Why act without getting paid? If you have serious intentions of making this your career, you are going to need a great deal of experience in it to move forward. Without some stroke of beginner's luck, it is wise to “bite the bullet” and take non-paying work to get a career started. The strategy here is to begin adding credits to what could be an otherwise empty resume. Most non-paying acting opportunities include workshops, student films, scene nights, and showcases. Listings of them can also be found in the casting notices section of the trades.
Workshops are often associated with acting schools. Scene night performances can be one-time-only evening of scenes and/or monologues, performed for an audience of non-paying invited guests. Showcases can have audition notices that appear in the trades.
| Check List for an actor’s search for work
|√||There are numerous skills, tools and breadth of knowledge that contribute directly and indirectly to finding work as an actor, whether it be acting or non-acting work.|
Industries to which an actor can apply his/her craft include:
|√||Finding and getting an agent (read below).|
|√||Knowing sources for auditions (read below).|
|√||Understanding the role of casting directors and the casting process.|
Producing your own projects, and/or starting your own theater company.
|√||Know the outlets for actor survival jobs, like temp agencies and restaurant staffing.|
|Use our communication tools (chat room; message board; messaging tools etc.) to reach others who can provide you with more help and informatio and (or) monologues, performed for an audience of non-paying invited guests. Showcases can have audition notices that appear in the trades.|
Sometimes actors are asked to submit pictures and resumes by mail. Non-union actors can appear in Equity showcases, an excellent way to be seen, since agents and casting directors are more likely to attend Equity showcases than non-Equity showcases.
There are also plenty of non-Equity showcases, but since there are no rules governing them, it is advisable to be aware of the conditions you will be performing under.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA offer free showcases each month in association with the Casting Society of America. To participate in these showcases, actors must be a member of the union hosting the event and be current with their dues.
Before you sign up for any showcases, find out which casting director will be attending your showcase and which project that casting person may currently be casting.
Readings and staged readings (especially for actors between gigs) help keep your name and face in the industry, while also making contacts and connections among playwrights, directors, and producers. Often held in informal settings, dozens of theatres can conduct a great number of roles to be read.
For producers, readings serve as test runs, and actors who make time for non- and/or low-paying work in readings and staged readings can boost their odds of being cast later on, whether in that piece or in a different one.
The initial task will be to send a photo and resume to the franchised agents and subagents whose names have been taken from the trade papers such as Ross Reports, Backstage, Theatrical Index, etc.
Also, go through a list of leads and find the casting directors who regularly cast series, soaps and any other shows that use dramatic talent. Make sure to select only those casting directors who handle the shows you are right for.
There are many ways to create and find opportunities to begin a career in the arts. A variety of careers are available in the performing arts, museums, visual arts, music, and the film industry.
Below are some resources to inform you about the various jobs, to help you become active and gain experience in the field, and to guide you in the job exploration process.
Incidentally, whether you have an agent or not, the onus of finding work, and/or networking for it, is still up to you. Its
|Terms to Know|
Audition. A formally arranged session (usually by appointment through an agent) for an actor to display his or her talents when seeking a role in an upcoming production of a play, film or television project, usually to a casting director, director or producers.
Bit Part. A small part, usually consisting of a few lines.
Booking Agent. One who finds employment for artists from buyers of talent.
Book Out. A call to all of your agents to let them know you are working, traveling or are unavailable for auditions or a job.
Breakdown Services. A fee-based service provided to agents that offers a daily breakdown of roles for each production submitted by participating casting directors.
Calling Service. As pertains to extras, a company that helps to book them on extra jobs.
Casting. When a casting director puts out the news that he needs to fill a certain role that requires an approximate age range and appearance such as a certain ethnicity, height, build or look.
Day-Player. Someone who is hired at SAG scale (minimum) for the day.
On Hold. A situation that occurs when an actor is contracted to be available for the next day’s shoot but will not have to report to the set until called.
Right-to-Work. Ability to accept employment without joining a labor union, usually referring to states whose labor codes insure that right.
Rush Calls. A last minute call by an agency to an actor for an audition or a job.
Studio Hire. Union term for actors who work in the same area in which they are hired or reside.
Taft-Hartley Law. A law that allows non-union actors to work under a union contract for their first role. After that, they must join the union.
Will-Notify. A call given to actors when call time is uncertain, indicates an actor will work, but no specific call time has been determined.
For a full glossary listing click here
just that in many cases, you can’t break into a major production without the representation of an agent. In numbered checklist sequence, there are numerous sources to search out for casting opportunities and audition trials.
Actor directories are book, CD-ROMs or possibly websites, listing actors’ names, photos, contact information, and sometimes a brief mention of some of their more recent credits.
The books are categorized by types such as leading man and woman, ingénue, younger leading man, character/comedienne female, character/comedian male, child female and child male. Some actor directories include:
Breakdown Services, Ltd.
123 W. 44th St., Ste. 2H
New York, NY 10036
An information Service for talent agents and casting directors. An excellent explanation of the service can be found at http://www.breakdownservices.com/us.html.
gives talent representatives the ability to submit their clients? pictures and resumes to casting directors over the Internet for the specific roles mentioned in the Breakdowns.
