CHOOSING A CAREER / JUL. 13, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Begin a Career in the Arts

I sat in the holding area of the movie set waiting for the scene of which I was a part to begin. While this particular adventure was my first encounter with a movie, I have a background in theater and music, so I was no stranger to acting. 

I was board and so I struck up a conversation with the young lady next to me, who I’ll call Amy. She was one of several people who were extras in this particular independent film.

     “Have you ever been in film before?”

     “No, I’ve never done anything like this. I just graduated from college and I saw the audition notice in my local paper, so I thought I’d do this and see what it’s like. I’ve always wanted to do something in the acting field, but everyone tells me you can’t make any money at it.”

    “What was your major in college?”

    “Well, I started out in Special Ed., and then I decided to change direction and go into medical coding. I haven’t been able to get a job yet so I thought I’d explore this while I have the time. I have no idea how you’d even get started in a field like this since I don’t know anyone who’s ever done anything like this before.”

     “Well, a lot of us do have a second job so that we can keep money coming in when we’re in between gigs, so having a background in more than one field can actually be pretty beneficial.”
 
Amy’s situation and the questions that she went on to ask me during our conversation weren’t unusual ones. The arts are competitive, and so people tend to find multiple talents within themselves and hone them. Though the most obvious aspect of getting started is getting some additional education, it’s still worth stating. What type of education depends on what direction you want to take. 

Besides acting classes, it’s typically useful to have voice lessons and dance classes. Learning to play one or more instruments is also a good idea. The best places to start with regard to finding legitimate classes that are actually taught by professionals would be to contact your local University’s Arts, Drama, or Music Departments, or visit a local music store and talk to the manager or to some of the people who work there. Interestingly, many people who have a career in the arts also work in sales (including direct sales), have a background in teaching, or sometimes have a background in the publishing industry (including freelance writing). 

Community theatre is one of the best places for getting experience with both auditions and on the stage. Sometimes people can find out about various types of audition opportunities at a music store. In the area in which I live, there is a music store that even posts them on the store bulletin board.

For those who want to go in the direction of film, colleges that offer a film major or that have a film department can be a great place to go for experience because students are often looking for actors for their film projects.

Occasionally, audition notices can be found in your local paper, and they can always be found on-line, but you have to be careful when searching them on-line because there are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing in the field of the arts. The best keywords to use are “Local Community Theatre Auditions”, or use the name of your city in conjunction with the word “auditions”. A few good websites to explore that can help people with getting started and that also have information to help people grow in various areas of the arts include:

1.       http://www.amtcworld.com/

2.       http://www.howtomodel.com/

3.       http://www.backstage.com/

The above suggestions are by no means exhaustive with regard to how a person can begin a career in the arts, but they are a few of the typical ways in which people get started.

 

Image Source: http://www.canisius.edu/

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