I want to be an actor - where do I even start?

The first step is to begin TRAINING! Working actors are well trained actors. Dancers dance, and actors need to act. Becoming a working actor means you are working on your craft in some capacity, everyday. No matter whether you're just starting out and want to find out if acting is a fit for you or if you've been working in film and tv for years - continuing to train and work on your craft throughout your career is paramount. Find a reputable on-camera training studio (if you're interested in film + TV) and commit yourself to intense and regular training.

Where should I train?

Train at a reputable studio that has been recommended by your friend, agent or a casting director. If you haven't gotten a recommendation do some research and see which studios train actors that are working today. All studios should also be able to provide a sample of the work their actors create at the studio. Is this the kind of work you aspire to make? Armstrong Acting Studios has been training and launching film and televisions actors since 1997! No matter if you're just starting out and what to find out if film and televsion acting is right for you or if you're a proffessional working actor - we've got a class for you. For a full list of our upcoming classes please click here . Interested in exploring training in something other than film and televsion? These other studios have got you covered:

What's the right age to start training?

Here at AAS we begin classes for students as young as 8 years old. However some young actors begin their training even sooner than that. For students younger than 8 years old we encourgage one on one tutoring with an acting coach so that they get the attention and specialized training that they require. Are you an older actor but interested in getting started? It's NEVER too late to get begin your journey! Sign up for one of our adult classes today. For a list of all of our adult classes click here. For a list of all of our youth classes click here. For a list of all of our AAS resident coaches click here.


Take a look in the mirror, what do you see?

It seems like a crazy thing to say - but being aware of what YOU bring is the first step to figuring out where you fit into this industry. Analyze yourself you and think about what you bring to the table. Take a look in the mirror. Pay attention to your face, your weight, your ethnicity, and your personality. Do you have a receding hairline? Just take note of what YOU look like and what characters you can naturally play because of your given attributes. This can often be your 'way in' to the industry and a way to carve our your space. Listen to your voice. Do you have a thick accent? Do you have a slight accent? Do you sound smart and articulate when you talk? Do you sound uneducated? Be. Honest. This is not about looking like Angelina Jolie, it's about understanding how the industry will perceive you upon first impression. Are you the Ingenue? Or you the funny best friend? Tough guy? Young politician? Cool mom? Sassy friend? Dumb jock? Always get the girl? Never get the girl? The bad apple your mom warned you about? Smug Sophisticate? Cute quirky hipster? Are you a hybrid between two of them or a few of them?

Which 3 actors are 'stealing' jobs from you?

Watch TV, go see movies, and think about which actors are playing parts that you were meant to play. Age, ethnicity, everything. That’s where your journey begins. What is unique about them, and why are they being cast in these roles? Yes, it’s
about talent. But they have also cornered their market on that type. What else have they done? Have they always played this type? Some headshot photographers will talk to you about this before they shoot with you so that they can help you present yourself the right way.

Which 3 shows could you be currently working on?

Series regular, guest star, costar…whatever. What shows that are currently being filmed could you see yourself being cast in? Watch them, learn from them, observe what kind of actors they are casting. Take notes. Look up the casting director and the actors. If you are right for that show, and are
trained, and they cast your type over and over, then by all means sign up for a
casting director workshop to meet them in person, or email your agent to make sure they are putting you out for those roles. If you are over 50 and play “extraterrestrial” roles all the time, probably don’t sign up for a soap opera casting workshop. Again, it’s all about being smart and knowing yourself.

What do your friends, acting coach, or someone else see when they look at you?

Your good friends will be honest with you. Coaches will be honest. In Dean's classes, type identification is an important discussion. Each person
sits in the front of the class, and a discussion takes place regarding what 'type' or 'types' each actor can play. This is a very eye-opening, very honest discussion and is an
essential tool to presenting yourself the right way in this business. After all, it’s exactly what casting directors are thinking from the moment you walk into the
room. It should be reflected in your headshots, your audition monologues, your demo reel, your attitude, your personality, the way you carry yourself, and ultimately strongly impacts your marketability. Remember, always be authentic, and don’t try to be something you’re not. Just own who you are, and that will separate you from the pack. Each actor is special because they are the ONLY person who can be THEM. Own it. Sign up for the wait list for Dean's Utility On-Camera Intensive if you're interested in further exploring your unique positioning as an actor.


