Advice for the Beginning Actor Part 9 – What Tools Does An Actor Need?

Special thanks to the actors who have taken time out of their busy schedules to graciously provide advice for new actors for Wannabe Pride, including Regen Wilson, Chris Pentzell, David DeBoy, Ken Arnold, Mercedes Rose, Gabriel Voss, Brittany Baratz, Laura Hunter, Lance Carter, Stephon Fuller, and Rachel F. Hirsch.

What Tools Does an Actor Need?

 “For starters you need a good headshot and an up-to-date resume. Eventually you need a good audio demo, a good video demo, and a great website. But none of those tools are worth anything if you don’t use marketing tools. Marketing tools are the most valuable tools of all. And you are your best marketing tool.”- David Deboy (email) (website)

“Headshots, a head for business, and a headstart on the competition through a strong work ethic, friendly demeanor and artistic integrity.” -Regen Wilson (website)

“Headshots — both theatrical and commercial (smiling).  Nowadays they have to be almost close-ups, since casting agents go through thumbnails on their computers.  No full body shots unless they ask.  Acting classes are good for your own personal craft, but casting directors nowadays love to see improv training — Groundlings, Second City, UCB.  Even commercial casting directors look for it.  Also, have a reel if you submit on Actors Access — even if all the clips are from the same project.  Even if it’s only one clip!  Submitting with a reel on Actors Access moves you up in the order.” – Chris Pentzell (email)

“Beginning actors need to have a headshot and resume. Even if the resume just lists their contact info to start. Also beginning actors should immerse themselves in learning as much about the craft as they can by either reading books, taking classes etc. The problem I have seen from actors in this market is after they book that first industrial or indie film role they stop training. Acting is an ongoing process of growth. You must always have someone coaching you and pushing you to get better. Look at Olympic Athletes. They wouldn’t dare coach themselves. To be elite, you must train like the elite. And that means having a mentor, taking workshops, classes and constantly improving upon your skills. I have seen the actors who do become very successful and the actors who don’t stay right where they are. Complaining about not enough work or why don’t they get better gigs. You always need to practice. Its keeps you at the top.” – Ken Arnold ( STUDIO BOH)

“I always recommend the book Breaking into Acting for Dummies for newbies. Yes, seriously. A good headshot is necessary. Acting class for beginners. An improv class. And a flexible day job. “-  Mercedes Rose (Imdb)  (website)

 “You must have decent headshots and a resume of some sort. Acting training is important but you have to start with what you look like and what you’ve done and/or what your skills are. ” – Gabriel Voss (website, imdb, facebook, twitter)

“A best tools a beginning actor can have are passion and perseverance! If you are serious about this industry, you have to have the personal fortitude to let all the “no’s” roll off your back. A clear, well-lit, natural headshot that shows your personality in the eyes will help get you on casting-director’s radar. You’ll need well laid out resume that honestly shows your experience. If you don’t have a lot of credits; that is okay. Don’t ever lie about your experience, and make sure you proof-read for typos!”- Brittany Baratz (website, twitter, Knuffle Bunny National Tour)

 “New actors need headshots, a resume, and some training. I went to a well-known arts college and acting conservatories, and got a lot out of that experience. However, I don’t think that’s the only way, or maybe even the best way, to go about getting a career. The best way to get a career is to start working. Beyond the basics, new actors need to learn how to self-promote. This often feels awkward or pushy… get over that feeling as fast as you can, its necessary. You also need a realistic way to make money while pursuing this career that isn’t going to get in the way of that pursuit.” Laura Hunter (email, website, twitter, facebook, youtube, contributor to

“Definitely headshots. And not headshots that your neighbor/friend/girlfriend or boyfriend took. It doesn’t matter if they take good pictures, you need professional headshots. If you’re close to a big city, take a trip there and get some done. Spend the money. It’ll make you stand out from the wanna-be’s. [Not that there’s anything wrong with wannabes! – LF] Take classes or better yet, do plays or musicals. Get to be the best actor you can be.” – Lance Carter website, twitter, Facebook)

“Here is the conventional wisdom (and it’s all correct):

                        – TRAINING! Work with quality coaches and instructors that suit your learning needs. And know that your training is never finished. Even the biggest stars continue to go back to their coaches. 

                        -A headshot that really looks like you, a clean and organized resume, audition materials (music rep book for musical theater, monologues for plays, copy or film for tv and commercials). 

            Here’s what you may not know already:

                        -Be extremely googleable. Video and/or audio footage of your work (put it all on youtube!), a LinkedIn account, twitter account, and website are all a must. If you Google Rachel F. Hirsch a million different things come up. I’ve been meeting with a lot of industry people lately that I’ve never met. Yet, by the time we get together, they already have seen my headshot and resume, know where I’m from and have heard me sing. They can find all of that information  online. – Rachel F. Hirsch twitter, website, acting website, website)

 “Ideally, a great, realistic attitude; training in scene study, commercials, voice, improv; great photos and an incredible amount of desire to succeed.  At least.”- Stephon Fuller (twitter, blog, website)