I've had a lot of girls and guys ask me what it takes to get started in the entertainment industry. Their questions got me thinking and I decided to get to work on a how-to guide to getting started.
1. Find a team of people who believe in you. Open up your yellow pages and look up agencies. If you live in Los Angeles, Miami or New York, you're in luck and will have LOTS of options. Otherwise check for agencies in a large city adjacent to you. Call them up and tell them you'd like to submit a photo and take a meeting if there's interest. NEVER pay money for modeling lessons or acting lessons, if they try to get you to sign up. (Chances are, it's a scam.) In the meantime, having the support of your school drama teacher, mentor or friends can be super important in helping you stay motivated.
2. Send out pictures. Fortunately, you don't have to hire a photographer right off the bat. Anybody with a decent digital camera can help you get your first headshot. Keep your hair and makeup simple and take some shots in your backyard. Load them into your computer and add your name at the bottom right corner of the picture. Now, after a quick trip to your local pharmacy photo lab to print out some 8"x10" versions of your picture, you're ready to go. Mail off your new headshot to your new agency contact and enclose a BRIEF note. If you have any acting/singing experience, type up a little resume and staple it to the back of your picture.
3. The hard part: waiting. Yes, I know! Waiting is the hardest part, but if you don't hear anything, it's still not the end of the world. The Internet age has made getting your talent noticed way easier than ever before. Upload a video on YouTube, search for upcoming auditions for reality shows that spotlight talent (America's Next Top Model, America's Got Talent, X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, etc.) and show up to an audition near your hometown.
4. Don't lose faith and DON'T be negative. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered people with the wrong idea about what it takes to "make it." Every time I see some young aspiring model mutter "I didn't come here to make friends" on a reality show, I cringe. It seems like a lot of people really get the wrong impression of the dog-eat-dog world of the entertainment industry. Yes, its a competitive industry, but at the end of the day, you can only be the best version of yourself if you want to be noticed. Tearing someone else down will never make you sing better, act better or be remembered (except maybe in a bad way). Taking away from someone else will never make you any better. Remember that they have a dream, just like you do, and be supportive.
Best of luck and best wishes to all you dreamers out there. I'm a girl from Texas who had a dream too! It can happen for each and every one of you. Believe in yourself!
Be sure to tweet me your thoughts and questions at @Renee_Olstead I'd love to hear from you all! :)