As I’m sure you already know, Internet can be a good thing and a bad thing. When it comes to learning how to become an actor and seeking tips online, you need to be able to filter through randomness and know what advice is accurate and what’s misleading. All in all, there’s simply too much poor guidance offered online on how to become a working actor.
The most prevalent acting myth that has already broken all the barriers and is too big to even make this list is the “overnight success” myth. Here’s a fact: nobody becomes an overnight success. There isn’t a single person who suddenly woke up and knew how to act, how to work on stage or in front of a camera, and was immediately introduced to Quentin Tarantino for a lead role in his next installment of Revive Joe.
That does not happen in the real world. Some people might get luckier, but even then: work was put in, skills polished and connections made. Now here are a few more acting myths that aspiring actors are finding hard to let go of.
8 Acting Myths That All Aspiring Actors Believe
1. Extra work means a potential to be discovered on set
You’re being naive. Brad Pitt worked several years as an extra, and even made a few unsuccessful attempts to stick in a line here and there when he wasn’t supposed to. Extra work did nothing for his acting career, nor did it do for anybody else who tried this approach. Only do extra work for two reasons: learn how a film set works, and earn some cash to support yourself.
2. Theatre is superior to film
If you haven’t already, you’ll hear this old argument once in a while. Which acting form is “superior”? None of them are. Film acting is different to stage acting, and both require a different, very specific, set of acting skills. Many actors can be great at both, while some can truly excel in one but only reach a certain level in the other (Laurence Olivier?)
3. Friend will take a photo to use it as a headshot
This snapshot would go great for your Extra career. If you’re trying to become a professional actor, unless your friend is a professional headshot photographer, this is never a good option (ever!) Headshots might look easy to you, but it takes a lot of skill, and not all professional photographers are capable of taking good headshots. Avoid looking amateurish and spend the money on a pro.
4. True actors are born actors
Bullshit. Nobody’s born anything; we’re all fundamentally the same – humans. It’s fun and dandy to play with the romantic idea of “oh I was born to be an actor,” but what truly makes you a born-to-be actor is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. Hone your craft, dedicate every breath in your body to become the greatest at what you do and strive to achieve. Simply prove it.
5. You must be good looking to become an actor
Absolutely not. Just as there’s a market for good looking people, there’s a market for everybody else as well. If you can play a balding average Joe in his 40s, or a overweight friend of a high school cheerleader – you’re in. Simply remember to bring the skills with you. It’s always better to start your career as soon as possible, but it’s never too late either.
6. Acting always goes together with singing and dancing
It doesn’t anymore, unless you’re applying to a drama school in the United Kingdom. Some time ago, being able to sing and dance alongside your acting abilities was a norm. Every actor was expected to be able to do so. But Hollywood is dictating the rules of film industry today, and you can always find less-musical productions on West End or Broadway. You don’t need to be triple threat anymore, but it would certainly help.
7. Agent will make any actor a star
When you finally sign with an agent, you do not quit your day job. You also do not stop looking for roles by yourself. A talent agent at your side, especially in the early stages of your career, will not do much. They will hustle for you just as you do (or should do) on a daily basis. Agents might have a higher chance of getting you some auditions, but in the end, it’s still all about how-hard-you-want-it.
8. You can play any part
Even people like Meryl Streep and Daniel Day Lewis will be the first to tell you that they can’t play any part. Your looks, personality, age, skills and many other factors will impact your ability to play some parts better than others, and the world’s greatest performers are no different. They simply choose well, and they have access. Learn your type and stick with it, at least until you make a name for yourself.
This week’s video is from our best TED talks for actors list. Brene Brown’s lecture on the importance of vulnerability is – especially for actors – one of the most important lessons to learn, which is why it’s first on the list. I firmly believe that every budding performer (not just actors) owes it to themselves to consume this amazing explanation multiple times until it truly sinks in. Enjoy.