So You Want To Act?

So You Want To Act?

Tips from local actors.

— One of the hardest things about starting any career is getting that first job. It’s no different with acting. However, moving to Los Angeles or New York to get an acting job isn’t necessary. Mainstream television shows and movies are filmed nationwide. The chance of becoming an actor even if living in Alexandria doesn’t have to be that difficult.

Where to start? There’s no one sure way to become a successful actor. Acting success can happen through luck, connections and perseverance. There is, however, some few ways of getting started.

The one thing all actors need is a picture. To act in theater or film, you have to have a headshot. How much you want to pay and how you want the picture to look varies.

“I paid $450 for 150 digital shots and two separate looks. The hair and make-up was an extra $95. And choosing and retouching my two favorite photos from the 150 shots was an extra $55 each,” said Alexandria resident, Gladys Fabian. “I also dished out another $200 for printing. It adds up. Do the math.”

However, sometimes you don’t have to spend any money at all for a photo to be in a Hollywood movie as was the case with Alexandria native Quinn Hynes who was an extra in the movie “The Hunger Games.”

“I didn’t have anything professional. I took my own snapshot and sent it in. They called me in two weeks,” said Hynes.

If you are really lucky, you can be discovered at a Starbucks.

Alexandria film director Jennifer Schwed and Arlington Associate Producer Doug Bradshaw discovered the star of their film “The Upside of Iris” while scouting for locations.

“Long story short — Jen said, ‘Oh my God. That girl … She’s Iris!’ So, after some discussion, I had to run down after her and follow her into the Starbucks. Then I introduced myself to this beautiful young woman by saying, ‘Hi, my name is Doug- And I’m not hitting on you …,’” said Bradshaw.

If you want to audition for a play, The Little Theater of Alexandria is holding auditions this Saturday from 2-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 7-9 p.m., for their fall performance of “Funny Money,” a British farce. LTA holds auditions several times a year for their performances.

Despite the reputation that community theaters have some still see the opportunity that can be gained from it.

“Gaining experience with a community theater will really benefit you as an actor,” said Katie Tannehil, an Alexandria resident who plans to audition this weekend. “It’s a great place to start your career, give you the opportunity to learn many aspects of the theater and to help you build your resume.”

Despite the different approaches of getting into acting Fabian, Hynes and Tannehil agree that it’s better not to have a talent agent so early in their career. Especially since the majority of the jobs asking for talent can be found in association websites or in a city’s film commission without the help of an agent.

“I read the book, I heard the film rights were sold, I followed the production news, I filled out a form, answered a couple of questions and I got a call in two weeks,” Hynes said, acknowledging he didn’t have an agent.

“Agents are tricky” Fabian said. “I was in the process of getting one until he said he would also take a fee from anything I found on my own. I would use one in LA or NY but not in this area.”

Becoming an actor in the area is a little harder than in bigger cities but not impossible. The region has a large and thriving theatre and film community. To make a living solely as an actor it can be done, but just like anywhere else, it is not easy. As with any other market, an actor will thrive in the area as long as he or she is skilled, focused, and a self-starter.