20 Steps to a Successful Acting Career 

Ebony writes: Dear Philip, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Great question!  I’ve gotten so much helpful advice through the years but the most useful piece of wisdom for building a successful acting career is simply “Do at least one thing for your art and one thing for your business every day.”  In  Part one of this equation I’ll focus on the “business” part.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll address the “Art.”  Here are some things you can do to turn this sage advice into action.


One thing a day for your Business…

1. Build a website:  it needn’t be fancy or expensive.  No one is going to “discover” you if they can’t find you.  Look at actor’s websites and use ideas from the best of them.  Create a presence online and make it what you want it to be.

2. Build an audience: Show business is about putting butts in the seats.  The more butts you bring with you the more people will want to hire you.  Your website is a start.  So are starting a mailing list and inviting friends, family, co-workers and industry contacts to your performances.

3. Build a reel:   An indispensable casting tool. Don’t be without one.  If you don’t have any clips many places will help you shoot scenes or monologues you prepare to create a reel.

4. Have a variety of good headshots:  Set up a session with a headshot photographer or have a friend with a good digital camera snap photos of you outdoors in natural light. Bring a few changes of clothing and play dress up.  Make a fun day of it. You’ll probably end up with some good shots.

5. Update your resume: Make sure it looks great and keep it current. Check out my blog for a my video post “How to Create a Resume” about how to do this.

6. Trade Publications: Know what’s happening in your industry.  This information can only help you.  Backstage, Variety, Entertainment weekly, Ross Reports, Playbill, Broadway World, etc.

7. Self-submit: Be on the lookout for opportunities. Self-submit yourself for projects.  Don’t wait around to be discovered.  Get jobs and work as much as you can.

8. Network:  See shows. Introduce yourself.  Talk with people about what they do.  Also use social media for business. That’s really why it exists.  There is a wealth of free information on the web about this.  Marketing is a major key to the success of any business.  You are a business. Generate leads, build a following.

9. Build a team!  When you reach the point you’ve achieved some success on your own you’ll want to bring other professionals on board to help you reach higher goals.  That’s the time to think about adding agents and managers to your success equation. It’s not too early start exploring what these folks do and how you might benefit from their expertise.

10. Nurture Industry Relationships:  Letting important industry contacts know when you have booked a job, are in a show or achieved some other career milestone is a good idea.  Industry contacts include casting directors you’ve auditioned for, members of artistic teams you’ve worked with in the past and agents, managers you’d like to work with, etc).  Sending thank you cards is also a nice thing to do when someone provides an opportunity to audition or suggests you for a project. People like to work with nice people.

This list is by no means comprehensive.  There are many other things you can do for your business.  You could also document your work, collaborate with other artists or produce your own work, start a blog, interview artists in your field, to name just a few.

If all of this sounds only slightly more appealing than Chinese water torture, to those among you who break out in hives at the mention of the word “business,” here’s a revelation:  Business is extremely creative.  Think about it.  If you truly have something important and worthwhile to contribute, if you are an actor because you want to bring joy or truth or meaning to people’s lives, for instance, then you have a  mission.  You business is the system you create to make it all come true.  It’s exciting to create a plan and track your success a step at a time as you make it happen.  You’re no longer at the mercy of other people or the whimsy of chance.  You’re in control of your life and you’ll grow more and more confident as you succeed at things you thought were beyond your capabilities. 

So go out and make it happen.  Will it be challenging? Yes.  Will you be frustrated at times?  Yes.  Have you ever been through a rehearsal process?  Then you already know that hard work reaps big rewards.

To Learn 10 things you can do for your ART everyday CLICK HERE!!!   


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All my best,



Philip Hernandez is a respected acting teacher and singing coach in NYC. He is also the only actor in Broadway history to play both Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. He created principal roles in Broadway’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Paul Simon’s The Capeman. You may also know him from his many television appearances: The Blacklist, Gotham, Blue Bloods, The Path, Bull, Nurse Jackie, Elementary, Person of Interest, Law and Order, Hostages and Damages to name a few. For information about acting lessons CLICK HERE or singing lessons CLICK HERE

Follow him on twitter @philip24601, on Instagram @philip24601 and on Facebook at @philip24601.

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4 thoughts on “20 Steps to a Successful Acting Career 

  • philiphernandez Post author

    Hi, Sandra. It’s difficult to give you specific advice about your situation without ever having met you. Hang in there. I know it’s not what you want to hear but sometimes things just take time. Do keep submitting yourself but please stop waiting and wondering.
    -Be specific about your marketing strategy. What do you want to happen? What steps can you take to make that a reality?
    -Create opportunities for people to see your work. You’ll fulfill yourself artistically and have a good reason to contact casting. You’re working!
    -Meet with your agent to find out what they are doing to find work for you. Are there other people like you on their roster who book more regularly that they’re sending out? Is there more they can do you for? What can you do to help them? Start a dialogue.
    -If you really are ready for the next level you might consider bringing a manager on board. Another person with contacts looking for work for you might get things going.
    -Are you really ready? Of course, we all are going to audition far more times than we book but, when you do get auditions, are you doing everything you can to increase those odds? Why are you not booking? Make adjustments.
    I hope that helps.

  • sandra weston

    I think all your points are well taken. What I’d like advice about is getting to the next level. I’m feeling ready to do co-star roles. My agent is searching for me, I self submit and after two years I’m wondering why casting isn’t happening for me?