How to Become a Paid Stage Actor

Shakespeare said that "All the world's a stage," but for many stage actors, finding consistent work that pays the bills can be supremely difficult. There are few sure paths to become a paid stage actor. In fact, being employed by a theater production is an art, not a science. Budding stage actors looking for paying work will have to work long hours, constantly educate themselves and go to the places where the most theater work is available.


    • 1

      Enroll in professional training. While some stage actors do find paying jobs without formal training, an exposure to the craft and ample experience in stage acting can increase your professional outlook. An acting education can include formal university education, by majoring in theater or taking drama classes, or taking classes with an acting company or local theater or teacher to improve your skills.

    • 2

      Attend acting workshops. Acting workshops are used by novice actors and seasoned veterans alike to hone their acting skills. Not only will these workshops connect you with other working actors, they'll broaden your skill set. The more roles you know how to inhabit on-stage, the wider scope of paying work you'll be able to compete for.

    • 3

      Audition for roles in your community. Rarely do stage actors land high-paying work immediately after beginning an acting career. You'll have to accrue significant experience on-stage to compete for better paying, higher profile roles. Local theater might not pay well, but the competition will be less severe than immediately trying to land roles on Broadway, for instance.

    • 4

      Move to an acting hub after you have some significant experience under your belt. There is no silver bullet strategy to make it as a paid stage actor; it requires constant networking, education and, most importantly, acting in as many productions as possible. But if you don't live in a big city with an established theater culture, eventually you'll have to make the move to a bigger market like, New York or London. While a bigger market means more competition, once you've honed your skills and gained a lot of experience, these theater hubs are the source of much of the industry's highest profile work.

    • 5

      Keep auditioning, making connections and honing your craft. Being a paid stage actor is a challenging lifestyle. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many actors rely on additional employment to pay the bills. The pay is low and jobs are uncertain. Unless you secure work on a long-term touring show, you'll need to allot enough time to audition frequently. That's why graduating to an acting hub is important. Much of your success will depend on how many available roles there that fit your castability. Joining the Actors' Equity Association can help dispel some of this uncertainty. The organization has, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, negotiated salary requirements for its stage actor members, securing a fair minimum weekly wage. The Actors' Equity website provides information on a variety of ways to join the organization.

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