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Getting Work
Actor Amit Shah sitting in an audience of casting directors at the Spotlight Prize

Image credit: Joanna Nicole Photography

Tips on finding an agent and acting work abroad from ‘Happy Valley’ star Amit Shah.

We know the nature of being an actor requires you to be ambitious. The industry insists on your pursuit and perseverance in finding and attending auditions; you have to carry that energy into acting jobs once you get them. As a performer, you are constantly looking to stand out – it’s your modus operandi – and be the best you can be. 

That ambitious spirit transcends your dreams, the things you set out to achieve as an actor. Whether it’s breaking Hollywood, treading the boards of Broadway, or starring in an international hit, performers are always looking to find acting work abroad.

At the latest Spotlight Prize, we spoke to actor Amit Shah (Happy Valley, Mr Bates vs. The Post Office), who has achieved international success cast in The Hundred-Foot Journey by American film studios, DreamWorks. Set in India and France, Shah landed one of the lead roles and got to work with the powerhouse producer duo of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. 

We asked him what advice he had for actors looking to find acting work overseas. Here’s what he shared:

Finding an Acting Agent Abroad

Ideally, the first port of call would be acquiring an agent in the country you’re looking to work in. Amit told us that, to do this, he “auditioned for a job, an American job, through my British agent. And from that experience, I was able to get an American agent and meet people in the industry that way.”

But how do you go about obtaining overseas management? Of course, getting an ‘in’ with an agent abroad can take many different shapes, but the important guidance to consider is using your networking skills

This can involve reaching out to people in the industry, applying for jobs overseas, like Amit, or talking to other actors you know who have been cast abroad. Having some quality credits on your Spotlight profile will also give you an advantage in obtaining meetings and eventually, representation.

How to Get a Visa for Acting Abroad

Visa laws and regulations vary for each country. You’ll have to check this specifically, with government websites usually detailing exactly what visa you will require and how to obtain it. 

Many performers aspire to work in the United States, but getting cast in a big US drama or Hollywood movie requires the correct entry permit. 

An O-Visa is given to people who ‘possess extraordinary skill’ in their craft – in our case, the field of acting, arts and entertainment. The general requirements state you should be recognised as a renowned actor with extensive experience and recognisability in the film or TV industry. This decision ultimately lies with the US Immigration authorities. 

Find out more about the US entry requirements.

Editing Your Spotlight Profile

If you’re hoping to work abroad, it’s a good idea to list this in the ‘About Me’ section on your Spotlight profile. You could also include any countries you’re able to work in, and don’t forget to include any languages you are fluent in, also.

Don’t Forget to Look Locally

Amit reminds us that “there are lots of US projects being cast here and being filmed here,” so there’s a chance that you may also come across these opportunities on Spotlight. 

It’s also crucial to let your agent know you’re open to working abroad. Otherwise, they won’t know to put you forward for suitable roles when they see them.

Keep Searching

There are legalities and specific paths you need to follow to get an acting job abroad, but it’s not something you should find disconcerting. 

As Amit Shah says, “It’s just a matter of throwing those darts at the dart board and not giving up, and persisting, and finding projects and writing that really connects with you.” 

You may be aiming to get cast in the next multi-nationally set blockbuster, like The Revenant, landing a role based on your ethnicity, or even getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame… The conclusion is not to see various factors as obstacles but as opportunities to evolve your professional career as an actor. 

Filmmakers and casting professionals are open to great talent wherever you live. As Amit Shah says, “Trust the process that happens in this country,” and soon enough, your dream opportunity will come your way.

Take a look at our website for more advice on getting work and tips on finding an agent.