How to Start Acting in Austin, Texas

A photo of a female actor holding a slate for a blog about how to start acting

As an acting coach, one question I always get is how to start acting with little or no experience. I’m going to break it down for you in this step-by-step guide on how to become an actor in Austin, Texas. 

Whether you are pursuing acting as a hobby or career, these tips will set you on the right path. By the end of this guide, you will feel confident about diving into acting. 

1. Start Taking Acting Classes

 Acting is a craft that requires study and practice to gain the skills you need. If you don’t have any acting experience, or even if you do, the first thing you need to do is sign up for an acting class. No matter how advanced you are, you should never stop working on your skills in class.

You will learn helpful acting techniques, analyzing a script, working with a scene partner, and more. Register for in-person and online acting classes in Austin, Texas at DuPuy Acting Studio today.

2. Book Background Acting Jobs in Austin

A great way to experience a real film or TV set is to book a job as an extra or background actor. You’ll get to observe the pros, learn how a set works, and you might be on TV! Plus, you’ll be paid for your time. 

To book background acting jobs in Austin and surrounding areas, sign up for the Texas Film Commission job hotline. You can also sign up with Vicky Boone Casting and Beth Sepko Third Coast Casting on Facebook to find out about available roles.

3. Get Headshots Made

When you’re ready to start auditioning, you will need high-quality headshots to submit to casting directors. Trust me, they can tell the difference between a professional headshot and a cheap one that your amateur photographer friend took for you. 

It’s tempting to save money on headshots, but I promise you that paying for a professional photo shoot will pay off. My favorite headshot photographer in Austin is Kathy Whitaker

4. Start Auditioning

After you’ve spent time in class building your skills, it’s time to start auditioning. In the beginning, you will go out for roles in student films, community theatre, and non-union projects. No role is too small; the goal right now is to build up your resume and demo reel. 

To find auditions, you can create an account on Backstage and filter your search to Austin. Film students at UT always need actors for their projects, so this is a great place to start.

5. Get Involved in the Austin Acting Community

It’s always a good idea to connect with other people in your craft. The acting community in Austin is growing, and you can find out about tons of opportunities when you get involved. 

Here are some Facebook groups you should join:

  • Austin Actor’s Studio
  • Austin Actor’s Group
  • Texas Castings (USA)
  • Texas Actors
  • UT RTF Austin

Turn your notifications on for this group so you are the first to find out about new acting opportunities in Austin.

Final Thoughts on How to Start Acting in Austin, Texas

Are you ready to jump in with acting? The road to becoming an actor is not a straight path, but the best thing you can do is just start.

Hopefully, this guide made you feel more confident about how to start acting. For more info on acting classes, contact me today.

Bold Behavior Makes for a Memorable Audition

UnknownWhen an actor prepares for an audition, making bold choices are more memorable than “safe” ones. Additionally, bold choices that remain true to the writer’s intent are the best choices. Actors and writers are both storytellers, however it’s the writer’s job to write the story, and the actor’s job to bring the writer’s characters to life.

To honor the writer’s intent, an actor will analyze the writer’s script by first identifying the circumstances, or the facts, of the story. If the circumstances are not given directly by the writer, the actor can infer the circumstances based on what is given. Sometimes, however, little information is offered to the actor so he or she will rely on his or her imagination to boldly conjure up the answers to the following circumstantial questions:

What is going on? What is the event?  An event could be an employee asking his boss for a raise; a doctor informing her patient that he has cancer;  a young man begging his girlfriend to stay with him. Or it could be something as simple as a father reading a bedtime story to his sleepy son.

Who am I? What’s my age? My vocation? My socioeconomic level? My level of education? And another important consideration is – what is the nature of my relationship with the other character in the scene? Are we married, newlyweds, or have we been married for 20 years and the passion has withered away? Are we old friends whom we trust with our lives? Or are we old friends who now strongly dislike each other? Are we mortal enemies? Loving or estranged family members? Cordial or competitive co-workers? A falsely accused (or guilty) criminal being interrogated by a sadistic (or fair) detective?

Where is it happening? The location of a scene is an often overlooked, but an extremely important and informative circumstance. People behave in certain ways depending upon where they are. A man will whisper in a church, but yell at a football game. A woman will tap her feet, shift her weight and sigh audibly while impatiently waiting in line at Starbucks, but sit frozenly on the medical exam table, holding her breath, as she anxiously awaits the doctor’s return to reveal her prognosis. A teenager will move cautiously in a dark alley but in a more relaxed and unselfconscious way in his bedroom.

When is it happening? The “when” takes into account the year, the season, the month and the time of day. Imagine your character is in a bar at 11 am. How would his behavior change in that same bar at 2am? (Also taking into account his level of inebriation.)  What century is it? Does your character live in the future? Is your character coming in from a winter storm? How would that affect her behavior?

Circumstances have a powerful influence on the behavior of a character. Often a character’s behavior is more interesting (and even more revealing of their true motives) to watch than the text he or she is saying. At an audition, when an actor makes the delivery of the words the top priority, he or she will be making “safe” (and often unconscious) choices and likely their performance will be unmemorable.

What’s the right acting technique for you?

What’s the right technique for you?


Acting teachers are often guilty of holding onto a single technique they teach. Essentially they tell their students, “My way is the only way!” They may even disparage the techniques of other teachers in town. This condemnation may be rooted in their passion for their craft, but more than likely, it’s a product of fear; they are threatened by the competition.

