What Every Actor Needs to Know For a Long and Successful Career

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There are thousands upon thousands of aspiring actors in Los Angeles alone -- each hoping for one big break that will launch their career. Only a few will ever make it as actors, and even fewer will perform beyond a B movie role or television appearance. So, what can you do to increase your chances of success?

For some things, you have limited control, such as how you look in real life and how you sound, but there are some steps you can take that might make the difference between getting a part and continuing to work as a waiter. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Learn Your Craft

Just like any art form, acting is a craft that can continuously be improved. Take acting classes, learn from other actors and mentors, and hone your craft. Many top-tier actors work with acting coaches to stay at the top of their game. You can never know too much.

Never Be Late

It might seem obvious, but promptness is crucial. Tardiness is a weakness that no director will tolerate because there are plenty of actors who will arrive hours early. Casting sessions typically last just a few minutes, and they are scheduled at odd times such as 7:25 or 6:50 on purpose to determine your reliability. Be early, or don’t bother showing up. Patience weighs thin at a casting session, and few things will hurt your chances more than being late.

Know Your Lines

If you fail to learn your lines, you will not be hired. Don't try to wing it. Spend time preparing your lines and your delivery. If you are well prepared, you will be less nervous and better able to perform.

Don’t Rewrite Your Lines

Never, ever, ever say something other than what is written in the script. There’s no better way to offend a writer than to ad lib or to come up with your own lines. Your job as an actor is to deliver the written lines convincingly. If you think your own dialogue might be better, then become a writer.

Listen, Listen, Listen

You must demonstrate that you can take directions. Listen to what you are being told. Sometimes the casting director, writer, or director will give you some direction prior or during the audition or during the audition for a particular line. Listen to what you are told and take the time you need to process it. If you are not sure what the director means, repeat the instructions back to the director for confirmation. During an audition, more often than not, a director will be happy to give you a few minutes to incorporate the new direction into the lines; don't be afraid to ask for them.

Make Sure Your Headshot is Accurate

Your headshot should portray you as you look now. If you have gained weight, cut your hair, or are a few years older, get a new headshot. Your old headshot will not be the one getting the job, and that will apply to you too if you are not the person the casting committee was expecting to see.

Commit!

Actors who genuinely commit to a reading are fun to watch. They literally transform themselves into a character. By committing fully to the reading, you will dissolve any nervousness and will play the part with genuine passion.

No Excuses!

Life happens. Perhaps you couldn’t learn your lines because you lost your power? You were an hour late because you were stuck in traffic, or you had to take your dog to the emergency vet. Chalk these annoyances up as some of life's inevitabilities and don't attempt to give excuses. No one cares because there are so many others who are waiting to take your place. Don't punish yourself, but try harder next time.

Being an actor is not the easy life it may seem. There are often long periods of financial insecurity, fierce competition, and rejection that make the overall process that much more difficult. Still, knowing the most basic elements and adhering to simple rules will give you the best chance of success, and it might even get you ahead of the game.