How To Get Into Acting At 20 With A Clear Plan (10 Steps Only)

How To Get Into Acting At 20

You had a passion for acting from childhood and at age 20 you realized that you want to do it professionally? So how to get into acting at 20?

At 20, you can begin your acting by joining a good acting school. Maybe get a diploma or degree in acting before you actively start looking for work. 

However, there is a lot to do when you are starting out as an actor. Here I am going to provide a guide or plan that will help you start your career as an actor. 

How To Get Into Acting At 20 in 10 Steps?

Before you plan how you are going to start it, there is one question that I want you to answer truthfully?

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How much experience do you have as an actor?

This is important to understand because based on the answer you have to take your first step. 

Let me help you answer this question

Let me clearly define what an experienced actor does and what an inexperienced actor does.

Experienced ActorsInexperienced Actors
Practice acting dailyPractice Acting only when there is a gig
Does paid/unpaid gigs almost every monthInvolved in gigs once a year for fun
Always looks for the opportunity to actActs only when friends are involved
Works on Acting techniqueDoesn’t think too much about acting technique
Extensively prepares for their charactersMemorizes lines
Has actually been part of plays, short films, etcThey only think they can act

Just go through this comparison and you will find where you actually stand. 

If you are experienced, it is good and if you fall under inexperienced actors, you don’t have to feel bad. At least, you have made the decision that you want to pursue something in life. That’s also good enough to start out. 

Now follow these steps to get into acting at 20:

1. Find A Good Acting Class

If you have a good amount of acting experience like you have been acting since childhood, you can skip this step. But if you fall under moderate experience or no experience, I suggest immersing yourself in an intensive acting class. 

Since you are getting into acting at age 20, you have time on your side. You can dedicate 1-2 years just to learn the art of acting. 

If you see the most acclaimed actors like Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Maryl Streep, etc all had joined some or other acting school or trained under an acting coach. Let me tell you, they all trained for years to become proficient in acting.

The main reason for joining an acting class is having that base of knowledge to perform in front of a camera or audience. Training gives you a process that allows you to create a performance and without training, all you will be doing is shooting in the dark. Not knowing what you are doing right or wrong. 

Luckily, there are many options if you want to learn acting. You can apply to big schools like New York Film Academy, The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, etc. And if you are not able to join them for some reason, you can start with local acting classes or online classes. 

You can look at our detailed article on how much the acting classes cost to know more about the cost involved in choosing different types of acting classes. 

These are some of the best resources to find the acting classes: 

  • google.com- nothing beats google when you want to find something online. 
  • yelp.com– You can find acting schools nearby
  • Study.com – This will give a clear picture of the acting schools that you can join and which ones are reputed. 

And if you want to learn to act online, these are some of the great courses that you can buy or join online:

Make sure you do your research and ask for reviews of different courses or schools that you choose to join.

2. Develop Practice Routine For Acting

No matter how many acting classes you attend, you won’t get better until you practice acting at home. Practice is the key to being the best at anything. If you want to be the best in acting, practice all aspects of acting. 

Well you understand, you need practice but what should you practice to get better at acting at 20?

There is no one best routine for acting. Depending on the type of method or technique you use for acting, the routine may be different. 

However, elements involved in acting are the same for all techniques. These elements include:

You can assign one acting exercise for each element. It is almost like going to the gym and working on each muscle every week. And at the end of each exercise, you can either do full-fledged scenes or monologues. 

I would suggest doing exercise in the morning. This way your body, voice, and senses would be warmed up for any kind of audition or performance. 

Just after you wake up and finish your morning routine, you can spend an hour or so doing an acting routine. 

Also, it is important to practice different kinds of monologues. This will help you tackle auditions because most of the auditions require you to perform monologues. You can keep a goal of preparing a monologue every week. 

And if you live with an actor roommate, you must prepare a scene every week. This will improve your acting to a great extent. You can also incorporate acting exercises for two in your routine. 

Where do you find exercises for acting?

Well, all acting schools will teach you different exercises. You can do them. 

If you are new to acting I would suggest you look at our post on different acting exercises to do alone

And if you haven’t joined any acting class, you can read the following books on acting for different exercises:

Bonus tip: Some acting coaches also suggest adding meditation to your acting routine. This helps improve focus. I suggest adding an exercise of your choice for improving focus.

3. Get Quality Headshot

The next step is to make a great headshot that opens doors for auditions. A headshot is a picture that has a close-up of your face. 

What does a headshot do?

The main job of a headshot in acting is to let the casting director know whether you look like the character or not. Mind you won’t get the job based on your headshot but get an opportunity to audition for the part once the casting director feels you look like the part. 

So what kind of headshot do you need?

Generally, people like to use colored or black and white headshots. But I prefer the colored headshot with minimum editing. 

In headshots, you must show exactly what you look like and always make new headshots every 6 months or whenever you change your looks. You should always look like your headshot. 

