Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How Long Will It Take To "Make It" As An Actor?

Wendy Alane Wright and Academy Award Winner Halle Berry

Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood talent manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networks such as ABC, NBC, TNT, CBS, Comedy Central, BIO, Lifetime, and more. They have booked TV shows including “Modern Family,” “Blackish,” “Extant,” “The Colony,” “Animal Kingdom,” “My Haunted House,” "Nightshift," "Walk The Prank," and “Henry Danger,” as well as hundreds of commercials for major spots including Shutterfly, Mercedes, Visa, Taco Bell, Honda, Legos, Hot Wheels, and many more. Prior to being a manager and a talent agent at Burn Down Entertainment, Wright assisted many high profile managers, agents, and publicists. For 20 years she was a recording artist, actor, and music producer, and is now the author of five books called, “Secrets of a Hollywood Talent Manager.” Wright teaches the business of acting all over the country and is on the faculty of the New York Studio for Stage and Screen in North Carolina For years she has appeared in numerous magazines, and on radio shows and talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Wendy is also a Recording Artist, Actress, Author and Music Producer all  giving her a 360-degree perspective of the industry.
How Long Will It Take To "Make It" As An Actor?    

Let me give it to you straight. Probably 7-12 years. If you stick with it.

This business is a process. In the 1st year, you will likely get some experience, do some indie films, non union films, (maybe a commercial if you have an agent). You will use the footage from those jobs to build an Acting Demo Reel. You will use the experience from those jobs to build your acting resume. You will take classes that increase your abilities in Auditioning, Cold Reading, Scene Work. You will take workshops with Casting Directors to start to get to know them, and they you. Auditioning is non-stop.

2nd year same thing. At this point you may be ready to attend Agent Showcases and start your search for an lower level agent.

In the 3rd year, you'll continue doing ALL of these same things. However, you'll add new footage on your growing acting reel, you will have solid experience on the set, in front of the camera and work as a professional actor. You won't be so "green" anymore, and this will certainly help you to compete with other trained and experienced actors for the same roles.

In the meantime, managers, agents and yes even you actors will spend most of the time trying to get you work and convince people that you can do the work. Auditioning is non-stop. You'll keep trying to get every part you can.

Guess what? In the 4th year you will still be doing the same things. But the size of your roles may be growing. Perhaps you have made a little bit of money. You may have done a guest starring role or two on a prime time television show like "Criminal Minds" or a Disney Show. You may have booked a really good part on a bigger studio film with actors you respect. If you are very lucky, you may have been cast on a series and worked for a whole season! Of course it also could have been canceled after season 1. But you keep doing the same things year after year; taking classes, meeting casting directors, building your contacts, your experience, your skills, your resume and auditioning 100 times to get 1 role.

Year five you'll do more of the same.

An actor lives this life because they can't be happy doing anything else. They never stop marketing themselves, improving their abilities and working to convince others that they are good. They enjoy the work when they get it but doing acting work is 25% of this business. The other 75% is marketing yourself to people who will buy your talent: Agents, Casting Directors, Producers, Directors, Advertisers, Studios, and Audiences.

No this not an overnight business. Like any business, it often take years and years to become established. And it is a business. An actor must learn how this business works and treat it like business. Read the IMDB credits of any working actor or star. You will likely see only 1 or two roles every year for the first 5 years. Work begets work. So the more known you become, and the more people who become familiar with and enjoy your work, the more work you may get. Looking at any actor's IMDB Credits will help you understand the process of building a career, it will show you how every star has built their career.

For example, let's take Kristen Stewart from the Twillight Trilogy. She was working for nine years before she landed the role that made her a star. Nine years of hard work, auditioning, rejection, getting roles, losing roles. If she had given up during any of those years you would never have heard of her. Look at her first 5 years below. She had one(1) role in each of those years. Just one for 5 years. Good thing she never gave up. A successful career in this business in a process. You have to do it because you love it.

2008/I Twilight
Bella Swan

2008 Jumper

2008 What Just Happened

2008 The Yellow Handkerchief

2007 Cutlass (short)
Young Robin

2007 Into the Wild
Tracy Tatro

2007 The Cake Eaters
Georgia Kaminski

2007 The Messengers

2007 In the Land of Women
Lucy Hardwicke

2005 Zathura: A Space Adventure

2005 Fierce People

2004 Undertow

2004 Catch That Kid

2004 Speak
Melinda Sordino

2003 Cold Creek Manor
Kristen Tilson

2002 Panic Room
Sarah Altman

2001 The Safety of Objects
Sam Jennings

2000 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Ring Toss Girl (uncredited)

1999 The Thirteenth Year (TV movie)

Yes, there are the occasional flukes where you happen to sit next to a producer on a plane who thinks you are perfect for the starring role in his new tv show. But that happens ever so rarely. As you can see success in this industry takes lots of time. One small job after another, leads to more of them, leads to bigger roles, maybe leads to starring roles. Like any business, people hire people they know. So becoming known to the Casting community is a huge priority. Eventually when enough people have become familiar with your work, you may start getting calls with job offers. Yahoo! Every actor's dream.

If you have children who want to be in this business, it's important that you parents know how all this works, being that you will be heavily involved in her career. Without you they can't do much.

Talent is one part of this equation. A good team who believes in you and is committed to working for your success is another part. Determination, perseverance and a willing to always grow as an actor is another part. Staying positive, working hard, being professional and giving it everything you've got without any guarantees of what will happen next is the rest of it. You need patience and a thick skin because we hear 95 no's for every 5 yesses we get. The fact is approximately 50,000 new actors come to Hollywood every year try to navigate this business and within 3 years 98% of them go do something else.

You are talented right? Determined and focused. You have dreams. Surround yourself with hard working positive people to help keep you positive and on track. Do what needs to be done to achieve your dreams. Keep growing, having fun and enjoy this path. It's a hard road, but if you are a creative person, who loves to express and create, act and entertain, it is so incredibly rewarding.

How long will it take for you to make it? A LOT longer if you don't have these 110 page e-Books:

For a limited time.... when you buy 1 e-Book, 
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As Always,

Break A Leg!

If you liked this information and found it helpful leave a comment! I love to hear from new people.
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Wendy Alane Wright Smith
Talent Manager


 Wendy Alane Wright is a Hollywood Talent Manager and the president of WAW Entertainment. Her clients have appeared on television networ...