Getting Started in the Industry

I want to be an actor, how do I start?

There are many different ways to get into the performing arts. The most important thing at the start of your career is to train and gain experience.

A lot of actors start off in small low-budget stage or film productions to build up their experience and from there they start moving on to bigger jobs, so they can gain more credits.

Going to a drama school to gain a thorough grounding in performing techniques will give you the building blocks for a successful career, as well as allowing you to mix with other like-minded people and gain those all important connections that will help you as you progress.

Networking with other members of the industry is also a good way to meet people and learn about how things work. The Actors Centre is a great place to find out more about how to get into performing.

Is there a union for performers in the UK?

Equity represents both professional performers and creative practitioners. Its key purpose is to negotiate minimum terms and conditions of employment, as well as offering support and advice on contractual and legal issues. The union also provides a campaigning voice, ensures equal opportunities and helps set standards across the industry. Information on joining can be found here.

Where can I get some advice on which agency is right for me?

Spotlight is impartial when it comes to advising performers but a good starting point is the Contacts section of our website, which provides listings for everything from agents to casting directors, photographers to drama schools. You can use this tool to search your local area for agencies that could be best suited for you.

As a general rule you should never pay an agency any up front fees and you should always check any contract you are asked to sign.

I need to have my headshots done, which photographer should I use?

Again, Contacts will give you an overview. It’s important to choose a photographer who caters to your needs as a performer. For example, don’t choose a photographer that specialises in musicians when you are an actor or dancer. For more advice on your first headshot session, see our News & Advice section.
Your photograph is the first thing casting directors will see when you apply for jobs, so you want them to be good quality and appealing. Choose a professional who has plenty of experience and ask to see examples of previous work before you agree to anything. This way you will know what your headshot is supposed to look like; location, lighting and styling are all important factors and professionals will know what works and what doesn’t.
Talk to your colleagues and peers who have already had their headshots done, if you see some you like then ask them where/who they had them done with - they will be flattered, and happy to help.

Lastly, make sure you ask for a price and package breakdown before you agree to anything.

Can Spotlight pass on fan mail?

Spotlight is unable to pass on fan mail on your behalf even for unrepresented performers. If you wish to send fan mail then you will need to research who the performer’s agent is, and contact their agent/PR directly.

Can I get information about someone's agent?

Spotlight can provide agent details if the agent and performer both appear on Spotlight.

How do I find out more about the industry?

Contacts is free to use and contains resources for across the industry. We also provide free regular industry advice online.

I am concerned about the contract I am being asked to sign, what should I do?

If you have any concerns about the contract you are signing please seek advice before agreeing to sign it. You should never agree to terms you are not completely comfortable with. You may wish to speak to Equity or seek legal advice for peace of mind. Our top tips for understanding contracts may also be useful.