How Do Actors Get Discovered?
Breaking into show business is no easy thing to do, but making it as a big screen movie actor or actress is even harder. Somehow though, people seem to find different ways to do it and get noticed.
Some people say that it's all about being lucky and being in the right place at the right time, and while that may be the case for some celebrities, it isn't the case for all of them.
Every movie star has a different biography and past, and some of them used wits to make a name for themselves in Hollywood while others relied on people they knew or other powerful connections in Hollywood.
Some of today's leading A-list stars actually started out from humble beginnings and you wouldn't believe how many of them got their big break.
The main way that actors and actresses get noticed is by going to auditions. This is usually done through agents of theirs who get them time slots or appointments, but it's not always necessary to go through them.
It is fairly common to hear about auditions for upcoming movies in the newspapers or on various online Hollywood websites. Many of them require appointments but some are first-come first-serve, particularly for smaller roles.
Auditions are how the vast majority of people working in Hollywood got their first roles, but they may have used different techniques to actually get the chance to audition in the first place.
Minor Plays and Broadway
Tom Cruise was acting in a high school play when a classmate's sister brought her talent agent to the show to check out the classmate. The talent agent noticed Cruise and ended up getting him auditions in movies which led to his first role.
John Travolta is another Hollywood heavy that first appeared in plays, with one of them even being on Broadway. One of the plays he used to act in was actually Grease, so when the movie that was based on the play was being made, he was able to put that experience on his resume and show the director that he was perfect for the role.
That one film role catapulted him into being one of the most widely recognized celebrities internationally and one of the most sought after actors in tinsel town.
You may not think that commercials are a good place for big actors to start out, since you see so many people in commercials who never do anything bigger than that. But many of the faces you see in today's biggest movies actually started out doing commercials first.
Some of them were able to use their on-screen acting in commercials to get auditions for movies that later made them famous, while some of them actually became famous for the commercials they were in and later went on to movies.
Lindsay Lohan is probably the best example, since she had done at least 50 TV commercials as a child before she acted in her first movie, but she's not the only one.
A-list actors like Brad Pitt, and Leonardo Dicaprio got their start doing commercials as well.
Others who began their career this way include Tom Selleck, Steve Carell, Matt LeBlanc, Dakota Fanning, Seth Green, Wesley Snipes, Tobey Maguire, Paul Rudd, Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone, and singer/actor Tyrese.
Having a good agent can make all the difference in the world to an aspiring actor. Agents are often people who once worked in Hollywood themselves, as people who helped make the films or other behind-the-scenes employees.
So many of them made connections in show business this way and keep in touch with some of the directors or other important people in Hollywood that they once worked with. This means that when auditions for a film become available, they may be the first to know and can often get their clients an opportunity to show off their acting skills in front of casting directors.
Agents sometimes work independently, which is where the big money is made, but they also work for talent agencies or other companies as well.
So sometimes a casting director may call up a talent agency to get aspiring actors to come in an audition, and the agent working for that talent agency may be more of a scout who goes out and finds talent to bring to the agency.
Either way, it's a good idea for anybody who's trying to become an actor to get themselves an agent if they can afford one.
Sometimes agents will even work on a contingency fee, so that an aspiring actor won't have to pay them until they actually land a role in a movie, but in order for an agent to go out on a limb for an actor or actress in this way, they need to really believe in them and believe they have the talent that it takes to make it on a professional level.
Nobody wants to build up connections in Hollywood and then ruin their reputation by shopping an untalented actor or actress around and wasting everybody's time at the auditions.
So most agents are picky about who they choose to work with and you have to impress them, in addition to impressing those who are doing the actual hiring and auditions.
Through Friends or Family
If you go to acting school someone you work with may go on to do big things and get you auditions along with them. Go to places actors hang out and make friends with them or people in show business.
There's no telling if Mark Wahlberg would have made it as a musician, model, or actor if his brother Donnie Wahlberg wasn't already famous as one of the members of the super-popular boy band New Kids on the Block. It was Donnie that supposedly convinced the group to allow Mark to join briefly, before he went off and did his own thing and had success with his musical hit "Good Vibrations" as part of the group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.Having a brother in the music industry already probably made it much easier for him to get in touch with other people in the industry that could make all of that easier for him and to put things together. Without his brother, he may not have had the knowledge or the connections he needed to put out an album and market it to consumers at the level that it was marketed.
