Acting jobs in Australia can take up not only hours of your time, but days of your time. This comes from the full range of talent that has to pass through the doors at auditions, not to mention the days or sometimes years you will spend refining your skills to get a role in your dream production or film.

For this reason, your experience with a casting agency or experience with an Australian government arts service may be difficult, and may also mean you have to work really hard for your salary, and the rate is not guaranteed.

Nevertheless, the best way to realise your dreams is to do things about them, and go out and search for them! 

The performing arts industry in Australia is quite good, and there are a number of skills you can apply here, with or without training or education, management, a team, or agency behind you.

Find out how to find the best acting role or roles for you with auditions and a full network of people in Australia, whether you're based in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, or anywhere else.

To get the basics on acting jobs, check our guide.

Neighbours gives actors their first break
Soap operas like neighbours get actors seen internationally. | Source: Wikipedia
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Training for Acting roles

There is a bit of training and education that goes into becoming an actor, which you will find is not new information. Just a quick Google search will show how serious things can be here, south of the equator.

Acting schools are very competitive, especially in Sydney NSW, Melbourne VIC, and Canberra ACT where there are good working environments for the arts and actors, as well as people who will want to get into film and TV production or performing, and theatre talent who want to earn their salary from landing their dream role.

The VCA in Melbourne for theatre and NIDA in Sydney were both opened quite a while ago, so experience of any level and time here will boost your skills greatly, and heighten your chances of finding work and getting in touch with your dream casting agency once it's time to start real work as an actor.

This is precisely why the rate of acceptance to these institutions is so low, as they only accept the best talent and people who are good at being able to commit their days to working on the full range of skills that acting requires.

These schools are also the ones in Australia who will get the most support from the Australian government which generally equals a good education level, and is one of the best ways to ensure success in work after your training experience.

Working for Acting roles

There is actually a variety of work you can do as an actor that doesn't necessarily include being the star of the show.

As the old saying goes:

"There are no small parts, only small actors."

You actually have a lot of agency over what jobs you take in the arts in Australia, but management or a team behind you will help you land more jobs in less time for sure, no matter where you're based - Melbourne VIC, Sydney NSW, Canberra ACT etc.

Being able to find a role that suits you and your talent may have been easier some time ago, but now because it's so competitive, having dedicated people guide you towards the right auditions will stop your career going south and keep it in good health.

Certain acting techniques can be of use when finding work too.

VCA secondary school is one of the most prestigious art schools in Australia.
VCA and VCASS are the places to be if you want to start performing early | Source: Mapio.net

If you really want to be your own management or feel confident as your own casting agency (bearing in mind that you will need to take days out of your time to manage your own skills and auditions), this is possible too. If you really want to just focus on the artistic side though, production and management can be left to the pros.

Nevertheless, an actor can guide themselves through their own career with full agency, so let's take a look at what works in Australia as an actor, and some of the key jobs involve.

What to Look for in Acting Roles

Like we said, casting in Melbourne or Sydney is likely to give you the best chance of finding ongoing and successful work in Australia. Don't get us wrong, almost any Australian city will have work, no matter where you're based, but we wouldn't be doing you a service if we said there wasn't the best likelihood of getting a good and consistent salary in these places.

In any case, how can you know how to find the right roles or types of roles for you? And how can you play upon this in audition?

Lots of actors out there have a high level of skills and talent, as well as a large amount of training and experience on top of their training and education.

So, even though the training is crucial to hone your craft and get noticed, you still need to show your skill level on the day.

Screen tests are important for actors.
Getting a screen test can be a first step towards a TV or film role.

For this reason, knowing what sort of casting type you are, and how you can lend your skill set to match this will put you in good stead for the next few years of your career, and will help you know what to search for in terms of roles - not to mention make things easier for you when the casting call goes out from the agency.

The kinds of acting roles that exist apply to both film and theatre, and can vary in length depending on what they entail. These include:

  • Bit parts, which involve direct interaction with main characters but no more than 5 lines of dialogue
  • Day players, which are hired on an as-needed basis, or for specific roles, rather than long-term commitments
  • Lead actor/actress - no need to explain this one
  • Photo double, which is where you look like a lead and stand-in for a main actor/actress to work out how to shoot a scene
  • Principal actor is someone who has a significant amount of lines but is not a lead
  • Supporting actors are people who play a secondary role and contributes to the story in a large way without being the main focus of it
  • Understudies are those who form the chorus or supporting roles, but who are ready to step into the role of the lead actor or actors if need be, having already memorised the lines and parts

Now, to come to actually find the kind of person or people you need to present yourself as for the job, which we mentioned just a little while ago, you need to consider what attributes to put forward.

Working with an acting coach might be what your career needs to boost it.

Things to emphasise, for in-person and voice acting jobs

Whilst we would all like to think that stereotypes don't exist, casting agents will be given a brief to match a certain role, which forms part of a bigger production and goal that the director is trying to achieve.

For this reason, they may ask for "only 1 metre 70 female redheads" or "older African-American male, 55-65 years old". This is because it's been predetermined that this kind of character will benefit the storyline.

Of course, the chemistry and charisma that the actor eventually ends up bringing to the role are completely their own, and they're not left to be reduced to just their physical appearance.

So then, what should you consider when working out what to show the casting agents and director when it comes time for auditions?

Let's delve into some of these things:

  • Physical Characteristics: Now yes, you're not defined entirely by this, but think about them first - am I blond or brunette? Do I have brown eyes or blue eyes? What's my ethnicity? Am I short or tall? This last one can be more important for theatre than film, as you may need to look a certain way in relation to other actors. It's worth thinking about these features so that you know you correspond to a brief directly (you won't get a look in otherwise) and can boost your chances of landing a major role.
Princess theatre Melbourne is a dream for many
The Princess Theatre in Melbourne is the main musical theatre with many large scale productions. | Source: VisitMelbourne

 

  • Voice: This is for voice acting, such as voiceovers or in cartoons, and for in-person acting. What's the timbre like, and do you have a good range? This matters a lot for musical theatre too, as certain roles are only written for baritones or sopranos for instance, and will mess up the whole production if they have to be transposed to another key.

 

  • Acting Skill Level: All actors should be versatile and able to reach certain points of thought and emotion when portraying a role, but you might not have the right training to suit what you're going for. For this reason, think about how much of yourself you're able and willing to give, and how much experience you have in relation to this. Some roles will be more demanding than others, so knowing what sort of acting type you are as well will help you know how far you have to stray from your own self.

 

There are plenty of things to consider when becoming an actor, but if it's your dream, go out and grab it!

Check out Superprof's guide to acing acting auditions Australia.

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