How to work in the UK as an international actor

Firstly, congratulations on starting/thinking of starting/trying to start a career as an actor in the UK.

As an international actor, you’re in the minority and have a unique selling point, if you can use this to your advantage you can expect to see a lot of success.

First thing’s first, you need to do all the boring stuff to make sure you’re eligible to work here, get your national insurance card etc. Look at HMRC’s website for more details if you’re not sure.

The second most important thing you need to do is make sure your English is first rate. Your accent is fine, in fact it’s a great bonus, keep it, but your understanding of English needs to be excellent and your pronunciation needs to be clear. If you’re in any doubt, sign up for some advanced English classes, the better your understanding, the better chance you have of finding work.

When you’re given text to work on for an audition, firstly translate it back in to your own language and work on your intonation, thought patterns, direction etc in a language that you are comfortable and natural with. Once you are happy, go back to the English and concentrate on learning the words and pronunciation accurately then put it all together. That way you can be confident of excellent understanding and delivery before you go in to your audition.

If you’re struggling to find an agent, I would recommend asking a few British acting friends if you can have a look at their CVs and Headshots. In my experience as an agent, international actors tend to structure their CV very differently to UK actors, who all seem to use roughly the same style. A well structured, professional CV is essential in getting an agent to take you seriously. Similarly with headshots, we have quite a specific, accepted ‘style’ in the UK that agents will expect to see. Actors coming here from other countries often have a more ‘model’ like portfolio of images. I would recommend having a respected UK headshot photographer take some new images for you if you think the ones you have are not suitable.

Look for an agent who you are confident understands your selling point as an international actor. Make it clear the languages you speak and which ethnic groups you feel you can be cast in. Often casting directors will ask for ‘genuine eastern European’ or ‘must be able to speak some lines in Arabic’ – not many people will be able to respond to these casting calls so your chances of being seen and ultimately getting the job are very high.

Immerse yourself as much as you possibly can in the UK acting scene; go to the theatre, get to know the fringe venues, watch TV drama series, go to acting classes, join the Actors Centre…the more you understand and are involved, the better.

And lastly, good luck.