How to Start an Acting Career in New York City

By Michael Gewirtzman

New York is a hard town in which to establish yourself as an actor, but there are certain steps that you can take to make sure that you are seen. Of course, you have to have the talent to succeed, but you also need the proper strategy.

Moving to New York City

Search for an apartment: It's hard to find affordable living in the city, but there are quite a few surrounding areas that are inexpensive, and within close proximity to Manhattan. Know Manhattan's surrounding boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Each borough has inexpensive living and is a subway or boat ride away from the big city. You might also want to try looking in New Jersey. Hoboken is a very popular area in New Jersey among actors. With inexpensive housing and a short bus ride into Manhattan, you can't go wrong.

Save money by signing up for a "Triple Play" deal offered by most phone and cable companies. These plans will give you phone, Internet and cable service for 100 dollars a month. This is one of a few ways to save some money.

Learn about public transportation: Study subway maps and railroad stops. Prepare for commuting. Learn how much certain railroads cost, and figure out how many different routes you can take based on time, day and location.

Preparing

Get headshots. Find a photographer and set up an appointment. Most people use digital photos now, so that they can submit them online. When printing your pictures, make sure that you have different styles. You'll want a serious shot and a smiling shot. Commercial headshots typically show toothy smiles.

Compose your resume: You'll want your resume to include your height, hair and eye color. Break up any credits that you have by category (film, television, stage). Also include any skills that you may have (dance, comedy, stage combat).

Purchase the proper tools: Acting essentials in New York include the Ross Reports, a listing of all industry figures, and Backstage and Show Business, two weekly industry newspapers that list auditions, acting classes and other pertinent information.

Submit!

Mail your headshots: Using the Ross Reports, send your headshot/resume to agencies with whom you are interested in working. Put together a short, but friendly cover letter. Include any current projects.

Audition. Find casting calls in Backstage and Show Business and submit your headshots to them either digitally or via standard mail.

Network. Go to as many events as you can. You'll find many networking opportunities listed in the trade papers.

Attend workshops. Quite a few companies hold regular workshops. These usually include a class, Q&A, and sometimes an audition.

Say "Thank you." The most important two words in the business are "thank you." Thank anyone who gives you their time. Send thank you notes. Showing gratitude is rare in this industry and does not go unnoticed.

Follow up. Send follow up letters and resend resumes. Keep everyone updated on your current projects.

Learn. Take feedback seriously, not personally. Learn from criticism.

Don't give up. It takes a while, and you need thick skin, but if you can handle rejection, you'll do just fine in this industry.

Warning

Look out for scams. Never pay for someone to represent you. The only money that an agent or manager should make is a percentage of what you make. Do your research on any company.

About the Author

Michael Gewirtzman is the President of music management company Vinyl Artist Management. Prior to signing his own acts, Gewirtzman was the publicity manager to nationally and internationally recognized artists. Additionally, Gewirtzman is a stand up comedian, and tours colleges and comedy clubs across the United States.