Getting called back for a second, third, fourth time and not getting the part is not something to be ashamed of. This shows that you are proving yourself as consistently professional in the rooms with the casting team. They will remember that and get you back in for something else in the future.
Workshops & Classes
Workshops and Classes are an incredible, two fold move for your career. Firstly there is the obvious one that you actually learn and practice your skills in these classes. We’re particularly bad for this over here in the UK. It’s not good enough to just do your 3 years training and then… stop.
The second one is what ties into the visibility; who do you think leads those workshops & classes? The creative teams of some of the jobs that you want to be seen for. Participating in a workshop led by a casting director or taking acting class with a director means that if you are not getting seen for auditions with them that you can still get in front of their eyes and have an opportunity to show your talent, commitment and consistency.
If you’re not taking any classes regularly change this as a matter of urgency. Join the Actors Centre and make use of their members discounts for their classes. If you’re not doing something for your career every week then what are you working 35 hours a week in a call centre for?
Press Nights & Parties
There is only so much you can do sitting behind your keyboard every day. At some point you have to go out and start socialising with people, making new friends. Spending time on your relationships is a very important part of life and your career depends on how good your relationships are with those around you.
Press nights & premiers are the best places to do this as there is the highest concentration of people there who would make great additions to your social circle but these can seem a bit impregnable for a beginner.
You must not forget though that I am not just talking about walking up to the door of The Ivy and gatecrashing but find out what projects your friends have going on, big or small. Show your support for them by going to see their show, if you can, on press night and they might be able to invite you along to the after party or maybe even just to the pub with the director after the show.
If you can’t manage to get yourself along to any press nights and premiers then there is nothing stopping you from going for a coffee with anyone you want to meet.
Meeting someone in person, over a pint or a brew, takes your relationship up a little notch. It consummates the friendship a little bit when each of you gives a little bit of personal time over to the other.
Once you have been engaging with someone online for a while, having the odd conversation, maybe even sharing each others stuff invite them out for a coffee some day even for half an hour on their lunch break.
And I’m not just talking about casting directors and agents here, these guys and gals will be the hardest to get face time with. You should be meeting other actors, writers, directors, podcasters, headshot photographers anyone and everyone, making new connections and growing that web of friends.
Having An Agent
Of course the biggest jump in visibility for your profile as an actor starting out will come once you get represented by an Agent. Having an agent gives you access to auditions and casting directors that you would ordinarily never even hear about. This one is a pretty obvious milestone that most actors set for themselves early in their careers.
What you might not know is that agents have their own version of Spotlight with hundreds more casting opportunities than you will ever see from your Spotlight Link.
However, having an agent is not a silver bullet to success. Yes it opens doors that would be otherwise shut but as you can see it is only one piece of the profile puzzle and there are plenty of other ways to raise your visibility without one or even in order to get represented.
Appearing on TV whether in a series, soap or singing competition is a surefire way to raise your visibility. You immediately put yourself in front of tens of thousands of eyes; it doesn’t get much more visible than that.
Different appearances of course do different things for your profile. For example, appearing as a main character in a new BBC drama also lends you the credibility of having worked for a prestigious production, where as getting to the finals of XFactor give you huge amounts of visibility which in itself gets many, many, reality stars very high paying gigs regularly.
Being a series regular in a daytime soap is somewhere in the middle. You still get a pretty high level of visibility, and potential tabloid and press features if your story line is central but there is more credibility attached to a soap appearance than a reality show, obviously because in a reality show you are not playing a character per se.
Each of these examples will do very different things for your profile so I would think long and hard about where you see your career headed before you throw yourself into trying to get yourself on TV, you might find yourself somewhere you never intended to get to.
The Silver Screen
It goes without saying that feature films are really the ultimate visibility booster for your profile as an actor. They are seen by millions of people on an international scale. Audiences from almost every country in the world see you and so do creatives.
Shooting a feature also does wonders for the credibility of your profile as, often, you are shooting with co-stars or creatives with much bigger profiles than yourself and thus you get a boost in credibility by association. These also usually result in massive amounts of ancillary exposure; press features, interviews, advertising, sometimes even having your performance immortalised onto DVD or online.
