If you have a passion for the arts, solid communication skills and enjoy working with people, a career in Acting could be for you.
Acting isn’t one of those careers you can put in a box and form an exact how-to list, as is with more traditional careers like Accounting. To become an Actor takes raw skill, determination, passion and grit. Some people make it young; they discover their passion at a young age and constantly pursue acting opportunities. Others study a drama degree and make it through connections from university. Others get spotted by an agent by chance and voila, they’ve made it. Some, and the more common story, spend years pursuing acting by attending hundreds of castings, doing arb acting gigs, and networking as much as possible.
So how do you go about realistically becoming an Actor? Below are just general guidelines that can assist you in becoming a full-time actor. It is not a guarantee.
There are no required high school subjects but there are some that are recommended for Acting:
- Dramatic Arts
- English Home Lanugage or First Additional Language
There are many different institutions and private organisations that offer acting classes and/or qualifications across the country. Do a quick Google search to find one near you.
- African Academy of Cinematic Arts
- Act Cape Town
- Oakfields College
- City Varsity
University of Technology:
- Durban University of Technology
- Tshwane University of Technology
- University of Pretoria – APS of 30
- University of Witwatersrand – APS of 34+
- University of KwaZulu Natal – APS of 28+
- University of Cape Town – APS of 32+
- Stellenbosch University
Your main selling point as an actor will be your natural talent. Courses will merely help you expand your skillset, develop your skills and allow you to do more. Here are some qualification suggestions to assist you:
- Bachelor of Arts (Drama)
- Diploma in Drama
- BTech in Drama
- Short courses in Drama/Acting
- Part-time acting classes
You will need to have the following skills to succeed as an Actor:
- oral communication
- team work
- critical thinking
- negotiation and conflict management skills
- improvisation skill
- time management
- ability to cope under pressure
There is no set career overview. If you wish to become a professional actor, on stage or on TV, you will need to attend hundreds of castings and you’ll need that one break all Actors talk about. Whilst doing this, many aspiring Actors make a living by working in retail or hospitality.
You can also opt to offer acting classes yourself. Or if you completed a traditional qualification, you can study a PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) and become a teacher or a lecturer.
The career path you take will determine your salary expectations, working hours and what kind of performances you’ll end up in. You can even opt for the more technical side of performance and work in production side of things. These are all things you need to consider when thinking about a career in Acting – it can be tough out there and you need to be prepared to work hard and continuously believe in your goals and dreams.
Actors work all hours of the day, often more than the general 9 hours a day. Depending on your project, you could be expected to work through the night or all day. There is no general guideline. Or, if you’re doing something like an advert, they might require you for one or to full days and the day will only end when they have all of the shots they need. If you prefer routine and standard working hours, this may not be for you.
Actors in South Africa certainly do not earn as much as their overseas counterparts – like American or British actors. In South Africa, soapie actors (permanent actors) can earn from R20 000 (junior) – R60 000 (senior). However, R60 000 is on the extreme upper end and is not often heard of. Soapie actors are the most common types of actors in South Africa and is the most lucrative industry to go into.
South Africa’s top actors earn from R100 000 – R120 000. However, this is definitely not the norm and takes many years and hard work to get there – if you manage to get there.
Movies may result in higher pay per movie, however, stats on this is currently unknown. The more experience and the bigger your role, the more you’ll be paid.
As an extra, you could earn from R1500 per day.
If you opt for short courses, workshops or evening classes, you’ll have a lot more practical work. You’ll practice different methods and skills in class, with your fellow aspiring actors. This will help set you up with practical knowledge and skills. You can choose classes based on what you need, for example, learning new accents.
At an institution offering more traditional qualifications and teaching pedagogy, you’ll study subjects like the history of the dramatic arts, drama on the stage, languages, theatre arts, theatre skills, etc. Your course will include practical implementation and the university will most likely host a production at some point (sometimes yearly) during your course.