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Is an Acting Career for You?


Below this article, which applies to both actors and actresses, is one specifically for aspiring actresses.

Thinking About Acting?

By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor

Most people believe that acting is all about exhibiting a natural, instinctive skill that you are born with. But acting is actually a skill set that can be learned, stimulated, and sharpened with the proper training.

It does require some natural talent, though. Some people could never act, no matter how much training and coaching they get. But that's true of all things. Some people will never be good golfers, engineers, basketball players, singers, or writers. It's just not in them.

Then there are those who have a natural potential for excellence in a given field. With good coaching and training, they can become stars. It's that way with acting. Or consider politicians; with the right coaching, training, and bribery they become master thieves.

While there are thousands of actors working around the world on a daily basis, there are only a few exceptional people who by exhibiting their "natural talents" have made it big in tinsel-town.

Do you have what it takes to be one of these exceptional people? Do you have the determination and desire to give it your all to achieve your acting dreams, aspirations and goals? Or are you simply looking for a short cut, which will most likely lead to uncertainty and disappointment. If you are willing to stay focused and work hard, you could make it in show business.

You have decided acting is the career path for you. But where do you start?

Is it hard? Yes, but the steps to becoming an actor are random. It's not like going to engineering school and then interviewing with an engineering firm. One person's path to being famous or just being a working actor is usually completely different from that of someone else. There is no one way.

However, some basic steps could help you get things rolling.

You could start by taking a local acting class or working with your local community theater. You need to find out if it's something you really want to do. Making a living as an actor is a tough road, so you need to make sure it is something you really want to pursue.

You may also try getting involved with your local college or universities' film or media department. You may not get paid, but you can get yourself on film. That may be seen by casting directors and talent scouts. Plus, you'll get a copy of the finished film that you can use as an audition demo video to send to talent agents.

Once you've decided to give acting in your local community theater a try, you'll need to know how to go about auditioning. Scan your local newspaper's entertainment or arts and leisure section for notices of open casting calls.

Another simple and more direct way to track down audition information is to call the theater's ticket sales phone number and ask about future auditions. Searching the Internet is another way. So is making contacts in the local school or university, where there may be open public auditions that are used for community outreach programs.

If you still aren't able to make it as a performer in the play, don't give up yet. Volunteer to help behind the scenes in roles like costume, set design, or lighting. These look good on your résumé (resume) as creditable experience. Many great actors started by working behind the scenes, so keep trying.

An actor's "business card" is their head-shot. A head-shot is an 8x10 photo with your acting resume and contact information on the back. Traditionally, these photos were black and white, but these days they are are color shots. Almost every major city has got a photographer that can snap these kind of photos.

A standard resume is going to have your name at the top, with your union affiliation, like the Screen Actors Guild, underneath it. You are also going to want to have your contact information, usually to the upper right or left. The contact information will be your talent agent or manager if you have one. If you don't, then you need to provide your own contact info.

Note: NEVER put your home number or address on your acting resume. Get a cell phone number or some other number so people can leave messages. Your resume can fall into the hands of some unsavory folks. You don't want them to have your personal information (you want them to have your competitors' personal information, maybe....)

If you live near a major metropolitan area, you most likely have a talent agent or two that deal with local industrial films and things of that nature. Seek them out and see what they can offer you. If you live near a university, it probably has  some kind of film program. They need actors for their films and scenes that they have to produce for school.

Remember, the best way to get experience and education is by continuing to act as much as possible. Constantly be on the lookout for casting calls and audition notices in newspapers, on web sites, and posted to community notice boards, etc. If you work hard and are dedicated and devoted, you may soon see opportunity come knocking your way.

After you've performed in countless community, school and church productions and successfully appeared in local broadcast and cable television commercials, you might consider making the move to bigger cities, like New York for theater or Los Angeles for film and television productions. You should also apply for membership in the Screen Actor's Guild or the Actors' Equity, after you have been hired for a few union productions. Enrolling in these unions makes sense as these unions demand higher wages for their members.

Becoming an actor is not like becoming an engineer or doctor. You don't go go to school for four, six, eight years and then you automatically get a job. You can study theater for years and years and never really be able to make a consistent living. It can be a little disheartening because once you get to the big time, it is not always based on actual talent. A lot of politics start getting involved when the paychecks get higher.



By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor

Hollywood is still a guy's town where the men earn more than the women. But don't feel bad for the top female stars: The 10 highest-paid actresses in Tinseltown earned a total $218 million between May 2010 and May 2011.

Tying at the top of the list are Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker, who each earned an estimated $30 million.

Jolie has made a name for herself as an actress who can easily handle action, drama, and even directing. She wrote and directed the film In the Land of Blood and Honey, a romance-drama set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War. That film follows up her two big-budget 2010 action movies, Salt and The Tourist.

The Tourist, which co-starred Johnny Depp, initially looked like it was going to be a flop after a paltry opening weekend box-office haul of $16 million. But thanks mostly to the overseas market, the film went on to earn $280 million, cementing Jolie's appeal abroad.

Parker still makes most of her money off of Sex and the City. She earns big from reruns of the TV show thanks to her dual role as star and producer, and the second movie, which hit screens in 2010, performed pretty well. It wasn't as big a hit as the first movie (which earned $415 million) but it brought in a respectable $290 million.

Parker has become a beauty icon. She makes money from her successful line of perfumes including Lovely, Covet and NYC, which brought in $18 million in 2010, and she recently started helping design clothes for the fashion line Halston.

Earnings consist of pretax gross income. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted.
Ranking third behind Jolie and Parker are Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, who each brought in $28 million.

Aniston has had more than her share of flops, like 2009's Management, which earned less than $1 million at the U.S. box office. But lately, even films that looked like they were going to flop have turned out to be hits. The Bounty Hunter opened to a weak $20 million in 2010 but went on to earn $136 million on a $40 million budget. One of her most recent films, Just Go With It, co-starring Adam Sandler, is her fourth highest earning film in the U.S.

Witherspoon hasn't been as lucky as Aniston at the box office lately. He romantic comedy How Do You Know, flopped, earning only $50 million on a budget of $120 million. It hasn't hurt her though and she'll still earn big for the upcoming romantic comedy This Means War, which is scheduled to hit theaters in early 2012.

Ranking fifth is Julia Roberts. Her most recent film, Larry Crowne, may have flopped its opening weekend (earning only $13 million to rank 4th) but the actress can still command a big pay check and a portion of a film's back end when she chooses. Roberts earned $20 million between May 2010 and May 2011.

The highest paid actresses are:

  • Angelina Jolie.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • Sandra Bullock.
  • Reese Witherspoon.
  • Jennifer Aniston.
  • Cameron Diaz.
  • Meryl Streep.
  • Julia Roberts.
  • Kristen Stewart.
About Cathy: She and her Doberman Trooper conduct research into all kinds of topics and produce articles like the one you see here. To contact Cathy, write to Get the facts from Cathy, and let the Cathy Factor give you an edge.

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