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West End

How to get an acting job in the West End

Will Longman
Will Longman

If you're an aspiring actor, the chances are you want to work in the West End. It's where the best work in the world meets the most talented creatives from across the globe to create incredible, inspiring theatre - who wouldn't want to be a part of that? It might seem like a pipedream, but there are a few things that will help you get ahead of the pack, here's how you can get a job acting in the West End.

Study at a drama school

Drama schools are fantastic places to hone your skills, meet new people and make contacts in the theatre industry. There are a number of great drama schools across the country, where you can choose to specialise in musical theatre, acting, Shakespearean plays and more. But for many prospective actors, the pilgrimage to London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) or Royal Central School of Speech & Drama are up there with the best drama schools in the world. 

While studying, not only will you be working towards a qualification, but you'll be surrounded by like-minded people as well as being exposed to different forms of theatre you might not have realised were your forte.

As well as practical elements, modules on the courses include how to audition for theatre, as well as giving you an insight into how the industry works. You'll learn what casting directors and agents are looking for, and other industry-specific skills you'll need to equip yourself in the wide world of acting.

Get noticed

Once you have the skills, you're going to need to get yourself noticed and there are a few things you can do to get yourself started.

Join Spotlight, the self-professed home of casting. When you join Spotlight, you will be able to add your previous experience, special skills, and give potential casting agents a taste of what they will get from you. It will also give you access to a wide array of contacts in the industry, as well as advice from professionals.

A professional headshot is also helpful. Not only does it give people an idea of how excellently suited you are for the role, but a professional photograph will give the right impression that you're taking your career seriously (something a selfie might not be able to communicate in the same way).

Go to open auditions

London is choc-full of open auditions, usually for musicals requiring large ensembles. It's always worth following major casting agents on social media to make sure you're aware of any big open castings that might be available to you.

Some agents we would recommend following include Will Burton or Simon Burt, and keep an eye out for your favourite show calling for auditionees and you could be adding your first professional credit to your CV.

Get an agent

Agents have good relationships with casting directors and producers, and will be able to put you forward for roles they think you will have a good chance of getting. But getting an agent in the first place can be tricky.

Acting showcases are often set up for outgoing drama school students, but a number are open to other aspiring actors. They give you an opportunity to - as the name might suggest - showcase your skills and what you can offer to a number of agents. This is a good chance to get face-to-face with agents who will be able to help you take the next step, should you impress them.

Don't quit

Alan Rickman was a graphic designer into his 30s before he started acting professionally. John Mahoney was a member of the military until got his first acting job aged 37. It's never too late to start, and just because it doesn't happen right away doesn't mean it never will. Take your time, persevere, but most of all, enjoy what you do. 

Image credit: Steve Collis (flickr) used under Creative Commons license 2.0

Originally published on

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