The Academy Players Directory
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
The Players Guide
New York, NY 10036
On this site Casting News Hot Off The Wire! is a frequently updated column presented on the "Media, Entertainment and Performing Arts Industry News and Events" page, and in the opposite corner is a column focused on production work and musical jobs for singers and bands in film and television.
Also, make sure to check the message board of The Actor’s Checklist, since casting directors, producers and agents frequently post casting notices for audition opportunities.
Regional, combined auditions are a low-cost way to audition for dozens of producers and directors at one time for summer-stock productions, Renaissance fairs, non-equity and equity theatres, Shakespeare festivals, theme parks, dinner theatre, outdoor dramas and even to enroll in graduate-level college theatre programs.
Every year, in February or March, each of these combined auditions is attended by producers who are looking for talented actors and actresses to perform in live, summertime productions. Some offer year-round positions, school touring, apprentice, and intern positions as well.
Graduate school programs use many of these auditions to enroll students. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the organizations that interest you. Request information about their auditions and an application. Since the auditions generally occur in February and March, write for information and applications in early December.
Illinois Theatre Association
1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657-3205
Phone: 773-929-7288, Ext. 18 & 19
Indiana Theatre Association
c/o Clowes Hall, Butler University Theatre
4600 Sunset Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46208-3443
League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Lottery Auditions
Contact your nearest Actors’ Equity Association for information.
Midwest Theatre Auditions
470 E. Lockwood
St. Louis, MO 63119-3194
National Dinner Theatre Association
PO Box 726
Marshall, MI 49068
New England Theatre Conference
c/o Northeastern University Dept. of Theatre
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617 424 9275
Fax: 617 424 1057
New Jersey Theatre Group
17 Cook Ave.
Madison, NJ 07940
Northwest Drama Conference Auditions
University of Idaho - Moscow
Theatre Arts Dept.
Moscow, ID 83844-3074
Ohio Theatre Alliance Auditions
77 S. High St., 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
National Outdoor Drama Auditions
Institute of Outdoor Drama
CB #3240 1700 Airport Rd.
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3240
Rocky Mountain Theatre Association
Summer Theatre Auditions
Western Wyoming College
Rock Springs, WY 82902-0428
Southeastern Theatre Conference
PO Box 9868
Greensboro, NC 27429-0868
Southern California Educational Theatre Association
c/o Dept. of Drama
California Lutheran University
60 Olsen Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Southwest Theatre Association
Auditions C/O Southwest Theatre Association
4712 Enchanted Oaks
College Station, TX 77845
1771 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
Theatre Alliance of Michigan Statewide Professional Theatre Auditions
Marshall, MI 49068
Theatre Auditions in Wisconsin
721 Lowell Center
610 Langdon St.
Madison, WI 53703-1195
Theatre Bay Area General Auditions
Theatre Bay Area
870 Market Street, Suite 375
San Francisco, CA 94102
Unified Professional Theatre Auditions
Playhouse On The Square
51 S. Cooper Street
Memphis, TN 38104
http://www.upta.org/ or http://www.playhouseonthesquare.org/
University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA)
National Unified Auditions
1560 Broadway, Suite. 414
New York, NY 10036
Vermont Association of Theatres
& Theatre Artists
c/o Champlain Arts Theatre Company
PO Box 1091
Burlington, VT 05402-1091
Normally and traditionally, actors seeking survival jobs outside the industry have used their advantages in image projection, characterization, and verbal communications to secure suitable and alternative working opportunities that usually afford them flexibility in seeking audition and performing opportunities. Some of these job categories include, but are not limited to:
acting career consultant; animal trainer and groomer; answering service operator; audio visual coordinator; campaign worker; cashier; coat check attendant; computer consultant/systems representative; computer graphics; beautician/barber; croupier; customer representative; English as a second language instructor; flight attendant; food stylist; foreign language teacher; freelance fund-raiser; hotel and dining room greeter; health club staffer; host/hostess; hotel/motel desk clerk; job developer; massage therapist; patient advocate; personal assistant; personal trainer (independent); proofreader; program director for charity organizations; public opinion poll taker; public relations assistant; real estate agent; receptionist; recruiter; sales positions of all types; sperm donor; substitute schoolteacher/teacher’s aide; theater technical director; theater ticket order taker; tour guide; toy demonstrator; translator; travel agent; tutor; waiter; wine steward (sommelier)
Jobs and careers in the communications and entertainment industry can be good long term choices that keeps you close to the action and networked which might result in a break. These industries can include, but are not limited to:
book publishing; magazine publishing; newspaper publishing; television; radio; movies; special effects; advertising; public relations; new media
Relevant Associations & Organizations
Actors’ Fund of America
Actors’ Work Program
American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT)
Casting Society of America
Casting Society of America
National Dinner Theatre Association
Non-Traditional Casting Project (NTCP)
| For a full listing of helpful associations and organizations