Getting work in New York as an Actress seems close and near to IMPOSSIBLE. We all have heard that NY is a great hub for actors, models, theater performers, and entertainers, but we weren’t told how the city is saturated with aspiring entertainers and established ones which creates a massive pool of competition.
So how do I get awesome gigs in NYC, WITHOUT an agent?
To start off, if you know my story you’d know I didn’t move to New York to act. Acting wasn’t even a thought of mine, but one day I was scouted at a model casting for a featured role on a TV show and umm I was NOT in a place to be turning down work so, I took the opportunity!
Ever since, I fell in love with acting and haven't looked back. Over the three years I’ve been in the city I've focused most of my attention to the career of Acting for many reasons, but mainly because it was “easier” on my body then maintaining a slim physique needed in modeling industry, see image below:
After establishing my reality as an Actor vs. Model, even though I dabble in modeling, it made it easier to seek for jobs that aligned with my current goals.
So getting into how I get work as an Actor, without a manager, you must understand this I DO NOT WORK EVERY DAY and there are slow seasons in this industry where budgeting is crucial to continue your dreams.
1. Casting everywhere possible
Google should be your best friend when searching for job opportunities. Search Acting websites, facebook, social media, even craigslist (but be VERY careful with that one).
2. Networking at castings, sets, and in life
NETWORK,NETWORK, NETWORK! That will be your biggest tool. Ask other actors what’s happening. They either will tell you or won't. Let them know you're new and eager and some are happy to help, while others well.. you know it’s all competition! A lot of work I've gotten has been through word of mouth, so don't underestimate the power of networking.
3. Taking photos, retaking photos, and more photos
Before you take your pricey Headshots do A Lot of research on what “your look is”. Why? 1) it will save you time and money and 2) your photos are the first contact with casting directors that will help decide if you’re right for the job. As you spend time with the shots you’ve taken you will see, by which ones you’ve applied with, has landed you a job. If after a couple months with those shots and you haven’t landed work or auditions, that’s a MAJOR sign to retake some photos. If your photographer was cool and you let him know those images aren’t working out he might retake some or charge a small fee. HOWEVER, one of the best things we have now is good light and our cell phones. You better set your own shoot up and GET TO WORK. I’ve gotten a lot of work by simply taking snap shots with my cell phone.
4. ALWAYS WORK ON YOUR LOOK
Continuing from #3, work on your look. Do you think shorter hair, colored hair, colored hair, or straight hair will increase your possibilities? Maybe you need to gain or lose weight? You could simple highlight your greatest attributes such as your smile, your eyes, or your body! I’m always working on my hairstyles which one fits “the character”. Some seasons I have to gain a bit of weigh and others I need to lose it without looking too muscular.
5. Be open to the unexpected
Be open to the jobs you REALLY want and also the jobs you’re not to excited about. The jobs you really want will always be at the top of your list but you may not be at the top of theirs. But the jobs you don’t want anything to do with probably want everything to do with you. Those are the jobs that will place you as a lead, pay you a little something, give you a reel, and simple befriend you for future opportunities. I’ve gotten other jobs by simply knowing a director from a smaller role I worked with him on, on another set. Be open to the job opportunities you WERE NOT expecting to be your “highlight”. You ever heard the quote “sometimes its just the small things”? That's what I'm referring to.
I hope this helps lead you to getting more work in the Film & Television industry. If you have more tips that help that you want to share with the acting community. Don't forget to stay connected.