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How to Start an Acting Career Later in Life

Updated: Jan 15

Have you as an adult or in an older age decided to take the step into the acting industry? Congratulations!


It's a big step, but following your passion and your dreams is truly incredibly brave! Embarking on a new career can feel both daunting and overwhelming, but your life experience and maturity can also be your greatest assets in your quest to realize your acting dreams. For all of you who are either thinking about starting, or have already started, to step into the world of acting as an adult/at an older age, we have collected some tips to take with you on the way.

An older lady holding a camera, along with an article on how to start acting later in life (as an older / adult).

1. Find Your Motivation with Your Acting

First of all, it is important to understand why you want to become an actor. Is it to follow a lifelong passion you haven't dared to take on until now, to challenge yourself, or to explore new opportunities? If you don't have a clear why, you will have a hard time moving forward. Clarifying your motivation will help keeping you focused when facing challenges.


2. Define Your Niche as an Older Actor

Your life experience will give you unique perspectives and abilities in the film industry. Think about which roles and genres suit you best based on what you have with you from the past. Maybe you have experience in a certain professional field that makes you perfect for a certain type of character? Identify your niche and it will be easier to know what types of roles you should apply for.


3. Build Upon your Life Experience as an Older Actor

When it comes to acting technique, being older can actually be an advantage. As an actor starting later in life, you often have a wide palette of experiences to draw from compared to a younger person with fewer life experiences. Use your registry to add more depth and authenticity to the roles you're playing. The more you can connect your particular experiences to your acting, the more you will stand out.


4. Explore Acting Classes for Adults

There are many acting courses that welcome older participants as opposed to those that only target children/teenagers. Elin Hilläng Studios offers acting courses in Uppsala (Sweden) that welcome young people (14+ years) and adults without any upper age limit. We often have mixed ages on our courses, which we see as a strength in that you can learn from each other's experiences! What unites the participants is the ambition to become professional actors!


5. Networking

Starting a new career at an older age can feel very lonely, but that's why it's important that you immerse yourself in the community that exists among actors and make new contacts that can support you on your journey. If you start networking with other actors and people in the film and theater industries, you will also quickly notice that you are certainly not alone in being older. You can also look up groups and associations that specifically target the elderly. Meeting people your age who share your passion can really be a great source of support.


6. Make Sure Casting Directors Can Find You

Register your resume on casting websites and send it to casting directors (for example, we have a list of Swedish casting directors here on our site!). Make sure your photos and information match what you look like and you're abilities. Keep an eye out for roles that fit your profile and be sure to submit applications to casting ads when they appear. Having a social media presence can also be beneficial to be able to network and also to showcase your acting journey to the outside world.


7. Work with an Acting Coach

Hiring an acting coach gives you the opportunity to focus on exactly what you want help with and to work intensively and efficiently. It is useful for anyone who wants extra training and wants to learn something quickly. Do you feel like you want a head start? Then it might be a good idea to consider this. At Elin Hilläng Studios, we offer private coaching sessions both through video call and on site in Uppsala (Sweden). The coachings are either in Swedish or in English. Interested? Send an email to info@elinhillang.com with the title "Private Coaching" and we will help you!


8. Be Prepared to Challenge Stereotypes

In the acting industry, you can come across stereotypes about the role of age in a production. Be prepared to challenge these stereotypes with your abilities and be open to different types of roles and projects. And remember that as an actor, your playing age, ie. the age you look to be, is the only thing that matters - you can basically always apply for roles as long as you look the age they're looking for, even if you're in reality are 10 years older or younger.


9. You Don't Have to Pretend

It's easy to get the idea that the film industry is only superficial and that you have to have a hugely impressive resume or look a certain way to be an actor. Fortunately, the film industry is changing more and more and working towards becoming more inclusive even when it comes to age. You don't have to pretend you've been acting all your life if you haven't. Be honest when introducing yourself, writing your resume and creating your profiles on casting websites about that you started acting at an older age, but that you bring lots of life experiences to the parts and that you are ready to learn and grow in the industry.


10. Be Patient with Your Acting

As with actors of any age, it takes time to establish yourself in the industry and it is extremely rare for it to happen overnight. Have realistic expectations and keep striving to improve your acting during each project. As an older person, it may feel like you're "falling behind" everyone else who started at a young age or as a child, but that's really not the case. Let everything take its time and remember to give yourself the time you need and to not stress or overexert yourself.

 

If you've dreamed of becoming an actor and are ready to take the plunge, don't let your age stop you. Be proud of your journey and take every opportunity to enjoy the amazing adventure that is acting.


Want to jumpstart your acting career? At Elin Hilläng Studios in central Uppsala (Sweden), we offer courses in Film Acting, Meisner Technique and Selftapes and Audition Technique, as well as Individual Coachings either on site in Uppsala or remotely through video call. The classes are normally taught in Swedish, with the exception of Individual Coachings, that can be booked in either Swedish or English. Read more about our courses here or book here.

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