5 Tips For Starting a Career In Acting


 Photo by  Matthew Henry  on  Unsplash

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Move to New York or Los Angeles. 

The first thing you’ll need to do is move. Your big dream is too big to fit in your small town. Your only options are acronyms: NYC, LA. Sure, you can find opportunities in other cities, but putting “LA-based” on your resume is way cooler than “Cleveland-based.”

Get a headshot. 

You’ve moved to a real city. Congratulations. Welcome to crippling financial insecurity!

Next, you’ll need headshots. They have to be professional and they have to be expensive. Can’t afford them? Ask your roommates to chip in. You’ll pay them back with tips from waiting tables.

Headshots are your way of showing people what you look like because your looks are the only thing that matter. [I am not kidding.]

If you’re hot, at least an 8.5 or a 9, you’ll have an easier time in the biz.

5 to 7? Be prepared to battle to the death for the worst roles [anything with the Weinstein Group].

If you’re anything below a 5, oof. If I were you, I’d practice saying “do you want that with whip?”. Unless you have a unique physical characteristic…in which case you could carve a niche as a character actor – [think Doughy White Bossman, or Lithe Porcelin-skinned Corpse]. Don’t worry about getting pigeon-holed. That’s the only way you’ll find work.

When you get your headshots, get 3-4 different “looks” so you can send the right headshot for each role. You’ll need one serious look, one smiling, one looking over your shoulder, and one naked.

Any reputable headshotist will Photoshop out your double chin. You might think you can hide your double chin by sticking out your neck and pushing your shoulders back [known in the industry as Gooseing]. You can’t. You might think you don’t have a double chin. You definitely do. 

Casting Directors are trained to look for double chins and, unless they’re casting for “Guy/Girl with Double Chin” they’ll disqualify you for being ugly.

Sign Up For Acting classes

While you’re spending money you don’t have, sign up for acting classes.

Here you’ll get to meet your competition. On the surface, you’ll be working with partners in various scenes to develop your acting ability in pursuit of your dream. But you’ll realize pretty quickly [during introductions] that none of you has any acting ability whatsoever and you’re all pretty close to quitting and moving back to your parents’ basement.

Your goal in acting class is to find ways to undercut and backstab your classmates to ensure you come out on top. 

Be Attractive

You might think you’re only cut out for such distinguished roles as “dad” or “guy with kids” or “man married to woman with children” [all roles I’ve played], but unless you’re beautiful, you’ll have a snowball’s chance in hell of landing even those parts.

This applies even if you’re a phenomenal actor [which you’re not, and will have realized after every audition]. If you’re not attractive, be prepared to do a LOT of work as an extra [also with the Weinstein Group]. Extra work is fun because you get to work long hours, earn minimum wage, and your work may not make it to the final cut. 

To ensure everyone’s on the same page in terms of attractiveness, a midwest 9 is a Los Angeles 6, which is a New York 1.

Sign up for Backstage.com

Okay, so you moved to LA or NYC, had your 12 roommates front you money for your headshot, and signed up for an acting class that you now use as a support group to deal with the impending soul-crushing rejection. 

Now it’s time to put yourself out there!

Sign up for Backstage.com. You could also use actorsaccess.com. These two websites are where you’ll compete with thousands of other actors for roles with pay scales ranging from “Some Pay” to “No Pay, meals provided.” 

Do not sign up for Nycastings.com. It’s a steaming stack of turds. The interface is kludgy, the site is slow, and they charge an arm and a leg to put up multiple pictures and videos. And those are the only ways to show casting directors you’re not as moose-ish as the next schlump. 

Be prepared to apply for a lots of roles and attend lots of auditions. You’ll need to learn how to deal with lots of rejection.

But… look at each of those as a learning experience. Each time you go out, you’ll get a little better. You’ll earn another line item on your resume [which no one will read].

One of you millions of misguided readers might make it. The rest of us will look at you as an example of what we wish we were: talented and hardworking [beautiful].


Here’s a supercut of the first background work I ever did. NOTE: The audio will be difficult to follow since I cut out each shot that didn’t have my face in it. 


If you have suggestions for others on how to make it in the biz, or a success [or failure] story, leave a comment below!