Are you ready to get an agent?

This is a question we get a lot. How do you know when you're ready to get an agent? Well - ask yourself the following question and you should have a pretty good idea. ARE YOUR PERFORMANCES INDUSTRY STANDARD? If you’ve decided to begin looking for a principal agent in film + television you
have hopefully been training on-camera at a reputable studio. When you train at
AAS your final class is your “showcase performance”. This is an on-camera
audition that Dean Armstrong reviews as a casting director would, and gives you
detailed notes on where your performance is at, in comparison to what is
expected in real audition rooms in the city, and what an audience expects to see from professional tv + film actors – they want to be entertained! If you have been training consistently and received positive feedback or had mentions from an instructor, Dean, or another industry professional that has seen your work that they think you are ready for rep, you’ve completed the first (and most important step). If you try to secure an agent before you are ready you will likely be unsuccessful
because they will see that your work is not quite there yet in comparison to
others on their roster. So take your time, hone your craft, and make sure your
performances are at a level where you can handle the pressures of auditioning
and deliver work that will help you start to build your reputation, and book work. Working actors are well-trained actors.

How do I find a reputable agent and their contact information?

Purchase an IMDB Pro account. (ACTRA provides a discount code for IMDB pro - To take advantage of this offer, go to to and enter the promotional code AFFILIATEACT). Every actor should have one as it provides a wealth of info and allows you to add photos and video to your own IMDB actor profile. Once you have IMDB Pro you can see the agent contact info for any actor listed. Take a look at the list of whats currently filming in Toronto here - and research the cast from each show on IMDB. If you click on the “view agent” of each actor it will tell you the agency and agent that they are with. After some time doing research like this you will quickly have a list of about 15-20 agencies that come up time and time again. The agencies with working actors on their roster, are those you know can get actors in front of all of the major casting directors in
the city, and really help you build your career.

What goes in my agent submission package?

If you have received professional feedback on your work and believe you are
ready, you will need to start putting together your Agent Submission Package.
The materials you will send off to an agent are:
VOICE DEMO – optional For more information on each of these please see the THE ACTORS TOOLS section of our FAQ page.

How do I submit to agencies?

Take your time, and make each submission personal. Address the agent
personally and take the time to research them and the agency to show that you
are informed and want to submit to them for a particular reason.
Email Structure:
Introduce yourself as a Toronto-based actor currently seeking representation and explain
why you are ready for an agent at this time (latest training, latest booking, etc.)
As well as a quick sentence about why you are reaching out to them specifically. Ask them to review your submission package and provide links below (Google
Drive or Dropbox links are great - do not send anything that needs to be downloaded (ex. WeTransfer - agents don't have time for this and may move on). Wrap up by requesting a meeting once they have a chance to review your
material to see if you may be a fit for their roster. You can follow up 2-3 weeks after your email submission if you haven’t heard
from them. If you don’t hear back after a follow up you can ask if they are
getting your email, otherwise it is time to move on to the next agent on your list.

How do I prepare for my agent meeting?

An agent has asked you to come in for a meeting – congratulations!
This means that your headshot and demo reel have caught their eye
and they think there may be a spot for you on their roster. They now
want to see if you stack up in person and if you are someone they like
and want to enter into a long standing business relationship with.
Some agents may ask you to prepare scenes to audition live in the
room, while most just want to meet you and get an understanding of
how you conduct yourself in person and what kind of artist you are. PREPARING FOR THE MEETING
• Research the agency -(IMDBpro) see who the other agents are
at the agency as well as their clients.
• Research the agent – google them try to see how long they’ve
been in the industry, who their notable clients are, what past
career they.
• Prepare for their question - How do you see yourself, what are
your strengths as an actor?
• Dress like you would on a first date – something that is clean,
ironed, comfortable and feels like you at your best.
• Bring a notepad and pen to the meeting and take notes.
• Prepare your headshot and staple your resume to the back –
bring it in a folder so that it is clean and unwrinkled.
• Triple check the location of the agency and give yourself
PLENTY of time – arrive 15 minutes early so that you are
relaxed and ready to present your best self.

