You've graduated from drama school – what next?

Going to drama school is often a dream in itself – but life after graduation can be tough. During drama school, your year was previously segmented into terms, which gave you structure and goals. Now, absolutely ALL of your life is ahead of you, without being conveniently broken down into bite-sized chunks. Secondly, you have just done your showcase and it might have felt like all your dreams of securing an agent hung on this three-minute opportunity to shine. The pressure can feel intense.

30th July 2018
/ By Charlotte Thornton


But don't worry, acting mentor, Charlotte Thornton, is here to talk you through your post-graduation movements.

First, congratulations! You’ve graduated. That is an achievement. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for completing the course and doing your best. Learning to celebrate achievements is an important habit to keep for the rest of your career.

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Understand the industry
It can be easy to assume that talented people will get agents at the end of drama school showcase, and those who don’t get meetings are less talented. This is far from the truth. We might want this to be true but, as I write in my book of the same name, talent isn’t enough.

Sometimes talent isn’t the issue at all. Agents are looking for a range of different actors, so that their clients do not overlap. It’s like a chocolate selection box. You want a mixture – not a whole pack of strawberry creams. An actor who is too similar to other actors on an agent’s books, or in the market, will struggle to get an agent irrespective of their ability.

Finding work
So what can a talented actor who can’t instantly get an agent do? Well, by understanding that having an agent is nothing to do with talent, you can move on with your inner belief intact. Now, it’s time to get proactive and find work for yourself.

Acting work can be found in a variety of ways from scouring social media, publications such as the Stage and acting jobs sites such as Mandy. The key after graduating is to keep momentum going by continuing to work on your craft, build your network and portfolio and find opportunities to reach out to agents.

Most of these can be achieved by doing acting work you find yourself, even if it doesn’t pay yet.

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From student to entrepreneur
Another post-graduation task for you is to change your mindset. You are not a student now. You are an entrepreneur running your own business. You need to plan your career as a business, not just an artistic endeavour.

Let’s take finances as an example. It’s advisable to save 10% of your earnings, as you go along, rather than face a tax bill that halts your career in 18 months time. Are you comfortable with numbers or do you need to outsource this to an accountant? 

How will you generate income for your business? Any good business spends money on training (e.g. further classes), marketing (headshots, reel, mailers) and even career development (coaching and mentoring). Consider and plan for these costs so you can ensure your business grows.

Make a plan
Lastly, segment your next year into term-sized periods with goals in each so that you have focus and clarity on a daily, and weekly, basis. As much as you'd like to – who wouldn't? – you don’t need to achieve everything immediately.

Think about what you want to achieve in year one of your acting career and then create a plan to achieve that.

Charlotte is a former West End Actress and Agent turned Career Mentor for Actors. To read more advice on enhancing your chances, buy her book Talent Isn’t Enough.

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