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To Be an Actor Do You Have to Major in Drama?

by Owen R. Smith

When watching actors perform their craft, some creative souls might think to themselves, "Hey, I can do that!" But many choose not to pursue acting as a career because they see majoring in drama at an expensive university as the only obvious way to become an actor. However, with a little research and a lot of hard work, anyone can get involved in the dramatic arts.

Life Experience Counts

If majoring in drama is out of the question, the first thing that the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts recommends beginning actors do is simply live their lives. According to the conservatory, all life experiences can be used to fuel the creative juices necessary to become a great actor. The organization also recommends taking acting classes at local acting schools, which will offer training and help connect you with people who might already be in the industry.

Get Out There

Another easy step that many might not think of is to simply start acting. Theatrefolk, an online acting resource run by playwright Lindsay Price, recommends that prospective actors not be shy about putting themselves out there, whether it be trying out for a high school play or getting involved in local theater. If you can't get cast in a play or other production, volunteering to help out in other ways is a great method for meeting people and getting involved, according to Price. It will give you a chance to start learning for free.

Bit Parts

Many people who are famous actors initially got their starts playing bit parts or even working as extras. The conservatory recommends that people looking to break into the business through working as an extra look for gigs in trade magazines such as the Hollywood Reporter or Backstage. While you might be on location all day for very little pay, it is something that anyone can do, even with very little experience. According to the conservatory, you should actually do everything possible to not be noticed when it is your time in front of the camera. Messing up a small-time gig such as working as an extra could limit your ability to go far in the industry.

Your Big Break

If you've already starred in the local play, been featured in a student film or three and done your time as an extra, you'll probably be wondering when your big break is going to come. Whether it's theater, film or TV you're interested in breaking into, the conservatory says that, realistically, the places to find that chance are likely going to be New York City, London or Los Angeles. It's a hard life, and you should either have a boatload of money saved up or be committed to working a day job while auditioning for parts. Ideally, you'll have both a nest egg and a job, because getting that first big break can take a while. To help get your name out there, try using online networking sites, where you can post your headshot, along with your resume, as well as peruse job listings.

About the Author

Owen R. Smith is a client relations manager for Bridgewater Digital who has held staff positions with the "East Oregonian" and" The Oregonian." He began his professional writing career at the "Portland State Vanguard," which included stints as news editor, copy editor and editor-in-chief. He published his first book in 2010.

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