What it takes to become an actor

What it takes to become an actor

As it is quite difficult to find a producer for a newcomer, there are two factors that are extremely important: financial stability and support at home

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

Harshil Koushik grew up in front of a theatre. Looking out of his window he could see huge cut-outs of movie stars and people queuing outside to buy tickets. He spent his free time watching the same movies telecast on TV again and again and would analyse the scenes. Over time he realised that he wanted to become an actor.

“My first experience as an actor was in theatre. After college, I took up a job and did theatre in the evening. Then I quit my job to focus fully on acting,” says Harshil, who has acted in three films, two television serials, and in two web series apart from multiple short films.

Acting as a profession isn’t easy. While many aspire, very few become successful and still fewer become convincing actors. So before embarking on the journey to become an actor, one has to introspect and analyse whether one has what it takes to become an actor.

According to Usha Bhandary, senior actor and director of an acting and performing institute, there are multiple factors that one must consider. “People with high Emotional Quotient are natural actors as they can feel and emote the emotions of the character. With training such people can become good actors,” she says. 

Needs of the role

Other equally important factors when it comes to acting are looks, physique, voice, posture, the ability to memorise and dressing sense. 

“One must also know what kind of role or character suits oneself. Apart from acting, depending on one’s skills one can still be associated with the industry in other capacities such as by being a cinematographer, editor, assistant director, writer, etc,” Usha says.

As it is quite difficult to find a producer for a newcomer, there are two factors that are extremely important: financial stability and support at home.

“It is a long and difficult journey for one to make a mark in the film industry. So, it is always advisable to have an alternative source of income,” says Harshil, who does dubbing in his free time.

For a fresher, it is important to be open to doing different roles and different mediums be it films, serials, or theatre. One has to understand that performing for one medium differs from performing for another medium. So, one should be able to unlearn and relearn.

Some of the ways one can start off is by joining a film school, a theatre group, becoming a model, participating in beauty pageants or working as an assistant with the crew.

Aashith K was doing his engineering when he was drawn towards making films. He felt the need to understand the nuances of acting in order to become a director, and so started doing theatre. In the process, he fell in love with acting and is now working towards becoming an actor.

“Initially, I got noticed for my performance in plays and got offers to act in short films. Then one day I received a call to audition for a film and that’s how I landed a role in my first feature film,” says Aashith who has acted in two films so far.

Start early

While anyone irrespective of age can dream of becoming an actor, it is always better to start early as it will take a long time for one to get a good break. One has to be visible online, be active on social media, and maintain a connection with both fans and peers.

“In case of newcomers, youngsters are preferred. Low-budget films have limited crew and we end up helping them set up the props, assist the directors etc. So, in the initial days, one has to be open to do odd jobs too. Sometimes without any pay,” says Aashith. 

According to Aashith, for an aspiring actor, the most important thing is to have a lot of patience. “Shooting is a time-consuming exercise. We have to wait for hours for our part.”

As an actor, one has to analyse oneself, be one’s own critic, be open-minded and also be comfortable with being vulnerable. One has to develop empathy and feel the emotions of the character to get the expressions right.

As a child, Sanjana Burli was known for her mono acting in her school as well as in other schools where she participated in competitions. With that recognition, she cherished a dream of becoming an actor. When in high school, she googled “How to become an actor” and read extensively about the art and the industry. She then applied for a number of auditions online.

“One day I got a call to audition for a play and got selected. Then I started getting offers for TV serials,” says Sanjana, who has acted in four Kannada films, one Tamil film and one serial while simultaneously doing her engineering.

When asked why is she doing engineering though she is into acting, she says, “We might achieve overnight fame but that is not long-lasting and we must keep other career options open.”

While they look glamorous on screen, a lot of effort and sacrifices go behind their looks. A strict diet and fitness regime are part of an actor’s life.

“A newcomer has to be aware that rejection and replacement are common in this profession. You shouldn’t let rejection bog you down or let success go to your head,” says Harshil.

So what keeps an actor going?

“It is the joy we get when we are in front of the camera, the appreciation we get from the viewers. That gratification keeps us motivated to continue in the profession we love,” is the common answer.