Here are some simple steps to start working as an Actor in Hollywood, CA. This only applies to Southern California actors.
------ Get Headshots ------
A. The 2011 standard headshot is full color, vertical, background blurred, top of the head slightly cropped, and natural looking. (starting at $200 - $1000)
B. Have a variety of looks in your online profiles from different photographers and hair styles. For men shoot some photos clean shaved and some with stubble or more.
C. Make sure all of your photos are current. Every time you change your hair color or major haircut you will have to get new headshots.
D. Kids will have to get their headshots done once a year or more.
------ Print Headshots ------
A. Print one commercial headshot and one theatrical headshot. Usually about 50 of each to start. (usually $60/50photos)
B. Most of your submissions will be online so you do not have to print out tons of photos.
C. Start with the less expensive paper photos if you are on a budget, it works just as well. If money is no issue order the glossy photos.
------ Online Profiles ------
A. Sign-up for LACasting.com ($10/mo + photo fees), ActorsAccess.com ($70/year + photo fees), and CastingFrontier.com (free or upgrade)
B. Submit yourself online to auditions. When you are first starting out this the only way to start auditioning without an agent.
------ Acting Classes ------
A. Never stop taking acting classes and workshops. (prices vary)
------ Build Your Reel ------
A. Anytime you do anything on video. Make sure to get a copy for your reel. This will help you get an agent. Make friends on set with the crew and see if they can e-mail you the final video edit.
B. Once you have some good tape have someone edit all your clips together into one reel (about $500). Make sure to only put clips where you are speaking and are clearly seen. Working as an extra work does not count unless you have some good lines and show some skills.
------ Get An Agent ------
A. In the mail submit your headshots and resume to as many agents as you can. You will find free mailing labels on LACasting.com . Make sure to put "demo available" on your submission. Most good agents will want to see your video reel before even meeting with you.
B. Another mail submission option is "Seeing New Representation" postcards. These usually have a headshot on one side and a mini resume on the other side.
C. You will usually not need a Manager until you are far enough in the game. (managers take 10% from everything you make)
D. Beware of shady "managers" specially when you are first starting off and unfamiliar with the industry. Shady managers can look very legit with large homes or offices. Do your research. Since managers cannot actually book you they do not need a license. Talent agents need to have a agents license.
E. Submit yourself even if they are not submitting you. Sometimes you will get lost in the shuffle of talent at the agency and you will not get called. Keep working without them and start looking for a new one. (agents take 20% off what they book for you)
------ Network ------
A. Join clubs and social groups. Carry business cards with you at all times. Don't be pushy, just make friends. Keep an e-mail list of everyone you meet in the industry or even send holiday cards to your industry friends every year.
B. If you book a good recurring role or better, hire a publicist. They will get you on the red carpet and into all the exclusive parties. (starting $1,000/month)
C. Get a website and start a fan page when you start seeing possible opportunities arise.