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I want to get a bfa - how hard is it to get into a program?

I’m 14 and want to pursue acting as a career, particularly Shakespeare.

My plan right now is to do 5-7 plays a year during high school, do the ESU Shakes comp, create Shakes clubs where I can start getting directing experience, continue with my outside of school acting coach, singing as well, and I’ll probably start doing musical theater dance. I’m not trying to brag or anything, just want to give whoever answers this question a better understanding, but I’ve been told I’m very talented by most people who see me perform.

How hard would it be to get into a bfa program if I audition for like 15 of them? I know I shouldn’t be worrying about it right now but I panic about this daily 😅

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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Tracy’s Answer

Dude! You probably don’t even have to wait for a BFA. Start auditioning for some Shakespeare companies, get your Equity hours and union membership and just start working.
And never worry about “bragging.” The whole darn industry depends on you tooting your own horn. That being said, you do actually have to have some talent, number one, some authenticity and be a good, kind and thoughtful person. Don’t be an egotistical jerk. It will eventually backfire.
There are regional Shakespeare companies and festivals, as well. Google that. See if you can find this dude, Jessie Mason, I’m not even sure where he is now, try Instagram or Facebook. He was a real Shakespeare geek-had his masters and performed a lot. Really cool guy.
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Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Nia
Thank you comment icon Tracy Singer: Great answer!!! Especially all the "dude"s. Teresa Heinrich
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Megan’s Answer

Nia, Thanks for some of the details aong side your question! Like any chosen profession, Musical Theatre/Theatre is hard work & there is no silver-bullet one-size-fits all recipe to succeed in the theatre or auditioning. However, you need: natural talent in the skill set; persistence and grit to focus on your short-term & long-term goals; education components and real-world experience to diversify your skills; and a village of people encouraging you :) A touch of luck, big prayers, and a kind heart will be needed as well!
I got the theatre 'bug' early and was in magnet/performing arts schools from 5th-12th grade. In my HS years, we attended large audition conferences both for professional gigs and college entry. Be sure to explore the resources and opportunities through your school and community. There are many strong programs and schools to grow your skills, but be diligent in selecting them. I attended Wright State University's Musical Theatre and it was an excellent program (Tom Hanks Alumni). If you're seeking to make a profession in the arts, not only do you need the arts-centered curriculum but as an entrepreneur/self-employed professional, you need to nourish your business acumen & audition muscles as well!
I moved to NYC 4 months after 9/11 and was thankful to have both my professional theatre and college experiences to prepare me. The network of more seasoned professionals was incredible as well...building relationships is key. I grew my resume in the non-Equity space on national tours and regional gigs, before earning my Actors Equity Union card and working professionally based out of NYC for 10 years. Having a strategic plan and passionate commitment is critical. Then, you can be open to opportunities as they come, for learning and stretch growth!

Google searches for audition tips may help as well (from reputable publications https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/tips-winning-audition-52162/). - Network with your College Professors. They should be from the business, or still active in the acting community, and they'll know other professionals in the space. As they nurture your education, they should also be able to guide you to coffee chats with working actors in NY, Chicago, FL or wherever your long-term vision lies. Ask them about audition opportunities/resources in the local theatres they may be aware of; or if you're heading out post-grad, see if they have guidance to a solid tax professional for you as a self-employed individual; research & explore audition events (like Backstage https://www.backstage.com/casting/open-casting-calls/theater-auditions/).
- Work hard and learn as much as you can. Craft a strong resume; align a good headshot photographer for professional photos. Take continued classes from reputable industry professionals; explore the intro program (called EMC) to pursue a long-term goal of becoming union AEA (https://www.actorsequity.org/)
- Keep an open mind. If you have multiple skills and interest for the stage, screen, design, casting, production elements etc, be open to learning and seeing opportunities that may be a fit!
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Kristine’s Answer

Getting into a BFA program can be very difficult, though it depends on the school. Having a lot of experience definitely helps, the more the better. Also, a wide variety of experience. If you are able to do what you plan, you shouldn't have a problem. Get involved in the theatre program at the school you want to go to as soon as you can. They like to see that you are going to add to the program and participate in the shows.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Nia
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Teresa’s Answer

This was a fun one to research. I especially enjoyed reading about people who failed to get into the programs initially and then succeeded, so you can learn from their experience. This is an entertaining and informative website: https://www.actorsrep.org/college-auditions-tips-from-a-bfa-drop-out-and-the-class-of-2020/

I would review sample university application processes, such as those for
- USC: https://dramaticarts.usc.edu/programs/undergraduate/apply/bfa-acting/
- Cal Arts: https://theater.calarts.edu/programs/acting/bfa

But maybe you don't even need a Bachelors of Fine Arts. Review the pro's and cons of getting the degree here: https://www.actoraesthetic.com/blog/bfa-or-ba

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the help. Nia
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