Spotlight on Michigan: A Beginner's Guide to Starting An Acting Career in the Great Lakes State

Spotlight on Michigan: A Beginner's Guide to Starting An Acting Career in the Great Lakes State
Posted on January 3rd, 2024

Michigan, for those of us born and raised here, is known for its beautiful nature and the birth of the automobile, but did you also know that it's a burgeoning hub for the film and television industry? Most people who want a career in the entertainment industry talk about moving to New York City or Los Angeles and that's understandable once your career gets to a certain level but, the Great Lakes State is actually a great place to start an acting career. Here's a guide to help you get started with acting in Michigan.

1. Develop Your Skills: The very first thing you've got to do is start building your acting skills. Join local acting classes or workshops, like the ones we offer at Michigan Actors Studio. Michigan boasts numerous reputable acting schools and programs that can help you build a strong foundation. When you watch a movie, the professionals make it look easy and you think "I could do that!" Well you can and the truth is, most of those actors you see have years of training under their belt. Studying the craft of acting gives you the tools to be consistent in your performances, stay focused in difficult situations and deliver believable performances that also have that special something that comes from truly living in the moment. Even if you have natural talent, you still need the skills, experience and connections that come from being in an acting class.

2. Build Your Resume: Once you have a great foundation in the craft of acting, it's time to put it to use and gain some experience. There are lots of opportunities in Michigan to get on stage or in front of the camera without much experience. For example, the Motion Picture Institute has two big auditions for their student films each year. Working on these films is a great way to get on-camera experience an also network with the up-and-comers in the local industry. Most local theatre companies hold general auditions (which means anyone can attend). Even if you're primarily interested in film and television, theatre is really an actors medium and this is a great place to hone your craft as well as network. Most professional actors who live and work in Michigan work in all mediums- stage, film, commercials and voice overs.

3. Get Great Headshots: Once you've got some training and experience under your belt, it's time to invest in some quality headshots. There are a several wonderful headshot photographers in Michigan. You can always reach out to the local talent agencies to ask them which headshot photographers they recommend. They know which headshots help actors get work locally. It's important that you've had some training before you invest in headshots because you're going to want to know more about what type you are, and that is something that you will definitely learn about in a good acting class. (For more info check out our blog post "What is a "Type" and Why Do you Need to Know Yours"

3. Connect with Local Agencies: Research and reach out to the two SAG/AFTRA franchised talent agencies in Michigan; the iGroup and Productions Plus- The Talent Shop. Both agencies provide clear and specific guidelines on their websites to submit yourself. The Michigan market is non-exclusive; this means you don't have to choose and can sign with both agencies. They will call you in and ask you to audition for them. You will need to have training and some experience or they will usually ask you to come back when you do.

4. Explore Local Theater: Michigan has a vibrant theater scene, with numerous community and professional theaters across the state. Audition for local productions to gain valuable experience and exposure. And go see plays! This will give you a chance to see which theatre companies you'd like to work with and familiarize yourself with the local talent pool.

5. Utilize Online Platforms: Take advantage of online platforms such as casting websites and social media. Many casting calls are posted online, providing you with opportunities to audition for various projects. Actors Access and Backstage are a few of the industry standards, but there are lots of ways to stay in the loop. The Michigan Actors Studio Students and Alumni facebook page is a private group open to current and former students and we post casting notices there frequently, usually several per week.

6. Attend Auditions and Casting Calls: Keep an eye on audition notices and casting calls happening in Michigan. Attend as many auditions as possible not only to increase your chances of landing a role, but also to get more experience auditioning. The first few times can be a harrowing experience, but it does get easier; a LOT easier the more you do it!

7. Consider Film Schools and Festivals: Michigan is home to several film schools and festivals. Engage with these institutions to broaden your network and stay updated on industry trends. Film festivals often provide an excellent platform for networking and showcasing your talent.

8. Stay Informed about Tax Incentives: Michigan is poised to once again offer competitive tax incentives to filmmakers, making it an attractive location for film and TV productions. Stay informed about these incentives, because they can really have a huge impact on your opportunities as an actor. When we had those incentives before, the number of major motion pictures and independent films shooting in Michigan increased exponentially.

9. Be Persistent and Resilient: Success in the entertainment industry requires persistence and resilience. Rejections are part of the journey, and they are your stepping stones to future success. Learn from each experience and try not to let the "no"s get you down. Keep moving forward; each rejection brings you closer to your opportunity to shine!

Embarking on an acting career in Michigan can be an exciting and rewarding journey. By developing your skills, building connections, and staying proactive, you'll be more prepared to navigate the competitive world of acting in the Great Lakes State and beyond.

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