Does acting require talent, or is it a skill that anyone can pick up through actor training?
Acting is one of the most popular professions, with many newcomers thinking the first acting job will make them a famous actor, or that it’s a fun and well paid job relying on innate talent without any actor training. From movie stars to stage actors, it seems like everyone wants to act.
However, for those who are just starting out, it might seem to be a mystery how much exceptional talent is needed.
The truth is that acting does require talent. It’s not just about how you look or what you say; it’s about your ability to connect with your character, express complex emtions, and work well with other people no matter what the circumstances.
Anyone can learn the words and memorize the lines – but not everyone can act. If you want to find out which areas of acting might be right for you, read on!
What does acting require?
In order to be a successful actor, there are many things you need.
Firstly, you need to be able to communicate the character to the audience. You have to be able to convey thoughts and feelings to others, and express complex emotions in a believable way. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or handsome you are, if you don’t have the technical skills and innate talent to inhabit and communicate the role, you will not be a successful actor.
Secondly, you need to have a good memory. You will have to remember your lines, dialogue and actions for every audition, take and rewrite. Quickly pick up alterations, take on board direction, and become the character on cue, whether it’s for casting directors in a casting call, or on set for the twentieth take of the same scene.
This is not easy, and takes a special skill to listen, adapt and execute each line.
There are wider considerations, too. You need to be reliable, juggle schedules, have patience on set no matter what the time or length of day, be good at the business and marketing aspects of the professional actor’s life, and network well.
You also need to cope with endless rejection, because a professional actor auditions for each acting job, and only wins a fraction of them.
Do you have what it takes to be an actor?
So, do you have what it takes to be an actor? It’s a far wider range of criteria than relying on natural talent.
If you’re an aspiring actor, you may be wondering: can I really just become an actor if I want to?
If you want to be a successful actor, you need to have a certain set of qualities. Here are a few things you should think about before deciding to pursue a career as an actor:
1. Do you have an innate talent which can be enhanced by acting school or an acting coach?
2. Can you cope with the uncertainty of the profession?
3. Can you withstand the physical demands of performing?
4. Can you withstand the mental demands of performing?
5. Can you commit to a long-term career which realistically won’t make you a famous actor?
6. Are you willing to devote yourself entirely to acting, with second jobs to pay the bills?
7. Will you keep up your actor training throughout your career?
8. Can you learn from criticism without getting upset?
9. Are you reliable and organised enough to run a business?
10. Can you network and work well with your acting agent, casting directors, cast and crew?
Acting for fun or profession
Acting is a profession that requires a lot of work, as well as talent. If you’re interested in becoming a professional actor, you need to know about the different types of acting, because each requires a different level of innate talent and specialist skill from training.
Musical Theatre Performers: This type of acting is usually for those who have been trained at drama school or have a background in dance and singing. They’re on stage for about eight performances a week, often touring around a country for weeks on end.
Film/television acting: This type of acting is typically done on a set and the actor may only be working for a day or two to deliver one or two lines. It involves hours of filming to do multiple takes of scenes.
Commercial: Brands need actors to represent a particular image on screen and print. You could be eating or doing something repeatedly for five days on end, and it’s rarely seen as relevant experience for a TV drama, but the buyout fees are good.
If you can’t devote yourself solidly to an acting career with auditions for each acting role, or need to keep busy while you wait for your next paid acting gig, also consider:
Background Actor: Known as extras, you get picked by the crowd casting director from your extras agency profile and spend time on set in the background quietly pretending to be a real person without a vocal presence.
Acting for fun: Many people enjoy using their acting talent, and developing their acting skill, as a hobby. A young person can perform at school or youth theatre. Older people can take part in student films, amateur theatre, and acting courses.
Different styles of acting
There are different styles of acting, and different acting techniques, so the acting technique you choose will depend on your strengths and interests. It’s important to find an acting style to play to your strengths.
For example, if you’re interested in stage work, you might want to try classical acting. On the other hand, if you want to be in front of a camera, you might want to try method acting.
Your style of acting will also depend on the type of script that is written. For example, if you’re performing in a comedy, you might want to try improvisational acting and learn comic timing from stand up comedy.
No matter what style of acting you enjoy, it’s important to be able to connect with your audience. You can’t just recite lines and expect it to be effective. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the character and find a way to make it believable.
Regardless of which style of acting you choose, it’ll require practice, hard work and acting courses to develop your acting skill from natural talent to talented actor.
Drama Vs comedy
Acting is a broad profession that includes many different specialties. Drama, musical theatre and comedy are three of the most popular.
In drama, you have to have the ability to portray a wide range of emotions. You have to be able to cry on command, be angry, and express other deeper feelings with authenticity. In comedy, you have to be able to make people laugh and feel joy too.
In comedy, the actor is playing a version of their stand up comedy character. If you’re interested in comedy, try improvisation comedy alongside acting experience in drama. These are good places to get your start in comedy and learn about the different roles in the profession.
If comedy is your strength, be clear about this when approaching talent agents. Your acting resume must show clearly each acting role and acting class that suports your claim to be a comedy actor.
A good talent agent will also want to see evidence of your special skill in comedy shown in your showreel.
Does acting require talent? Well, you’ll never become a great actor if you didn’t start with natural talent. And not everyone can act, no matter how hard they try.
But acting is a skilled profession. It’s not just about memorizing lines and looking a certain way. Acting requires a specific set of skills and talents. It’s a performing art which requires acting courses throughout a professional actor’s career, and the ability to get on with everyone from your acting agency, the casting director, the director, each fellow actor, and the crew.
So acting requires talent, acting classes, resilience to cope with every unsuccessful audition, and ability to network as you run your own business. But if you don’t have the talent to start with, then life as a professional actor is not for you.