Whether you get mentioned in the national newspaper as the newcomer to the British and international film scene or you get a four page spread in heat magazine as the new hunk on Hollyoaks, being mentioned by press gives you even more visibility for your profile.
There are other ways you can get featured in press too. You can offer your opinion on a popular topic at the moment or even write about something yourself. You can arrange local and national interviews for yourself or if you are working for a large production company or institution like the BBC or National Theatre they will often have a press team who you can reach out to to ask to be included in any feature pitches they will be handling.
As your profile grows you can actually hire a PR team yourself who will, for a hefty fee, arrange for you to appear in plenty of places where press will snap you or maybe even take a small quote, sometimes even at events completely unrelated to the arts, like a new iPhone launch or something. Once your profile reaches a certain point then press will start approaching you to appear for them instead.
Rehearsed Readings & Workshops
Getting involved in the workshopping and rehearsed reading scene is an incredibly powerful way to gain visibility as a fledgling actor. Rehearsed readings and workshops happen in the early stages of the creation of a new play or musical, often to secure commercial backing for a more full scale production and so that the creators can get feedback on their work.
Usually the creatives can’t afford to be too liberal with their casting so they will look to their friends and colleagues they have worked with before to join the cast who are happy to participate on a shoestring budget, if any.
Not only does this give you a great opportunity to be part of the original workings of a new work, giving you a greater chance of being considered for a role in any future versions but also, and here’s the biggie, these are usually seen by a huge concentration of producers, directors and other creatives in a very short space of time. An unparalleled opportunity for you to be seen by those in the casting seat of future productions.
So that’s your visibility covered, but what happens once creatives see you and become aware of you? They check you out to see how credible your profile is.
Followers & Fans
This one is highly debated topic by creatives. The arguments generally fall into two camps. The first is that having lots twitter followers will get you more work because all producers care about is bums on seats. The second is that having loads of twitter followers is a vanity metric that only serves to boost your ego and nobody ever lost out on a role because they didn’t have enough twitter followers.
Whilst the truth is much more subtle than either of those arguments, unfortunately the first is broadly more true. Number of twitter followers (or Facebook fans) is a clear measure of how credible your profile is among the general population. It is a tangible, visible measure of how many people expressed an interest in you at some point in the past and whilst yes, it is only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle of your profile, I have news for you all…
Actors do actually get cast because of their twitter followers.
Sometimes not consciously, most times the creative team would deny it, but in the beginning to midde tier of your career, the one most of us are at right now, twitter followers matter.
For all you non believers out there who say twitter is just vain hokum answer me this;
What have you got to loose?
Having 5 or 10 thousand twitter followers is certainly not going to harm your career in any way so why not give yourself a little bit of edge against others of a similar castability to yourself and start engaging a little bit.
The same is true of subscribers or fans of your own personal website, although website subscribers actually carry a bit more weight to them than twitter followers. Somebody who has subscribed to your website has chosen to give you their email address indicating that they are interested in you on a slightly deeper level than that of a twitter follower.
Not only does it benefit you to stay in regular contact with your website subscribers, through an email newsletter for example, but this also means that when the time comes for you to be in something or have some content to show people you have a little mailing list all of your own to invite along.
If you get a new showreel, send it out for your subscribers to comment on. If you are in a little fringe show that’s just opening; invite them along to get a nice responsive audience.
Your showreel is one of your biggest credibility indicators of your profile in your toolkit. This will be the first thing that any casting or creatives see when they are looking to cast you so it really needs to be something that works really well for your career.
Credibility from your showreel comes from both the productions you have been a part of and the people you have worked with as well as the actual quality of the content and of your acting ability.
Feature film appearances with other high profile actors are the most credible, followed by TV appearances of the same caliber. Then appearance on Film or in TV from a high profile company or production like a BBC drama. After that you have soap appearances and potentially features or shorts from credible up and coming directors or that were featured at a screen festival or won any awards.
After that you have mid-low budget films or series but you have to be sure that you come across well as an actor in the scenes that you choose and finally you have student films or scenes shot specifically for your showreel. The primary function of these should be to showcase your acting ability as the creatives or so-stars will not lend any credibility so you must be giving a good performance or it will only hurt you.
