Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Important: You must seek permission from your parents before signing up to anything online. Do not send any personal information (name, age, address, contact details) to anyone online without your parents’ consent. This is a legal requirement. You must never go to any audition or job without the permission and accompaniment of a parent or guardian.
Having an agent is not the be all and end all. However, if you do have one, you most likely have a profile on Spotlight that the agent will manage and apply for castings for you. As a child you must have an agent profile to be on Spotlight. So, what is Spotlight? Spotlight is an actors website for professionals and is used by the top agents and has the most high-profile job listings.
Can I apply for jobs if I don’t have an agent?
If you do not have an agent, never fear! There is a whole world of opportunities that you can utilise to get your own auditions and work.
In fact, professional actors sometimes spend years getting their own work and do very well! When you are just starting out, it is important you learn how to audition, attend castings and apply for roles. You can certainly become knowledgeable in these areas without an agent. This will be primarily through online casting websites, such as, Mandy, Starnow, The Stage, Backstage – and there are many more popping up all the time.
But which site shall I use?
Mandy.com is known to be the best site after Spotlight. Starnow also has a variety of auditions for professional, amateur, commercial work, it also has modelling and reality television jobs. But Mandy tends to have more professional, suitable work for actors. You can sign up to Mandy with a ‘child actor’ profile, but only with your parent’s permission. (All of the acting casting websites that allow under 18’s require parents/guardians permission by law.)
The cost of Mandy is not laid out clear on the website. There is an option for a free profile, but it is more limited than the paid, however, you can try out this free profile for a month before it will ask you to pay for premium or continue with free. Premium is approximately £140.00 per year, this can also be paid monthly.
What shall I put on my profile?
Headshots – your professional pictures, usually just head and shoulders, different positions, expressions and clothing to represent you as an actor. Your main headshot will act as your profile picture and agents/casting directors will see immediately when coming across your profile.
It is important for them to be as professional as possible. If you are not able to do these with a professional photographer, the next best thing is to borrow a nice camera from someone. Perhaps this is a parent or a friend or a teacher. A Canon or a Nixon camera is best. We are so lucky in this time when editing, photography and film technology are more accessible than even a few years ago! Once you have a camera, find a white background, but somewhere with lots of natural light. Take several with different expressions, looking directly into the camera. You can edit the pictures with any free editing software, usually the images will need brightening. But play around and use other professional headshots as a reference. Do not be tempted to over edit, they want to see that it is you. Over-edited looks amateur. At the moment the trend for actors headshots is in colour, not black and white.
Credits - Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have any work to put on your profile. You are young and it is not expected for you to have lots of work. However, if you can put any school productions, acting class performances, projects from home (and fluff them up a little) – this will really improve your chances to getting auditions. Creating your own work, short films, little scenes are a great way to learn and have something to put on your profile.
Skills and ‘about me’ – This is a chance to highlight you as a person and why you would be great to work with. Mention any training you have done, acting classes, acting exams, positive comments acting coaches have said. Also mention if you specialise in comedy, or physicality or theatre or Shakespeare. Knowing your skills and highlighting them is a sign of professionalism and experience.
Spelling and grammar must be perfect, please check your ‘about me’ description with several people and get their feedback.
What do I say in the ‘cover letter’?
This is a crucial element of applying because many actors send a generic copy and pasted message that is clearly not personalised to the job or the casting director. If you can find out who is casting for the roles, you can use their name directly. Talk about the role and the job and why you think you would suit it.
Will I be paid?
Mandy has a combination of ‘paid’, ‘unpaid’ and ‘expenses.’ This is self-explanatory. There will be some paid roles available. There are some low budget projects that are not paid - but great for experience and potentially building a showreel (see definition below), these are usually students films, (definition below.) ‘Expenses’ means you will be paid for your travel expenses and sometimes your food during the working day.
As a newbie to the industry it is important to get as much experience as possible. So, if you match the casting type and your parent or guardian is happy to accompany you to the shoot/rehearsal etc, then go for it! At the beginning of your career, it is normal and necessary to do some free work. Just think of it like free acting classes. Your goal should always be to become the most skilled actor in the room. So when you are applying for high-profile, paid roles, you feel confident in your abilities and experience.
Not to mention, the more experience you can put on your profile the easier it is to get more work!
The audition process:
If you have been asked to come to an audition - in person or virtually – you should definitely feel a sense of achievement. Statistically it is very difficult to even get in the casting room because of the large number of actors applying to one role. This is important to mention, because a lot of actors become disheartened when they don’t hear anything for weeks, months, sometimes years. But there are many skilled, successful actors that did not make it in the industry for years but did not give up and are now well-known, wealthy and respected. But you cannot let the silence get to you.
Casting directors were loving self-tape auditions long before the pandemic, so you can imagine that nearly the whole industry has moved online now. So you may be asked to send a self-tape, (definition below). This can be done with a phone, the newer the technology the better. Although, the casting director/director will not be expected high production value, it is important to get the background, lighting and acting as professional as possible. If you have more than a day before they want you to send the audition, you should have learnt the script.
If you are asked to audition in person, please learn the script and wear something neutral. Arrive at least 10 minutes early, be positive, professional and ask questions. We have a highlight reel on Instagram (@ypsofacting), in easy short videos on audition tips.
Learn the lingo:
Showreel: This is a short video, usually advised to keep under a few minutes that shows your experience and skills as an actor. This should 2 or 3 different scenes and characters that represent you as an actor. If you want to learn what kind of actor you are and how important it is to know your brand, you can read our blog.
Casting Type: This is your age, race, gender, body-type. It is important to apply for things that are your casting type, don’t apply and hope for the best.
Student Films: This could be college/sixth form or university level. Usually is low budget, therefore unpaid. Usually a drama course, part of their exam or coursework involves making a short film. Make sure you ask if you can have the footage for your showreel.
Corporate: These are industries that require actors for training purposes. For instance, a doctor in training that needs to learn how to deal with particular patients. You could be hired as that patient. Sometimes these roles are filmed, in which you can have the footage for showreel. But either way, it is a professional credit for your profile and these jobs are often paid.
Commercial Buyout: Commercial roles are often very well paid. You will either have continuous payments dependent on how much your footage is shown in the commercial. Or you will be paid one fee or a buyout which covers everything.
Self-Tape Auditions: This is usually a scene that you have been sent by the casting director, that you will film at home and send to them. Or it can be live via zoom or skype.
Comment below if you read the whole thing - you are awesome and dedicated!!
Lily Driver-Thurston studied ‘acting’ at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. After drama school she founded a theatre company where she wrote, performed and produced many plays across London. In recent years Lily worked for Peracals - film and theatre production company. Lily has been teaching acting for almost a decade and founded The Young Pro School of Acting in 2019.
YPS has already impressed the industry with its high-standards of teaching, regularly working with experienced actors and directors and creating a unique environment for students with varied levels of experience.
“I started YPS of Acting because I was passionate about the benefits that excellent acting training provides. The better quality experience - the better result. Not just in acting skill, but in confidence, self-worth and ambition.”