February 9, 2015

Finding Acting

Every year hundreds of passionate, driven and talented budding actors enter into the professional acting world hoping to fulfill their dreams of “making it” in one of the most exciting industries. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, some from years of training in prestigious drama schools, others because they’ve had enough of their day jobs and need to follow their passion, and for the lucky few through acting dynasties who are able to land the roles that most of us would kill for.

For the majority it’s not through a dynasty and it quickly becomes clear that this business is full of ups and downs that push the human spirit to its limits, while waiting for that big break. Speak to any number of seasoned professionals and they would probably advise someone contemplating entering the business to stay as far away as possible. But yet those same actors can’t leave the business themselves.

That’s the thing about a passion – it grabs hold of you and puts blinders on your rose tinted spectacles so you can keep driving towards your heart’s desire through the highs and lows. Over the next three blog posts we are going to hear from actresses represented by The Actorshop Agency who are all at different points in their career and discover what it’s like to be in the business through their eyes.

Forward by Allen Lidkey

Acting was ranked 197 out of 200 for worst jobs in 2013. Only above Enlisted Military Personanel, Lumberjack and Newspaper Reporter.

The Daily Mail
By Sadie Whitelocks
24 April 2013

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014

Angela Long

Angela graduated East 15 Acting School in 2014, training in Acting and Community Theatre. Since graduating she has worked with Actorshop and is finding her feet in the acting world. Angela works as a freelance drama facilitator and is also currently in the process of setting up her own business as a drama mentor for young people.

For all things Angela feel free to follower her on twitter –  and check out her webpage.

FINDING ACTING : Part 1 | Angela Long

For some people, finding ‘acting’ just sort of happens, they fall into it; for others it takes years to realise the passion but I was one of those people who had an epiphany (dramatic, but hey,-I’m an actor) a pivotal moment when I knew this is what I had to do for the rest of my life. I was a shy 10 year old being a monkey in the stage version of The Jungle Book. I was told to get on that stage and act like a monkey, so that’s what I did: I pranced around, made noise, tried to play fight with the other monkeys but they were all crap! They just sat there like idiots, staring out at the audience but not me-and I was getting all the laughs!

“I’m a bloody good monkey!” I thought. And there it was, another actor was born.

I suddenly had a purpose, a drive to succeed at something. I wanted to make an audience react and I wanted to be good at it. I loved how imaginative it allowed me to be, I loved learning by watching others, I loved that this was my own journey but most of all I loved how brave it made me feel and being very shy, I really needed that. I’d be shit scared of auditioning for the school play or going to my drama club but I knew I’d be on cloud nine once I’d done it; I became addicted to the feeling that swept over me when I’d created, accomplished or been a part of something; whether that be a play, a musical, a song, a dance routine, a particular character…

I’d always known I wanted to train at a drama school, I enjoyed learning so it felt right for me. At 22 I gained my place and spent three years slogging my guts out. Because you do, don’t you? Its 3 years of 12 hour days, intensive training. Its bloody hard work! Also, unfortunately, the truth of it is, at the end of it all its most likely going to be a pretty big anti-climax. Unless you’re that lucky sod who gets a job the day after graduation…again, unlikely.

Most of us settle in and buckle down for a ride of unemployment, a boring job and an unhealthy amount of spare time spent watching ‘Friends’ whilst eating crap.

The reality is, being a newly graduated actor is hard work. You’re constantly struggling to get your name out there. Every single day you have to keep yourself motivated and that takes a huge amount of effort and discipline. You’re in an industry that doesn’t make this easy. I can apply for thirty jobs a day and only hear back from one, if that. You can spend all day sending emails with no guarantee you’ll get any responses. And even when you do get offered work, there’s still every chance you’ll be let down: budgets get cut, projects change, things get postponed and people drop out. On top of all this, you’re actually trying to earn money. Cue any other skills you have to stay earning within the industry plus working at some shitty, boring job and then realising at half eleven at night you have a million receipts and travel expenses to document because you’re self-employed now and that’s what you have to do.

It’s tough. It’s terrifying actually, mad some might say…but it’s also pretty thrilling. You really do live from day to day, not a lot of people can say they do that. You never know what you might be offered next, where an audition might be, what exciting people you’ll get to meet; one minute you’re sat at home, the next you’re in London doing some filming, then onto an audition in Brighton for a children’s theatre company followed the next day by leading a drama workshop for kids and doing some corporate work. It’s all to play for, really. It just depends on how long you can stick it out.

And most of us will stick it out for a very long time because we have dreams to fulfil and you don’t give up easily on a dream. We plough on through because we’re striving to be one of those lucky few who gets to work doing what they love for the rest of their lives. We’ve made it this far and taken the initiative to pave our own journey, ignoring all the pleas and “advice” along the way: “Take your A Levels!”, “Go to university!”, “Have a backup plan!”, “Get a “normal” job!”, “You should settle down!”…screw ‘em.

I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t doing exactly what I’m doing…so I’m going to carry on doing it and live in hope.


Below are a few fun facts about the financial prospects of working as an actor.

  • £20 Reported nightly pay for a child actor appearing in West End musical Oliver!
  • £220,000 Reported pay per episode for actor Hugh Lawrie, star of TV series House
  • £22m Estimated earnings grossed last year by Hollywood actor Tom Hanks
  • 6 Percentage of Equity members earning over £30,000 a year
  • 52 Percentage of Equity members earning less than £6,000 a year
  • 19,000 Approximate membership of UK performers’ union Equity who list acting as their main occupation
  • 11.3 Average number of weeks per year that UK actors work professionally
  • 10%-15% Typical cut of earnings paid by actors to their theatrical agents
  • Percentage split: 92/8 Just 8% of UK-based actors are reckoned to be in work at any given moment

From The Guardian – Saturday, 10 Oct 2009

Are you in the business?  Share your thoughts about your journey of Finding Acting below.

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