What questions should I come to my agent meeting prepared with?

We suggest having at least 2-3 questions for the agent - this will be your most important professional relationship as an actor - you should have some questions! *Please note* the below questions are suggestions - ask questions that you genuinely want answered! Feel no need to ask all or any of these. The more confident and natural your conversation the more confident an agent will be that you can command an audition room. • Do you work with agencies in other cities (ie. Vancouver, Los Angeles)? OR do you submit on projects in those cities yourself? • What % commission do you charge? • Are there any fees over and above the commission you charge? • Do you work with both union and non-union talent? • Do you allow your roster to self-submit for projects? (Student films, etc.) • How did you decide to become an agent? What drew you to the industry? • What keeps you excited about the industry after all these years? How do you see it changing? • Who is one client you are particularly proud of what you’ve accomplished together? • What’s the biggest thing you see actors not doing that you think they should be to be more successful? • How many agents work at the agency? • Do you all work together or do you maintain separate rosters of talent? • If you are on vacation or away from the office, who handles your roster? • Will you represent me in all areas (film/tv/theatre/commercial/voice), or are there separate agents and departments for that? • Do you have any conflicts on your roster (ie. talent of a similarage with a similar look)? • How do you see me in the industry, what shows out there right now would you want to submit me for?

What happens after my agent meeting?

After you've had your agent meeting take the time to do the following things: • Take note of how the meeting felt - what are your first impressions about the agent and the agency? Could you see yourself working well with this agent? What does your gut say? • Send a thank you note/email.
• If asked to follow up after a certain time put it in your calendar and do it! • If agent said they will get back to you in certain time frame and haven’t you can follow up with them or their assistant.

What should I know about getting an offer from an agent?

Sometimes agents will offer an actor a spot on their roster in the meeting. However most often they will say they need to think about it and that the actor should also think on it. Think about whether you see yourself working well with this agent, and if you have any other meetings set up go through with them. If you receive an offer and accept it be sure to let every other agent that has expressed interest know that you have signed and thank them for their time. The industry is small – don’t ever burn any bridges!
If you take a meeting(s) and none of them result in an offer, don’t despair! This industry is competitive and requires discipline, persistence and a bit of luck with timing. The fact that you got a meeting(s) means you're on the right track – keep training, find your own work, and keep honing your craft and building your resume. In 6 months to a year you can film a new demo reel and re-submit to agents updating them on how you have progressed as an actor and asking them to look at your newest work. It’s a marathon not a sprint so focus on the work and keep going!


What you need to know about HEADSHOTS.

