How to Become an Actor Without Experience?
What is acting really? They say it’s ‘make believe’, but I call it living an alternative reality. It lets you explore the various possibilities of what you could be. Just being your own self can be boring at times. Acting gives you an opportunity to be someone else for a while. It is voluntarily entering into the psyche of another personality and thinking according to a different set of values and constraints. It lets you explore the many parts of you, which you thought never existed. It lets you deeply explore what it means to be human. Some people dub theater as an experimental lab for psychology. I agree with them, but I consider it to be a ‘truth’ lab, where you explore the meaning of being human.
One of the best ways to begin your own acting studies is to start reading some good plays. Select your favorite role, from one of your favorite plays and prepare to act it out in front of an audience. To learn to act, you must act.
Understand Your Character Thoroughly
“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” – Johnny Depp
To play a part or a role, you need to temporarily shed the inhibitions and prejudices that make you. To act a part, you must embrace the character that you are playing with open arms. Understand the plot of the play, as well as the psyche of your character. Understand the circumstances in which the person you are going to play, finds himself. Try to understand why your character behaves the way it does. You must try and embrace the idiosyncrasies of the character and try to relate with it. This is the part of acting, which you deal mostly with your ‘brains’. Firstly, understand the rationale behind the play and the character.
Learn the lines or dialogs thoroughly and explore the thought behind every sentence. This will help you picture the circumstances in which the character finds itself. It’s reading between the lines. Some actors go as far as ‘living’ as that person for a while, to understand him or her. They even maintain a diary of a life lived as that character. The idea is to go as close as possible to being that person.
Draw From Your Emotional Memory
“Find in yourself those human things which are universal.” – Sanford Meisner
Draw parallels from your own life, which will help you relate to the character. In psychological terms, it is about delving deeper into your emotional memory. You have to draw parallels from your own experience and actually try to feel what the character feels. Say the dialogs only when you ‘feel’, the way your character does. Let it come out naturally. Let it flow.
No Substitute for Practice
“For most actors, success is achieved through study, struggle, preparation, infinite trial and error, training, discipline, experience and work!” – Robert Cohen
The process of transformation into a character is gradual. It may be that after months of practice, just a few hours before your performance, in a moment of reflection, you understand who that person really is. You get closer only through practice. Acting techniques differ a lot. You will develop your own process with experience.
Enjoy the Process and Go With the Flow
“An actor has to burn inside with an outer ease.” – Michael Chekhov
You don’t need to be worried about having no actual acting experience, as long as you have lived your life with awareness and sensitivity. Enjoy the drama and process of acting and go with the flow. All the rest will follow.
Join a Local Theater Group
“Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality.” – Lee Strasberg
In almost every city, there are theater groups looking for new talent. Join one and audition for a role. Your big break might not happen right away. There will be disappointments early on as you are just getting into the groove of what acting takes, but with dedication, being open to feedback, and the willingness to learn, you will do better.
Never Miss an Opportunity to Perform
“An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so he must be willing to accept all experiences that life can offer.” – Marlon Brando
To develop confidence in your acting abilities and overcome stage fright is to go up on stage and perform, as frequently as you can. Every venture on-stage and in front of the camera is going to boost your confidence to higher levels and will also help you fine-tune your performance.
Enroll For a Good Acting Class
“Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It’s not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it.” – Philip Seymour Hoffman
There are several theater and film veterans who are willing to share their expertise with newbies, through their own workshops and classes. Find one and get enrolled. You will definitely benefit from their experience. Finding a good teacher, whom you totally trust, is half the battle won. Trust the training program he plans out for you and give it your best. Maintaining a positive frame of mind is exceedingly important.
Prepare a Few Performances
“The [Great] Actor is able to approach in himself a cosmic dread as large as life. He is able to go from his dread to a joy so sweet that it is without limit. Only then will the actor have direct access to the life that moves in him, which is as free as his breathing. And like his breathing, he doesn’t cause it to happen. He doesn’t contain it, and it doesn’t contain him.” – Joseph Chaikin
To sell yourself as an actor, besides your portfolio of photographs and resume detailing your past acting experience, what you need are some ready performances of your own. Through these performances, you can showcase the acting talent you possess, to the world. They may be your favorite parts from a play, a famous monologue, a film scene you enjoy performing, or even a self-written stand-up piece. It is essential that you develop such performances and be ready to present them at any moment. In fact, engaging stand-up pieces can even get you a gig somewhere.
Observe and Learn
“One of the most important things I’ve learned about acting is that you can’t separate how you live your life and how you practice your art.” – Larry Moss
You need to always be a sponge, ready to absorb, learn, and observe the performances of great actors, to learn the nuances of the craft. While watching movies, plays, and any performance, study the nuances of a role played by any actor, and especially the masters. By just keeping your eyes open, you can pick up a lot of things.
It Becomes Easier With Love
“Great acting is virtually always heroic and confident. It seems spiritual, easy and profoundly connected. Great actors seem like they are channeling the Gods.” – Anonymous
Why do you want to act? Is it for money, fame, mere validation of the ego, or genuine love for the art. Would you do it if you were not paid for it? If the answer and your motivation is love for the craft and the medium, you are bound to eventually succeed, for only love perseveres when all else fails.
When you need advice, it is always best to go to masters like Stanislavski. His books – ‘An Actor Prepares’, ‘Creating a Role’, and ‘Building a Character’ are highly recommended reading for anybody who wants to seriously learn acting. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors in the future. Your experience offstage and the awareness with which you live your life, is the key you need to unlock your acting potential. Confidence, sincerity, and the ability to let go of yourself will translate into a great acting performance.