Are you considering beginning your career as an actor in South Africa and have no experience? If so, this article is the perfect resource for you!
The information below will give you a comprehensive overview of how to launch your acting career from scratch.
This includes guidance on navigating auditions, building a successful portfolio, establishing relationships with industry professionals, and keeping yourself motivated throughout the process.
With perseverance and hard work, you can soon make it onto TV screens or movie sets and be well on your way to bagging that breakout role!
What Does an Actor Do?
Acting is a fascinating career that requires more than simply portraying characters – it’s a multi-faceted vocation with many components.
Actors must first audition for roles and, if chosen, use their skills to bring the character to life.
On set, behind the scenes or on stage, actors play an important role in creating captivating performances.
They may be playing small background parts or taking on leading roles, spending hours rehearsing lines and working with directors; dealing with casting directors and agents; attending meetings; reading through scripts.
Furthermore, depending on the assignment some might tour different cities performing plays or travel abroad for filming location shoots.
All this being said though, acting work isn’t always reliable – many actors often perform countless other ‘characters’ throughout their careers.
How to Become an Actor in South Africa in 10 Steps
1. Enrol in Acting Classes
Starting an acting career is not only about knowing the craft and honing your skills but also about pursuing the right training.
High school students should take advantage of their schools’ theatre programs and drama clubs to get a head start on their journey.
College students should look into taking theatre classes if available at their university.
For anyone already out of school, there are several private acting studios and courses throughout the country that focus on various aspects of the craft to consider enrolling in or watching online video tutorials for further instruction.
Although having a degree in theatre can add value to one’s skill set (and often comes with helpful connections), having a formal education isn’t necessary to begin auditioning for professional gigs in film and television; all you need is real-world experience under your belt along with sharpened technique.
Proper technique classes such as Meisner, scene study, improv, on-camera work, and vocal/physical will be instrumental in developing strong fundamentals across all areas of performance while helping you stand out from other actors in auditions.
On-camera audition workshops are especially important since they cover techniques important for navigating the business end of an actor’s career efficiently–such as branding yourself strategically through reel creation, how to properly self-tape yourself for international casting calls outside your local area, and more.
2. Secure an Agent
When you begin to gain some traction in your acting career, it often makes sense to call on the expertise of a professional acting agent.
Acting agents provide invaluable connections in the entertainment industry and can help an actor avoid common pitfalls as they advance in their profession.
Moreover, representation from an established agency can open up audition opportunities that might be otherwise out of reach for actors attempting to break into larger theatre or film projects.
While not everyone requires an agent to make headway in their career, those hoping to become involved with big Hollywood productions are likely best served by enlisting one.
3. Pursue Education
Once you’ve got a good grasp of the basics, it’s time to take your learning to the next level by seeking out more formal training.
South Africa is full of excellent teaching opportunities for aspiring actors, from community colleges and universities offering night classes that fit with your lifestyle, to local theatre companies providing masterclasses and workshops in performance skills.
Taking this route can provide invaluable experience as well as qualifications; you may even get the chance to work on student films, commercials and media projects.
4. Join Local Theater
The journey to becoming a successful actor in South Africa begins with participation in local theatrical performances and musicals.
Drama classes are fundamental for equipping students with the necessary knowledge, expertise and confidence to pursue their dreams of performing onstage by introducing them to diverse ways of acting, how to author their own material, creating distinct characters and mastering the art of costume and stage design.
Moreover, involvement at a community level offers these aspiring actors an invaluable opportunity to refine their skills and embrace the thrill of being applauded by a large gathering – experiences that will no doubt prove beneficial when they eventually take on numerous auditions or enrol in drama school.
5. Hone Stage Skills
Try emoting with all of your facial expressions and body movements so the audience can accurately grasp your character’s emotions.
Expand on these talents by improving your dancing, singing, and choreography skills to make you an even more attractive prospect for theatrical roles.
Stage combat classes teach you how to act out fight scenes without having to worry about getting physically hurt – knowledge that might just land you a starring role in a musical or play!
Diversify yourself further by taking dance classes; once you have plenty of abilities under your belt, casting directors will be much more likely to hire you.
Don’t forget something different from the rest too: hobbies like rock climbing or photography that aren’t often associated with theatre could help make you stand out amongst other actors when auditioning for roles.
6. Start Auditioning
If you aspire to become an actor, the first step is obtaining the correct materials for auditions.
Showcasing yourself during various audition processes allows you to gain valuable experience and build your acting resume.
Don’t expect to be paid right away; when starting out you will likely explore more creative projects rather than focus on monetary compensation.
However, there are still opportunities available for early actors that involve pay; these could include film shorts, extra roles in television shows, or even commercials.
7. Produce Demoreel
Once you’ve had the experience of acting in your first independent film, you can expect to receive footage that could potentially lead the way for your very own demo reel.
Even if it’s just one brief moment from a single scene, don’t let that discourage you; every great demo reel needs to start somewhere.
If however, good fortune has granted you additional roles and projects, then it only stands to reason that more scenes be included in your demo reel too – though commercial appearances will take residence on their own separate reel.
Pro tip: when selecting a suitable length of time for your theatrical demonstration piece, always aim between ninety seconds and two minutes maximum – agents and casting directors simply won’t have their attention held any longer than twenty seconds anyway.
To get the most bang out of those scant few moments however, make sure not all those initial clips feature teary-eyed emoting; instead, look for those moments where a simple dialogue between yourself and another actor is enough to demonstrate just how credible an actor you are – because being able to convincingly interact with others is often key in showing off superb acting chops.
8. Develop a Resume
As you continue cultivating your craft, make sure to curate your resume so that you’re ready to apply for auditions.
Creating a diverse portfolio with a combination of both on and off-screen roles, such as writing, directing and producing can help create an impactful impression on potential employers.
When listing out credits from past projects include the name of the production, genre and also the character or role you portrayed.
This way casting directors will be able to get a better understanding of your range and abilities!
9. Obtain Professional Headshot
As an actor, your headshot is the first impression that casting directors and agents have of you.
If a potential employer finds your profile online or sees it in their email inbox, they’re going to make snap decisions about whether or not to read further based on what they see.
That means that getting everything right about this one photo is absolutely essential for progressing your career, and for any businessperson, it all boils down to marketing.
For a professional headshot that will do justice to the real you – not just some artificial mask plastered with makeup and photo-shopped beyond recognition – there are several key elements which must be addressed.
Most importantly of all, ensure that you yourself look like the person in the photograph; don’t add more than necessary of styling products and cosmetics so as to resemble someone else entirely!
Every part of the process should be handled reliably by a professional photographer as opposed to cutting corners: management might economize on costs but if patrons encounter amateurism then their trust comes tumbling down just like a lawyer who hands out cards printed on flimsy paper cut with scissors – would anyone take them seriously?
The investment, therefore, stands true – invest in getting quality shots taking into account all these considerations and market yourself well!
10. Explore the Industry
If you weren’t aware already, let me break it down for you: pursuing an acting career is not too far from running your own business venture.
While having a talent for the craft certainly forms a major part of the equation, most of what you’ll be busy with on a daily basis fall under its business side – think networking and understanding how decisions are made in the industry.
It all comes down to money, really – as producers create movies and TV series looking to reap profits, they base casting choices on that same principle.
To stand out even further, extra knowledge gained through studying related fields such as directing or producing will prove invaluable in better grasping how actors fit into this picture and make their mark within it.