They say the first and most important thing you need to consider when aiming to make it big in Hollywood is acting classes. As an alumnus of the Julliard School, I would sense the respect my peers had for me, when I took up acting classes in Hollywood. I spread myself far and wide, taking acting classes at numerous establishments, including the Graham Shiels Studio, Andrew Wood Acting Studio, the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and the Theatre of Arts on Sunset Boulevard. For me, at that stage, it wasn’t about the classes, or the instruction, but more about the environment. I realised early on that the people accompanying me in the classes, would be my challengers and competition in auditions.
A tip the instructors at these drama schools would give to young aspirants was to chase the auditions for non-union members. Producers without contracts with acting unions offer an array of acting jobs for non-union actors. These offer young, new and beginner actors a chance to make a name for themselves. Non-union auditions are plentiful and offer upstarts a great step into real world acting experience. In fact, my first break came from a non-union audition, but we’ll save that story for another day.
Another tip the best of my instructors gave me was on the importance of networking, being an extra and mingling on set. Being an extra on set gives an unrivalled view behind the scenes of industry and allows young upstarts the opportunity to see the people behind the images. I was encouraged to pursue extra castings for the networking opportunity that it presented. And, it was in the capacity as an extra that I came to learn how my efforts from Broadway to community television stations were being observed by some of Hollywood’s greatest names.