Sometimes, having an on-stage presence, a strong voice, or showing off your acting skills in music videos can also get your Hollywood career kick started in the right direction. There's been so many musicians that have gone from recording studios to movie studios that it'd take forever to actually name them all.
Every genre of music has had music artists that either moved on completely into doing TV and movies, or managed to juggle both professions and continued putting out albums or doing live shows while acting on the big screen at the same time. There have even been many artists who have had a music album out at the same time that they've had a movie in theaters.
Tupac, Will Smith, Mos Def, LL Cool J, and Mark Wahlberg include some of the more prominent rappers that have gone on to receive praise from critics for some of the film roles they played well.
Dwight Yoakam, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson are just a few country singers that transitioned from the stage to the movie set.
When it comes to rock musicians, don't even get me started. Meatloaf, Sting, Davie Bowie, and countless others have appeared in various movies over the years.
Modeling is another popular way that actors and actresses get discovered. It seems that more women are discovered this way than men, but it may be due to the fact that there's more women in the world who model.
Lindsay Lohan may have been doing commercials before she transitioned into TV and movies, but it was her modeling career that led into the commercials. Farrah Fawcett, the famous actress and pinup model, was modeling in magazines before she was discovered by someone working in Hollywood who asked her to come to California to start a career in acting.
Milla Jovovich, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are just a few more who transitioned from modeling into the limelight of Hollywood.
As far as males, the most well-known person to go from model to actor is definitely Mark Wahlberg. Like Lohan, modeling wasn't where he got his start, but it served as the pit stop along the way that eventually landed him a career in acting.
His beginnings were in music but it was the modeling that helped him land auditions for different movie roles like Renaissance Man, The Basketball Diaries, and Fear.
Ashton Kutcher and Channing Tatum both went directly from modeling to acting as well, though it's hard to say if it was Channing's modeling or just luck that got his foot in director's doors, since he was reportedly discovered by an agent who just randomly noticed him on a Miami street and thought he had a good look for acting.
Many of today's funniest personalities on the big screen started off doing stand-up comedy on stage in small companies or on tours. Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jack Black all had successful careers as stand-up comedians before they made it the big screen.
Before he was known as Axel Foley and Hakeem the royal prince from Zamunda, Eddie Murphy was doing stand-up comedy skits at small bars and comedy clubs. Eventually, he did an act for a club in NY called The Comic Strip and wowed the crowd, as well as the owners of the club. They decided to manage his talents and ended up negotiating him into some skits for Saturday Night Live, which made him a well-known comic personality and gained him connections all over Hollywood and auditions that led to feature films.
Jim Carrey was doing stand-up comedy in Hollywood while auditioning for film and TV series roles. While his on-stage performances may not have led directly into film roles (he still had to find casting calls and do auditions at the time), it was his stand-up routine in Canada that brought him to Hollywood in the first place.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield had noticed him and decided to fly him to Las Vegas, at which point Carrey moved to nearby Hollywood, California. He landed a few minor roles and after meeting Damon Wayans while doing Earth Girls Are Easy, he managed to get a starring role on the hit TV series In Living Color.
It was these performances that gained him recognition nationally and which led to his eventually international fame as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. His work as a stand-up comedian gained the appreciation of Judd Apatow, who became friends with Carey after seeing him perform. The two would later do work together on films like The Cable Guy, Liar Liar, and Bruce Almighty.
Before the movie Kids, Rosario Dawson was just a regular person sitting outside her home in the city when two people who were connected with the movie spotted her and asked her if she'd like to play one of the lead roles in the film.
Pamela Anderson's rise to fame started from one of the most unlikely places that you would expect anyone to be discovered. She was sitting in the bleachers at a British Columbia Lions game when she was briefly shown on the big screen for the entire audience to see as the camera was focusing in on different people in the crowd. She was wearing a Labatt's Blue shirt at the time and the company later asked her to be a model for them. This later led to her getting a lot of attention from some big shots in Hollywood which eventually led to her playing CJ Parker on Baywatch.
