Understanding the Different Paths to Success in the Acting Industry
If you’re just starting out as an actor, you may be wondering what the journey ahead may look like. Achieving success as an actor can look different from person to person and there is no one clear pathway to follow.
While being discovered as a virtual unknown in acting and suddenly making it in the big time can occur, this is rarely the case.
Instead, for the majority of aspiring stars, a combination of diligence, perseverance, hard work and a strong network is key.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different steps or pathways you may follow on the way to becoming successful in this industry.
What Do We Mean By ‘Paths To Success’?
Quite simply, a path to success is a plan or series of actions you follow to reach a goal. For a doctor, for example, this would look like:
- Attending University for the appropriate course
- Completing all studies and placements
- Undertaking an additional post-graduate medical program
- An internship
- Vocational training
All of these steps are required to successfully become a doctor – none can be skipped or avoided. Acting as a career, by comparison, has a less defined path than other vocations and unlike many careers has the potential for many paths or intersections of paths on the way to the top.
This is part of why it can be so hard to not only break into this industry but also succeed in it.
What Does Success Mean To You?
Before we continue, it is worth noting that success may also be defined differently by different people. Where one actor may see success as becoming a famous Hollywood A-lister, another may see it as being consistently employed and able to pay the bills.
For this reason, we encourage you to think about what success looks like to you and follow a pathway that supports this. This not only helps you set realistic goals, but it can also assist with maintaining better motivation along the way.
Different Paths You May Follow
Getting involved in your local community theatre is an excellent way to get started as an actor. Not only is it a great place to learn, but it exposes you to those familiar with the industry and helps to build important connections.
Being active in community theatre or even your high school productions makes it easier to progress as an actor. From here you may even become confident enough to attend auditions for roles on stage film or television.
Arguably the most non-negotiable step on the path to success, acting classes also create valuable networking opportunities and equip you with the skills needed to be a great actor.
Ask any actor, at any experience level and they’ll likely tell you that acting classes are essential to success. No matter how natural of a performer you may be, attending classes ensures your technique is honed and that you are prepared for the rigours of an acting career.
A University Degree
While not essential, a university-level degree in screenwriting, film and drama such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts can be a great launchpad into a successful career within this industry.
As this approach educates in areas outside of just acting, it can support employment in related fields – helping you get your foot in the door. The downside of this pathway is that it is full-time over at least three years, making it harder to actively pursue roles until all study is complete.
Of course any actor pursuing success is going to attend auditions. However, nothing is stopping you from attending auditions from day one.
You do not have to be actively studying or attending acting classes to audition.
Did you know Mel Gibson got the lead role in Mad Max after simply attending an audition in support of a friend? He had zero prior experience, he was in the right place at the right time and to his eternal luck was noticed by the director.
While these instances are rare, they are rarer still if you don’t put yourself out there. Keep in mind though that the potential for success in an audition is greatly heightened by having some formal training and experience behind you.
Pursue Related Opportunities
Do you know how many famous artists first started as songwriters or backup singers? This includes Sia, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey and Phil Collins among others. While this may not have been their big dream, it was a great stepping stone to their ultimate success.
The acting industry offers similar gateways – whether you work as a set assistant, in theatre management, scriptwriting, as an extra, dancer, make-up artist, model or similar any job that creates networking opportunities is valuable.
This could see you meet people who can support you along the way and raise your profile within the right circles.
Build An Online Presence
Opportunities to star in television, stage or film productions are regularly offered to celebrities who may have little to no experience in acting.
Creating an online presence as a commentator, influencer, blogger, vlogger or anything else that builds recognition can help you branch into other areas. When you already have a large fan base or following, marketing and monetisation of these followers becomes much simpler.
Your appeal in these cases is less focused on talent and more on notoriety, but it remains a potential pathway nonetheless.
Engage An Agent
Not all actors have agents, but for those who truly crave success on a big scale, signing with one is recommended. Achieving success without an agent is possible, however, it is likely to mean a lot more effort on your part.
Typically this step doesn’t pop up till later in your career when you have some experience under your belt, however, you can pursue agency support at any stage.
Agents are paid via a percentage of your paycheck and as such are motivated to secure roles for you and well-paid ones at that. Your agent will seek out career-boosting opportunities, often be aware of auditions before they are made public and will negotiate the best terms and conditions for you.
Do I Have To Pick And Stick With Just One Pathway?
Not at all, most successful actors will follow a combination of the above pathways to create their unique path. Choosing to modify your intended path or remain open to diversions along the way may actually help you achieve success sooner.
It ensures you remain aware of your progress and continue to grow and adapt as needed to reach your goals.
Is There One Pathway That Is Better Than Another?
No, what works for one may not work for another and there are many pathways to success.
As seasoned industry experts, we recommend you build a strong foundation through acting classes and then build from there. As you progress, it then becomes clearer which pathways are more necessary or relevant to your needs.
The most important thing is to remain dedicated, focused and persistent as this is the true key to success as an actor.
The Actors Pulse – Perfect For Every Pathway
No matter where you are in your journey to becoming a successful actor, The Actors Pulse can support you to achieve your goals.
Offering a variety of classes both part and full-time, we provide the expert training and guidance you need to succeed as an actor on stage, film or television. Many of our alumni have done just that – backed by the strong foundations and confidence acquired through our teachings.
As the leading school for the Meisner Technique in the Southern Hemisphere, we are passionate about seeing you succeed and grow as an actor.
Pick a winning pathway for success in the acting industry, call The Actor’s Pulse today at 0414 475 515.
Learn more about The Actors Pulse, the Meisner Technique and our classes.
Billy Milionis is one of the few Australians to have ever studied under the legendary master teacher, the late Sanford Meisner. Billy has also studied story structure and scene analysis techniques with John Truby and later at UCLA. He has also spent several years doing improvisation in Hollywood with the L.A. Connection. In addition, he trained in the technique of Stella Adler, Practical Aesthetics and Lee Strasberg’s method.