You love the stage. The lights, the audience, the thrill of performing. You’ve been dreaming of becoming an actor since your childhood and now you’re ready to take the plunge and start your acting career. But where do you begin?
The path to becoming an actor is more complex than it seems. It requires more than just enthusiasm and talent—you need the right training, education, and network of people to support you along the way.
Fortunately, you can equip yourself with all the tools you need to be successful in acting without ever having to set foot in a theater. From books to online classes, there’s plenty of resources available for aspiring actors looking to educate themselves and build their knowledge base. In this guide, we’ll cover how to do just that—and break down all of the key steps in creating your own self-guided acting education plan.
Acting Basics – Learning the Fundamentals
If you’re interested in becoming an actor, the first step is to learn the basics. This involves understanding dramatic techniques and other core concepts that will help you lay a foundation for continuing your education.
To get started, take a look at books and online resources that can help introduce you to acting. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the history of theater, core techniques like dialog delivery, and basic stage direction. You may also want to read reviews and articles relevant to current theatrical productions, which can give you a better understanding of modern trends in acting.
Make sure to observe actors in performances as well – either onstage or onscreen – which can help give you a sense of how professionals handle the craft. Watching shows from different eras and genres can be especially helpful, since it will give you a broader view of how acting has developed over time.
It’s also important to talk with other people involved in theater – such as directors, producers, and technicians – who can provide valuable insight into the craft. All these activities will help ensure that you develop a solid foundation for continuing your education as an actor.
Theater Training & Education Programs
You’ve done the research and have decided an acting career is for you. Now it’s time to consider how to educate yourself for it.
Theater training and education programs, like many of the performing arts, are a great place to start. They provide a comprehensive understanding of performance topics and help you learn the basics while you hone your craft. These programs often include classes in acting technique, vocal training, script analysis, auditions, and more.
In addition to traditional college theater programs, there are many online programs available that provide an in-depth introduction to the profession through courses on topics such as improvisation, character development, voice-over work, commercial acting and film/TV technique. Online courses can also be valuable for actors who may not have access to a physical theater program or who need to complete certain classes quickly or from their own home.
Regardless of the program you choose, educating yourself on all aspects of theater will give you the necessary tools to pursue your dream of becoming an actor.
Developing an Acting Skill Set & Repertoire
You must develop an acting skill set and repertoire of characters if you want to be a successful actor. Building up your acting toolbox requires specific skills, knowledge and training.
A great way to build your foundation of knowledge is to get help from an experienced, highly-rated acting coach. Coaches can mentor you and guide you in the right direction, teaching you techniques that will help bring out the best in your performances. They are often experienced actors themselves, or have taken classes or workshops on the craft. Working with a coach 1:1 can help you improve your confidence and refine the way you present yourself in auditions, as well as teach you about technical elements like blocking and memorization.
Research & Audition Primers
Aside from having a coach, it’s important to do your own research. Take time to attend theater performances in order to understand on-stage activities like timing, vocal projection, body language and intensity—and don’t be afraid to take notes! Additionally, many casting directors provide audition primers on their website that outline their expectations for each role they’re casting. Reviewing these materials carefully before the audition can really help hone in on what the director is looking for so that you can deliver a successful performance that stands out from the competition.
Building an Acting Network
The next step in how to educate yourself for acting is to build a network of other actors. These are people you can rely on, who will have your back, who you can trust and turn to for advice when you need it. And this isn’t just about having a friend in the business—it’s about making new business contacts that could lead to jobs.
Find an Acting Group
Finding an acting group is one of the best ways to connect with a larger group of actors and build relationships. There are lots of ways to find local acting groups in your area, whether it be through the internet, or by joining a theatrical organization like Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). You can also look up local theater companies, schools and community centers that offer classes or workshops.
Join Social Media Groups & Community Events
Social media groups are a great way to find actors who live near you or share your interests and experiences. You can also join community events such as open mics, film screenings and acting workshops. Not only is this a great way to meet new people but it also provides an opportunity for you to learn more about the craft of acting.
Building an acting network is essential for any aspiring actor because it not only opens up opportunities but also provides invaluable feedback from experienced professionals. By investing your time in the right places and building relationships with other actors you will be able to gain knowledge and experience that will help launch your career!
Working on Your Craft Outside of the Classroom
Now that you’ve decided to become a serious actor, it’s important to take the initiative and start working on your craft outside of the classroom. Even if you don’t have access to an extensive network of theatrical opportunities, there are plenty of ways to equip yourself with tools that will give you a strong foundation in the art.
Read Plays and Screenplays
It’s great to watch plays and movies for entertainment, but if you want to gain a better understanding of the how actors interact with each other on stage or on camera, then taking time to read scripts is essential. Not only will reading plays help you think in terms of dialog and action, but it also puts you in closer contact with characters–their thoughts, words, and motivations.
Take Online Classes
If there aren’t any classes at your local school or community theater that are right for your schedule or budget, explore some of the great options available online! Some may be free while others require an enrollment fee, so do your research before committing to a class. Online classes can give you the opportunity to learn alongside other actors from around the world while honing in on specific skillsets like improv comedy or character development.
Attend Acting Workshops & Seminars
Workshops and seminars can be great additional sources of knowledge for finding out about industry trends as well as learning new skills related to auditioning and self-promotion. Seeing how professionals work gives you invaluable insight into how things run–what’s expected of actors at stage readings or auditions for film or TV shows? What type of questions should you ask directors when given direction? If a workshop is sponsored by an organization such as SAG-
Making Your Acting Dreams Come True
You’ve done your research and now you’re ready to make your dream of being an actor a reality. There are many ways to educate yourself to become an actor. Here are some key tips that can help you get started:
A great way to get started is to network, which means meeting as many people in the theater industry as possible. You never know who may be able to help you take the next step in your career. Nurturing relationships with directors and producers, or other actors, can open up opportunities that would otherwise not be available.
No one ever got good at something without practice, and this is especially true when it comes to acting. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at delivering lines, creating emotions in a scene and understanding why certain words or actions have specific meanings.
Continuing education is important for any aspiring actor who wants to stay competitive in their field. Fortunately, there are a lot of free online classes that can help teach you the fundamentals of acting technique. Taking these classes will give you a good foundation for when you’re ready for professional instruction.
The best way to learn how to be a great actor is by doing it! To find those opportunities, start by checking out local theater productions or open casting calls near you. Most importantly—have fun with it! It’s easier to learn if you enjoy what you do and take every experience as an opportunity to grow and improve yourself as an actor.
Whatever direction you choose to pursue as an actor, the most important thing to remember is that hard work and dedication are paramount if you want to be successful. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to educating yourself for acting, but the best steps to take are to unearth a good teacher, find or create an opportunity, and practice, practice, practice.
So if you’re serious about pursuing a career in acting, it’s time to take the plunge and take action. Have faith in yourself and start learning the ropes – you never know where you’ll end up. Good luck!