Many people dream of becoming a big-shot Hollywood actor with mega-bucks, a celebrity lifestyle, fame and fortune, champagne and caviar and all the other perks that go along with it. Many see only the glitz and glamour but do not realize the hard work that goes into becoming one. That’s why many young people fantasize about becoming an actor with absolutely no knowledge of how to become one, believing that looks and a modicum of talent are enough to start with. In so doing, they belittle the profession and short-change themselves.
Acting is a craft, a profession, an art. It is something you have to work hard at, not something you just naturally fall into by virtue of genes, good looks, or good luck. Even Drew Barrymore, with her thespian DNA, Hollywood connections, and right address, had to earn her place. As a craft, acting is something you must develop, keep working to improve, and continually learn. As a profession, acting must be respected as a legitimate vocation that you labor at, and you must be professional in your dealings and actions. As an art, acting is a jealous mistress. It will demand your time, your devotion, your passion, sometimes draining you of all you’ve got and giving nothing back except the joy of performing. So if you desire to become one, knowing how to become an actor with no experience is the least of your concerns.
Having no experience is not an insurmountable problem. Experience is an indispensable part of getting roles in big-budget films, shows or plays. Inexperienced actors are rarely, if ever, cast in big roles, and for good reason. Acting is such a demanding, draining job that those who are not used to the pressure can easily buckle under it. Those who have no experience cannot possibly have any idea what it’s like to be actually doing it, and especially those who believe it is all fun and games will have the shock of their lives. No big Hollywood director will want to have to deal with a freaked-out talent in the middle of a shoot. There’s good reason for hiring experienced cast, aside from the obvious advantage that experience will bring to the table. But everything starts from somewhere, and if you consider yourself an actor albeit without any experience, than you can easily remedy that.
Find opportunities and get out there. Search your local newspaper, bulletins, community centers or colleges for audition and try out. Call local theaters and inquire if they have upcoming shows and if there are open auditions for parts. Get involved in local plays and shows, if not as a member of the cast, then as part of the crew. This is the easiest way to break into acting with zero experience. These places and people are more open to raw talent, and they are great for getting that much-needed experience. Just being around acting circles can teach you a lot, will add to your resume, and can put you within the sphere of agents, producers or directors, which could lead to better things.
Be prepared to sacrifice time, personal life, other pursuits, and learn to harden your heart. Acting is consuming and exacting. Many an actor speaks of characters totally taking over their own selves so that it seems the character is all there is and nothing is left of the actor. These actors have fully committed themselves to their craft and given themselves totally to it. Sometimes, this can mean that the actor loses his sense of self even around his personal life and relationships, which can be very taxing for people around him. You need to face this fact and be prepared to pay the price. Even as this is so, actors have to learn to face a lot of rejection at the same time. The rewards of acting can be very finicky.
Even if you give the greatest performance you’re capable of, there’s no guarantee the audience, the critics, the director, will like your work. Not even Hollywood’s top-box office draws are always assured their films will not bomb. And actors need to get used to rejection after rejection; you can’t let it get to you. This is the paradox of acting that you need to be confident enough to put yourself out there and be able to stand rejection, yet at the same time never lose the sensitivity and vulnerability that makes great actors great.
Be genuinely nice to people around you, even those who reject you. As an inexperienced actor you may meet with a lot of rudeness and incredulity, both from the acting circle and even within your family and friends. Yet, the saying still holds true, what goes around comes around. Understand their skepticism but set out to prove them wrong in the only way that works: by showing them what you’ve got in terms of acting ability.
Treat people courteously and politely because the acting industry is a small, small world; you are going to meet people again and again, but they won’t always be in the same position. People in this industry are some of the most ambitious there are, and the lowly assistant you snubbed today might be somewhere up the ladder in the future and have the power to make or break your career.
Persevere and keep at it. Even after you get a good casting agent to work for you, it won’t always guarantee a hugely successful career, a consistent stream of work, or always getting your dream roles. What you need to do is keep working. There is no small role. Don’t stick within your safe acting range, either. Keep challenging yourself with new characters to play and do something different. Don’t wait for opportunity to knock; go make your own opportunities. Be visible, accessible, and persistent. Any acting work, whether paid, unpaid, or underpaid, is a valuable learning experience, and experience is worth its weight in gold.
If you follow these steps, it won’t be long before the issue of how to become an actor with no experience will cease being an issue. You will have gained a lot of experience in the process and become a full-fledged actor in your own right.