So you’re looking to start an acting career in Ireland? Great news: some of the silver screen’s greatest icons have come out of Ireland. Think Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell, Gabriel Byrne, Maureen O’Hara, and Fionnuala Flanagan; all their acting careers began in Ireland before going on to conquer the world.
It’s no coincidence either: Ireland has become one of the most popular destinations for filmmakers. In addition to having some of the most recognisable shooting locations in the world, the country boasts a number of world-class studios, together with attractive tax incentives for production companies.
For budding performers looking to break into the world of acting, there is no shortage of productions shooting at any given time. Arguably, Ireland is up there with Hollywood as one of the best destinations in the world to start a career on stage and screen. From prepping for an acting audition to landing an agent, here’s how to become an actor in Ireland.
- How do I start an acting career in Ireland?
- What are the best cities to get acting work in Ireland?
- Where can I find acting classes and schools in Ireland?
- Where can I find acting auditions?
- What do I need for an acting audition?
- How do I get an acting agent in Ireland?
- What are the best Irish agencies for new actors?
To become an actor in Ireland, start by getting familiar with the current acting opportunities in your area, and deciding what training would be best for you. Additionally, do your research on what is typically required for actors to succeed, including a professional headshot, showreel, an acting profile, and more. For all the info on what you broadly need to know to start an acting career in general—from types of actors to expectations around auditions—try this guide.
But without doubt, Ireland is one of the easiest countries in the world to start an acting career. There are a number of productions on the go at any time. Famous productions include the TV series “Vikings” (and upcoming spin-off “Valhalla”). Epic fantasy adventure, “The Green Knight” has just finished shooting. And who could forget the “Star Wars” scenes filmed in the otherworldly backdrop of the Skellig Islands, off the coast of County Kerry?
Let’s not omit Northern Ireland, an industry hotspot in its own right when it comes to TV and film production. The main setting for “Game of Thrones” and “Derry Girls,” not to mention countless movies about the region’s tumultuous past, Northern Ireland is now a well-established mecca for the global television and film industry
All these projects mean that there is plenty of work even for those with little or no experience. And, as most aspiring actors know, working as an extra is the ideal way to break into the industry and get practical experience.
All this activity means there are a number of agencies competing for camera fodder for the industry. Of course, much of this work is seasonal; casual or short term, but ‘resting’ time gives budding acting talent the opportunity to train at any of the numerous schools and academies dotted around the country. Even professional actors spend a significant portion of their time either employed in another profession.
With this abundance of work and Ireland’s relatively high minimum wage (€10.20 per hour as of January 2021), it’s possible to make a reasonable living in the industry. Just bear in mind that the cost of living in Ireland, especially accommodation, is also one of the highest in Europe.
While the obvious destination for trainee actors is Dublin—and it’s certainly true that the capital city is home to many agencies and production companies—most studios tend to be situated outside the capital. Ashford Studios in Wicklow is a home to a huge and still growing set, used for the filming of “Vikings,” among others, while Ardmore in Bray, just south of Dublin, handled the re-telling of the “King Arthur” tale, featuring Clive Owen.
At 350,000 square feet, Ireland’s largest production facility can be found in Limerick. Troy Studios, just 35 minutes from Shannon Airport, provides movie-makers access to the scenic West of Ireland.
Most home-grown productions are handled at RTE studios in south Dublin.
Meanwhile up north, Belfast Harbour Studios has just undergone a £45 million expansion, and just outside the Northern capital, Titanic Studios is preparing to shoot the cinematic reimagining of “Dungeons and Dragons.”
To find acting academies, classes, courses, and drama groups, Dublin is the place to be. There are countless acting courses available, full-time and part-time, including evening classes. Acting students can enroll at:
- Gaiety School of Acting
- The Lir Academy
- Dublin Academy of Dramatic Arts (DADA)
- Act One Drama School
- Dundrum Academy of Performing Arts
Additionally, drama studies courses run at DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) and UCD (University College Dublin). Trinity College Dublin (TCD) runs Drama and Theatre Studies at the Samuel Beckett Centre.
When it comes to finding acting auditions in Ireland, it pays to keep yourself connected to the industry. The best way to get that all-important break is through an agency or networking on set as an extra. Just like everywhere else in the world, persistence is key. A lot will depend on being in the right place at the right time.