Your headshot is your calling card to the industry, your first impression in finding an agent,
and then time and time again with getting seen by casting. YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOTS.
There is no shortcut to getting good headshots; you need to work with a professional. And not just any professional photographer, but one that specializes in actor headshots and understands the lighting, look and energy required to capture that shot that will get you
called into the room.
Before you book your headshots you should be clear on what the look you are going for is. How does the camera see you? What is your range? What shot will best capture this? Your headshot session will be a 3hr shoot so you will have time to change hair and wardrobe a few times and get a few different looks. (See the WHAT'S MY TYPE section if you haven't done this yet). To prepare, research other actors in your range – who is working that you look similar to and what do their headshots look like on IMDB? It's worthwhile looking at what is working for working actors. What kinds of looks do you want to make sure your future agent has access to on Casting Workbook?
EXAMPLE: A 25 year old athletic female may consider the following looks. *Please note that the following ideas COMPLETELY depend on the look of the actor and are just an example* Possible Looks: 1. College Student (playing up youngest end of range) ● Casual outfit, light makeup, hair up or casual down
● Look given is somewhat sweet, youthful and positive 2. Young Cop/Villain ● Dark clothing (black shirt, leather jacket, etc.)
● Look given is less smiley and showing more edge, mystique, looking older here 3. Young Professional (young lawyer/doctor)
● Polished and professional clothing – dress shirt, shirt and blazer, etc.
● Look is confident and sure, a knowing smile behind the eyes, trustworthy and competent
Things to consider:
● Ensure all of your clothes are well pressed and ask if there is a steamer onsite at the photography studio – wrinkled or dirty clothing is NOT camera ready
● Choose clothing that you feel comfortable in and that is form fitting without being too tight or revealing. Avoid very baggy clothing and NO logos.
● Get a good nights sleep the two nights before your shoot – drink lots of water and eat well – puffy and tired does not look good on camera!
● Morning of your session – eat a big breakfast! Carbs, protein and fats (ex. Bacon & eggs, toast and fruit) to keep your energy up. A three-hour shoot requiring your best energy needs to be fueled. Don’t show up on an empty stomach! Recommended Headshot Photographers in Toronto:
David Leyes
Ian Brown
Pierre Gautreau Tim Leyes
Denise Grant John Bregar
David Hou
Hayley Andoff - does a “one look” session LV Imagery
*Research these photographers and chose the one whose shots you admire. You
can book a free consultation with most photographers prior to your shoot date to
make sure you have all of the information you need and are prepared on the day.

What you need to know about an actors RESUME.

Any actor that hopes to secure acting work requires a professional principal actor's resume. Please keep in mind only credited roles in film & television should go on your resume, backgroundwork does not count. However any student films may certainly go on your resume as well as theatre work you have done. If you're resume is small - don't worry about it, everybody starts somewhere. To start building your resume it is cruical to continue to train and bulk up the training section on your resume. Casting directors look for current training and workshops esspecially if you don't have proffesional credits yet. You may also secure some independent films and students films by looking for work on sites like or Actors Access. All of these small credits will help you build a resume that will lead to professional bookings. Please find an example of a properly formatted actors resume here.

What you need to know about DEMO REELS.

Typically a Demo Reel consists of short clips of your proffesioanl acting work and is viewed by casting directors and directors. However if you don't have any proffesional acting work to put in your demo reel yet - then it is important for actors to build their own temporary Demo Reel with scene study work. This type of Demo Reel should consist of two contrasting scenes that showcase your range as an actor and can be used as a tool to get agents interested in meeting you in person. Choose two scenes that have very different characters and journeys, and be sure to change your hair and wardrobe for each scene to visually assist the viewer with 'seeing' a change in you. A demo reel like this can be shot at our studio in a private coaching session. Check out our resident coaches here or call 416.483.0056 for more information and to book an appointment.

  • Independent short film content can sometimes be used, but be sure that the final product looks professional and that you are the focus of the scene you’ve chosen, not other actors.
  • Avoid too many quick cuts, agents don’t want to see you get fancy, they want to see if you can act.
  • The more simple, the better. Thus why studio self tapes are usually your best option until you have professional footage from episodics and feature films that will make up your future reel.
Voice Demo Having a Voice Demo is optional but can be included if you have done or plan to do voice
work. You can find more info about preparing a voice demo here.


How to love the audition.

