No Drama School? No Drama
Updated: Jan 24
Us FlairBox folk are all about the unconventional route. That's really why we're all here, isn't it? We believe in letting talent shine above all else – and if you’re undeniably right for the part, what else matters!?
Some people would say that drama school matters, but I'm pretty sure not going hasn't mattered for me. Whether drama school doesn’t feel right for you, or you just haven’t managed to get into one yet, there’s always something you can be doing to proactively pursue your acting career.
If you’re like me and you decided not to attend a drama school, you’re probably wondering where on earth to start – and trust me, I know that this industry can be super-intimidating sometimes. Fair warning: you will make mistakes along the way. Luckily, I’ve made a tonne already – and, having got past them all, I promise it’s not all as scary as it seems.
To prove it, here are my five top tips to getting your foot into that shiny, glitter-covered door that we call show business:
Sharpen those skills
Don't be shy
1. Sharpen those skills
If you’re interested in pursuing a career is one of the craziest industries there is, odds are it’s because you’ve realised that you have a “natural talent”. But chefs practice their recipes, athletes train in their sport – and actors must still work to refine their skills, and develop new ones.
Drama school provides three years of training, so if you decide to opt out of that option, you must find other ways to hone in on your skills. Don’t be like the younger me who turned up to auditions, relying solely on a sense of my innate talent, only to give a pretty basic performance while my top lip uncontrollably wobbles (seriously my lip actually does this when I’m unprepared it’s very awkward).
Instead, strut into that audition confidently, knowing that you’ve put in the work. There’s so many ways to practice your craft: drama schools offer short courses, there are online classes and workshops that are always beneficial, and you should really consider joining a local theatre group. However you choose to improve, be consistent! Even recording self tapes and watching them back counts as solid practice – which brings me to tip number two…
2. Be proactive about making work
This is advice that for a long time really got on my nerves! I think it’s because I just didn’t understand that no one is suggesting I produce my own full-length feature film (at least not right away). It doesn’t have to be so complicated!
Get with some friends and do some skits. Write a monologue and record it. And, of course, if last year taught us anything, it’s the power of a good old Zoom performance!
I’ve found being proactive about making my own work helpful in so many ways. As previously mentioned, practice is important – but it also gives you the opportunity to figure out what types of characters you’re best at, and what you enjoy the most about acting. Collaborating will gift you good working relationships with people around you. And if you’re happy with your work, you can even upload it straight to FlairBox, or use it in your showreel!
3. Don’t be shy – put yourself out there!
From the outside, this industry looks like a tight-knit group of friends who have no interest in hearing about your life-long dream of making it big. But, honestly, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Looking for a great headshot photographer, a monologue suggestion, or maybe you need a scene partner for a self tape? Pop it on the Actors UK Facebook group and watch your notifications flood with people happy to help.
There’s also U.K. Actors Support Network on Twitter, BAMEBAMEBAME on Instagram, and so many other pages specifically tailored for actors! Plus there are loads of workshops where you can meet industry professionals – like agents and casting directors – and even people offering 1-to-1 tuition.
It’s so important to network! I also use IMDb pro to find the emails of industry professionals – so if you want to invite them to a new project you’re proud of, or you have an exciting new scene on your showreel, don’t be afraid to send it their way. Of course, have a search around for people’s emailing policies and don’t harass anyone with your endless/really long emails. Don’t be shy to explore what this incredible industry has to offer. Oh, and don’t take offense if you don’t always get a response – people can get really busy!
4. Self-represented, NOT unrepresented
Until you get an agent, you’re not "un-represented" you’re "self-represented".
Words have power, and when I called myself unrepresented I felt unconfident, unappreciated, and out of place. I had convinced myself somehow that despite all the jobs I was booking, I was a failure – because my friends who'd attended drama school all had agents and I didn’t.
Change your mindset to "self-represented" and feel empowered by all the work you’re having to do to make your mark. To find auditions, you can use casting websites independently, using social media to find open calls. Follow casting directors' socials (professional accounts not personal ones) and keep connected with directors you’ve worked with in the past.
As a self-represented actor, I had to learn to be confident dealing with the business side of the industry. Everyone makes mistakes here. I accepted being underpaid, signed terrible contracts, and put myself up for some pretty shocking roles in the past. If you do that too, STOP IT! When you’re unsure how to navigate the business side of things, do some research online and follow tip number three by using your network of contacts to ask questions. You can also join a union (such as Equity) and email them with any questions and concerns. You're not in this game to be exploited, after all.
5. Subscribe to FlairBox!
As cheeky as it'll sound, FlairBox was created by actors, for actors! That's what brought me here – this feeling that maybe this is where I'll feel truly confident and content in my casting.
With a FlairBox account, it's possible to practise my self-taping, promote my work, get seen by casting directors, and network with some other lovely actors. Oh, and write in the FlairBox Magazine, too.
Want to make the most of your FlairBox account? Have a read of The Ultimate Guide to Being Discovered on FlairBox article. I found it really helpful when I first set up my account and wondered how I could use it to win roles.