How to Build Acting Credits

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Whether you’ve just begun a career in acting or you just arrived in a new market, every new actor has one frustration that stares him or her in the face at every audition: You barely have any appropriate credits on your résumé. Agents want to know that you can handle auditions and casting directors want to know that they can trust you with the material. One way of proving you can handle the challenges of the casting process and book jobs is by the credits on your résumé. Here are a few ways you can start building these desired credits and learn a lot from your experiences along the way.

How to get acting credits early in your career

  1. Take a class. Training is a very important section of a résumé for a new actor. Casting doesn’t expect you to have a ton of credits, however they want to know that you have been guided and are learning acting skills from a school or coach they trust. If you are a theater actor arriving in Los Angeles, the first thing you should do is get into an on-camera TV/film acting class with a respected studio. Beyond learning new techniques, you’ll start to build a community with your new classmates. You never know what opportunity lies around the corner from someone who respects your work in class and could recommend you to an agent, casting director, or other industry professional.
  2. Audition for a play. This is a great way to add credits to your résumé. Auditioning and performing on stage really flexes your acting muscles. Film is a director’s medium. Theater is an actor’s medium. This means the show sits on the actor’s shoulders. No one will yell cut at the end of a scene. It’s on the shoulders of the actors to create exciting performances for over two hours straight every night. Industry professionals will be impressed to see theater credits on your résumé. It shows you are tenacious and will work hard. If professional theater is not available to you, try for community theater or even college programs.
  3. Student and indie films. This is a great way for you to not only add film credits to your résumé, but also to hone your on-camera talents. Working on a set is very different than working on a stage. From the pacing of your day to the size of your performance, there’s a lot to absorb and learn. Since a student or independent filmmaker rarely has a significant résumé or budget, they are much more likely to take a chance on casting a newcomer. Working on low-budget films has the potential to be a great résumé-builder down the road, as many newcomers in student and indie films go on to get cast in professional TV and film acting jobs.
  4. Get online. There are more and more websites everyday that offer actors access to auditions. But do your research, as some are simply scams. Any site that actually gets you legitimate auditions will allow you to set up a basic account and self-submit for as many projects as you see fit. Not a Backstage subscriber? You can become one and start submitting immediately!
  5. Create your own material. Congratulations! You are living in a time where you don’t need anyone to offer you the opportunity to start building credits. You can make them yourself! Grab a camera and some talented people from your community and start making your own projects. Create a YouTube channel and upload your Web series, funny videos, or any footage that shows off your talents. The production doesn’t have to be perfect at first. Just keep at it. Like everything worthwhile, the only way to get better is to practice.

If you commit to following these five steps, you’ll become a more experienced actor, ready to impress with quality credits on your résumé.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

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Mae Ross
Mae Ross is the Owner/ Director of L.A.’s highly acclaimed actor training center, 3-2-1 Acting Studios. Her leadership has garnered 3-2-1 consistent recognition as Hollywood's premier on-camera acting school for kids, teens, and adults. She has launched hundreds of successful acting careers with her expert on-camera coaching and professional guidance.
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