Most actors don’t like auditioning - it’s true. But it’s important to develop a relationship with auditioning so that you can love the process. Actors often complain when they’re not getting auditions, but then as soon as the call come’s in the first reaction is often FEAR. ‘I don’t have time! I have to move around my schedule! This isn’t a genre I’m familiar with! I don’t like that casting space, I never audition well in that room!’ etc. Actors tend to think about everything except what an amazing opportunity auditions are to do what you LOVE to do! Perform. Rather than going into an audition second guessing yourself and spending your time in the waiting room telling yourself why everyone else there is better suited and how you’ll never get the role - spend that time thinking about how amazing it is that you’re getting a chance to show off your work. To make new connections and to inhabit a character - even if just for a few minutes. Auditioning IS the job. Be grateful for the opportunity to share your craft and your unique take on the character that only you can bring to the role. Need more inspiration? Check out this career changing advice from Bryan Cranston.

How to do a self-tape.

Self-tapes are becomming more and more common - so get used to them! To have your self-tape proffesioanlly taped at AAS with an one of our resident acting coaches guiding you through it simply call or email us today. If you'd like to record your tape on your own - here are some tips. Lighting & Framing

  • If you have studio lights - that is preferred. You want to have even and soft lighting that illuminates your face and eyes that is not harsh or distracting.
  • If you don't have studio lights try your best to use natural sunlight as it is typically the most flattering. Try to stand opposite a large window and make sure that there are no harsh shadows on your face. Overhead lighting from the ceiling is not an ideal.
  • Your self-tape should always be a “medium” to “close-up” shot of your head and shoulders.
  • Your reader should be off-camera and not seen at all. This is YOUR audition, so wewant to focus on you.
Recording equipment
  • Maximize the quality of your audition by recording in a quiet environment with enough light. Your goal is to have clear sound and a bright image. A basic point-and-shoot camera that records in 1080p is suggested. Another alternative is to use your cell phone, preferably a newer phone which good video and sound quality.
  • Always steady the camera at face height (a tripod is recommended).
  • Good self-taped auditions have simple, plain backgrounds. Ie: a wall without distracing elements.
  • Do NOT film in your kitchen or office with 'stuff' surounding you, this takes away from the focus of the audition - YOU.

  • Select simple wardrobe avoiding logos, busy patterns, stripes, hats, scarves, and colors such as black and white.
Other Notes
  • Reader Always bring a reader.
  • NEVER look directly into the camera (unless specifically instructed). Look at the reader who should be standing as close to the camera as possible, out of frame. This will create the ideal eye-line
  • It is important to have your reader press the record button on the camera when
    you are 100% READY to begin speaking in the scene. Your final take cannot
    include any footage of you preparing for the scene at the beginning, or falling out
    of character at the end of your scene. You must be 100% in character from the
    start of the take until the reader ends the recording.

Audition tips.

  • The audition is not a space for you to be 50% prepared or 75% prepared - it is the time for you to be 110% prepared EVERY SINGLE TIME. The fact that you got called into the room means you already won a spot over hundreds of other actors. Remember that it IS the job. Don't waste good energy thinking about what could happen if you booked it - its a 5 minute performance that a handful of people are renting out space to pay to see. Just do what you love and focus on leaving the room knowing you did your craft justice.
  • Most actors should be spending way more time prepping your audition than you think you should. You need to be MORE prepared than every other actor that comes in that room. What is the genre? What is the network? Who is the director? What is the W5 of the scene (a script analysis process you will learn in any of our classes, sign up now).
  • However do not mistake ‘preparation’ for becoming stuck in your acting decisions. Always remain open to new ideas and new ways of interpreting the scene - listen and react.
  • Dean equates auditions to flipping channels at home while your watching TV. How long do you watch a channel before deciding to switch it - maybe a second? You have to bring the audience in RIGHT AWAY or you’ve lost them. Make sure you start with 'the motor running' - be clear on the moment you're in before they call action and after they call cut.
  • You hear people say things like ‘I was a little nervous at the beginning but by the end I was killing it’ - unfortunately the team hiring you will likely never get to the end if the beginning didn’t pull them in.
  • Never forget that if you were brought into the audition room - YOU ARE WANTED THERE. No one is against you! Casting directors desperately hope that you are the solution to their problems. If you succeed - they succeed. The casting director is your ally.
  • Always remember to work with your reader. They are the only thing that is real that you have to feed off of in an otherwise very unnatural surrounding - connect with them and let your performance flow.
  • Take your time in the audition room. Inhabit the room. Don't rush through everything, take a deep breath (or three) and ground yourself in that room before you start.
  • LEAVE IT ALL IN THE ROOM! Do your best, be in the moment, ask the casting director if they have what they need, and leave with smile on your face. Now let. it. go. Busy yourself with all of the amazing things you have going on in your life - your writing, your classes, your pet, your friends, your family, etc. Do not obsess about whether you got the part or not. Trust that you've done your best and that the right opportunity will come along. Hirable actors are confident and interesting humans so go be one!


