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Are You Following Your Acting Dream?

I was inspired to write this article as a result of a recent conversation with an actor.

Most actors are following their acting dream and are keen to try anything that might give them an advantage. Equally so, they are keen to blame anything that doesn’t work immediately.  There is nothing wrong with having a dream – mine was to be a photographer. Chasing that dream and making it happen usually involves a fair bit of hard work, determination and perseverance. For some people, success happens quickly and occasionally it happens by chance. However, that’s not everyone’s route to success.


Following Your Acting Dream © Nick Gregan headshot photographer

Following your acting dream

Like many actors, my passion developed later in life. I had a full-time well-paid job, I liked what I was doing but then I discovered photography and the rest is history!

I have been told by many of my contemporaries that they admired my drive and determination. I have never seen it like that or thought I was driven. However, when I first walked into the photography studio I knew within 5 minutes that was what wanted to do.

I don’t recall a burning, all-consuming desire, but I do remember deciding that was what I was going to do with my life. I worked hard, put the hours in and followed the advice of other photographers. I tried not to follow the newest trends, or be dazzled by the latest bit of kit, or fads such as fancy lighting techniques etc…  But I stayed focused on doing the things that mattered. Mastering my craft, becoming an expert in my technique and building my list of contacts. The traditional way of establishing myself as a headshot photographer.

Following your heart and following your acting dream

We live in a society where people are constantly looking for the shortcut, whether it’s avoiding the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert as suggested by author Malcolm Gladwell. Or, heading over to Youtube to find the easiest way to learn acting lines or any number of other quick fixes.

It is missing the point. 

Following your acting dream is the right thing to do and looking for help is the right thing to do. But, don’t be swayed by people who might not have your best interests at heart. There are many out there who are more interested in making money from you rather than making money for you.

There are so many acting workshops, memberships and mentor schemes that it’s hard to keep track of them. It is so easy to be taken in by the hype or the promise of the quick fix, the easy route to success or the guarantee of introductions to the right people.

Not all of these products deliver what they promise and it’s easy to be distracted by the chance of a shortcut.

Here are a few examples of how an actor can be distracted.

* US-style headshots – UK headshots are out of style now?  What a load of rubbish, who wants to see a full-length or ¾ shot? Don’t believe the hype of someone who’s been taught online.

* Acting coaches – secret techniques to improve your acting, WOW, secret techniques… I don’t think so.

* Headshot photographers  – who wow you with beautiful photos that showcase them as photographers but not you as an actor. Photographers who were actors, they tell you, THEY KNOW WHAT A GOOD HEADSHOT IS. Usually failed actors who never caught the eye of the casting director. Who probably didn’t have a good headshot and couldn’t tell that had a bad headshot, They never got noticed so gave up! And now they are going to help you – I don’t think so!

* Courses & Workshops – that are often run by people with less experience than you! I’ve heard of some courses, some memberships and some workshops that are run by actors with little or no experience and scant success. Yet they want to advise you!

It’s all too easy to be bamboozled by empty promises. It’s all too easy to be side-tracked in your desire to improve your skills and increase your chances of landing the big role. I understand the temptation to try almost anything to get a leg up.

It’s Your Career And You Follow Your Acting Dream

My advice is to think very carefully about how you invest in your career. Do your research, read reviews check the industry forums and Facebook groups. If in doubt, ask a question, if it’s not answered fully give them a swerve.

There’s a simple formula.

  • Never stop learning your craft, keep learning and keep improving – I am still learning and trying to improve every day.
  • Understand the kind of characters you are likely to play – and be realistic!
  • Go to a headshot photographer who is RIGHT for you and knows their stuff.
  • Learn how to analyse your headshot and make sure it has these 3 key elements;
      • Connection
      • Emotion
      • And your personality

If you are not getting invited to auditions it’s because you are NOT BEING NOTICED by the casting directors. It’s probably down to the fact that you have a poor headshot. Get a better one. It’s not the style of your headshot it’s that matters but the substance of the actor within it.

Make sure your headshot is awesome, analyse its faults and improve them and then get out there.

And finally, following your acting dream is the right thing to do. A passion in your heart and a dream to follow are the things that make us feel alive. If you have a dream, make sure you pursue it passionately.

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