In my experience, I have seen many casting directors reject people after they call for an audition just because they didn’t look like their headshots. 

There are two ways you can get a good headshot. Either you can hire a professional photographer or shoot a headshot by yourself at home. 

If you hire a professional photographer do not spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a headshot. You are getting headshots for acting, not for modeling. Just get a shot that shows your face clearly without any filter. 

There are a few more things to take care of while getting headshots and that is hair, makeup, and clothes. As I have already mentioned for acting headshots, the face is the focus, so keep the rest of the things bare minimum. Use a hairstyle that shows your full face. Use make-up to a minimum. And clothes should be plain. Using a flashy pattern shirt or t-shirt might shift the focus. I Suggest avoiding bright colors like light green, bright orange, pink, etc for clothes. 

I usually go with white, brown, or black for my headshots. Since these are dull in color, the focus will always be on your face. 

One important tip to remember, the eyes can make a huge difference. The way you look at the camera will define what kind of emotions or vibe a casting agent gets when they look at your headshot. Try to show different emotions using your eyes. Get a bunch of different headshots for different emotions. 

4. Make Awesome Show Reel

When you are seeking audition opportunities, headshots show how you look but showreel or demo reel shows how you act. So always send your acting showreel with headshots to casting agents. 

A showreel or sometimes called a demo reel contains a compilation of different clips of your acting skills. You can add clips of your past experience or if you have no experience you can shoot different scenes by yourself and make a demo reel. 

What kind of clips do you want in a demo reel?

To begin with, keep a clip of your introduction. The introduction should contain details like our name, age, height, weight, where you come from, past experience, language, and different skills. And the duration of the introduction clip has to be less than 30 seconds. 

After that, you can add a compilation of different clips showing your acting skills. 

You must try to incorporate all kinds of videos. The best way to go about the showreel would be to cover all the basic emotions. That way the casting director may know what kind of roles you can do. 

Also, try different looks so that you can fit into as many characters as possible. You should try to add one, periodic character too so that casting people can imagine you for historical parts as well. 

If you are completely new, you should connect with director friends and ask them to help you make a showreel. 

Fortunately, I had many friends who were students of film direction and I took their help to make my showreel as I had no working experience. Also, connect with an editor friend. Because shooting scenes won’t be enough. You will have to put them in a single 2-minute video. Yes, just two minutes. 

No casting director has time to watch a 20-30 minute video. 

Try to make at least 2-3 versions of it. This way you can send them for different types of roles. 

One important thing, do not make a music video. Keep the background music to none and only show your scenes. Music will distract the director from your acting. 

Also, the way you send it is also important. Since today all casting directors ask you to send the video online, you should send a Youtube link instead of sending the whole video. 

No casting director will make the effort to download the whole video. 

It would be best if you make a youtube channel and upload your showreel on it. You don’t have to make the video public, you can make it private. Just share the link with the casting director and he will be able to watch it on Youtube instantly. 

5. Resume

Every actor has to have a resume when they are looking for work. Whenever you are sending your portfolio to an agent or casting director, the package should contain a copy of your resume. 

What does a resume do for the actor?

Just like the introduction in the showreel, it gives you an idea about who you are, and also how to connect with you. 

Generally, these are few things that you need on your acting resume:

  1. Your name ( stage or screen name if you want)
  2. Age 
  3. Birth Place
  4. Contact Details
  5. Physical Measurements
  6. Agent Details
  7. Training in Acting
  8. Past experience ( if any)
  9. Other special skills
  10. Headshot at the top

Any casting agent will always look at your resume first to know about you. If your ethnicity and age group matches what they are looking for, they will look at your showreel or audition. 

Resumes are simple to make. You can simply make them on your laptop in MS word or Google docs. You will find ready-made templates. They don’t have to be fancy but, they should be simple enough to give all the details to a casting director or agent with one glance. 

There are plenty of acting resume templates online. You can easily search for them. Just copy them and create your own. 

6. Actor’s Website

Earlier, it used to be all papers and mails. But now the whole casting thing happens online. Hence, it is important to have an online presence. The best way to do that is to have a personal actor website. Yes, there is social media like Instagram, Facebook, etc. But I suggest focusing on having a personal actor website. 

Why focus on the website? Website is a platform where you can add your resume, headshots, showreel, contact details, social media profile in one place. Just by sharing the link to your website with the casting agent you will show them everything. It will act as a digital portfolio for you. 

I don’t know how to get into acting at 20. How am I supposed to make a website for myself?

You don’t have to be a web designer to make a website today. With a platform like WordPress, you can make your own actor website with ease. I am an actor, and I run this website on WordPress. 

However, if that’s too much. You would suggest using a website called webforactors.com. This is a great service for the actors without technical knowledge of making a website.

It has a ready-made template where all you have to do is fill in the details from your acting resume, upload videos, upload pictures, and you are done. 

