There is not one precise route to becoming an actor but there is a common direction most aspirant actors take. Training for an actor can be acquired in numerous ways. An actor could be trained academically, through studio schools or through pure experience.
The young actors’ career will undoubtedly begin with pure experience through small scale performances. The small scale performances could take place through school, outside social clubs or other children’s associations. To begin the larger scale experiences, the hopeful actor would customarily attempt to be represented by an agent. Gaining an agent at such an early stage in the actors’ career is rather difficult. Therefore, joining an organisation such as The Spotlight is habitually the route actors take.
The Spotlight is a small organisation with a massive output. It is the hub of the industry where you advertise yourself, whether you have an agent or not. It is essential that you are in it – it is the first port of call for virtually everybody who is casting productions. (Dunmore, 1991, p.35).
In this research explains the necessity of being involved in The Spotlight organisation. It is explained as the ‘hub’ for getting jobs in the entire industry and is used by thousands of actors. Although the propaganda and necessity surrounding The Spotlight is endearing and unquestionably crucial, the cost behind it is another obstacle for ambitious actors.
The academic training is the route most commonly followed as a start to the more professional acting career. The cost of studying in drama school is a very prevalent issue around Britain, especially due to the recently ascending expenses. Places such as ALRA, Arts Ed, Guildford School of Acting, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and Oxford School of Drama are only a small amount of the most popular schools around Britain.
These particular schools offer Dance and Drama Awards to selected students. D&DAs are scholarships provided by the government to allow ‘the most
talented students to attend independent Drama Schools. The D&DAs are usually offered to a small amount of students who would benefit from the training but cannot afford to pay the fees. (West, 2005, p.11).
Most actors will save up for years or be lucky enough to have a wealthy family willing to pay for the tuition fees. If not so lucky, an actor could write to an organisation/person to ask them to sponsor the actor through Drama College, providing the answer is positive the actor has received his tuition fees through being sponsored.
Once the young actor has completed the training necessary, it is ordinarily required to obtain an agent. This is not essential, however “Once you’ve got a little bit of experience under your belt you’re ready to secure representation. It is not necessary for you to have an agent but an agent will offer you more opportunities than what you may have without one.” Westbrook (2012, p.134).
Gaining an agent, as stated previously is rather difficult to do. The actor could possibly send a letter to the agent asking the agent to represent the actor. This must be fulfilled once the agent is accepting unsolicited submissions. Other than writing a letter, the actor must make sure the agent sees the actor performing in a production and suggests an amalgamation. However, alas to common misconception the agent does not fulfil all of the work for the actor, the agent can only get auditions for the actor while the actor must get to the audition and obtain the part.
An actor must be willing to deal with rejection, contrary to the popular stereotype of the ‘overnight celebrity’, an actor can struggle for years to break into the industry and never be noticed.
The performer, like any other professional needs to put money aside to plan ahead for a successful career. The best way to proceed is to be able to devote yourself totally to the task of getting interviews and jobs without worrying about supporting yourself for at least the first six months. Once you’ve arrived and had a chance to unpack you can pay attention to the real
task, which is getting a job. (Henry and Rogers, 2008 p.35).
As clearly stated the main aspects in the path to becoming an actor is financial issues, due to the low employment level a lot of aspiring actors’ struggle for money and end up working more than one job to fund their career path. Harrop (1992, p.26) exclaims, “For every Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, there are a hundred actors in line at the unemployment office, and a hundred more waiting to stand and serve them in any restaurant in which they might want to sit down.” This investigation shows that in the acting business there are immense amounts of unemployed actors contrasted to the amount of employed actors, meaning the amount of actors working more than one job to fund their dream is vast in this particular industry.
The pressure on a working actor trying to succeed and keeping a foot in the door for a steady income can be highly stressful; actors usually find it hard to find time to keep up with everyday work (rehearsals, filming, learning lines) and finding time to work enough to afford food, rent and even travel. For this reason many unemployed actors find it difficult to pursue the dream of becoming an actor and afford to live their everyday life, “Having to contend with the pressures of rehearsal, production and performance while at the same time worrying about whether you’ll have enough money to pay the rent is worse than foolish” Henry and Rogers (2008, p.10) which in turn results in them abandoning the actor’s aspirations.
However, those lucky enough to achieve a desired income and a steady place in the acting business can come with a price. The criticism received with such fame can be discouraging, this is indicated in the study by Harrop (1992, p.106), “The very worst kind of criticism is that written for the critic’s ego as an essay in dismissively clever language with no positive consciousness of the actor, who has to go out there and put him- or herself on the line. Such criticism can be personally destructive.”
This quote shows that criticism can negatively affect an actor and their career; actors need a certain level of confidence to contain the ability to comfortably audition for roles and perform in front of an audience. Critical comments such as these can seriously harm an actor’s self-confidence. This shows the criticism such as personal stories or personal criticism (an actor’s lives, image or relationships) can be insensitive, embarrassing and can cause more harm than anticipated. Some personal stories in magazine articles and newspaper articles, surrounding a more famous actors’ relationship suggests that certain articles written about celebrities can be untrue and exaggerated, in regular cases such as this, actors’ lives and relationships can be used as a selling point. This can be mentally harmful to an actor and as seen below can affect their personal lives. Winona Ryder in Meikle (2004, p. 123) “I remember us desperately hating being hounded by paparazzi. It was horrible and it certainly took its toll on our relationship. Every day, we heard that we were either cheating on each other or that we were broken up, when we weren’t.”
This research, surrounding an actor’s relationship suggests in regular cases such as this, actors’ lives and relationships can be used as a selling point and these stories can be untrue or exaggerated. This can be mentally harmful to an actor as seen in the quote above. Harrop (1992, p.106) demonstrates “critics will have their own gaze, their own agendas: to establish their own careers; to sell news-papers”.
Although the frequency of coverage aimed at a particular actor is damaging to their reputation it can also highlight many other personal issues within the actor. Though it is not possible to ascertain the media as the fixed cause for raising psychological issues in an actor, existing research and media content still persists to support such a statement. To reiterate, the actors role in the industry is beyond simply learning lines and taking guidance from a director, the individual must have ‘creative instincts’ and unquestionably be determined to succeed, even when the media is always standing by to scrutinise their every move.
When the dream of becoming an actor and securing the place in the business has come true more problems arise, in any profession, at any age a person will find that when aiming to be the professional desired, one will face hurdles and dream of reaching that goal and living ‘an easy life’. However, even when the goal is reached there will always be obstacles surrounding the role of the actor. “Many talented actors don’t succeed in show business because they simply forget the first rule: Show business is a business.” Garrison (2002, p.1). If the actor has hunger and fortitude for acting, these hurdles will simply pass them by. Passion is the main ingredient to becoming an actor, if the actor has enough willpower for the occupation, the actor will strive to overcome all challenges to achieve this goal.