I'll add by offering some not-so-practical thoughts on what an actor might need:
1. Empathy - This is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. If you want to be an actor, you want to embody somebody else's experience and emotions. To do that, you've got to fine tune your empathy. When you read a book or listen to a friend, try to put yourself in the shoes of a character or your friend: how would you feel in their situation? what would you do? what choices would you make?
2. Imagination - Stating the obvious here, but as an actor, your job is to put yourself in imaginary situations and imagine that it is real. As an actor, you have to use the magic "What If?" What if I was lost in these woods and it was getting dark? What if I just won a million dollars? What if I was abducted by aliens and arrived in a different planet?
3. Ability to say Yes - This is a cornerstone of improvisation, but it also goes for acting and learning about acting: the ability to say yes. To try to do something even if you've never done it before. To keep going even if you stumble. To take what is given to you and do something with it. To go with the flow.
4. Willingness to expand your idea of You - This is a tough one, especially in the early years. You might think of yourself as an outgoing, friendly guy, but as an actor, you've got to be able to play a shy person. You might think of yourself as generous and caring person, but as an actor, you've got to understand what makes a selfish person do the things they do. You've got to be willing to step out of yourself, and even realize that you are more than what you may think you are. That I think is the most exciting thing about being an actor: you discover so many more sides to yourself you never knew existed.
An actor isn't just someone who makes people laugh, or who can play the action hero, or the romantic lead. An actor is an artist who expresses themselves and something about the world, and uses themselves as their medium.
Best of luck as you explore if being an actor is something you want to explore further!
Alexis recommends the following next steps:
Booking jobs builds resumes. How about films schools in your area? These are great places to try things and fail. They don't pay, but they also won't be held against you. Many teens try to get on set as fast as possible, but the goal it to get on set and be ready and prepared to be there.
Chris recommends the following next steps:
2. HEADSHOTS - Without proper headshots, there is little to no chance of getting your foot into any door in any studio. Your headshots should be 8.5 by 11 inch glossy in color with either just your head or head and shoulders. This is the industry standard and has been for over 25 years now. The other thing you're going to need, though it nearly as important as a headshot, is a video-take of you doing a monologue of your choosing. If you have footage of you talking in an actual movie, that is even better. Remember though, this is the basic package.
3. RESUME - Now, this one is going to take some time to create and grow. This is why you don't just wake up one morning and decide you're going to be a working actor, so you head out the door with both hands swinging to your nearest agent or studio. You won't get past the sidewalk in front of said studio or agency. Start with school productions or try to get some work as an extra in a movie shoot or even a play and add those productions to your resume. As you start getting roles that where you are speaking more, or where you might be co-starring or starring, replace your extra or smaller roles with those roles, print it and staple it to your headshot photo.
4. WEBSITE or PAGE. - Now, I've been told that this is not an absolute basic in your arsenal, however, given our current situation and the tsunami-like trend of the industry, I personally disagree. This IS as absolute and basic as a headshot!
You can start by putting your headshot and resume online. If you have a portfolio of professionally done, industry-standard pictures, it would be a good idea to put those up there as well along with any videos of you where you are featured. Your video should not have the visage of anyone else but you in it.
And that is it. Many beginners seem to think that getting an agent or a manager is a basic necessity. It is not. Even if you were to go shopping for an agent, she or he wants to see that you have been going to auditions regularly, have been getting roles regularly, and are dedicated to the craft and business of acting as if you were a high priest or priestess!
If they don't see that level of dedication, they will deme you a waste of time, and won't even let you step in front of the sidewalk in front of their buildings. Keep in mind that this is your career...your baby...your business. Anyone else you bring in to help you land the job is either an assistant or a business partner who shares 10 to 15% of whatever you make. But that's content for another question.
In my opinion, the most basic necessity for success as an actor is the ability to recognize that acting is part of one of the most competitive industries in the world. It is literally harder to become a full-time actor in America than to become a medical doctor. Why do I say that? Because, if you want to be a doctor, there is a clear path to follow; if you go to school, work hard, complete the degrees and residency and other requirements, you will become a doctor. There is no such guarantee in the entertainment industry. You can go to the best schools, work hard, complete your degrees and work in all kinds of educational and intern acting jobs and there is ZERO guarantee you will ever get a single paid acting gig, much less be able to support yourself doing it.
So let me repeat: The main thing to remember, if you choose to pursue acting as a career, is that it is a business as well as an art form. I would advise anyone starting out to formulate a career plan based on a thorough study of the industry. This means familiarizing yourself with the all the types of acting jobs available to you and how those jobs are filled (the entire process) and how you can position yourself into consideration for those jobs. It is also basic to your success that you be brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. One of the more regrettable aspects of the entertainment industry as it currently exists is that aspects of your physical appearance that are not within your ability to change are the cornerstone of which roles you will be considered for. Recognizing your strengths will help you determine which kind of acting to pursue.
The most successful people I know in show business (and you would recognize their names) are the most obsessed by it. By that I mean that throughout their lives they have watched and read and absorbed information about their chosen field. They constantly study the most successful producers, directors, designers, and their work. They eat, breath, and sleep their industry.
Becoming a self-supporting actor is an all-day, every day job in itself. It involves learning about your craft and industry and promoting yourself at every turn. It also means having a backup plan -- being prepared to support yourself through other means until you find work as an actor -- and realizing that the very nature of acting involves continually looking for the next job. It can literally take decades to achieve the level of success necessary to support yourself by acting. This aspect explains the necessity of signing with an agency once you reach a certain level of experience. At a certain level of professionalism, most actors are hired exclusively through agencies. Casting directors work with agencies to bring them qualified candidates, including those with membership in the various actors unions. This means that your goal when starting out should be to gain enough experience to sign with the right agency. Otherwise, you will not even be allowed to audition for the best paying work.
In my opinion, the most basic requirement for an acting career is a willingness to work tirelessly at it from both an artistic and business perspective. I hope you find these comments helpful, and I wish you every success.