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How to Get a Big Acting Role

by Al Stewart, studioD

Whether it's on film, stage or TV, a big acting role usually means a main part in a high profile production that will be seen by a sizable audience. These roles are highly coveted by actors and competition for them is fierce. To be successful, you need a combination of persistence, skill and luck. You might toil in obscurity for years before being considered for a big role. If you land one, it can catapult your career and open the door for many other opportunities. Enhance your chances with a carefully laid out plan that will help you get a big role.

Establish yourself as a "triple threat" by becoming proficient in the disciplines of acting, singing and dancing. Develop these skills and polish your craft by enrolling in acting workshops, dance classes and voice lessons. Study up on the history of film and theater so you can learn more about how other actors landed big roles. Read trade publications such as "Variety" and "The Hollywood Reporter" to better understand the business and find out about auditions for big roles.

Pursue all opportunities to develop your abilities through local theater and TV productions and other venues that offer the opportunity to perform and gain exposure. Post videos of your acting on YouTube and create a website or blog to showcase your talents. Seek out community theater groups and network with others who have similar interests. Join actors' organizations to help you land roles and make contacts. Never lose sight of your objective, but remember that most big acting roles only come to those willing to pay their dues. If you have to toil for low pay and little publicity in small productions, do so as a way of building your resume and honing your craft.

Market yourself by creating a portfolio and a resume listing your previous credits. Include high quality head shots and other photos taken by an experienced photographer. Use a series of poses and wardrobes to demonstrate your versatility. Hire a professional editing facility to compile a DVD "demo reel" showcasing your best work. Make sure it is no longer than five minutes. Superimpose your name and other information about the scenes on the reel. Have multiple copies made.

Find an agent to represent you. This will let you learn about auditions and casting calls that are not widely publicized and build your network. You can find agents on industry websites and in industry publications. When you find an agent, carefully check his background and credentials before signing any agreement. Make it clear that you are interested in getting a big role.

Audition for acting jobs whenever possible. Research and prepare for the role and know your lines. Be punctual, upbeat and confident. Accept rejection with grace and dignity. Be persistent. When you get turned down, don't take it personally. The rejection might have nothing to do with your talent. Keep pursuing opportunities and beating on doors to get your breakthrough role.


  • Focus on getting a leading role, even if it is a modest production.
  • Maintain a workout regiment to stay in good physical shape.


  • Many unions, including the Screen Actors Guild, forbid members from working in non-union productions.

About the Author

Al Stewart's 30-year background as a writer/editor includes staff positions at "Adweek," "Billboard," "Chain Drug Review," "Cable World," "DNR" (men's fashion), "National Floor Trends," and "Variety." A native New Yorker, he is now a writer/editor living in Los Angeles. He has a BA in political science from Wagner College.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images