The past decades have been fertile for the development of television shows and consequently for a new type of acting professionals
The television industry has been a productive ground in the frames of the entertainment field as a whole and generated stereotypical content to be adopted by the collective mindsets of thousands of people. One of the most important organs in the structure of television has arisen in the shape of TV shows and TV series. These developed into symbolic productions which reunite the American family in front of the catodic tube every night, currently expanding in the online medium as well. As every household currently includes TV series preferences for each member, it’s only self-explanatory how these productions influenced society.
Among famous TV shows there are different types of productions – some of which transmitted live, others in the format of TV series, organized in seasons and episodes. Some of them are talkshows, others are filmed on television sets with audiences, while others are produced similarly to films. TV shows and series have become iconic visual and cultural representations of the contemporary society and the actors’ interest towards this specific niche has grown intensely in the past years, among adults and children as well. TV shows include a wide range of subjects and specifics: reality shows, cooking shows, fashion productions, teenager comedic series (like some Disney productions), children’s educational shows, animation, comedy series and many others. Some actors become absorbed by their characters (do you know the “real” name of Al Bundy?), others migrate to film, theater, voice acting or other projects linked to television and entertainment.
The Difference between TV Shows Auditions and … the Rest of the World
Characters in television productions are constructed differently than in theater or film productions. They need to be strongly individualized and compatible with the interpreting actor, who needs to stick around until the end of the production. Casting calls require various types of processes depending on the profile of the production – drama, a single-camera comedy or a sitcom. The most important moment when an actor should be landing a role is on a pilot, which is more relevant for the character’s importance than a guest or backstage role on an established show. Landing a role in a pilot is not that easy though, because as the show hasn’t yet matured, the creative team doesn’t yet know all particularities that a character must develop. Working with an agent has proven itself several times to be positively influential for actors securing roles at TV show auditions, as it may be a challenge to sometimes catch the attention of casting directors. So – about that: let’s see what is within your reach as means of improving your craft!
Before You Get an Agent
You don’t want to stand in line to land a good agent before you’re ready and confident – and this is as true for adults as well as for teenagers and kids. There are some ways you can make a very good impression before you pitch yourself to an agency’s roster – preferably in New York or, best as can be, Los Angeles.
- Your first option would be to hire a TV show adviser. But wait, we just said independent. Oh well, in this case, you can begin by taking some acting classes and attending a few local workshops (especially if you live in a smaller city, try to relocate to the next best thing, be it Las Vegas or Chicago, and gradually try to reach the two acting hotspots from the East or the West).
- Now that you’re not completely blank and gathered a little experience, you can start by putting together a showreel. It might not be the most professional material to represent you, but do your best. If you already have a v-blog, perhaps, that doesn’t hurt at all, on the contrary.
- Be available. TV series imply you being available – in the beginning, for auditions and castings, then for the actual filming. Open calls are recruiting regional talent and indeed some shows are produced elsewhere than NYC or LA, but ideally those two are the places you need to be – or London, if you prefer Europe.
After You Got an Agent
Now that you gathered a showreel which you’ve uploaded online, put together a resume, a cover letter and a portfolio with headshots, contacted several experienced representatives and landed a good agent, you can embark on a new experience. No matter what your aspirations for the television industry are, from being the host of a local community transmission to starring in Glee or being the next teen sensation on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel, there is no other way than to… start with the beginning. It’s only way you’re going to get one of those lovely TV show auditions.
- Prepare those monologues. Fix some texts ready to be convincing enough and to relevate your best skills. For TV shows auditions, you usually have to be ready to do cold readings too. We advise you to audition as much as you can: it guarantees exposure and also raises your chances to be selected. Also, the advantage of doing TV series is that you don’t need to restrict yourself to a single project at a time!
TV series have been a good starting point even for actors who preferred to go straight to theater or films in their future, because it leaves the comfortable space for talent to grow. If movies require more detail-oriented acting and starring on Broadway involves a strong acting experience augmentation, TV series are probably the lightest way to go about acting.
You can start small by doing a background role – perhaps you’re an inexperienced teenager who would rather be the kid singing a few songs in a choir instead of having to be the next Mr. Show sort-of-revelation. Hosting the news on music channels like VH1 or MTV or commenting upcoming new songs in a little show of your own is also a good place to start from, without putting too much pressure on yourself. Get used to filling a lot of forms and putting your name in every rubric at every audition out there and who knows when you’ll grow into an applauded movie star or the voice of an iconic game character!