Whilst those who are far removed from the acting industry think that the daily life of an actor is a living dream, many of us surviving the daily grind know that to even be an actor with minimal success takes a lot of hard work, realistic goals and continued learning of our craft. So let’s talk a little what’s it like and specifically how to be an actor in London.
London is a wonderful city to pursue your career in acting. It has the world’s best theater scene, Europe’s most powerful and best acting agencies, networking events, most prestigious drama schools on Earth, and much more. But how to be an actor in London in your everyday life? What’s the day like for working thespians struggling in one of the world’s biggest metropolitan cities?
How to Be an Actor in London: The Daily Grind
Aspiring actors understand the importance of good time management skills, flexibility and planning. Daily life as an actor starts every evening before, right before climbing into bed with the plan for tomorrow.
It is rare that every day will be exactly the same for an actor all of the time, so having a clear structure for the following day makes sleeping easier and goals clearer. Even though most days in an actor’s life are different, there are some key targets that can help budding artists to stay focused, fresh and in the loop with what is going on.
If you want to know how to be an actor in London, take a look at some of these general points and potential routines for your future daily life. It’s unlikely you’ll be doing all of these things every single day, but this is what most actors have learned to do and what works for them.
You’ll need to work to check off these boxes as soon as you can:
- You must be listed on Spotlight
- Have a copy of the latest Contacts Handbook (all services related to film, TV, stage, and radio)
- Have up-to-date headshots and acting CV, show reel and voice demo
- Stay updated with papers/zines (The Stage, Equity, The Production and Casting Report, Casting Call Pro)
- Keep yourself well-presented, in shape and always be ready.
These are just a few examples, but there are more goals that actors will need to set for themselves, but let’s move onto the daily life of an actor.
Get your exercise
It’s important not to under-sell the value of morning exercise. For those people with 9 to 5 jobs there is often some kind of movement running for trains or buses. These people also stay in shape by visiting a gym routinely after work, which is something actor’s cannot afford to do if they’re not sure what their day is going to look like.
When you are an actor in London, particularly when you are just starting out in this city or between jobs, it’s really important to keep to a good morning routine. First, actors must stay in good shape and have good control of their bodies. And second, multiple studies have shown that exercise will increase serotonin levels and keep people motivated and energetic throughout the day.
Depending on how much time you have available on that particular day, try to get into an exercise class like yoga, maybe a gym session, do some Alexander Technique at home or go for a jog. Even a short morning stroll for coffee can help you get mentally prepared for the day ahead, as long as you move around.
Administrative work in unavoidable
Whether it’s keeping invoices in check, searching for casting calls or checking emails, set time aside each day for your admin tasks. When you have time in the morning, it’s relaxing to do this over coffee. Run through your ‘to do’ list for the day and tick off those simple tasks like answering emails, submitting for projects, following up with your contacts and staying in touch with people.
We’re living in an online world, and the internet, fortunately, has made this process a lot more efficient. Remember to spend time updating yourself, checking the papers and websites. Here are a few for actors in London to bookmark:
- The Stage
- Acting in London
- The Equity
- Casting Call Pro
- Theatre websites, such as LondonTheatreDirect
Actors are always on the hunt. Even if you’re currently working on something, it’s important to have the next gig lined up in advance to avoid long periods of unemployment. Stay up-to-date with the business of acting as an industry. Find out what is going on, be aware of possible opportunities to meet practicing professionals to get tips and advice.
Preparing for auditions and castings
As every actor knows, auditions usually come with very little notice and in fact you’re lucky if you have an evening to prepare. You also know so that you aren’t the only actor they’ve interested in and you’ll be facing a lot of competition for that smallest, 1-line part’s audition tomorrow.
Truth be told, it never gets less intimidating to know that you are potentially up against hundreds of other actors who are hungry for a part just as much as you are. And to top it all off, the casting directors take only 5 minutes to decide whether they want to see you again so you need to make every audition count and know that you delivered a solid 100%.
Auditions usually take place around afternoon, or late afternoon. It’s likely you’ve already prepared yourself for the part, and right now it’s time to get yourself psyched to show off your best work. Many actors choose meditation to get into the right state of mind, others like reading or finding distractions. Some actors love watching certain types of videos, and we have lists of 16 motivational videos for actors as well as 25 best TED talks that actors would love.
Actors who aren’t going out for auditions at this time of the day and possibly were lucky enough to land a job are likely to be in rehearsals. Others who are currently still looking through casting calls and searching for acting jobs might want to skim through more of these ideas below on how to to be an actor in London in your daily life.
Get to your drama class, rehearsal or projects
If you’re in a drama school, then it’s like the time for your second class of the day. If you’ve chosen not to attend drama school and you’re taking acting classes in London, then your class is likely taking place in the evening, but be ready to attend some supplementary training, such as stage combat training or dance classes.
