AAS ACTOR RESOURCES
WHERE TO START
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.
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?
Improv - Second City, Bad Dog Theatre
Vocal Coaching - Rae Ellen Bodie, Joy Juckes
Theatre - Young People's Theatre
Artist Mental Health - Artist Health Alliance
Dance/Movement - Underground Dance Centre, City Dance Corps, Joy of Dance, In Studio by The National Ballet of Canada
Mindfulness - The Quiet Company [use code AAS10 for a discount)
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.
WHAT'S MY TYPE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 www.IMDbPro.com/redeem 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.
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.
VOICE DEMO – optional
How do I submit to agencies?
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.
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.
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).
material to see if you may be a fit for their roster.
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?
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.
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.
• 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
• 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!
What happens after my agent meeting?
After you've had your agent meeting take the time to do the following things:
• If asked to follow up after a certain time put it in your calendar and do it!
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.
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.
THE ACTORS TOOLS
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.
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.
● Look given is somewhat sweet, youthful and positive
● Look given is less smiley and showing more edge, mystique, looking older here
● 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!
Hayley Andoff - does a “one look” session
*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.
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.
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.
work. You can find more info about preparing a voice demo here.
How to love the audition.
How to do a self-tape.
Self-tapes are becomming more and more common - so get used to them!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This stage parents guide from ACTRA will take you through some helpful tips.
Check out our AAS facebook live video below with resident coaches and proffesional actors Robert Kennedy and Catherine McNally who answer many of the probing questions that parents with young actors have.
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.
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.
Books that every actor should read.
ESSENTIAL READING FOR ACTORS