Jennifer Lawrence was just a young teen when she was in New York City on vacation with her family when someone connected to various talent agencies noticed her unique look and asked if they could pitch her photo to the different agencies. If she hadn't been there at that exact moment on that day, we might have seen somebody completely different playing her role in The Hunger Games.
Harrison Ford soared to international super-stardom and success when he first played Hans Solo in the first Star Wars film. Before this, he had a few minor roles in various movies and TV shows, with his largest role being as Bob Falfa in the film American Graffiti. He landed both the American Graffiti and Star Wars roles after working as a carpenter for George Lucas, who directed both films.
Both Mel Gibson and Johnny Depp found their ticket to big screen dreams in similar ways. They both drove friends to casting auditions, one was for A Nightmare on Elm Street and the other was for Mad Max. They were both discovered then when they were noticed by people who were making the films as they were standing on the sidelines watching their friends audition.
Gibson had been in a few plays and one feature length movie before he auditioned for Mad Max, but it was actually just fate or dumb luck that brought him to his friend's audition that day. He had apparently been in a fight the night before the audition and a friend had asked him to drive him there that day. The director, George Miller, noticed Gibson standing there on the sidelines with bruises and stitches on his face as they were watching people audition. It was that look that reportedly caused the director to ask him to audition for the role, which he aced.
Johnny Depp's first role was as Glen Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street, but he was originally cast to star in the film Thrashin', which never happened due to the producer not agreeing with the director's decision to cast him.
Depp accompanied his friend to the auditions for A Nightmare on Elm Street and decided to audition as well. The director's daughter noticed pictures of him afterwards and told her father that he should get the role because she thought he was really handsome. Nicholas Cage is often credited for Depp's career in Hollywood because he has said in interviews that he persuaded Depp to start auditioning for roles after the two had met socially through a mutual friend.
Directing and Script Writing
For those who are willing to take risks and who really believe in themselves as actors, there's always doing things on your own and making an entire movie independently as an option. There's also the possibility of writing your own script, while getting yourself cast as one of the characters in it.
There are many actors who actually had to make their own movies first or write themselves into scripts, so that the world could recognize their skills and to lead them into bigger roles in major blockbusters.
Vin Diesel was a nobody in Hollywood (aside from a very minor, uncredited role in the film Awakenings which he can only be seen for about two seconds). All of this changed for him when he read a book on how to make your own movies independently and on a budget. He took 3 grand of his own personal money and wrote, directed, produced, and acted in his very own movie, Multi-Facial, which he was able to get into the Cannes Film Festival. It was received positively by audiences and critics at the festival. After that he started to get calls for roles in movies, with the first being a role in Saving Private Ryan.
Ironically, Saving Private Ryan also featured Matt Damon, who is another hugely successful actor who rose to international stardom after writing a movie script. Although they had small roles in films or TV shows before being super famous, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck weren't really known much in Hollywood until they appeared together in the film Good Will Hunting. They had co-wrote the script together and pitched it to Hollywood execs, but managed to get themselves into two of the lead roles in the film as well. After that, everybody knew who they were and they began getting more people's attention around the world.
Sylvester Stallone had acted in a few films before his iconic role in Rocky, but it was that film that made him a household name. Most people probably don't realize that he actually wrote the script for the film after he was inspired by a Muhammad Ali fight that he had attended.
After writing the script and pitching it to big shots in Hollywood, two producers took notice of it and agreed to make it into a feature length film. The producers had tried their hardest to convince him to allow someone else to play the role, and they reportedly offered him more money to do that, but he eventually managed to get them to cast him as the lead character in the movie by using a little persuasion.
There haven't been many major actors discovered through the internet yet, but it's only a matter of time because the internet has millions of people uploading millions of videos of themselves every month. Even as of 2013, the internet is still in it's infant stages and constantly growing and changing.
Keep in mind that websites like YouTube have only been around since 2005, so people who are doing comedy skits or gaining online fame through sites like these have only had a few years so far to build up a following.
As the internet grows and time goes on, there will most likely be a lot of people who are discovered on the internet, many of those who are just barely gaining recognition now. Justin Bieber may just be a pop singer and not a legitimate actor, but the fact that he was discovered on YouTube proves that it's definitely possible for people to become famous by uploading videos on the internet.
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