Buckle up, friends: this one’s a biggie. In this article, we’re talking about the year that lies ahead, and everything you can put towards being an actor in 2024. With most people winding down for the year, it’s probably the last thing you want to think about! But planning ahead, as well as looking back on the year that’s just passed, is vitally important for keeping you current, informed and primed for whatever the industry throws at you.
Being an actor in 2024 is all about diversity and resilience. Keep yourself active and grow your skills in a way that means you’re not left behind by the ever-changing industry. Look back and learn from your personal experiences in 2023. And set specific goals that you can work towards in order to grow and mark career milestones. It’s fair to say that the industry is more challenging than ever for early-to-mid career performers to find a foothold. But there is also more you can do as an individual to maximise success.
Let’s start with a few things you can do right now to further your acting in 2024. After that, we’ll take a step back and examine the state of the industry so that you know exactly what you’re jumping into. And remember that whether you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, or half-way through January with nine of your ten New Year’s Resolutions already broken, there’s never a bad time to take stock and think ahead. Jump on in!
Set Goals for Being an Actor in 2024
“A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head. If no-one gets to see it, it’s as good as dead. It has to come to life!”
The moment you finish reading this article, set some goals for being an actor in 2024. Think about what you want, think about what you’re hoping to achieve. Then write them down and hold yourself accountable.
Actors are forever being asked to set goals. I think it’s because so much of one’s work as an artist is self-driven—so much development of skill happens under our own steam. With the pressure put upon actors to set goals and achieve them, it’s worth knowing how to set good goals so you don’t stress yourself out or snow yourself under. See below:
- Keep goals realistic. “What can you actually get done in the time you have?” “Is there a pathway towards making this happen?” “How does your life/location/financial situation affect your goals?” Asking grounding questions like these can help you differentiate “goals” from “dreams”. Remember that you score goals, you chase dreams. Learn the difference.
- Diversify your goals. Reach wide when you’re setting goals. Find a diverse slate of things to work towards, so that when one task stalls or stops you can move over to something else.
- Set deadlines. This is the most important point to remember. Deadlines hold you accountable and force you to make concrete plans in achieving goals. If you think you’re going to blow a deadline, that’s okay: set a new one and give yourself an extension! But keep yourself on task with a timetable and you’re guaranteed to get more done.
Look Back and Learn From 2023
The holiday season is a great time to look back on everything you’ve learned from the year you’re about to kiss goodbye. Whether it was terrific or terrible, it’s always worth finding an objective viewpoint. Don’t forget that the best learning resource for actors is always themselves. Get comfortable with examining your work and achievements, your strengths and weaknesses; this is the perfect way for you to grow.
Assess Your Achievements
Start here. Write down your wins! Think back on jobs, callbacks, connections made. Good reviews, high marks or praise from your acting teacher/coach. Is there a particular performance you’re proud of—even a self-tape you can point to and say “Yeah… I really nailed that role.” How about the firsts? Did 2023 mark your first time onstage, your first paycheque as an actor, the first time you called yourself an actor and didn’t feel silly?
When you reach December and find you’re not sitting poolside at a Hollywood mansion, it’s easy to be tough on yourself. This is why marking your achievements is so important: remind yourself how far you’ve come, and what you’re capable of. A lot of the time, you’ll recognise things you didn’t even realise you’d accomplished.
Little tip for assessing achievements: be focused. Don’t just say “I got better at acting.” Be specific: did you work on accents, characterisation, script analysis? When you paint your wins with broad strokes, you downplay exactly how much you’ve worked towards your craft and process.
Learn from the Good … and the Bad
Feeling good about yourself? Feeling giddy? Great! Let’s talk about your failures. All of them. As much as you want to think about your wins, count your losses and examine them. Learn from them. It’s the best way to prevent them happening again.
Ask yourself “Why didn’t I get the part?” Crack open those self-tapes and watch for aspects of your craft you still need to improve. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can talk to an acting teacher or your peers for some extra insight. Every potential weakness is a point you can work to—and learnings from this process make for great dot points on your list of goals for 2024.
Acknowledge How Far You’ve Come
By looking at your achievements and identifying the parts of you that still need work, you’re able to acknowledge how far you’ve come on your journey as an actor. Honestly, this is the most important thing to do when looking back on the year just passed.
