where they are. The hustling, the late nights and early mornings, the nervous meetings with agents and the terrifying auditions in front of a panel of thirty.
The thing that gets these actors through though, is their passion for their craft. You have to love it, you have to love all the parts of it and frankly a lot of parts of acting are not easy to love. Actors go through the range of emotions in an hour that most people go through once or twice in their entire lives. If you want to work professionally you have to be prepared to be consistently rejected and continue on in spite of that because of your passion and drive for the craft and the joy that comes with telling stories on stage or onscreen.
If you are someone who is looking to get into acting for fame or prestige or to get rich quick. Then acting is not right for you. If you really struggle with what people think of you, you have self-esteem struggles or generally feel somewhat fragile about yourself at the moment, I would encourage you to just work on acting for yourself for a while, before you go putting your work out into the world. Acting can be a wonderful thing to do for self-growth and development. The professional world can be tough, so bear this in mind before you dive on in to some auditions.
Do You Enjoy It?
This is so important, and should be the starting point for damn near everything. Do you like it? Do you find it fun? Have you ever really tried it to see? So often actors and people that want to be actors get caught up in the dishwasher of professional worries. They are worried about being the best there ever was, or having a distinct brand or having a powerful social media presence that they miss the key element for all actors – which is joy! It should be fun! If you hate doing it, if working on script analysis, learning lines and accessing emotion in front of groups of people sounds like hell to you – do not be an actor.
A few years ago I had an audition for a big feature film. It was set in a prison and I was going for a role which would have been very confronting for me. The audition was for one of the biggest casting directors in the country and frankly I was completely freaking out. I called a friend of mine, a working actor who has got many big parts over his career and he said to me ‘Mate, remember how it’s fun? Remember how you enjoy this stuff?’ and it all came flooding back to me. The joy, the discovery, the mysteries to unpack that come with every text. That short sentence spurred me into my work and I got called back for the role! Sadly, I didn’t book that job, but that small conversation sparked my joy for the craft again and made me remember why acting is right for me, its right for me because I find it fun, in spite of the difficulties and challenges it presents. If you are trying to decide if acting is right for you, this is where you should start. If you find it fun, you are on the right track!
Do You Have To Be An Extrovert?
Put simply, no you do not have to be an extrovert to be an actor. Just as there is every type of character under the sun, we need all types of personalities to be actors! Gone are the days when actors had to be white,straight, extroverted, charismatic, able bodied people. Don’t get me wrong, those types of people still form a huge contingent of actors, especially in the English speaking world, but this is changing. Introverts, ambiverts and every possible group of different sexualities, gender identities, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and abilities are an intrinsic part of film, TV and theatre in the modern world.
Moreover, all of these people are absolutely necessary to tell the stories that need to be told in the modern world. Actors don’t have to be any one thing, we need all types of people, from all backgrounds to be actors, to bring their truth, their experience, their knowledge and their point of view to life through film, television and theatre. So no matter where you come from or what you look like or what your ability is, don’t let that be the reason why you don’t start acting. We need you, the world needs you, our stories need you. And if you can’t see yourself on stage or on screen yet, it is time to start writing the story that will bring your experience to life, so others in your situation can be inspired by your storytelling!
Do You Have to Make Money?
This is such a great question to ask yourself if you are tossing up whether or not it’s right for you to pursue acting. Do you need to make money from acting? If you desire a career as a professional actor, that is fantastic! You can do it! It is possible! But you have to be prepared to put in the work to make it happen. It will not fall on a plate to you, it will not just occur. You will have to make it happen! I will go into more detail on that in just a second. But, If you do not need to make money out of it, if you just want to try it and see if you enjoy it, then that is fantastic too! Check out some classes near you or try out the StageMilk Scene Club for a great online option.
If you do want a professional career, you are passionate about acting, it brings you real joy and you want to do it for the primary part of your life, then let’s do some reading! This is a great article on How to Become an Actor, What you Need to Become an Actor and How to Have a Lasting Acting Career.
The essential trajectory of the vast majority of professional actors is as follows; audition for a professional, established, full-time acting program at a drama school. Work hard, battle it out and excel in that degree. Have some high end agents and casting directors see your work at a showcase or on a showreel supplied by the drama school to industry. Get picked up by said agency and excel in auditions when you get sent out, book work, keep improving and move from 50 word roles, to guest roles to supporting to lead roles. This process, from whoa to go, is going to take years of your life. If that sounds like fun to you, exciting, interesting and challenging then acting is probably right for you! If that sounds like the actual definition of hell to you, then maybe look for a career elsewhere.
Do You Want To Be Famous?
This is also an incredibly important question and I am going to be really honest with you here and I hope you don’t mind – but the honest truth is that you are extremely unlikely to get famous as an actor. If that is what your goal is, you are genuinely better off becoming a professional sportsperson. I can guarantee you that it is easier to find fame as a touring golfer than as a working actor. Now it is not impossible, by any means, it does absolutely happen! But more often than not becoming famous is a side effect for an incredibly driven, talented and trained actor who executes their skills year after year, moving from lower quality productions into higher and higher quality productions till there is nowhere else for them to go and they become a household name.
This is the exact same process that you have seen happen with Lewis Hamilton, Sam Kerr, Lionel Messi, Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, Jack Dorsey, Serena Williams and so on. You name the working professional at the top of their game who has achieved some level of fame and success, they have done it by a mixture of drive, talent, training, practice, hard work, luck and skill. As well as, most importantly a sheer love for what they do. If you listen to any of these people in interviews they will say they do their thing because they love it, it brings them joy, it challenges them and doing it is the point, the sport, the activity, the work is the point not the success that it brings, but the work itself is the reward itself.
This has to be true for you if acting is right for you too, it will be right for you because you love it and it sparks joy in you. Not because you want or feel you deserve a damn thing from it. Acting, theatre, film, screen, television, none of these things owe you anything. You are not entitled to a career, or success or fame or what have you, all you are entitled to do is to offer up yourself, your artistic drive and determination and see where it takes you.
Having made it this far I hope you feel more equipped to answer the question ‘Is acting right for me?’ If you love the craft, if you are a passionate storyteller who wants to bring their unique point of view to the world and you are interested in acting for the right reasons then you should absolutely pursue it! There are a myriad of ways to have a successful career in the arts, it is possible! It isn’t easy however, and there will be challenges aplenty along the way, you have to make sure that you are in it to tell stories, because it brings you joy, because you love it not because you want to be famous. There are so many easier ways to be famous than to be an actor, honestly pick a sport any sport and pursue that instead! Or become a politician! That doesn’t even require talent! Seriously though, acting is so important and so joyful and if you have read this far and you’re still interested, you should come and join us at the StageMilk Drama Club by clicking the link below.