How do you become an actor?

I'm half way through my GCSEs and always thought I'd just go on to A-levels, but what I really want to do is go to drama school. What would be the best path for me, and how do I ease my parents into the idea?

What is the best path into acting?

For lots of people, moving to Los Angeles to be in the performing arts is a dream that they have no idea how to pursue. There’s no one way to go about getting into the industry, but we can give you some advice. Probably not for getting to Los Angeles, but definitely for becoming an actor.

What GCSEs do you need to be an actor?

The national careers service recommends at least one A level, which means you’re likely to need a minimum of five GCSEs to become an actor. After that, you’re free to study acting at university or apply for a specialist drama school. We should mention that entry requirements for every drama school are gonna be different. So some may require you to complete A levels as well as GCSEs.

According to the Federation of Drama Schools, when you apply to drama schools it’s not as simple as just auditioning. You’ll need to give them details of your academic achievements and relevant acting experience. But of course there’ll also be an audition which will look at your ability as an actor and your communication skills.

You can apply for many of these schools directly through UCAS, which is honestly the best option. Although you should keep in mind that applying through UCAS means you’ll need to prepare a personal statement and references. This is where getting as much local acting experience as possible will help. That way, you’re sure that you have a lot to write about in your personal statement. 

Getting some local acting experience

There are a few things aspiring actors can do locally to get some (application-boosting) experience. For example, consider getting involved in a local community theatre production or taking some local acting classes. You could also check out social media for casting calls for acting jobs in music videos and other independent productions. The more you get stuck into the acting world, the better chance you have of getting your name in the movie stars’ hall of fame. Who knows, at your next production a bunch of famous directors or producers might show up?

Alternatively, you could make your own opportunities by starting a youtube channel and showing off your skills online. Reading plays, film scripts and books about acting and the theatre can also be super impressive to drama schools. Plus, you’ll be armed with knowledge for when you start working.

How do you become an actor in the UK?

Since we can’t give you a comprehensive list of what every school requires, it might be worthwhile doing your own research. This can be as simple as contacting the schools you’re interested in find out what their entry requirements are. You may find that some of the specialist schools you like charge high fees. If this rules these schools out you could consider studying drama at university (or community colleges if you’re from the US) instead. In that case, try picking Theatre Studies as an A-level. It’ll defo boost your uni application for these courses.  

On top of all that, you might wanna talk to your careers advisor at school to find out more about the uni drama scene. Then you can compare different curriculums to see which courses would suit you best. Another option is speaking to the careers advisors at Equity for advice on how to start an acting career.

Discussing becoming an actor with your parents

If you’ve done your research on how to become an actor in the UK before approaching your parents, it’s bound to help your case; they’ll take you seriously and understand that this is the direction you want to take. Make sure you’ve planned out what you’re going to say and thought everything through. For example, it may reassure them to know that you’re aware of the potential pros and cons of going into such a risky career. If you’re also showing an interest in pursuing acting in your free time outside of school it’ll help prove you’re serious about choosing to pursue an acting career.

You might even find others looking to become an actor or people who are creating their own productions which you could get involved with on our Discussion Boards.

Answered by bss on 25-Sep-2012

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