How to Break into the Acting Industry: A Guide for Amateur and Aspiring Actors

Here, we lightly touch on the story of Indian theatre as it moved from the times of Kālidāsa to the times of Vijay Tendulkar.

-Ekalavya Dev

January 13, 2023

An acting career covers an entire range of activities that can daunt the pluckiest aspirant.

There are auditions with naturally high rejection rates. There are casting decisions, behind closed doors, that sway in unseen ways. There can be a shortage of job opportunities in smaller towns, and stiff competition in bigger cities.

How do you enter this elusive industry?

In this post, we outline 4 guidelines to follow as you find your way into an acting career.

Start at One Type of Training and See Where It Takes You

Acting is a vast ocean of skills that you will be swimming in for your entire career, never quite mastering it. Perfection is only an ideal to work to, but you won’t get there.

To make it simple, pick one current and see where it takes you—later, you can branch out.

Ask yourself what type of training you prefer for the near future. Do you want to be a stage actor? Then, you might want to learn the ropes of the theatre—where stage direction, louder soliloquies and dialogues, and elaborate, physical gestures are the name of the game. You might have to invest in monologue masterclasses and body acting classes in such a case, to get your skills up to the standards of the stage in your local theatre.

There is a lot of money in voice-over work, as well—advertisements, jingles, and animated films—and an 8-hour voice acting start-up course can do wonders for your confidence. While you may not know what your end goal is, you can always explore these various aspects of acting, and find yourself!

Start Small: Look Around Your City or Go Online!

Dip your toes into the pool before you break a leg. Many aspirants burn out before they can even launch their careers by neglecting the off-stage/screen aspects of their lives. Knowing the practical aspects of the industry is as important as your skill itself.

You may want to find books and classes for independent, individual preparation, or you may want to collaboratively “learn on the job” in an acting workshop or drama school. Your needs vary. The most important thing to remember is—do not overpace and overspend!

If you live in a big city, stay is expensive, competition is stiff, so you would want to scrimp on your learning investments. Collaborative, interactive classes are the best way to learn acting, but they can often be prohibitive in terms of finances. These acting classes, taught by experienced actors, are expensive, and enrolling there at the cost of your financial health might not be an ideal start to your career. Therefore, you can first try online acting classes, which are pre-recorded and offered at a fraction of the cost of live classes.

Network with the Right People in the Industry

The industry is hierarchically simple in terms of how actors find auditions, get more auditions, and eventually get a job: actors need to be chosen by casting directors, who make the final decision based on the actor’s audition. Make sure you have a good working relationship with most of them, as it is through their referrals and word-of-mouth that your future opportunities bloom.  Remember, that even if you fail your audition, keep in touch with the casting directors who assess you, as they might recall your talents when working on another project.

Look for Formal Training if Your Ambition Lasts

Actors never stop learning. Even the most popular actors in this day and age know that there is always some unique role to fill that will require them to push the boundaries of vicarious psychology.

Acting roles vary as much as humans do, and to maximize your chances at selection for an acting project, it is always better to be able to perform a wide variety of skills. Learning a skill, that a future character may have, is one of the hard-earned short-cuts in the industry.

You do not need to delve deep into these skills. You may only learn the preliminary aspects of them, so that, when the time comes, on stage or in front of the camera, you can do what is required of the role. Musical instruments, martial arts, horse riding, juggling, scientific or literary research, regional accents, other languages—these are all useful for your acting career.

If your ambition lasts well into your second or third year as an actor, you should try looking for formal training. The best places to learn acting are drama schools, acting academies, local theatres, and acting workshops. These places are usually populated with a wealth of industry professionals, from directors to stage actors, to writers, to voice-acting specialists.

In Mumbai, the film capital of India, the Drama School Mumbai (DSM), an establishment owned and run by the experienced subset of the Indian thespian community, has a versatile program meant for the individual looking to further their acting skills. As long as you surround yourself with people who know more about acting than you do, you are primed for success.

But for the people just starting an acting career, the Drama School Mumbai has initiated the Ekalavya performing arts e-learning platform for online acting and theatre course, designed for all strata of society. For all people wanting to pursue a career in acting and theatre, we recommend beginning with the first course, ‘Breaking Open Characters’ which deals with the concept of characterization and how to approach your personal portrayal of unique, human characters.

If you like the module, you can try out 4 foundational acting courses, which can be watched on your own time. We will be releasing the next bunch of 4 courses in the upcoming months as well.  You only need to commit 8-12 hours of your time for each of these courses, and you can finish them in a week or a month, depending on your goals. At the end of each of these courses, you will be required to give a performance submission, which will be evaluated by the actors and teachers of the course. You will get certificates and scholarships based on your performances! Make sure to give it a try!

Ekalavya: Act, Create, Communicate

India’s best online acting and theatre training platform, an initiative of Drama School Mumbai (DSM). DSM is one of the best acting and theatre schools in India. At Ekalavya, all the courses are designed and delivered by highly trained DSM faculty and industry professionals. Currently available courses are Breaking Open Characters, Mastering Monologues, Expressive Voice and Speech and Expressive Body.

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