So, YOU Wanna Be a Famous Actor? Here’s 5 Steps to Get You Started
Let’s get one thing straight. You have already taken a big step by clicking on this. For real! So glad you are here.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Nikko Austen Smith. I have been a successful actor in Los Angeles for the past 2 years. I’ve been on Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar, worked with actors like Vanessa Morano and Ron Perlman, starred in my first national commercial for McDonald’s, and most recently starred in Facebook Watch’s The Birch.
*Wheew* Now that that is out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
So you’re here because you want to know the first steps on how to become a famous actor. Great!
***DISCLAIMER*** This is NOT a quick, one and done, hit it and quit it. If you want to do this, truly, then you have to understand that this is a life long journey. I promise you, these steps will help in the long run. They will help the longevity of your career. With that being said, grab your pen and paper, and let’s move into these steps.
1. Get clear on why you want to become an actor in the first place.
Do you want the lifestyle… the accolades? I mean we all do, but you have to come up with something better than that. It’s imperative that the reason is deeper than that. Maybe you see actors on TV and go… “Man I could do that.. I could do that better!”
Do you love it? You HAVE to love it because this industry is very unforgiving. It is ruthless sometimes, and if you don’t love it, you’re just going to be miserable. And no one wants that.
Do you read plays or books an immediately throw yourself into a character and play the part in your head? Do you just love storytelling? Or transporting people into a different world to help them heal in order to begin a tough conversation about something that’s important to you? Because that is MY why.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to have a reason that ignites your spirit so that you can come back to it when times are tough. And times WILL be tough. You will have days when you’re like man “I don’t even know why the f*** I’m doing this…”
Your why, will keep you sane. Trust.
2. Get clear on the Stories you want to Tell and who Tells them.
Ask yourself: What is important to me? What are my morals? What do I stand up for? What do I love?
Then, research who tells stories similar to your answers. You will want to research the actors, casting directors, directors, producers, production companies, and show runners. Watch their content! Do you vibe with it? Familiarize yourself with the ones who create the stories you were born to tell. Once you know your why and the stories you want to tell, you can move onto step 3.
3. Get Clear on you Actor Brand
This is a biggie! This is also the one that will most likely take the most of your time.
You actor brand is basically your delicious uniqueness. It is your essence, who you are at your core, and what you’d mainly be cast in. Once you have this established, it is imperative for your acting materials to reflect it. But that’s an entirely different article for later on…
Back to the brand, for instance, my actor tagline for myself is Ethereal Goddess with an Edge. That literally describes me. Now, you don’t need a tagline, but it could be useful when casting directors ask the dreaded question,“So tell me about yourself?”.
To figure out your brand, you must first figure out how others see you. What words would people use to describe you? Ask around. Ask everyone you know to send you 10 words that describe you based on looks, personality, and overall traits/essence. The most interesting words come from those who don’t even know you at all! You’ll definitely want to stick to mainly that category. I say this because the people you want to work with, most likely, don’t know you. Write down all of your findings. You will end up noticing a bunch of recurring words. Highlight them. They will come in hand later. FYI: when I did this, my main words were: Ethereal, Naive, Determined, Young, Resilient, Troubled, Quiet Strength. Pretty spot on, but also, these are words that I would not have thought to pick myself. Very interesting.
4. Get Clear on what you Would be Cast in Based on your Brand
An easy way to do this is to identify the actors that are similar to you. What shows are they in? Who are the casting directors on those shows? The producers, directors, show runners, networks? Who do they work with? Cultivate a list of your top 10 shows, and all the creatives that are part of those shows. You will start to see a pattern. This becomes your bullseye, and where you’ll want to focus your efforts. Track those actors careers through interviews, Getty Images, CastingAbout.com, and more research. It will give you some ammunition.
Get to know the people that hire people of your brand! Follow them on social media. BUT DEAR GOD, DO NOT SEND THEM YOUR MATERIALS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.
5. Get Clean on your Career Goals!
Have fun here! Go crazy at first! Be unfiltered! Be specific! Now close your eyes and visualize it. Enjoy it. This could be your future.
Once you’ve done that, it is time to whittle down your goals into 5 realistic and achievable ones for this year. Maybe you are just starting out. Some examples of your goals could be: take a good and challenging acting class, self submit for student films, audition for student films, take an improv class, maybe learn some new on brand skills to put on your resume, get some on brand headshots, read the trades every morning, or watch more on brand shows.
Maybe you are more seasoned and you want to find a f*** yeah! agent or manager, or book a recurring role on an on brand show. All of these are amazing goals to have.
Once you have set your goals, hold yourself accountable. Find an accountability partner. Someone you trust to really kick your teeth in when you don’t follow through.