Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tips for New Actors

I just got a request for some tips for getting started as a Christian actor, so I thought I'd write a response here.

First, I recommend staying close to the Lord. If you're not, you will be turned this way and that by the ideas of this world, no matter what industry you enter. Get plugged into a Christ-centered, Bible-believing congregation, and make sure you're in a small group of some kind where individuals will hold you up and hold you accountable. If you're near NYC I keep a list of churches we trust at www.RichDrama.com/NYC.

Also be sure that your personal relationship with the Lord is constantly growing. If it's not, it's stagnating or you're moving further from Him. I'm determined to read through the Bible every year. I've written more about that at www.RichDrama.com/BibleReading. Make sure you're spending time in prayer. I always open the day committing the day to the Lord and end praying with my bride, Joyce.

In terms of getting work as an actor I recommend training. I teach acting for film at The Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild (www.ChristianWorldviewFilmFestival.com) in San Antonio, which is also a great place to network! I also teach at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp (www.ChristianFilmmakersCamp.com), and as I write this we have two openings left.

You may be called to get a degree in acting, either at a conservatory or a college/university. I've performed and/or taught at over 40 (www.RichDrama.com/Schools), so I'd be happy to share my insights about a school you're considering. Contact me through the form below. If you choose a Christian school don't assume you'll naturally grow in your relationship with the Lord. It still takes personal effort and choice no matter what your environment is like. If you choose a secular institute you can be sure your faith will be assaulted. I have a former student who attended Augustine College for a year before entering a secular institute. They prepare you mentally to engage with the secular mindset. InterVarsity and Cru have a presence on many campuses, and if you're called to an Ivy League School, check out Christian Union. I spoke at an event they held near Harvard, and I was seriously impressed: www.RichDrama.com/IvyLeague.

Stay busy. When I first moved to NYC I was waiting on line for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park, and the fellow ahead of me was an actor who had been in an impressive number of projects. He said, "Whenever you're not working, someone else is." Training will only take you so far. You need put it to use. Don't wait for someone to find you. Make things happen. Write and perform sketches or short films for your church and/or the internet.

Get a great headshot and résumé. It's important to do this right. Here's an article I recommend: How to Format Your Acting Résumé and Headshots.

Create an account at www.ActorsAccess.com. It's free, but until you have an agent you'll need to submit yourself, which is $2 per submission, or they have an annual fee. You can plug in your location and a number of identifiers, and you'll get regular emails with casting notices that match your criterion. There's no checkbox for "Christian actor," so be warned. Do you due diligence and seek the Lord's peace for every project.

About half of the films in which I've been cast I've heard about through Facebook. Scroll through my Groups and join the ones that may help you discover casting calls.

Consider getting coached for your auditions. Patricia MauceriMichael Joiner and Rebekah Cook all offer Skype coaching.

Even if it's a Christian project you'll still want to do your due diligence and seek the Lord's peace because there may be elements in the film you don't feel comfortable supporting.

In My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers says, "Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first." It may sound impossible to make a career in acting when there are so many projects out there that are propaganda for worldly wisdom. But I've been able to make a 20-year career in acting and applying acting concepts to the business world, and I've done my best to honor the Lord with all of my choices. I do a one-man play on John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before the Emancipation Proclamation. He was speaking to Quakers who owned slaves, but I think his words are just as true for Christians striving to honor the Lord with their skills: "The case is difficult to some who have slaves, but if such set aside all self-interest, and come to be weaned from the desire of getting estates, or even from holding them together, when truth requires the contrary, I believe way will so open that they will know how to steer through those difficulties." I've found the Lord faithful to provide for two decades, despite the narrow path I've chosen.

All the Best!

I play a lead in Providence, a modern silent film. Sign up to receive information on how to bring it to your community: www.RichDrama.com/Updates.

Registration is now open for the 2016 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.
 

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