Acting Progression Routes

University Degree

Strength – If you find the right University that has the course that you want like this one at University of Central Lancashire: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/acting-ba then it might be a good choice, but this course will teach you more in the film and TV side rather than theatre, so the course might not be right for you, you have to make sure that acting courses teach you the things that you want to learn.

Weaknesses – University can be expensive and can require you to live far away from home, this can be stressful for some students and take them a long time to adjust. You need to find the best University for your industry, in this case, Drama.

These courses are long, as for the one I referenced above, that course lasts 3 years, for this time you will need to find a temporary job unless you get lucky with auditions, but then that begs the question, is University worth it if I can just learn on the job, most likely you’ll get a job in the hospitality industry (if there is any such thing left after the lockdowns) which means you need to split your time into learning and earning money.

Entry Requirements – You’ll need qualifications, such as A-Levels, these transfer into UCAS Tariff points which you will need a certain amount of them to gain entry, you’ll also have to do an interview and audition.

Why is this suitable? – It’s a good path to take if you want to be an actor, but know that it is really hard and you have a fallback plan, I don’t think you should take this path if in your mind there is no doubt that  you are going to be an actor, there is no if’s or but’s, no exceptions.

Student Loan – Starting out with debt isn’t the best motivator, the only upside, would be you don’t pay your student loans if you earn below a certain salary, and as an actor starting out, you might not be being paid a lot or even frequently, so you may stay under the amount. But as Martin, kept saying if you don’t earn over this amount of money for 30 years, your debt disappears, but what kind of motivator is that, don’t earn too much money and all your debt problems will go away. Yes the payback amount is rather low, in some cases like a Nexflix subscription, but it’s still money out of your pocket, especially in times like these where every penny counts and of course you will have an interest rate of 5%.

Drama School

Strength – Going to a school dedicated to the industry you wish to break into sounds much better than going to a University that focuses on all different industries, even though Universities will have their own Drama departments delivering the best that they can, but it’s hard to deny, that when the whole school is working towards a very similar goal, you normally get a better result, but this always depends on management. Here is one I like the look of: https://gsauk.org/

I see this as a strength, you’ll spend around 25-40 hours a week in a drama school compared to 12ish hours in Uni, this leaves you with less time, but more of your time is getting taken up by learning, which if you want to be an actor sounds like a good deal.

Weaknesses – You just need to make sure it is what you want to do, it is the industry you want to work in, that you have a passion for it, and make sure that you audition for known and reputable Drama Schools, you need to cover all your fees, including living expenses, accommodation and travel. It is also a lot harder to get into as they have very limited space and they have high requirements, it’s not the place for you if acting is just a hobby.

Entry Requirements – You’ll have to do auditions, which will cost you money to do, if you get in, then that’s great, but if you don’t you have to take that loss of money and chalk it down as another experience, you know the process now, you’re no longer going in blind, you might have to be interviewed as well, you also might need at least 5 GCSEs A-C, including maths and English and at least two A levels.

Why is this suitable? – This seems like the best choice for the people who have decided/determined that an actor is going to be their job, that they want to invest everything they have into this dream/goal they have, and so it should be, you have to commit yourself 100% to your dreams or you will always fall short of them, some people have it easier than others, some people get really lucky, but those who put everything they have into their dreams make it more often than not, but you have to really commit.

Student Loan – Starting out with debt isn’t the best motivator, the only upside, would be you don’t pay your student loans if you earn below a certain salary, and as an actor starting out, you might not be being paid a lot or even frequently, so you may stay under the amount. But as Martin, kept saying if you don’t earn over this amount of money for 30 years, your debt disappears, but what kind of motivator is that, don’t earn too much money and all your debt problems will go away. Yes the payback amount is rather low, in some cases like a Nexflix subscription, but it’s still money out of your pocket, especially in times like these where every penny counts and of course you will have an interest rate of 5%.

Apprenticeships

Strength – Getting an Apprenticeship is the next best thing to getting a job, you get to work with qualified people in hopefully your preferred industry, even if that’s working backstage in a theatre or on a movie set when you want to be an actor. Getting to work in the industry allows you to see how everything works and even getting to talk to other actors on stage or screen and maybe receive some tips, advice or inside knowledge.

Weaknesses – They can be really stressful as it could be the first time you experience what it’s like to be in a real workspace working for other people, they require a real commitment to the company and yourself, it puts you in the thick of it, you need to be brave enough to accept the fact that you’ll make mistakes and not let fear stop you from achieving your goals and gaining the know=how you will require in life.

Entry Requirments – You need to be 16 or older to get an Apprenticeship and can’t be in full education, some Apprenticeships will require previous qualifications such as an English or maths GCSE.

Why is this suitable – Leaning on the job provides you with a stronger education, you won’t feel as safe, because mistakes will have consequences, people may be counting on you to help them achieve real targets that get them real paychecks, but just as the risk is higher, so is the reward, when you accomplish a goal you know that it means something to the company and to different people, you gain a high level of confidence because you get to learn industry knowledge and the know-how on how to implement it in the workplace.

Auditions

Strenght – You’ll get real-world experience, you’ll learn on the job, meet actors, directors, casting directors and producers who you might make a connection with, sometimes when auditioning for one thing you might en up getting a part in another show someone there is working on, because you’re not quite right for this show, but you’re perfect for another.

Weaknesses – You’ll go it alone, you’re going into the big wide would and you’ll feel alone and in over your head, but you’ll feel like this even when coming out of college, you need to be quick skinned as an actor, because you will hear a lot of no’s before you hear that yes, you won’t have a student loan hanging over your head, but you’ll still need to splash out some cash for travel expenses, overnight stays and on the go lunches

Entry Requirments – None, you don’t need any, but it helps if you can face rejection and not take it personally and that you love what you do, whether that be theatre work, screen acting or voice work, just absolutely love it, that will help you through the tough times.

Why is this suitable – This is the option that not many teachers will not tell you about because they want you to go into more education, but there is nothing better than learning on the job, trying, auditioning, making connections in the industry, if you come out of college and head into this route you’ll have 2-3 years more real experience than anyone going to uni or drama school, you won’t have the degree, but you’ll have, networks, people who could help, a load of auditions behind you, and hopefully a few shows/parts that will look great on your C.V.

Image Credit

Oliver Walkey

Focused on product reviews for Marketme. Has a social media following of 14,000 + on Twitter via @DinosaurmanUK.

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