You can check out our post on making an actor personal website. There we have discussed all the methods to make a website for an actor. Free and paid both have been discussed in detail. 

7. Find An Agent

Now you have everything you need as an actor. It’s time to find work. The best way to find the right audition is to get a good agent. The job of the agent is to find you auditions to go to. This saves you from going through the trouble of making cold calls or searching for work. You solely focus on your acting rather than doing the administrative type of work. 

However, you will have to make some effort in finding an acting agent. Especially, if you are new to acting and have no experience, you will have to put forward the best of everything you have. 

When you are starting out, don’t go for the big agencies unless and until you are approached. For beginners, small or medium size acting agencies are the best choice. They tend to entertain new talent. 

Make a list of some of the acting agencies in your city and make a list of at least 10-15 agencies. Yes, if you try for 10-12 you might get a response from one. Keep that in mind. 

Once you have made the list send the following things:

  • Resume
  • Headshots
  • Showreel
  • Cover letter

You can drop the package at their office or the agent is happy to meet you just go personally meet them. 

When you are finding an agent, referrals go a long way. You can ask your acting coach, friend, or acquaintances for the referrals. If you are coming from an acting school, you usually are more than happy to send their students to an acting agent they know. 

When you have sent out your portfolio to acting agents of your choice, wait for some time. Maybe 10-15 days. And if you don’t receive any answer, you send your portfolio again in a couple of months. 

Whenever you get a response from an acting agent, they will ask you to come down for a meeting. Maybe they will shoot an audition. Remember to work with them because they want you to get the job and they will ensure they present your best to film producers. 

8. Networking

Your agent will do your job, but you will have to do your part as well. Sometimes, the film producers don’t hire any casting agencies for certain parts. You won’t learn about the audition unless and until you have a good network of people that gives you leads. 

If you have friends in showbiz it’s not hard to get leads. Especially those who work in the producer’s office, they are the best with knowledge about new projects and auditions. 

I get a lot of my leads from my director friends who work closely with directors. 

A great way to network is to go to different film or theater workshops where people from the entertainment industry gather. You can make some great friends. 

Many say parties are a great place to network. But I always thought at parties people come for fun rather than work and most of them refrain from talking about work. 

I always made friends or acquaintances at workshops and film festivals. 

And when I say make friends, please make friends. Don’t be someone who just calls them once in a while to just know if there are some auditions he or she knows about. Talk to them, share your views and if you get any leads that might help your friends, just let them know. 

Usually, people like to return favors. 

Make a habit of talking to as many new people as possible and ask for their contacts. I knew an actor, he made a habit of talking to at least 3 new people from the entertainment industry every day. He maintained a journal with their name, work, and number on it. You can incorporate the same habit. 

9. Go For An Audition Daily

Up until now, you have done everything right, you might start to receive some calls from casting directors or agents. Whatever may be the part, just show up for the audition. Many actors think too much about the part. If it is right for them or not. But let me tell you most of the time they end up not going to the audition. 

I say, don’t think too much, just go to the audition and do your best. If you don’t like the part, you can reject it later but do not skip the audition. 

I myself had a routine where I always left the house at 9:00 whether there was an audition or not. And came back only when all offices were closed. This developed a mindset where auditions become my 9-5 job. 

Let me tell you when you don’t have a job, and you are sitting at home you have plenty of time in your hand to ruin your career. Then doubts creep in. You start to think you are not made for acting. 

So ensure you set a routine for Monday to Friday where 9-5 is booked for auditions. If you don’t have auditions, use that time to meet agents and for networking. Try to get some leads. 

Also how you manage auditions is also important. You don’t want to commit to two auditions at the same time. Because you are bound to be late for the one and it will look unprofessional on your part. And the agency might not call for you again in the future. 

It is always best to be honest with them. You can politely tell what your situation is and when you are available for an audition. 

10. Follow-Ups

Now you have been going for auditions daily, networking, making friends, etc. But one important thing is that many actors miss opportunities because they don’t follow up. When you appear for auditions your job is not done. You have to follow up with the casting agent and ask them if they are considering you for the part or not. 

Yes, 90% of the time you will receive no for an answer. But sometimes you will get new leads. Sometimes, the casting directors do like your acting but someone looked more suitable for the part so they went with him or her. But since they liked your acting they will either ask you to come down for an audition for a part that you didn’t know about. 

You might hear about famous actors where they audition for a part but end up getting a completely different part. 

So always follow up after 4-5 days of the audition and ask them about your status. Also if the casting agent is nice to you, you can also ask for their feedback on your performance. 

A useful piece of advice might improve your acting. So the next time you go for an audition, you might not make the same mistake. 

Final Thought

I have tried to list out the most important things to know when you want to get into acting at 20. If you follow only these 10 steps, you will be well on your path to be a professional actor. However, getting work would be solely based on your hard work and how good you are as an actor. 

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