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Hi I'm Emily Maguire

I'm a UK career coach and business coach for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries and passionate about helping people achieve their career goals. I'm also a top voice on LinkedIn for the Film Industry and a podcast producer and host.

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Emily Maguire UK Career Coach and Business Coach for the arts, creative and entertainment industry

Crafting Your Path to Stardom: How to Become an Actor in the UK

Updated: 3 days ago

If you are interested in pursuing a career as an actor, this article will provide you with valuable guidance on the necessary skills, qualities, and responsibilities needed to succeed in this exciting and diverse role.

How to become an actor

Table of Contents


1. How to Become an Actor

The life of an actor can seem glamorous and filled with adoration, but the reality is a demanding and challenging journey toward success where dedication and perseverance are paramount.

Acting is an art form that requires lifelong dedication and continuous development of skills. It is an ongoing process of discovering and portraying various characters, each one demanding its own unique set of emotions and physicality. Whether it's on stage or in front of the camera, actors invest countless hours in rehearsals, studying scripts, and perfecting their craft.

Actors face fierce competition, countless auditions, and rejections. They must constantly adapt to the demands of directors and breathe life into characters that exist only on paper. Mental and emotional resilience is vital, as actors must balance the pressures of the industry.

You'll need to hone your craft, perfect your audition techniques, find the right agent, and network effectively. It's also important to build a strong actor portfolio and attend regular acting classes.

This article is only for guidance and is not an exhaustive list, but it should set you on the right track and point you towards websites that can help you explore acting in the UK further. If, after reading, you still feel like you need help, why not check out my 1-2-1 Actor Mentoring?

Read the blog post, Actor Mentoring: Career Advice and Guidance for Actors, for tips on self-taping and creating the perfect CV and cover letter.

2. Starting Out Tips

Are you considering a career as an Actor and want some advice and guidance?

Actors perform various roles in theatre, film, and commercials, including singing, dancing, and presenting. They may also work in animation for motion capture, stunts and voiceover. 

Acting Qualification Routes: Acting can be pursued through a variety of paths, including traditional routes such as university or drama school training or non-traditional paths such as networking, gaining on-set experience, taking acting classes, amateur theatre, student films or starting out as an extra.

Acting Agent: When it comes to finding work, actors collaborate with agents, who typically receive a 15-20% commission based on the type of work.

Portfolio: You'll need a professional portfolio, including an acting showreel, voice reels, singing reels, professional headshots and an acting CV to showcase the depth and breadth of your acting skills.

3. Actor Salary

How much can you expect to earn working as an actor?

In the UK, the average salary is £58,240, but this figure is subject to variation based on several factors. One of the most significant factors that can affect your salary is your level of experience in your field. Another key determinant is the size of the production you work on. Larger-scale productions typically offer higher salaries than smaller productions.

The type of production you work on can also impact your salary. For example, working on a high-budget feature film is likely to pay more than working on a low-budget indie film.

In addition to your base salary, you may also be eligible to receive residual payments and royalties for contracts on larger feature films and TV productions. These payments can be a significant bonus on top of your regular salary, which is paid at a later date.

4. Media Jobs: Skills and Qualities

Still interested but unsure if you have the right skills and qualities?

Actors should have the skills and qualities of:

  • Presentation skills.

  • Knowing how to film and edit self-tapes.

  • Understanding the different aspects of the film, television, and theatre industry.

  • Having good stamina, resilience and mental agility.

  • Being critical thinkers and adaptable.

  • Good at networking and communicating.

5. Useful Subjects

Below are some of the subjects that could be helpful in journeying towards a career as an actor.

  • Art and Design

  • Business Studies

  • Dance

  • Drama

  • English Literature

  • History

  • Media Studies

  • Music

  • Psychology

Actor role and responsibilities

6. Actor Role Responsibilities

A typical day-to-day work as an actor may involve:

  • Memorising lines, interpreting the script and attending rehearsals.

  • Preparing for and going to auditions.

  • Supporting the backstage activities.

  • Performing in a studio and on location for film and television.

  • Networking, finding jobs, and maintaining public image online and in the news.

7. Where to Find More Acting Information

Still interested in working as an actor? Here are some places to find more details about the role.

If you are an actor and looking to progress in your career, it is worth considering joining the Actors Union Equity. Equity is a trade union for professional performers that provides its members with numerous benefits, including public liability insurance.

In addition to joining Equity, The Stage is an excellent resource that offers free advice and guidance to actors looking to advance their careers. The Stage is a reputable publication for the performing arts industry, and its website features a wealth of information, including articles on industry news, audition tips, and career advice.

8. Related Careers

Curious about other TV production and Media job roles? Have you considered any of the below?

Casting Director: As a casting director, you would use your knowledge of the entertainment industry to help select actors for various roles. You might work for a film or TV production company or for a casting agency.

Drama therapist: In this career, you would use drama and theatre techniques to help individuals explore their emotions and improve their mental health. This requires a good understanding of drama and psychology.

Talent agent: Talent agents work behind the scenes to negotiate contracts and secure job opportunities for actors and other performers. This requires a good understanding of the entertainment industry and the ability to negotiate effectively.

Drama teacher: In this role, you would educate and inspire future actors. This requires a strong understanding of drama techniques, as well as excellent communication and teaching skills.

Voiceover artist: As a voiceover artist, you would use your vocal skills to narrate audiobooks, commercials, or animated films. This requires a good speaking voice and the ability to perform different characters and accents. You might work from a recording studio or from a home studio.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of the requirements to become an actor. If you need more advice and guidance, why not book a free discovery call with me? We can explore further how I can assist you in taking the first step towards your dream acting career.

If you want to connect or stay updated with the latest industry news and job opportunities, make sure to follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for my monthly newsletter, which also includes receiving updates on when a new blog post goes live.

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