We use the word “journey” a lot on StageMilk when talking about an actor’s life, career, progression, etc. That’s because every artist’s life is unfinished. When you journey toward your goals, and you achieve them, you discover that a new set will always appear on the horizon.
So take the time to acknowledge how far you’ve come. If it’s been a good year: fantastic! Don’t get cocky, keep moving forward. If it’s been a tough one, or a quiet one, or a year that’s got you questioning the acting career altogether, remind yourself that such times pass. And in the scheme of things: they don’t count for much at all.
But enough of what’s come before. Let’s start to look ahead…
The Acting Industry in 2024
Actors in 2024 have more opportunities than ever to diversify their approach to craft and career. There are countless ways to promote yourself, to put your work out there and get your name seen by the industry powers that be. To best navigate acting in the new year, we’ve highlighted a few things worth taking into account.
Headshots. CV. Showreel. Casting profiles. If you’re going into 2024 with any of these out-of-date or lacking, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
The new year is the perfect time to brush up on your actor’s toolkit. Ensure that everything is current and reflects work you’re proud of. Don’t forget that the multitude of avenues available to actors these days means that competition is extremely fierce. Put your best foot forward and invest some time/effort into improving how you promote and brand yourself.
Nail Your Self-Tapes
Self-tapes will continue to be the dominant means of actors securing work. In 2024, ensure that your self-tape game is on point. Many actors forget that self-taping is a medium that sits in between screen/stage acting. It requires thought and practice, and familiarity so that they exhibit their strongest work.
Are you comfortable with eyelines? Do you know how to choreograph and set them in a way that builds the character off-screen? How about framing your shot depending on the genre/material you’re speaking to? Set yourself the goal to become a self-tape expert in 2024. If you’re looking for self-tape guidance, don’t forget that you can study with us, right here at StageMilk, via our Scene Club program and receive personalised feedback from industry leaders!
As an acting coach in the above-mentioned Scene Club (would love to see some of you there next year!) I have had a lot of actors ask me what they can do to strengthen their career in 2024. Beyond craft and study, I urge them to diversify. Branch into other media, work in other roles. If you add to your skill set as a creative, you will stand out in the ever-growing pack.
Let’s speak to two important options. First up: consider acting for stage. Too many actors these days are turning up their noses at independent/low-budget theatre work, opting instead to hold out for a Netflix series or their MCU big break. By doing this, you actually miss out on one of the best ways to improve your acting craft, network and even earn a little money. There’s a whole article on this very subject I’d urge you to read, suitably titled Why you should be Acting in Indie Theatre.
The other option is to write. Try writing (and directing) a short film or play. If you can sing, put together a cabaret. A writing project, while not without its own challenges, is at least something you can do that is cheap and works to your own personal schedule. At the end of it, you might have a compelling vehicle for yourself that could raise your profile even further.
AI is Here to Stay
Remember how smug creatives were when other industries feared obsoletion through automation? “They’ll never come for the artists! They’ll need us to entertain them! No computer can do that!” I suppose ChatGPT hit us with more than a pinch of karma…
In 2024, there are solid odds that actors you know personally will have their careers ended by AI technology. Whether it’s the replacement of voice acting for digital alternatives, the digital scanning of actors’ faces in order to kill the extras industry/motion-capture performance, your job is under siege by cutting-edge tech. What can you do to counter this? Diversifying helps, as we’ve already covered. It’s a lot harder to have machine learning take over live performance.
So as you navigate the industry in the new year, be aware of your rights. Be wary of projects that use AI to replace other creatives and the people behind these jobs—it’s likely they’ll replace you as well, as soon as they can. It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the technology. Know what you’re up against, and see if there are ways that you can use it in your own practice—try asking an AI for 20 questions you can use to build a compelling character!
Join Your Union
In 2023, SAG/AFTRA chose to strike in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, seeking rights and fair agreements from studios over the future of their (your) industry. It was brutal. It lasted for over one hundred days cost 45,000 jobs and robbed the industry of over $6 billion. As of the writing of this article, a tentative agreement has been reached, with actors and writers returning to work.
But it won’t be the last of these. With studios looking to cut costs and streamline production, while at the same time offering up more content to subscribers and consumers than ever, they will take every opportunity to cut costs that harm artists’ quality of living. Being an actor in 2024 means your right to work is threatened. If you’ve yet to do so, join your union and stand in solidarity with those who aim to keep you fed and clothed and working.
