To Do List for the Beginning Actor

To Do List for the Beginning Actor

The beginning of the year is a great time for new beginnings. Many people take this time of the year to pursue acting.

Maybe they always wanted to, maybe they are just curious, or maybe they have a change of heart and want to change careers. I get asked all the time what can one do to get started.  

Since there is no curriculum, or set pattern to make a career in this business, many actors feel helpless, frustrated, lost, and waste time and money trying to make the right decisions.

This month I’m focusing on the beginning actor. Here is a checklist of what you can be doing and working towards this year.

Beginning Actor (one year):

  • Take an acting class on acting craft and the process (at least once a week – the more the better, if you have the time and can afford it; it’s a good investment and will pay off in the long run).
  • Read one play a week.
  • See 1 to 2 plays a month.
  • See 3 to 4 movies a month.
  • Read the trades – Backstage, Variety, blogs, etc.
  • Volunteer or work in a theater (box office, lights, stage manager, etc). The purpose is to be around actors, see them work, observe, and learn as much as possible about theater. (Remember this – stage is an actors medium, film is a directors medium, and TV a writers medium. Take advantage of the creative freedom that theater offers.)
  • Read books on creativity and Self, such as “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron, “The Road Less Traveled,” by Scott Peck, “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp, and others. Learn to know and improve yourself.
  • Read acting books by well known teachers and techniques, such as “Respect for Acting,” “The Meisner Technique,” “The Method,” Harold Clurman, and biographies on their favorite actors, etc..
  • Do something outside of acting to supplement working on your instrument: yoga, voice class, dance, martial arts, singing, stand-up comedy, etc.
  • Keep a journal to reflect on yourself. What form of spiritual practice, prayer, meditation, religion, etc.. do you practice?
  • Work on a set as an extra or small part to gain experience and feel what being on a set is like, personally and professionally.
  • Get involved in a theater community where you can audition and maybe get on stage and perform.
  • Web series can be good opportunities to get experience, tape, and make contacts. Get on one. Volunteer to work on one to learn.

What not to do:

  • Don’t rush to get headshots. It’s expensive and as you grow so will your camera presence. Wait a while.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money for classes. Be cautious of places that ask for a lot of upfront money to pay for a full program if you are only trying it out. (If you are committed that is different)
  • Don’t audition before you’re ready. Be prepared, trained, and ready to work when that time comes.
  • Don’t rush and spend a lot of money to get film on yourself. Make sure your work is in a strong place before investing there.
  • Many new actors try to go too far too quickly, and then get discouraged when they don’t get the results right away. It is a process, a journey, use this time to discover yourself, unleash the artist inside you, and understand what the craft of acting entails. Then, if you like it, commit yourself to master it.

As you can see there is quite a bit you can do to get started.

The most important of course is to find a place to study your craft, with a community of like-minded people so you can begin your network and meet new friends with the same goals.

Next month I’ll talk about the intermediate actor. Happy New Year!

Fran Montano - is the owner and Artistic Director of The Actors Workout Studio, located in the NoHo Arts District for nearly 30 years. It is one of the longest running small, intimate theaters and Acting Schools in the Los Angeles area. AWS was created to being a “home” for aspiring and working actors were the work not only includes classes and training, but personal coaching, career planning, networking, showcasing, and regular performing. His students range from beginning actors, accomplished actors who work regularly in film, television, and stage, as well as numerous working directors and writers. His style is on an individual basis and in his small, intimate classes, it’s like working with a private coach. His reputation is in finding and breaking actors blocks Fran’s background as an actor, in producing, directing and theater makes him an excellent resource for actors in Los Angeles, in finding their way both in their talent, and promoting their career. Visit for more information and a schedule of classes and productions