James Preston Rogers

How to Get Your Start as An Actor


If you´re a fan of television, film or theatre, and wondered to yourself how do I get started on a path to become an actor., Well your time is racing away, and this article is for you.

I have been in or trying to get into the Acting business for 15 years, and most of the time I had lost was due to not understanding the business and what was needed to move forward. I’ve written this article to help all of you who find yourselves in the shoes I was once in.

So let’s get started now…..

As in all jobs, your employer would like to see a resume. Wait a minute, you don’t have a resume, well this is my helpful hint on how you can start to build an acting resume.

First, do some research to find yourself a background agent or extra’s agent.  They are listed in many publications and are easy to search for on the web.  Once you’ve compiled a list of a few agents, call them and set up an appointment to go in and meet with them. Don’t worry they will take your call and they will meet with you.  Once you get to your appointment they will take a picture of you, and have you fill out some paperwork giving information about yourself. They will use this information to submit you for extra and background jobs when there are looking for people with your unique look. Again, don’t worry, background agents take everybody. They work with volume, filling in the background of scenes that require people. Restaurants, nightclubs, bars, baseball games etc. Be available. They will call you! If you are not available, they will skip over you and they will not call you often or ever. If you are available and accommodating, then they will use you often. This is the beginning of adding film, television and commercial credits to your resume. Keep track of the film or tv shows title, production company and directors name. This information you will put on your resume. The more sets you get on the more ink you will have for your resume.  The people you are meeting on set are the gateway to giving you the access to the business you wish to be a part of.

Other background performers soon will become gainfully employed actors, the A.D.s (assistant directors) and P.A.’s (production assistants) that are getting you ready for your scenes and directing you, will also move up the food chain will become directors and producers. The background wardrobe department will also move up as well. So be nice, be on time, and most importantly be professional as you may be working with these people for years to come.

When you on set or meeting with other professionals in the business, talk to these people and find a reputable photographer. Get some head shots done. These pictures will be the keys to some of the doors you will need to open, like getting a principal agent. You will also need to take acting classes. I suggest: audition techniques and scene study classes are a good place to start. This will help you in the near future when you will go for auditions.  After you have been on a few sets and understand how things work, it’s time to get a principal agent.

You need to find an agent that believes in you, and feel they can make you money and make money with you. Your resume should now have: the movie titles that you have been on, along with the production company’s name, and directors name too. Also list the acting classes you have taken, and/or are enrolled in. Go to IMDB.com to find top reputable agencies. IMDB stands for International Movie Data Base. This is where every movie, tv show, actor, agency and company are found. You can familiarize yourself with the website by looking up my page.

Chose ten reputable agencies and mail them your kit. Your kit will include your resume and your head shot. Do a follow up call to the agencies within the next few business days to see if they have received your kit. If they have not, call back within another couple days. If they have received it, ask if there is any interest in scheduling a meeting. If none of the ten are interested in a meeting, then do another ten and continue the process until you are able to obtain a meeting.

At your meeting with the principal agent be sure to casually let them know that you are taking other interviews with other agencies, but this is your first stop. This is not a lie. You are taking other interviews as they come up. Have some names ready in case they ask you which ones. This will increase your value in their eyes and make you a prize they don’t want to lose. If you think you have found the agent that would like to represent you for film and television, and you might want to be represented by here, there are a few guide lines to adhere to:

  1. Do not pay money upfront! The agent finds you auditions, and only gets paid a commission percentage when you book the role. A standard commission percentage is between 10% & 15%.
  2. Be careful of agents that will immediately insist that you need new headshots and force their photographer on you saying your head shots are no good. This is usually a money grab by an agent who has an invested interest with their photographer instead of you. If they want to work with you, your headshots that got their attention should be fine for the first little while at least.
  3. Do not sign an agreement for representation without having someone review it for you first. There are unethical people out there and will try to take advantage of you.  Look out for clauses that tie you to an unending contract term or beyond the scope of your services.

Make sure that you like and can trust your representative as they are your link and spokesperson to the industry.

Well, you are now on your way to working in one of the greatest industry known to man or woman. They say find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life. This has been a true statement for me. Chase your dreams, they’re meant to be caught.

Good luck out there! As we say in the biz: break a leg. I’m James Preston Rogers, and I’ll see you at the top..


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