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How successful are actors and how likely is it for you to become a good/famous actor?

I am a junior and I want to get into acting but im not sure how successful they are and how likely it is for someone to get high in the acting career like a good actor. Also im not completely sure on how they get paid

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Phyllis’s Answer

Best of the Village

Hi Brendan,


Your question, "How successful are actors?" is very subjective.
What is "success" to you? Fame? Fortune? Security? Working consistently in theatre, film, TV?
You have to ask yourself why you want to be an actor.
As someone who acted in plays during elementary, junior high, and high school, I discovered I loved performing and actually had the gift to become an actor.
In college, I majored in theatre, learning about the technical side of the business as well as acting.
You owe it to yourself to audition for plays or films, and study acting technique. This is how you will decide if you love acting enough to pursue it as a career.
If you think acting is the road to fame and fortune, it is not the career for you.
You should only be an actor if you can't do anything else with your life.
Sure, if you are good looking, are incredibly driven, and you move to LA while you are very young and handsome, you may get representation and book commercial jobs as a young person. You may be very lucky. Chances are, you will not achieve fame or fortune in your early twenties. Show business is more than competitive. Due to the glut of reality shows on TV, many people think acting is their easy way to fame and fortune. Show business in an overcrowded profession.
Acting is a marathon, not a sprint.
Broadway actors probably earn $60,000/year.

The only reason actors perform in NYC on Broadway, earning that much money, is for the love of it.
So, ask yourself why you want to be an actor. If you can't possibly do anything else and be fulfilled, then you may have the stamina to become a working, professional actor.


Good luck!

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Steve’s Answer

The best best is to try and move to locations that need actors. For example, NYC or LA. But, first find a school that you like. They will be able to help you establish connections to casting agents and networking events. When you start out, you might do small jobs like a commercial or a play. The key is to get exposure and find out what you like to do best. Like with any profession, getting to the expert level and high pay can take time and dedication.


Good luck!!

Thank you comment icon thanks you! Brendan
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Dan’s Answer

Hi-
The road to success in acting is neither short nor easy. It requires discipline, dedication, and above all, persistence. Audition for every show you can audition for. Try to get cast in student films. Take classes in school and outside of school. Don't give anyone money that guarantees you results. There are many scams out there and there are no guarantees. The most important thing to remember: Don't take rejection personally. Most actors are rejected most of the time.
Most acting work for beginning actors doesn't pay anything so find and develop a skill (or skills) that you can earn money doing so you can support yourself while pursuing experience and building a resume.
Good luck!

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Jimmy’s Answer

Brendan- Prior to moving to a big market for acting as Steve suggests, you should hone your skills in your own hometown.Independent filmmakers exist everywhere.Get some experience before making a relocation decision. I have worked with people who thought they wanted to be actors and discovered it was not for them. The hours are long, the rejection is constant ( the best "working" actors -not "stars" ) only book about 20-25% of their auditions, and many other factors. I am not trying to discourage you. In fact, I encourage you to go for it, I just want you to know the reality of the business.
Look on craigslist or Facebook groups related to film and acting for independent or student filmmakers who are willing to work with someone with little or no experience. Generally these projects are known as "CCM" (Credit (on screen and sometimes on imdb), Copy (a DVD of the film), Meals (usually pizza or subs/sandwiches). That means no pay. But those types of projects are crucial to building a demo reel; brief clips of your work edited on one file to show directors and producers what you have done on screen. Once you have 3-7 speaking roles on a demo reel, you can submit that to a talent agency to be represented by them-talent agencies exist in most major cities, though the amount of paying film, TV and commercial work varies greatly by location. Google "SAG signatory" talent agencies in your area. You do not have to belong to or join any unions, those are just the agencies that NEVER charge you upfront fees. They either represent you and get paid on top of what you're paid, or they decline to represent you
Taking classes is a good idea, but being on set on a real film is the best way to learn.
As far as how much we make, I have read that over 90% of the Screen Actors Guild makes less than $12,000 a year from acting. So you really have to love the process of acting to stick with it, and most of us have to do something else to pay the bills. Some actors work in other areas of the film business-location scouting, makeup, etc. If you are really serious about acting, you will find a job with a flexible schedule so you can audition and film on short notice. Hope this helps you navigate things a bit more easily and good luck auditioning. Break a leg!

Thank you comment icon What schools would you suggest jimmy? Shawn
Thank you comment icon I'm the wrong guy to ask about schools, since I've never had an acting class or "traditional" lesson in my life. Some people I've worked with have given me great lessons on set, including the late, and truly great David Carradine. My friend Mason Heidger ( look up his work on imdb ) went to The New York Conservatory of the Dramatic Arts, he seemed to enjoy his time there and he is fantastic. There are smaller schools and seminars that one can attend. The prestigious ones are very selective and very expensive. Again, I think getting experience on student and independent film is extremely valuable. The book "Michael Caine: Acting in Film" has a lot of great tips for people who are just starting. Jimmy Đoom
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John C.’s Answer

The sad reality is, most major projects aren't done in LA or NY anymore. That said, you can be a great actor and if you don't have a great agent in LA to get you jobs, you're not going to be a working actor very much. There's a very large and complex system of gatekeepers in the industry that requires a professional with an influential network of very powerful friends. Most actors never really become A list successes, the vast majority are D list at best and they have good agents. Last but not least, remember that out of the top ten films in the last two years...only one of them was shot in a major market like LA or NY. Example: the last spiderman was shot in Rochester, NY because cities like LA and NY squeezed the golden goose too hard with taxes, fees and regulations...so the industry left those areas. Be a good student of the trade websites and really understand the business and politics behind the production business. It really isn't about you...studios will always pick the best talent they can get for the best price unless your agent has a big thumb and some dirt on someone very influential. That's the only way you can demand your price and any sway over what roles you accept.

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Alexis’s Answer

Hey Brendan,


Jimmy is right; for every 100 professional actors, probably 80 are unemployed at one time, another 19 are employed in low-paying or low-visibility gigs (theater, commercial, indies) and then you have 1 actor that is famous and rich.


I'm a proud member of the 99; sometimes employed, and not rich or famous (yet!). Like many of my actor friends, I have a day job, that allows me to go on auditions, and sometimes take days off for film gigs, and sometimes weeks off for theater gigs.


To go back to your question exactly, I would throw the question back to you: how would you define a successful actor? An actor that is on the cover of magazines that wins awards? An actor that in on Broadway and that other actors respect? An actor that doesn't need a day job, whose acting gigs support him and his family? An actor who gets to perform for people often?


And here's another doozy: Not all good actors become famous. And not all famous actors are necessarily good. There are so many factors that go into an acting career. Talent yes, training, sure. But mostly . . . luck. (And looks.) And that doesn't mean being beautiful. It means having a look that people need and want.


Check out this article with Viola Davis and Edie Falco: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/fashion/viola-davis-and-edie-falco-talk-race-sex-and-life-before-stardom.html?_r=0


But despite the odds, and the lifestyle choice you'll be making, I say go for it! There is really only one way to find out if being an actor is right for you.

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