This article is from Nollywood Angels Magazine (NAM).
What Every Actor Needs to Know
If you are thinking of becoming a professional actor, it is extremely important that you start to get practical experience and start building an acting resume. The easiest, most accessible and, for beginners, best way to get experience and build a resume is by getting involved in lots of local community, school and church plays.
Why local plays? Well, unless you’re Genevieve Nnaji, Kenneth Okonkwo or Mercy Johnson, you probably won’t get many chances to audition for major films. (Anyway, what Nollywood director would risk a 10 million naira budget on an unknown with no experience?). So plays are the most likely place to start getting some experience. And frankly, theatre training is a great way to learn about acting. It’s also great fun and you’ll meet a lot of interesting people.
Many churches put on plays and most schools have drama groups.
These same local groups can also help you find out about local classes and workshops where you can study acting and improve your natural talent. Some groups even hold their own classes.
Attend school and church play performances even when you’re not part of the show. Talk to cast members after the show. Tell them you are interested in their group and would like to join and audition for plays (be sure to mention how much you enjoyed their play and performance.) Find out whatever info you can about their auditions and also ask if they know of any classes in the area.
Go to as many auditions as you can.
If you don’t get a part in a play, then volunteer to help on the stage, costume, set design or lighting crews. Becoming involved in theatre productions, even behind the scenes, will give you important experience on how the performing business works and can be included on a theatrical resume as well.
Remember, even the best actors started with behind the scenes work and small parts. Take whatever parts you can get. As you improve your skills and experience, you will get better and better roles. Don’t be in such a rush to start at the top. Learn your craft slowly. Improve your knowledge and skills step by step. You’ll find building that resume a lot more fun and much less discouraging if you take a smart and methodical approach to your training.
Of course in order to get a part, you usually have to audition first. This lesson will not deal with auditions. That is a separate lesson. This lesson will deal with some nuts and bolts actor things that are vitally important to know.
Why do you need to know this stuff? Simple. If you don’t know these basic things, and you go to auditions, you will look like a total and complete “JJC”. And it’s a lot harder for a JJC to get a part than it is for someone who looks like they know what they’re doing.
Look at it from the director’s perspective. If you were auditioning some people for a play and were going to spend the next 5-8 weeks in intensive rehearsals and had a choice between someone who is experienced or someone who looked confused and panicky, staring into space when asked to pick up or start from t-o-p — well who would you cast for the part? The experienced person of course.
So you need to know what you are doing.
Besides local plays, you should also market yourself directly. Contact your nearest AGN (Actors Guild Of Nigeria), AMP (Association of Movie Producers), and DGN (Directors Guild of Nigeria) offices to ask for contacts of producers and directors.
Watch the TV commercials for your local businesses. Call the various businesses and ask who do their TV ads. Then call the ad agencies and introduce yourself. Often times the production houses do their own casting instead of going through agencies. Contact your local production houses like Zeb Ejiro Productions, Chico Ejiro Productions, Wale Adenuga Productions, Magic Movies Production, Pressing Forward Production and many of them.
Contact big companies directly. Some really big companies do some of their own productions in-house and keep actor files. Also ask who they use for their outside production work and which agencies they use for casting.
Contact your local film schools or universities with film making depts. Find out who is making student films and make sure each of those aspiring directors know you are an eager actor willing to work (expect to get NO pay. But you might get a video of the films you are in – from which you can put together an audition video to send to agents).
Check your local papers for audition notices for independent films that might be filmed in your area. Call whatever contact is given.
Check the back of DVD and VCD jackets and contact the marketers listed as the owners of the films.
Compiled by Lawrence Lurrenz Onuzulike with assistance from The Real Birth Studio.
Follow Lawrence Lurrenz Onuzulike on twitter @Lurrenz.