NYCDA has compiled a host of information and tips on the ins and outs of acting and the business. Click thru the categories below to find information that will help you advance your career!

Pursuing an Acting Career

Acting and Your Money

In order to become an actor or become an actress, you must first have a passion and drive to learn your craft. However, many young actors make the mistake of not realizing that there is much more to living the actor’s life. A key part of beginning (or transitioning into) your acting career is insuring your financial stability. Before you begin, you should have a supply of cash in place. If you’re moving to a city like New York, Los Angeles or London, you’ll need to factor in the higher costs of urban living. Spend some time researching banks and credit unions in the city, noting interest rates and checking fees. Search for affordable housing. Keep in mind that this could take some time as well as trial-and-error situations. Commit yourself to a reasonable budget; you don't want unpaid bills delaying the start of your career.

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Be a Student Film Star

There are plenty of opportunities for actors to find work throughout the year. Not all acting jobs are commercial acting jobs! Acting in student films is a valuable way to gain both experience and exposure. Each spring, New York's film schools offer numerous opportunities for working in student films. Participating actors get to work with the industry's up-and-coming directors. A role in a student film allows you to practice your acting skills while enhancing your resume. Student films are often shown at international film festivals, providing a valuable opportunity to display your acting talent. An additional bonus is that more often than not, student directors will hire non-union actors, so you won’t need to worry about having to join SAG to get film acting credits on our resume! Keep in mind that you probably won’t get paid on a student film. You will generally receive free transportation and food as well as copies of the film on DVD or VHS as payment.

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Being a Working Actor

Technically, a working actor is someone who is paid to perform dramatic (or comedic) works. In order to call yourself a professional actor, you must be paid for your work. Keep in mind that a working actor may have a steady stream of jobs, but not be able to support him-/herself by acting jobs alone. The sad truth is that most actors are never really able to settle into a long-term job. There is always the next audition, the next gig...

The important thing is to keep getting out there and keep being seen. In the meantime, look into joining a temp agency to earn extra money. Temp agencies are geared toward people in the workforce who cannot commit to full-time jobs and need flexibility. Some temp agencies are even geared specifically toward actors, placing them in temp jobs related to the industry.

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Online Networking

There are two primary websites that handle networking online in New York City, a must for the acting careers of budding thespians:

Actor's Access allows you to submit yourself for projects within the city as well as Canada and the West Coast.

NYCastings allows you to submit headshots and resumes directly to casting agents and casting directors through their electronic database.

Both websites allow actors to submit and host their own video portfolios. There are also plenty of online groups that allow you to network with other professionals. A quick search in any search engine will bring a number of results you can sort through to find the most appropriate community for you.

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Taxes And The Actor

Once you start your acting career, one of the smartest things you can do for yourself is to hire an accountant. It may sound daunting, but a good accountant may be able to save you money year after year. S/he will be able to tell you which of your expenses are tax deductible. For example, did you know that any money you spend on your acting business -- your headshots, postage for mailings, trade magazines and newspapers, classes, and even transportation to and from acting school and/or auditions -- are all tax-deductible? Keep careful records of your expenses and save receipts. Taxes can be audited up to three years after you file them, so hang on to all paperwork even after tax season.

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The Actor's Life

Your foray into life as an actor will be made much smoother if other aspects of your life are in order. If you're moving into a new city, spend some time setting up a comfortable apartment. Even if you share a space, be sure you have an area that is quiet enough for your private time. If possible, set aside part of your living space for your work as an actor. This “office” will help to create a physical focus for your budding career.

You may also consider joining a gym. Keeping your instrument in good shape is always important. If you have the time, involve yourself in the local community, especially in the arts. The more people you network with, the more enriching your career will be.

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The Director is God

If you want to know how to keep your acting career going, heed these words: The director is God. The director will have final say in any play, program, or film your work on. So if you're going to take on an acting job, be sure you share your director's vision of the role you've been given and of the production as a whole. Check your ego at the theater door (or studio gates, as the case may be). There will inevitably be points of disagreement between you and your director, but don't waste the director's, crew members', and other actors' time by getting into argument on stage (or set). Should you need to address any conflicts, try to speak with the director after the day's work is done.

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