Tools for parents with young actors.

If you've got a young actor that's entering the business or hopes to enter the business, that usually comes along with a lot of questions. Here are some resources that can help to guide you and your young actor through the world of film and televsion.

ACTRA - the actors union.

ACTRA - The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) is a Canadian labour union representing performers in English-language media. While being apart of the acting union is an important step to becomming a professional actor, it is also important to recongnize the limitations of becomming a union member too soon. If you join ACTRA prior to having agent representation or having any proffesional acting credits that means that you are no longer able to do any non-union work. Non-union work, including independent films, television programs and students films is an importanat part of the film world and an esspecially importanat part of a young actors journey. In order to get experience on set and to build your resume - you often have to begin that journey by finding non-union work. By building your skills and resume you allow yourself the time to hone your skills prior to joining the proffesioanl market. After all - it's competeitive out there and you want to make sure you're ready! For more information on ACTRA and how to join check out their website here.

English language accent resources.

Do you have an audition coming up that you need an accent for? British? Southern USA? German? Fear not, this detailed and free online accent guide will help you to sound... however you're supposed to sound. IDEA (International Dialects of English Archive)

Books that every actor should read.

ESSENTIAL READING FOR ACTORS Adventures in the Screen Trade – by William Goldman Audition – by Michael Shurtleff A Challenge For the Actor – by Uta Hagen An Actor Prepares – by Constantin Stanislavsky How to Stop Acting – by Harold Guskin Sanford Meisner on Acting – by Sanford Meisner The Actor’s Way – by Benjamin Lloyd Actions - The Actors' Thesaurus - Marina Caldarone + Maggie Lloyd-Williams The Artists Way - Julia Cameron The Intent to Live: Acheiving your True Potential as an Actor - Larry Moss BOOKS FOR THE ON-CAMERA ACTOR (courtesy: KC Wright – Backstage Magazine) Acting For Film – by Cathy Haase Acting For the Camera – by Tony Barr Action! Professional Acting for Film and Television – by Robert Benedetti Auditioning and Acting for the Camera: Proven Techniques for Auditioning in Television and Film – by John W. Shepard Fine on Acting: A Vision of the Craft – by Howard Fine How to Book Acting Jobs in TV and Film – by Cathy Reinking Michael Caine – Acting in Film – An Actor’s Take on Movie Making – by Michael Caine Secrets of Screen Acting - Patrick Tucker The Eight Characters of Comedy – by Scott Sedita The Science of On-Camera Acting – by Andréa Morris AUDITION GUIDES Confessions of a Casing Director – by Jen Rudin How Not to Audition – By Ellie Kanner and Denny Martin Flinn How to Audition on Camera – by Sharon Bialy The Audition Bible – by Holly Powell BUSINESS GUIDEBOOKS Acting as a Business – by Brian O’Neil Self-Management for Actors – by Bonnie Gillespie

Kanopy - video streaming service FREE with your Toronto Public Library card!

Did you know that the Toronto Public Library now has a FREE video streaming service called Kanopy? Want to watch classic old films? Oscar nominated films? Canadian documentaries and all sorts of other thought provoking and enriching entertainment for FREE? All you need is your Toronto Public Library card. Don't have a Toronto Public Library card? Get your card and learn more here. Got your card? Access Kanopy and get streaming here!