Professional Acting Resources


Acting How To: Tips For A Young Man Becoming An Actor

Answers to various acting questions I get from aspiring actors and actresses.

Q: I'm 19 years old and want to become an actor. I don't have any real experience, but I know I love acting. Do you have any tips on how to get my acting career started? I have a football scholarship to go to college, would it be a waste of time to use that for acting?

A: I would say that reading my book "Acting for Film and Television" would be a really good starting point! It will at least give you a good overview of what you're getting into

As to the waste of time, only you can answer that question truthfully. I like that as a young man, you have a football background, as I tend to find that people who participate in competitive sports are much easier to talk to about commitment and work in achieving goals. 

Having said that, acting professionally is no different than playing football professionally, as far as what kind of training time and commitment you'll have to have. Think about all the time you spend learning plays, practicing on the field, training your body and running drills just to be competitive at the high school level. 

How much more would you have to do to be competitive in college? 

How about if you SERIOUSLY wanted to go pro? 

How much time would you have to spend? 

Now, imagine that you just started playing at 19 and have not played ever. 

That's the world you're asking to be a part of when you talk about acting for film or television. While I understand that football has a definite physical limitation, the work ethic is what makes or breaks the player in both worlds. 

Now, having said that, just know that, if you REALISTICALLY want to make a career of acting, it will take, bare minimum, 10 years before you see even a CHANCE at being successful. And the most likely outcome is that you won't work in any meaningful capacity in your lifetime.  But take heart, you're still a young man! 

If you want an example, think about the best guys on your high school football squad, then compare them to the best guys in the local university football squad. Realistically, who's the better baller? Now, figure, even the best of the college guys probably won't make it at the pro level. They only take the best of the best and the same is true of acting. 

There's just that certain combination of traits that not everyone has and even if you work as hard as you possibly can, someone is likely to be better while doing less work. But, in both worlds, people who don't necessarily fit the "combination" still make it. Spud Webb...David Eckstein...that Rudy football guy. I guess the real question is, do you have what it takes to overcome everything and become the thing? 

I'm sure you've heard people make jokes about footballers being dumb, but the truth is, most of the people making the jokes don't really understand what's going on behind the scenes, right? I know that learning all those plays and executing them correctly is an incredibly difficult job that most people (that haven't played) just don't know about. 

Same thing is true of acting. 

Acting for film is incredibly technical and takes years to learn well. What you see on screen and what most "armchair" directors complain about are the things that are the least important to the job. Just like in football, when some "armchair" quarterback is complaining about a guy getting sacked (or whatever), what he ISN'T commenting on is the fact that someone on the line didn't set-up correctly or missed an audible or any number of other things that he probably doesn't even know exist. 

Same for acting...when you hear someone complaining about some actor being wooden or not very good, what they don't realize is that the actor is maintaining physical and emotional continuity from scene to scene and take to take for weeks at a time without a hitch. Or the fact that they are always hitting their marks. Or the fact that they spent six months just working their character until their performance is seamless and able to be filmed at all. 

There's a lot to it, and just like in football, it takes time and experience to get it into your blood. So, knowing all that, if you really want it, go for it. Fight tooth and nail, read everything you can about ALL of the jobs in filmmaking, learn everything you can about emotional preparation, and PRACTICE. But, by practice, I mean, practice the right way...knowing what it really takes to make a movie. 

Don't read that "how to make an indie film for $100.00" crap. If you want to learn to act for film, you HAVE to know how films are made. It's the only way to get there. Do that and you'll have a fighting shot. Don't and you won't. That simple. 

Oh yeah, and read my book. It'll help. =D


As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, or would just like to share some of your successes, please feel free to drop me a line.  I actually answer them.

Best of Luck out there and remember, you can't fail if you don't quit.

D.L. White