How to Start a Career in Acting

How to Start a Career in Acting

Are you passionate about acting? Does your heart speed up every time you watch a play or enter a movie theatre? Do you feel the desire to perform running through your veins?

Before going all-in and quitting your 9 to 5; Start by considering the following:

  • Are you willing to live a life of financial uncertainty? 
  • Are you mentally and emotionally prepared to accept rejection on a monthly basis?
  • Are you willing to work in independent/student films and theatre for free for the first few years (and maybe more) to build up your experience and showreel?
  • Can you accept that pursuing a career in acting may cost you more money than it will pay you? Considering ongoing costs like: Casting Director workshops, taking time off work to audition and shoot indie/student films, costs of ongoing evening classes, audition coaching fees, self-taping studio fees, headshots, additional website subscriptions… etc.

Thinking about these points will ground you in the reality of taking this path, and help you to decide whether you are passionate enough about acting to pursue it, even if it means making sacrifices in other areas of your life.

Ok so we front-ended the scary part, but it’s not all gloomy :-). Acting can be an extremely fulfilling career as long as you go into it with the right mindset. Once you understand the above, here are your next steps:

Start with Acting Classes

The very first step will be to find a suitable acting class. This could be a degree course, or even just a full/part time intensive program in a recognised Academy. The aim is to get the training needed to approach your first audition with confidence and gain the skills required to book the role. Also, by listing a recognised course on your CV you will be making up for your lack of practical work experience.

Build Your Experience

After you complete your training, start looking to gain experience by applying for every student and independent film that you are suitable for. You will send them an email with your headshot, CV and a short clip to show them what you can do. Let them know that you recently graduated and are interested in auditioning for the role of X. If you are a member of CastandHire you can click ‘Apply’ beside the relevant role, and your profile page will be sent to the caster – just make sure that your profile is fully filled out so that they can assess your suitability for the role.

You will find that you may only book 1 role out of each 5-10 that you audition for. However, by auditioning for as many student productions as possible, you will gain vital auditioning experience, your confidence will build and the nerves will settle. Booking a role means you get to experience a film shoot, plus add a credit to your CV. After the film has been completed you can add your best scenes to your showreel.

Find an Agent

Your agent will suggest you to Casting Directors for professional roles that they deem you suitable for, then, if the casting director agrees, they will invite you to audition (through your agent). You don’t HAVE to have an agent in Ireland – you can still send your portfolio (Headshot, CV and Showreel) to Casting Directors yourself once or twice a year and hope that they contact you directly when something suitable comes up. But, it is unlikely that the CD will remember every single independent actor in the country. Unless you have an extremely unique look that they require, or you have a very random talent that they specifically need (like a half Japanese, half Irish actor who can Salsa Dance), otherwise they will generally just go with the agents’ suggestions. So, having an agent will significantly improve your chances of being called to audition by Casting Directors. 

No need to fret, this is your next step. You have taken professional training, you have your professional headshots, you have been on set for multiple student films and have an experience filled CV along with a great showreel – It’s time to apply for representation. You can find a list of actor agencies here – just remember to read the submission instructions on their website before sending them an email.

NOTE: Full-time college graduates can start applying for representation immediately. In fact, agents will attend the end of year showcases for The Gaiety, Bow Street, The LIR, and any other recognised diploma/degree course in Ireland.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even after you graduate, continue with your training. You can work on dialects, audition technique, self taping, movement, and so much more. Continue auditioning for pro-bono student/indie films and work as much as possible in the acting world. Acting workshops and small theater companies keep performers in top form by providing an environment to stretch your creative muscles and practice your craft. Be patient; it can take years to catch a break, but it is possible for some actors to receive a steady stream of work.

Directors, production companies and independent producers will sometimes bypass Casting Directors and post their own casting calls online. Make sure to check the CastandHire jobs board regularly.

Good luck!


We hope this helps. If you have any questions related to any of what we’ve outlined, get in touch with us at [email protected] – we’d love to chat.

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Posted 4 years ago


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