How to Become an Actor in Texas

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Photo Source: “Vengeance” Courtesy Focus Features

The Lone Star State may be your ticket to stardom. Though less of an obvious choice than New York or Los Angeles, Texas offers exciting opportunities for artists who want to pursue acting careers in the South.

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How to become a Texas actor

Matthew McConaughey, Jamie Foxx, Robin Wright, Renee Zellweger

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Matthew McConaughey, Robin Wright, Jamie Foxx, and Renée Zellweger are just some of the many Texas-born actors who began their careers in the Lone Star State. If you want to have your name etched on the Hollywood Walk of Fame like theirs, here are some steps you can take.

Find local casting calls and auditions

Regularly check the Texas Film Commission’s Job Hotline and filter Backstage’s listings to find available Texas acting jobs. For gigs specifically in your area, try: 

Network

Meeting like-minded creatives can open doors to auditions, opportunities, and collaborations that may not be accessible through traditional means. There are numerous networking opportunities available in Texas.

  • Check out the programs and networking events held by the Texas Film Commission throughout the year. 
  • Sign up for membership with All Entertainment Business to join its community of entertainment pros and learn from industry experts. 
  • Austin Film Society and ATX Theatre also hold various events year-round where you can interact with filmmakers, producers, writers, and theater enthusiasts.
  • Attend film festivals such as SXSW and Fantastic Fest, and browse FilmFreeway for smaller local fests, which can be a great place to meet creatives at a similar career level. 

Familiarize yourself with Texas’ opportunities

If you’re serious about turning your passion into a professional career, try these avenues: 

Build a strong online presence

“Be as present online as [you] can outside of social media,” suggests Russin-McFarland. “While social media has its value, it’s the creative work, your training, the accomplishments, your visual presentation that all bring it together,” all of which should make up your online presence. Create a professional website to showcase your portfolio, demo reel, and achievements. These tools are your calling card and can help casting directors and agents to discover you.

Making an effort to interact online with top Texas talent agencies may also increase your visibility. Follow the social media pages of well-known casting directors in Texas such as Sarah Dowling, Michael Druck, and Brock/Allen to get an idea of what they look for in talents and where they are currently holding casting calls.

Seek representation

Landing an acting agent is a standard way to level up your career. Texas is home to several reputable talent agencies that represent actors for film, TV, and commercials. Browse our customizable listings or start your search here: 

  • Kim Dawson Agency represents models, entertainers, onscreen actors, and voice talents across Texas and in nearby regions. Kim Dawson is perhaps best known for launching the careers of Chace Crawford (“The Boys”) and Selena Gomez (“Only Murders in the Building”). She currently books talent for film, TV, and commercials. 
  • The Horne Agency is among the biggest talent agencies in Dallas, Texas. Actors on the Horne roster have appeared on “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Reservation Dogs,” and “Breaking Bad.” 
  • Spark Talent Agency in Houston has booked talent on projects such as “Chucky,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Gossip Girl.” 
  • Acclaim Talent Agency in Austin has seen actors on its roster perform in films such as “Black Widow” and series including “Daisy Jones & the Six.” 

When approaching agents, ensure you have a professional headshot, résumé, and demo reel showcasing your training and experience. However, Russin-McFarland explains that actors do not necessarily need an agent immediately. What new actors should focus on instead is developing their talent and starting to make a name for themselves in the Texas acting community. “I can absolutely say just being out there, and more people being familiar with you, those offers will come in,” she says. 

Cindi Davis-Andress, president of Houston-based agency Pastorini-Bosby Talent, agrees that actors should hone their skills before seeking representation. “We believe that there’s always room to grow,” she told us, noting that a disinterest in training and workshops “tells us we are not on the same page.”

Why become an actor in Texas?

SXSW

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Texas boasts a thriving film and television industry, with numerous productions taking place throughout the state. In addition, prominent film festivals including SXSW, Fantastic Fest, and the Austin Film Festival call Texas home. The state’s scenic landscapes and vibrant towns offer diverse film and TV backdrops, attracting local and Hollywood productions alike. 

“One of the great things about Texas is you’ve got great weather, you’ve got great environments, you’ve got great locations, backdrops to do projects, you’ve got Hill Country to flat country, rural life to city life,” says Brad Burton, co-founder of Austin-based Burton Casting. 

Cities like Austin have become hotspots for independent filmmaking, while theater flourishes thanks to acclaimed venues such as the Dallas Theater Center and Houston’s Alley Theatre.

“In New York, there’s great theater and terrible theater, but there’s just so much of it. Even the best theater in New York is no better than the best stuff I’ve seen in Dallas,” says stage actor Jeremy Schwartz. “You’re also not living and working just to survive [in Texas]. New York and L.A. are very expensive places to live if you’re just making art.” 

According to Russin-McFarland, most Texas-based roles are smaller, but they still boost your portfolio. In her experience, Texas is great for early-career actors who want to fill out their résumé—especially if your goal is to make the leap to a larger market. “You need to show up in a major market with a mildly successful résumé. It might be starring in regional stage productions and some small roles for studio work filmed in Texas, or [an acting degree] from Texas State—but come with something,” she says. 

Voiceover acting is especially prevalent in Texas, thanks to the anime-dubbing and distribution company Funimation located in Flower Mound and the rise of animation and video game companies such as Blizzard and Rooster Teeth in Austin. Check out these six Texas voiceover agencies for a place to start. 

Texas is also a thriving place for commercial actors. “There are many qualified advertising agencies here in Texas with big accounts, and they like to use local and regional talent,” says Davis-Andress.

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