10 Steps to Build Your Acting Career

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Building a successful acting career takes time. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Do at least one thing for your business and one thing for your art every day and you’ll make steady progress toward your goals. Not sure what to do? These 10 steps will focus your efforts in a productive way.

1. Build relationships.
Let your industry contacts know when you’ve booked a job, are in a show or achieved a career milestone. See shows. Introduce yourself. Talk with people about what they do. If you’re not using social media to build relationships, you’re missing out. Social media makes it easy to stay in touch with people you know, connect with people you want to know and build your audience...if you know how. Here are five simple ways to build relationships using social media.

2. Build your understanding of people.
People are fascinating. Study their behavior. How do they move? Walk? Talk? Where do you imagine they’re coming from or going to? Where is their center of movement? What do their body language, clothing, and accessories say about them? What do you imagine they’re thinking and feeling?

3. Build a reel.
A reel is an indispensable casting tool. It’s your video resume. Whether you’re creating one from footage you have or you’re starting from scratch, google “actor reels” to find people who can help you put it together. As you book new work you’ll update it just like you update your resume.

READ: How to Create Your Demo Reel

4. Build your reading list.
Read great plays, scripts and novels, books about acting and film, psychology, biographies of extraordinary people, and anything else that interests you. Everything you read informs who you are and what you do.

5. Build your entertainment industry knowledge.
Professional actors are interested in what’s happening in their industry. Knowledge is power. Find industry publications like Backstage and bone up!

6. Build your knowledge of past masters.
You don’t become a great actor without watching great actors work so create your own film school. Choose a film and watch it several times. What’s compelling, interesting or unusual about the performances? What can you learn about intent, physicality or technique? Read about filmmaking. How did an actor prepare for a role? What challenges did they face? What was it like working with the director? If you want to be the best, learn from the best.

7. Build a team!
When you’ve achieved some success on your own, you’ll want to add an agent and/or a manager to help you achieve bigger goals. If you’re not sure what these folks do and how you might benefit from their expertise, start learning now. Don’t wait until you think you might need one.

8. Build a website
It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive but you need one. A website is your home base online. Your social media will link to it and your marketing materials will live there.

Having a site makes it really easy for people to find you. It tells the industry and your audience that acting isn’t your hobby and it gives people a chance to learn more about who you are and what you do. Best of all, you control what people see on your site! Visit other actor’s websites, steal ideas from the best of them and make it exactly what you want it to be.

READ: 8 Elements All Actors’ Websites Need

9. Build your audience.
In show business, the more asses you put in the seats the more people will want to hire you. If you don’t have an email list, start one. Invite friends, family, co-workers and industry contacts to your performances. Start using social media to build your audience. If you’re not using it to help you connect with people and expand your reach you should be. Invest a little time every day into growing your audience using these three steps.

10. Build your technique.
To build a successful career you have to train. Without great teachers, I wouldn’t have a career. An experienced, professional coach helps you discover choices that get you noticed that is often the difference between booking the job and a “thank you very much.” Find a coach. Your professional life depends on it. Impress in the audition room and they’ll remember you. That’s how careers are built.

Want six pro steps to help you at your next audition? Grab a copy of my free guide, “The 6 Secrets of a Working Actor,” here.

Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Philip Hernández
Philip Hernández is an audition coach and working actor in New York City. He uses his 30 years experience on stage and on camera to teach the real world skills you need to book the jobs you want. His students appear on Broadway, in regional theaters, national tours, on television, and in film.
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