Search Engine Optimisation
A scary term for most actors. You’ve probably heard it thrown around by techies but never thought it could apply to you as an actor. For the most part you’d be right but let me shed some light and then show you how you can potentially use it to your advantage.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basically means what shows up in google when people search for popular words and phrases. Similar to earlier when we spoke about your own SERP (Search Engine Results Page) but instead of what shows up when people type your name in, this is making you show up when people type other things in. For example – if someone does a google search for “Irish Actor” I should try and show up.
How this helps with your credibility is that when creatives google search for broad terms, if you show up on the first page it must mean you are somehow highly relevant and important to what they were looking for.
Now, SEO is a hugely dense topic, you could spend years getting lost down the rabbit hole and never even move the needle for your career here are some things you can do to give yourself a little boost.
Write a list of some phrases that you think might be useful search terms for someone like yourself, Irish actor, Irish Singer, Irish film… Then type these into google and see what comes up. If you are seeing results from some of the biggest websites in the world like Wikipedia then try getting a bit more specific; “young Irish actor” etc.
You want to try and be as broad as you can without putting yourself up against massive websites but once you have found two or three phrases that work then go around and add these phrases to all of your web profiles like we did for your SERP. Make sure you add it to your twitter bio, IMDb bio, YouTube channel and any other publicly searchable profiles you have. You could even create your own Wikipedia page for yourself making sure these key phrases feature a number of times in what you write.
Similar to offline press, online press mentions are a great way to lend credibility to your profile. The difference here is that being mentioned somewhere online lasts a hell of a lot longer than being quoted in a newspaper. People can come across it for years to come. It can be found through search or people browsing the archives of a publication and will even show up when people google your name adding to your SERP.
This is why it always helps to include online reviewers in your invitations to see you. Bloggers and Reviewers from online publications like WhatsOnStage as well as reviewers whose offline publications have an online sister like The Stage are important even though, again, there is no guarantee that having them present will mean they will mention you in their review.
Another way you can use the online press to build your profile however is to actually write for them yourself. Pick a topic that fires you up, especially if its trending right now or in the news at the moment. Whip together a good 500-800 word piece on the subject and just email it to a couple of the editors of some of these publications to see if they’d like to feature it. If they take you up they will offer a byline which credits you to your work.
Without putting Spotlight on a pedestal I think it’s quite a good idea to strive to be ‘accepted’ to Spotlight as a first milestone as an actor in the UK. The criteria are such that having a Spotlight profile is the first marker of seriousness for any creative searching for actors to call in for auditions. Very often, auditions don’t even make it outside the realms of spotlight because, even once you have a profile there, you are still only one of 60,000 performers registered.
Spotlight profiles are NOT searchable by the general public and as such don’t do much for your public visibility but they are one of the first things a casting director looks for when receiving a submission. They might even be using spotlight itself for submissions and so that itself would exclude anyone without a profile there.
Most agents use Spotlight to submit you for roles and so very often an agent will refuse to represent you unless you qualify for spotlight as this essentially stops them from doing most of their job. If you’re not on Spotlight you won’t be taken seriously.
Caliber Of Training
The caliber of your training or institution lends an awful lot of credibility to your profile as an actor. Whilst the actual quality of the training you receive is important, it is arguably not as relevant to your profile as the ‘name’ of the institution you graduated from.
Graduating from a Drama School with a big name carries with it a level of prestige that will have been well earned by the institution over many years. The result of which is inarguable; If you don’t graduate from one of the top “Drama UK” schools, unless you’ve built your profile some other way already, you won’t get a second look from the top agents and casting directors.
It’s hard to admit it, but it’s true.
Now that’s not to say that you can’t be successful unless you go to a top drama school but if you want to give yourself that bridge over troubled waters instead of going from stepping stone to stepping stone for 10 years, then getting into a prestigious drama school is the best way to do it.
Caliber Of Work
If you have credits on your CV from high profile institutions that makes you seem more credible, simple. These roles are much harder to get and much more prestigious when you do so naturally you have to be a certain caliber of actor to be given that opportunity.