To find those opportunities, do your research. Track down and subscribe to industry job boards, casting websites like Backstage, and social media threads that advertise roles. For example, Backstage specialises in launching early career performers, and houses dozens of UK-based acting opportunities and auditions on the casting platform—no previous experience required. However, getting any experience in the industry, even outside acting, is key, so keep that in mind when looking for opportunities. Advertised vacancies for crew and other staff can put you in the know about productions ahead of the competition and getting on set as a member of the crew is still valuable experience that could lead to some networking opportunities. For any online casting calls that strike your fancy, bookmark them and visit those websites regularly for updates on opportunities.
Still, the most obvious way to get an acting audition is to get an agent (see below).
For all our advice on how to nail your acting auditions, try these resources.
To submit to an acting audition, you’ll need a headshot, a CV listing your acting experience, and a showreel. It is these materials that will be largely responsible for getting an audition call—or an agent.
Perhaps the most important of these is your showreel, as this will showcase your suitability for the part. Even if you have no experience, if you create a short show reel that demonstrates you have natural acting ability, you could land an audition. And landing an audition is the first step to landing a role, which, no matter how small, will give you more material for your showreel.
Getting an acting agent in Ireland is a very similar process to getting an agent anywhere. Start by putting a package together containing your CV, headshot, and portfolio/showreel. The more professional it is, the more seriously you’ll be taken.
By all means, use an online directory to track down agents, but it can be much more beneficial to ask extras, actors, and other personnel on set if they know an agency that’s currently looking for talent—and if they could help with an introduction. Even if you haven’t managed to secure any roles, this is where it could really pay to be in a drama club or theatre group, as someone there should be able to point you in the right direction. It’s in these groups where you can also get in touch with professionals that can help with showreel and photo shoots.
It’s unlikely you’ll get an agent without any prior experience, but in Ireland, getting that all-important experience is easier than you think. Due to a booming amateur industry, there are plenty of unpaid opportunities for actors and performers in low-budget local and independent films. There also many live theaters where local drama groups put on live performances.
It’s important to take every potential opportunity seriously no matter how small, or niche, could be the one that secures your first professional role. Agents can often be spotted at small local plays scouting for talent.
With state funding and tax incentives driving Irish filmmaking to all-time highs, there’s no shortage of agencies for budding actors and actresses. The top acting agencies in Ireland for fresh talent include:
- Ann Curtis Agency: Based in Whitehall, Dublin, Ann Curtis has been an established agent for over 25 years, having worked on “Vikings,” “Game of Thrones,” and “In the Name of the Father.” Her agency specialises in Irish talent and is always on the look-out for fresh talent.
- Fraser Actors: With more of a leaning towards stage work, Fraser Actors is ideal for those interested in the theater. One of their progeny, Andrew Kingston, won a Best Supporting Actor award at the Los Angeles Film Awards for their role in the feature “Black Eyes.”
- Castaway: Castaway is another well-established unit born from the first actors’ co-operative in Ireland. This organisation does a lot of work in local theatre, so is ideal for those looking to take the first steps towards a stage role.
- Castannettenow: Based in central Dublin, Annette Walsh’s casting agency has been around since 2013 and offers well-paid commercial and other promotional work.
- Nolan Muldoon Agency: With an over 30-year track record in the industry, Nolan Muldoon agency is a solid all-rounder representing established, as well as up-and-coming talent for film, TV, theater, commercial, and voiceover work.
- The Lisa Richards Agency: For those looking for opportunities internationally, as well as in Ireland, the Lisa Richards Agency has offices in Dublin, London, and Scandinavia. The agency also handles the careers of comedians, scriptwriters, and presenters for those looking for opportunities in those niches.
For most newcomers, it’s best to start with an agency that focuses on extras to build up experience, such as Movie Extras or Fishpond. It’s worth mentioning here that the Gaiety School of Acting has its own agency, so this is ideal for those with talent, but little experience, to get noticed.
Once you’ve sent your materials to an agency, follow up a week or so later with an email, or a message on a social media platform. If you do get called for a meeting or interview, even without a role in mind, prepare in advance, as you may have to do an audition for a talent agent. Above all, be confident, enthusiastic, and demonstrate that you’re committed to working in the acting trade. Let them know that you’re prepared to go the extra mile for the opportunity and you can be available for auditions at a moment’s notice.
At the same time, make sure the talent agency is a reputable one. Some agencies may require a fee. In Ireland, this fee is usually to cover a photoshoot, but always read the contract, including the small print, before signing up.
Of course, the key to success for any new actor to the industry is to make sure you have all the tools and expertise for success in this competitive industry. You’ll find all of that and much more at casting platform and trade publication, Backstage. With thousands of jobs posted every week, make Backstage.com your number one resource to get ahead in the acting industry.
Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!