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How to get experience

There is no single route to becoming an actor. Involvement in drama through university, youth theatre or amateur dramatics is essential.

Experience as an 'extra' offers an insight into work in the profession and could provide a useful network of contacts.

Work as an extra can be found through agencies such as The Extras Dept and Uni-versalExtras Ltd. Getting involved locally will also help you start to make industry contacts.

For example, join the university drama society, volunteer at a local theatre, ask to sit in on rehearsals or shadow a professional.

Where to find work

Actors can find employment in repertory companies, commercial theatre, fringe theatre or small theatre groups. Theatre in education companies and youth theatre groups engage young people in theatre and drama activities often linked to the national curriculum. A teaching qualification and/or experience may be beneficial. 

TV and film companies offer fixed term contracts and the internet is a growth area for acting, either through 'viral' marketing videos or extra online content related to films and TV programmes. Some video games include acting opportunities using 'motion capture' technology. 

Museums, heritage organisations and tour companies increasingly employ actors as living history interpreters, which may involve role-playing a character from history and talking to visitors. 

How to find work

It is essential to be proactive and establish a network of contacts, as few vacancies are advertised. You must be prepared for the ups and downs and the lack of security, which is inherent in the profession.

Most actors spend time in other types of jobs and so have built up a range of transferable skills, which may help them move into related careers, such as teaching or lecturing, drama therapy or training.

Some use positions as marketing or box office staff at theatres to support their acting career while working in the same or similar environment.