Photo: ITV/Emmerdale

How to become a professional actor

Seeing Olivia Colman deliver an amazing, emotional acceptance speech for her Best Actress award at this year’s Oscars referencing her underling desire to act as she held a job as a cleaner will have no doubt resonated with so many and ignited a spark in those who have always harboured a dream to act.

But how do you get started? Can anyone become a professional actor? Is it possible at any age to pursue a professional acting career?

Charlotte Armitage, MD of the Yorkshire Academy of Film and Acting Television and the YAFTA Talent Agency shares her insight and advice on how you can become a professional actor.

“First of all, it’s important to say anyone can learn to act. Whatever age, background, disability, there are acting classes taking place up and down the country that you can join and enjoy. Not only will you learn how to act, but you will also meet lots of new people and gain confidence whilst developing skills in teamworking, emotional intelligence and communication. The difference between people who want to act as a hobby, and those who want to act professionally comes down to; ability, attitude, education and commitment.

The competition to make it as a professional actor is extremely fierce, with most actors averaging 16 unsuccessful auditions before they get a yes! To really master your acting craft, you need to undertake an acting course, gain as much experience as you can and refine your knowledge by enrolling on advanced courses such as the YAFTA Acting for Screen diploma. Once you have done your training, you need to get your headshots together start building your CV and showreel by undertaking work, then you will be ready to start approaching agents for representation.

Networking with industry professionals, taking part in specialist workshops, reading articles or listening to podcasts from actors who inspire you, will widen your knowledge and contacts.

It does take persistence and it can be draining mentally and emotionally to attend audition after audition and receive no feedback. However, creating a supportive network around you, especially including some of those also in the industry, will be a big help and will help you to maintain a positive approach to the work.

Good luck!”

Charlottes’ advice is echoed by professional YAFTA agency actors, James Moore and Freya Kingsley who appear in ITV’s Emmerdale and the latest series of BBC’s Baptise respectively. James says “Find an agency, develop a showreel and basically market yourself. Believe in yourself and put time and passion into what you do, and others will believe in you.” Freya adds: “Just go for it. If this is truly what you want, you have to decide that no matter what, this is your only option and be prepared to put in the time to get where you want to be.”

Further information on the YAFTA Acting for Screen Diploma and Acting for Screen Youth Diploma available on www.yafta.co.uk

Elliot Laurence trained at ALRA North after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University. Continuing to work as an actor he has worked with companies such as Bolton Octagon, HOMEmcr, Collingwood Learning and Sheffield Theatres.
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Adam received his training at The Academy Of Live And Recorded Arts (ALRA), where he studied stage, screen and audio performance. Since graduating Adam has been cast in various productions in a versatile range of mediums including voice over, theatre, music video, and film. Adam has experience working as a teacher with children, adults and vulnerable groups too.
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Anna Dawson is an Actress, TV Presenter and Musician alongside being a Writer and PR/Marketing Exec. Additionally Anna works in production and has worked as production manager on various feature films such as the recent Scott & Sid which filmed in Yorkshire. With a degree in Politics from Durham University and a long list of acting credits in film, TV and theatre, Anna was chosen to become the Public Relations Officer for the Equity Yorkshire Ridings General Branch Committee.
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Lee Maxwell Simpson gained a first class degree in Drama from Manchester University before training as an actor at London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. After graduating, he appeared in a number of commercials, notably for Thomson Holidays and Moonpig.com, and various short films and stage productions, including a National Youth Theatre tour to the Middle East and a spoken word European tour with the novelist Jonathan Coe.
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Ian Puleston-Davies is a professional actor who has recently filmed Marcella, Beowulf and Lewis. Ian played Owen Armstrong in Coronation Street for 5 years prior to his recent acting achievements. Ian has an impressive acting CV having been in most major soaps and dramas in the UK over the past 20 years. Some of his credits include Eastenders, Waterloo Road, Silent Witness, Life on Mars, I'm Alan Partridge, Dalziel & Pascoe to name a few. He is currently writing his own screenplay and working as an actor but will also be finding the time to teach YAFTA masterclasses. Ian supports the development of actors at YAFTA.
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Charlotte is the Managing Director of YAFTA. She is a TV Presenter, Actress, and Agent. Charlotte also owns YAFTA Talent Agency and YAFTA Consultancy. Charlotte is currently working as a TV Presenter for various companies including Made in Leeds TV. In 2015 Charlotte had her own TV show called ‘Challenge Charlotte’ which aired across the Made Network in Leeds, Tyne & Wear, Bristol and Cardiff, the show is set for a second series in 2016. She also played the role of Hannah O’Rourke in BBC1’s Happy Valley and played various roles in TV Comedy Sketch Show ‘Cool Beans’. In January 2016, Charlotte filmed the part of Jane in Coronation Street. She will also be one of the judges for Made in Leeds’ TV Programme ‘Star Made’.
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Charlotte is the Managing Director of YAFTA. She is a TV Presenter, Actress, and Agent. Charlotte also owns YAFTA Talent Agency and YAFTA Consultancy. Charlotte is currently working as a TV Presenter for various companies including Made in Leeds TV. In 2015 Charlotte had her own TV show called ‘Challenge Charlotte’ which aired across the Made Network in Leeds, Tyne & Wear, Bristol and Cardiff, the show is set for a second series in 2016. She also played the role of Hannah O’Rourke in BBC1’s Happy Valley and played various roles in TV Comedy Sketch Show ‘Cool Beans’. In January 2016, Charlotte filmed the part of Jane in Coronation Street. She will also be one of the judges for Made in Leeds’ TV Programme ‘Star Made’.
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