While we’re on the topic, it’s important to note that even though drama schools can be very expensive, long-term commitment, they will have a perfectly structured day for an actor to optimize their training and learning as well as offer a range of opportunities actors may not get without this formal training. You can read more on this in our Acting for Beginners Guide.
If you’re not attending a drama school for formal acting training or have already completed this part of your acting career, you can do other things to boost your chances of landing a role. Already mentioned evening acting classes are necessary for thespians to continue their training, community theatre and drama clubs are also great options.
Work on your own material
Some of the America’s and UK’s best comedy legends write their own material and have become national treasures because of their unique abilities to make life into art. From Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders to Miranda Hart, Ricky Gervais and Russel Brand, they have all carved careers with their own words.
If you find yourself at a loose end and want to keep on top of your craft, writing your own material is a great way to develop your voice. You can also often find affordable creative writing classes via local adult education centers across London. If you feel like you’ve done well, you can send your script to an agent, student directors or crowd fund your film and produce it yourself.
See what student and low budget films have to offer
This is a great way to get experience and get your face out there and keep your afternoons busy if you otherwise have nowhere else to go to improve your acting skills.
Actors can do some research on universities offering performing arts degrees to find out if they want scripts or actors. If you’re in this position, also take a look at websites like UK Student Films where you can find resources and links to various online services for casting calls, workshops and industry news.
More administrative work
Sadly, as much fun as acting is by itself, when you’re just trying to become an actor in London with not a team of managers, agents, accounts surrounding you, there’s a lot of administrative and bureaucratic assignments to go through almost daily. You need bills to pay, emails to send, jobs to apply, update your website, work on your social media presence and a lot more.
If you’re not currently booked for a stage play or musical, and not doing a late night film shoot, chances are your evenings are free. Instead of going out to for yet another pint, understand that this is a good opportunity to keep your acting career on track and maybe even find some flexible work to fund your acting dream which can often be expensive.
There are many types of survival jobs that actors take in order to fund their careers. But for ultimate flexibility, freelancing is where it’s at. Try websites like UpWork which is a platform that provides freelance gigs, some of which include writing assignments. Whilst often very poorly paid, most jobs are easy to put down at the last minute if you get a casting call. They are also good opportunities to develop writing skills.
Polish your skills in a local community theatre
Your local community theatres – and London has a lot of those – are especially good when you need to get more experience. The Brits are known for their passion for theatre, so luckily nearly every town in the United Kingdom has a community theatre with at least 2 productions per year. If you can’t get acting jobs there, you can audition for backstage and production work as well.
Prepare for tomorrow’s auditions
If you were lucky to book an audition and it’s tomorrow, don’t delay and work on the material. Allow yourself ample time for research, learning, memorization and anything else you believe may benefit you and increase your chances of booking the part.
Here’s a quick preparation checklist for the morning or afternoon auditions:
- Work on your lines using any method you’ve been taught
- Spend more time familiarizing yourself with the whole material
- Jump on the internet and research casting directors, directors, producers
- Have your audition clothes prepared an evening before
Visit London drama clubs
A great alternative to community theatre are drama clubs, which is pretty much the same thing. Check out Acting in London’s ‘Big List’ of drama clubs in London. All the clubs listed are active clubs and there are hundreds of those.
Attend London acting classes
Acting classes in London are a lot more practical for aspiring thespians who need to juggle many different things. While their training in acting classes isn’t as rigorous as that in drama schools, evening acting classes provide a good opportunity to polish your skills, a space to work on your material and a way to gain more real life acting experience.
Drama schools are often very focused on stage and theatre acting, which is not a bad thing in itself, but many acting classes in London gives aspiring artists with opportunities to grow as both individuals and professional because you have to remain driven, self-disciplined and maintain great time management skills. Check out Acting in London’s ‘Big List’ of London acting classes for you to choose from.
Don’t forget to network
Finally, actors must remember the importance of networking. Establishing your name within the industry is one of the most important things that cannot be done overnight, and requires months and even years of consistent work. You have to make new connections and maintain old ones so that when an opportunity comes up, someone can think of you for that part.
We have discussed the importance of networking for actors before for anybody who wants to know how to be an actor in London. Usually, acting classes, drama clubs and other places where you can only find actors is a great starting point for making new friendships. However, MeetUp, for example, is also a great site to join to find other like-minded people with whom you can keep in touch: other actors, directors, casting directors and agents.
Late evening, once you’ve got everything else out of the way, is a perfect to put on some relaxing music and kickback with your laptop, chatting it away. Go through some more websites, hit up your friends, see what they’ve been up to. Staying in contact with people in the industry is vital for an actor’s success.