Take an Acting Class
If you’re asking yourself “Should I Take an Acting Class?” in 2024, our answer is a resounding yes. Continued study of your craft is always important. As you look ahead at the year t0 come, think on how much you’ll be able to distinguish yourself by brushing up on acting fundamentals, or exploring a new technique to freshen up your auditioning game.
Acting classes will also teach you about the current trends in securing work. If you do suspect that your self-tape game won’t pass muster, spend a couple of nights in a room with actors, a coach and a camera. You’re sure to get some strong pointers as to what you’re doing well, and which areas may need further development.
Finally, an acting class is a great thing to participate in if you’re returning to acting after a break, or if the dry period of December/January starts to bleed into the following season. The stakes are low, the returns are high. So in any quiet periods of the year, keep yourself sharp!
Strengthen your Creative Community
If we haven’t made it clear enough already: 2024 is going to be as tough for actors as it is exciting. You’re going to need support and encouragement from your peers, validation that keeps you moving and honest advice when your work or your momentum is slipping.
Spend time strengthening your creative community. Be a reading partner for your friends’ auditions, start a scene study group, celebrate and commiserate successes and failures together. The holiday season/new year is a tough time for actors—any artists for that matter. You’ve got family doubting you, you’re looking back on the jobs you missed, you’re wondering how the hell you’re going to make it through the next year with your strength intact.
It’s the perfect time to rely on your colleagues in the arts. Support and encourage one another. This goes beyond being ‘nice and polite’: it’s about resilience and survival. You stand a better chance at a lasting career standing with others than on your own.
Keep Working on Yourself
As an extension to the above: work on yourself and your own well-being. Make 2024 a year of career balance, of sound mental and physical health, of being kind and learning when (and how) to say no to a role.
The arts industry is not a place where you’ll hear this advice a lot. It’s built on the notion that success comes from hard work and hustle, and any moment not devoted to goal-setting or goal-kicking is a moment wasted. Frankly, this is crap. It’s a dangerous attitude to take, and leads directly to burnout … or worse.
As an actor, you’ll work a little harder than your muggle counterparts. You are, after all, working an additional career on top of your everyday life! So prioritise finding a sense of balance, and don’t be afraid to pull back or pause when you feel the need arrive. Remember that the actor’s life is a journey: you need to cultivate career longevity, otherwise you’ll burn bright for a few years and then flame out.
Nobody wants that. Least of all you.
Don’t Waste the Holiday Season
One final thing: it’s fairly easy to think of December as a bit of a write-off. There’s a lot going on with work or family, it’s a tough time of year financially. If you do find yourself winding down, you probably feel like you deserve am much-needed break (and you certainly do.) Our recommendation is to rest, of course. But keep yourself quietly moving towards acting goals at this time of year by focusing on the things that you don’t normally have time to do.
We’re talking about the little things that often seem like a lower priority. But they’re also some of the more enjoyable things you can do as an actor! Read a play, watch a classic movie, hang out with actor friends for a little scene study (also a great excuse to toast the year and talk about what’s ahead.) Got an acting book on your night stand you’re only a few pages into? Crack that open as you sit by the fireplace/poolside.
At the very least, take this time to work on that list of goals you can start working towards in January. You’re guaranteed to feel better once you do, and there’s still plenty of time for some very deserved laziness.
So there you have it. Feeling inspired? Hooray! Feeling daunted? That’s fair. There’s a lot to be done, and a lot you can do. So as we wrap up this epic of an article about being an actor in 2024, let us remind you of this.
You don’t need to do everything on this list, nor will everything in this article apply to you and your acting journey. Goals are great to set, and a new year is the perfect time to do so! But do remind yourself to enjoy this life, and all the wonderful positive things it offers. As long as you’re committed, as long as you take yourself seriously, as long as you put in the work and go for the audition, or read the play or put down the self-tape … you’re an actor. That’s being an actor in 2024. That’s all there is to it.
On behalf of the team at StageMilk, we wish you a wonderful holiday season surrounded by loved ones and filled with joy. Thank you for making our community so special, and we can’t wait to see you all in the new year and support you on your journey as artists. Don’t forget: we’re all in this together. We’ve got this!