You’re likely here because you or your teen dreams of working as a professional actor. Whether it is the newest Netflix series or blockbuster film on the big screen that interests you, I have helpful insider tips on how to become an actor as a teenager.
Getting into the television and film industry does require a lot of hard work, determination, and talent. But, don’t be discouraged. I am sharing advice and personal insights from my education and work in the television production and broadcast journalism industries. Also, and perhaps even more importantly my experience as a mom to four children who successfully work in the modeling industry and as child actors.
How Does a Teenager Become an Actor?
Becoming an actor can be an exciting journey that challenges you and helps you realize your full potential. Before you become an actor, however, there are some important steps to take. Here are the basics of what it takes to break into the acting world:
Understanding the Acting Business
It is worth mentioning again that the entertainment industry is a tough business and one where young people could easily be taken advantage of. Teens under the age of 18 will need to have parent or guardian involvement. Depending on where you live, there may be labor laws that limit the number of hours a child or teen actor can legally work on any given day or week. If you are in the United States look for guidelines from your state’s Department of Labor.
Also, keep in mind that acting classes, updating portfolios, submitting yourself for auditions, and attending casting calls can consume a lot of your time. Having a parent to help keep it all straight is a nice perk.
Film production typically involves many long days and requires a lot of patience.
After all of your hard work, you might not make it big in acting, but that’s OK.
You don’t have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you.Meryl Streep
Learn How to Act
Making the decision to become a teen actor is a big step. As with most careers and trades, the first thing you’ll need to do is get an education, and the same holds true for the acting industry. Famous actors did not get where they are by sheer luck. While a little bit of luck, such as being at the right place at the right time can play a part, it is through diligence and not giving up that most actors find success. The same holds true for young actors.
Many teenagers want to be a famous teen actor but not all are willing to put in the effort it takes to get there. Getting the right training will help you stand out above the rest.
Believe it or not, being able to cry at will is not all you’ll need for a career in show business.
In-Person Acting Classes
Attending acting classes or working with a personal acting coach are the most ideal ways to hone your acting skills. If you are lucky enough to live near one, being involved in an acting school has the added benefit of giving you a place to network and work face-to-face with fellow thespians. You will find as your acting career progresses that it is beneficial to keep in touch with other industry professionals.
Drama Club & Community Theater
If formal training is not within your reach, there are other things you can do to learn valuable skills that can help you to become an actor as a teenager. Get involved with your high school drama club, drama school, and school plays. Community theater is a fantastic way to gain valuable acting experience. Not to mention, participating in local theaters is a whole lot of fun. You might even realize that instead of a tv show, on stage where you really want to be.
There are a number of acting courses available through online platforms such as Teachable. A quick Google search will reveal many options for online acting training, and additional tips for how to become an actor as a teenager. Don’t forget to also check YouTube for videos geared toward aspiring actors.
Create Casting Profiles
Create a free profile on at least 2-3 casting websites. Backstage, Actors Access and Casting Networks are good ones to start with. Read what I wrote about how to create the best child modeling profile. It will be helpful.
Creating a great casting profile is an important part of an actor’s career, and a very necessary step for a teenager wanting to become an actor. A casting profile contains all the information that directors, agents, and other industry professionals need to know about you in order to consider you for roles. It should contain your headshot and a brief introduction as well as demonstrate your acting experience and skills.
Your casting profile should also list any awards or accomplishments. It is important to keep your casting profile up-to-date so that it accurately reflects who you are as an actor. Showing off your acting experience, skills, and any awards or accomplishments will ensure that industry professionals take notice and consider you for roles.
It is important to have a good professional headshot, though if you cannot afford a professional headshot, use the best headshot you have that has been untouched. No filters. You can save that for your personal social media accounts. Make your acting profile look as professional as possible, including a few pictures and any training or credits you may have.
You’ll also want a 30-90 second demo reel. It’s OK if you don’t have any credits yet. Upload a short video of you doing a few monologues.
It is important to keep your acting resume up-to-date.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Create an online presence and market yourself to casting agents, directors, and producers. Have a website with your headshots and acting reel as well as social media accounts for promoting your work.
Share your progress, acting skills, and enthusiasm on social media with relevant hashtags.
Don’t be afraid to reach out on social media and network with other actors and industry professionals. You never know who might be able to help your career or put in a good word for you.
How a Teenager Can Get Experience as an Actor
The most common way for a beginner to gain acting experience is through auditioning for commercials and small roles in movies, such as extras.
Submit yourself for local casting calls and auditions. Depending on where you live, audition information can be found in local publications or casting sites. While Los Angeles is still a hub for the movie industry and television, other cities such as New York, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Wilmington N.C. are also great places for a teenager wanting to become an actor. Do you know that insanely popular zombie series that everyone loves? It was shot in the Atlanta area! In recent years Atlanta has become home to many top television shows.
Smaller cities are still likely to have commercial and local television work for the aspiring teen actor.
Consider working for free or for little payment in an Indie film. You will gain credits for your role, as well as some footage for your demo reel. Think of it as working a college internship. I learned so much during my internship with E! Entertainment Television while studying Television Production at college in New York City.
Casting calls are a pre-production process that takes place when a producer or casting director puts out a notice that they need performers to come audition for specific roles in a production. These are typically minor roles, such as extras, background characters, and day players. Casting calls are a great way for a new teen actor to get their foot in the door.
Preparing for Auditions
Congratulations in advance on your first casting call! Now, get ready to meet the casting director. Be prepared by making mental notes about the character and spend at least a few hours reading and rehearsing the scene the day before your audition. This process will be different for everyone, so do what feels right for you to prepare for the big moment.
Casting directors are looking for certain actors to fill certain roles. You will likely be asked to perform an audition and/or have your headshot taken. The audition may involve reading lines from the script or performing improvisation exercises.
It’s important to remain professional throughout, as casting directors will be looking for someone who fits the character and can bring something unique to the production. If you are chosen to audition for a role, it’s important to remember that acting is a competitive field, so prepare yourself as best you can and make sure your performance stands out from the rest!
Once you have done all of the above, consider signing with an agency. An agent isn’t likely to take you on until you have some experience. If you are ready to be signed with an agency, they can open doors to auditions and connections you otherwise would have missed out on. Often, auditions for larger movies and tv roles are sent to agents, and not to casting websites. Talent managers can play a big role in furthering your career, but keep in mind there are always agency fees.
Lastly, joining the Screen Actors Guild is a big next step in someone’s acting career. With a SAG membership, a working actor is likely to be taken more seriously and have access to some amazing online and in-person resources.