Breaking In

by Andrew Hadzopoulos

It’s the one question that every person hoping to become a working actor faces. There are variations, but ‘getting your foot in the door’, ‘being discovered’, or ‘getting your big break’ all pose the same hurdles. “How do I start?” It can be a long, confusing road at times, and there are no manuals or specific guidelines on how to make it as an actor, and each person’s journey and subsequent advice, will naturally differ.

For the younger generation who have both the good fortune to be able to attend college and the certainty of knowing that they’d like to pursue acting as a career, the best way to get started is by attending a college with an established arts program. The benefits are countless: You will network and build connections, study and sharpen your skills with the help of you peers, and eventually graduate as a trained actor. The real pay off may come at the end though. Upon graduation, schools often have showcases for the departing class, usually on both coasts. These showcases are attended by countless industry professionals such as agents, managers, and casting directors, all in the hope of meeting the fresh new faces and discovering tomorrow’s talent. It’s not unusual to see these graduates signed to an agent or cast in some project right away.

Those who have discovered their love of acting later in life or couldn’t make it their sole focus in school have options as well.  Los Angeles is a city full of transplants, constantly transitioning. All these hopefuls need ways to break in as well, and the city doesn’t fail to deliver. In a place built around the Hollywood dream, there are numerous outlets that promise success, but as with any market, you have to be selective in what you choose.

There are numerous acting coaches and studios that you can train with. Some are legitimate, and others are nothing more than a fancy scam meant to garner the most amount of people into handing over their money. Do your research when looking into a school or acting coach. This day in age, you’ll be able to get a pretty good sense of where someone falls on the integrity scale. Don’t be fooled by over zealous people who promise you certain levels of success. The best coaches focus on the craft and making you better, not by trying to get people in the door with a ‘wheeling and dealing’ attitude.

Your attitude is also a major factor in trying to make it as well. I encourage you to take work, no matter how small the part or how low budget the project is. Don’t let an ego stop you from these experiences that will place around people who can recommend you later on. Every set, every job is another chance to listen and learn about becoming a better actor. When you put yourself out there, only good things will come of it. With each little project, you expand your chances of landing something bigger each time. Look out for those student films. Audition for that local play that only family members and friends will attend. Work, work, work.

The point is, hopping off a plane and landing the lead role in the next superhero movie doesn’t happen often. It does happen, but that’s the dream. For the rest of you, there’s no supplementing hard work and a little perseverance. It’s not as instantly gratifying, but as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.


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