Working for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 are some of the biggest names in TV but you also have the production companies who actually make them. In theatre you have the big institutions like the National Theatre, Old Vic etc. as well as the various West End venues and then of course you have the most prestigious of the regional venues; Sheffield Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Exchange Manchester etc.
Granted a lot of these are a little out of reach for most actors just starting out but you should be able to come up with a list of credible venues or companies at your level that are more within your reach.
This is what makes your CV stand out to casting directors and agents. This is what they will look at first and if this catches them they might spend an extra minute perusing your profile or watching your showreel.
Relationships With Creatives
The other side to that is who the creatives were on the production that you worked on. Maybe the venue wasn’t spectacular but the director was hot property. Or maybe there was a high profile actor in the cast.
Being associated with the same production as someone of higher profile brings your perceived level up to theirs as it is assumed that they wouldn’t have taken the job if it wasn’t prestigious and that you must be credible enough to have supported them in their work.
Press Mentions & Quotes
Being mentioned or quoted in the press is another way to add some credibility to your profile. This shows that a publication valued your opinion enough to use it to back up their argument or enhance their story somehow.
You can orchestrate this a little by finding out who the journalists are in your space and connecting with them as valuable sources of information and rumblings about what’s going on in the arts.
Twitter quotes are now a regular appearance in many publications, so make sure you follow all of the journos in your space and feel free to open up a dialogue with them about something they have written. Then when the time comes for them to write something they might reach out to you on twitter.
The other way this works is when you follow trending news stories on twitter you can add your opinion to the fray and if you have built up enough steam with your profile journos will catch on.
Caliber Of Your Agent
If you think that getting an agent is the answer to all your prayers, think again.
Whilst it is certainly a hurdle that you will want to get over at some point once you have signed and been with your agent for a while you will begin to realise that the caliber of your agent has an awful lot to do with the career path that you have placed before yourself.
Agents are humans after all and considering that, strange as it seems, so are casting directors its logical that certain agents would have better relationships with certain CD’s. Whilst it is true that the most volume of work is cast through Spotlight and thus most agents have equal access to castings very often CD’s will have a particular group of agents that they have a good relationship with and will go to them directly when they need to cast something.
This is why, even if you have an agent, you can often see cast announcements released and think you were perfect for the role but the casting never even crossed your agents path.
Some agents specialise in certain areas of the profession so if you have a musical theatre agent good luck getting seen for any features or plays. You’d be lucky if the CD’s gave you a second look. There are other factors at play too for example your past credits and training but generally one type of agent gets one type of castings sent their way.
As much as most actors would like to deny it there are certain agencies in the UK (and internationally) who are on a different level to most others. Generally these are the agencies with the big names on their books. There are positives and negatives to being represented by one of these agencies, whilst they lend their credibility to your name as an actor and can open all the right doors you can run the risk of getting lost in their huge books if you don’t stand out as one of their most successful clients from the get go.
Relationships With Casting Directors
Then of course you could always cut out the middle man. Well that’s a terrible way of thinking about it, really you want to do both, regardless of whether you have an agent or not but taking responsibility for building up your own relationships with the casting directors that you want to work for or with is a savvy career move.
This means that not only is it easier for your agent to to his or her job because the CD’s will know like and trust you already but also it means that if ever down the line you and your agent decide to go separate ways you have your own independent web of connections that you can take with you on your search for new representation.
This also applies if you are not represented of course. Firstly because you don’t actually need an agent to get yourself seen for castings if you have strong relationships with CD’s already but also because this lends massive amounts of credibility when you do go out looking for representation. If you have the strong recommendation of a CD then an agent will be much more likely to take you on.
That’s how I got my agent, he hadn’t even seen me act but one of the top casting directors in the West End came to see my showcase at Drama School and afterwards he rung around his Agent buddies and recommended they all saw me for a meeting; I had 5 meetings the next week and signed with one of that CD’s closest friends. All because of a recommendation that gave me real world credibility.
So there you have it; 26 ways you can build your profile as an actor to get seen by more people for more auditions and book yourself more work.
Each of these is a subject in itself so try taking one of these topics and spend a few weeks working on moving yourself forward with it.
Download this free infographic and take each topic one step at a time. Leave a comment below and let us know which one of these is your biggest challenge right now.