But make no mistake, students! There is no one legitimate way to act. No technique can guarantee that you’ll will be cast or become a brilliant actor. If a teacher tells you that her or his way is the only way, walk away!

My recommendation to you is to check out any and all methods, and the teachers who teach them, in your town. Request a brief interview with the teacher, ask questions and see if their approach resonates with you. Trust your gut!

Finding the Right Acting Teacher, Step # 2

imagesSo you have taken the first step in finding the right acting teacher by avoiding the acting gurus. The second step is to ferret out the dishonest ones. As much as you may want to hear, “I can make you a star!”  it’s a deceptive claim and you need to run, not walk, from the teacher who promises that outcome.

At best, a good acting teacher can introduce you to the exercises, skills and practices that will uncover your pre-existing talent, mine it, shape it and ultimately allow you to express it in unique ways.  Some teachers may have access to agents, casting directors and producers, but any promise to further your career, other than providing you the skills required to do the job, is suspect. This includes teachers who suggest that by taking their class, you may be cast in the next movie they are writing, directing or producing.

If an acting teacher (or school) promises you an agent, a manager or acting work – based on signing a contract and paying a fee for the company’s classes and amazing career-launching services -JUST SAY NO.  Legitimate schools never promise students anything other than quality acting classes taught by skilled teachers.

Do your homework. Check on the internet, the Better Business Bureau or your local city and or law enforcement officials for complaints before associating yourself with any acting school  or teacher that offers expensive (and overcrowded) classes or a fast-track to stardom.

Bottom line, if it sounds too good to be true, it is!

Finding the Right Acting Teacher, Step # 1

UnknownFinding the right acting teacher can be an arduous task but a worthy one.

Avoid Guru-ism. A good acting teacher encourages his/her students to exercise their own judgment.  The temptation to give away one’s power is especially strong when you are younger student. Perhaps you are pursuing acting straight out of high school or college where you have been told what to do and how to behave to get good grades, make friends, date the cute guy or girl or win the part.

Along with the influences of your upbringing, an acting student’s DNA seems to produce a strong need for approval. However, an important aspect of one’s acting training is to learn to please and approve of yourself! This turning inward for approval will serve you beyond taking acting class. Self-approval (and self-prizing) is essential for auditioning and working professionally.

One way an acting teacher can empower a student is to promote self-monitoring. How?  By asking questions instead of pointing out what’s right or wrong with a performance.

Uta Hagen

Recognizing the artist in each actor, the legendary acting coach Uta Hagen asked her students after each scene, ”What can you tell me today?” and ”How did you feel?” and ”What are you doing wrong?” She listened to her students’ responses, trusting their innate wisdom, and then offered her expertise to address their self-professed challenges.

Understand that your goal is not to please your teacher. Ideally, your intention is to grow as an actor and a human being. It’s your journey and your right to claim it. Start the journey by finding the right acting teacher for you!

Getting Out of Your Head – Part I

I am sure most acting students have heard their acting teachers exclaim, “Get out of your head!” I know I heard that command more than once when I was a student; but as an acting coach I rarely give that direction. Why? Because it’s incogitable. Short of surgically removing one’s brain from one’s skull, one cannot “get out” of one’s head nor even comprehend the concept. Secondly, the advice is too general. If we, acting coaches, demand that our students make specific acting choices, then mustn’t we give specific acting instruction?

When I was a student, however, receiving this generalized instruction did not stop me from trying. I would roll my eyes back to search my memory banks for information correlating to “getting out of the head.” In my search, I would naturally have to stop my line of thinking heretofore.

Then, in my frustration to come up with a plausible, and more importantly, doable strategy for getting out of my head, I would have to straighten up my posture, pull my shoulders back and down (I am determined to succeed!) and take a deep breath so that I can try to uncover the solution to this mysterious state.

To reiterate, I would stop my previous line of thinking and reposition my body while taking a deep breath.

Then it would be time to restart the scene in class, and without having a clear-cut strategy for getting out of my head, I am thrust into the dialogue – this time feeling somewhat out of control and more than a little confused. In a word, I am feeling vulnerable.

Stop, reposition, deep breath, GO! vulnerability….YIKES!

Invariably, some form of performance anxiety now rears its head, and I go blank or go big. More often than not, I go BIG. And by big, I mean I start performing, essentially losing all subtlety.

However, on the rare occasion when I can accept my vulnerability and allow myself to respond organically verses needing to be in charge, an internal space opens whereby magic and subtlety can occur.

In a nutshell, it’s fairly easy to stop your current line of thinking, reposition your body, take a deep breath and start. The hard part, it seems to me, is the acceptance of the vulnerable feelings of uneasiness (or lack of control) and the allowance of spontaneous response.

It may take months, years, maybe even lifetimes to learn to accept and allow. Or, if fortune smiles upon one, surrender may happen instantaneously. For most of us, however, accepting and allowing often require additional exploration via methods like writing in a journal, therapy and/or turning to a power greater than our own. And, the process takes practice. Repeated practice.

Exhilarating at times, challenging at others, these steps which comprise “getting out of your head” (among others) are a lot less painful than brain surgery.

(Stay tuned for Getting Out of Your Head: Part II regarding focus and response.)