How to Become an Actress & Have an Actress Career (as pondered by Sarah)

What does it take to become an actress? How do you think through the steps involved in an actress career?

In this section of the novel non-Hollywood, author Neal A. Yeager invites you to have a listen (and read along if you would like) as he reads a few chapters which are dedicated to an aspiring actress named Sarah and her quest to discover how to become an actress and have an actress career.

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Actress Career Contemplation

Chapter 2: Actress Career Contemplation

Sarah sighed.

She was looking down the beach and at the long line of film production vehicles. Row after row of them all along the ocean’s edge, shooting some film or TV show or something that she had absolutely nothing to do with. Though Sarah was desperately working toward a professional actress career, she had actually just been trying to get away from it today — just for today. She wasn’t working at the restaurant until the dinner shift tonight and what with not getting the audition that she had wanted and with her boyfriend Mitchell being kind of uptight about his agent thing, she had thought that she would just drive over to Santa Monica and clear her head of the entertainment business for a bit.

Well that didn't work.

As she pulled up to the parking gate, Sarah nodded toward the film trucks and asked the attendant, “who’s this?”

“They’re shooting a movie,” he replied.

“Do you know which one or who’s in it?”

“Nope,” the attendant replied, “Seen a couple of hot babes stepping out of one of those trailers though. Made my day. I’ll tell you that! Yeow!”

Sarah sighed again. She had to wonder if guys like this realized what they were doing when they acted the way he was acting now. The way that these guys would act one way with the “hot babes” and another with the ordinary girls such as herself — with neither way being how the world should actually work. And of course it was only since moving to L.A. that Sarah had really become conscious of her ordinariness, as L.A. was where all of the most beautiful people in the world seemed to flock. There were super-hot people of both genders everywhere you went.

Now, had Sarah been pursuing any profession other than acting she really wouldn’t have cared about her looks. She certainly hadn’t cared before moving to L.A. But she was coming to realize that when trying to become an actress, her not being a “hot babe” was a real career impediment.

While earning her Theater degree in college it had been all about the acting, not about the career, but the acting. Sarah had been in countless stage productions, a couple of student films (one of which had won a few awards), an internet series (which, unfortunately and through no fault of her own had turned out pretty awful) and a local PSA about texting while driving.

But in L.A., in the actual, real entertainment business it was different. If you weren’t one of the Beautiful People — and Sarah wasn’t one of the Beautiful People — then, well…

The parking attendant pointed at one of the trailers and said, “Whoa, there’s one. Look! Look! Look!”

Sarah looked. Not because she really wanted to check out a “hot babe,” but mainly because when somebody points to something and yells “Look! Look! Look!” your eyes usually just kind of go that way of their own accord. At any rate, she caught a glimpse of the aforementioned hot babe rounding the corner of the trailer then disappearing from sight. In that brief moment, Sarah thought the girl looked a bit like Tracey from her Wednesday night acting class. It probably wasn’t Tracey, but that brief glimpse sure looked like her.

Tracey. A nice girl, but boy was her acting painful to watch. To Sarah, it sounded like every word of every line that Tracey uttered was capitalized. In last week’s scene Tracey had a very simple line: “I would like two eggs and a side of white toast please.” Which came out as: “I Would Like TWO Eggs And A SIDE Of White TOAST PLEASE!”

Painful. Absolutely painful.

And of course, Tracey was a model. Unlike Sarah, Tracey was so attractive that people gave her money just to be attractive.

Which is kind of odd when you think about it.

But if you drive down Hollywood’s Sunset Strip you could see Tracey on one of those giant billboards — one of those clothing company billboards that seem to take up half a block — showing Tracey and half a dozen other ridiculously beautiful folks throwing leaves at each other as if they’re having the time of their lives.

Actually, they probably were having the time of their lives knowing that they were getting paid a boatload of cash to play with leaves.

But the acting…. oh, Tracey’s acting. Sarah didn’t even want to think about it. She just wanted to pay the parking guy, go out on the sand and stare at the ocean in the opposite direction from where all of the production trucks were parked.

The parking attendant shouted, “Holy crap!” so loudly as to make her jump. “Ho-ly crap!,” he repeated, “Did you see that? Oh my God! That must’ve been who was in that limo. Damn! Did you see? Do you know who that was?”

Sarah craned her neck to see. Yes, she knew who that was. She was looking at a Big Movie Star. Of course she knew who that was.

Sarah handed her money to the parking guy, who didn't even look at her as he was too busy staring at the Big Movie Star. Then she drove in and parked her car past where the filming was happening.

As Sarah wandered out onto the Santa Monica sand, she thought of the thrill of seeing a Big Movie Star. But as she came to the water’s edge, that thrill turned to a bit of… what? Well, disappointment. Disappointment at the thought that at the rate she was going with her career, this would be the only way she would see someone like that — a chance sighting from afar — when what she wanted was to be acting alongside someone like that. She knew she had the talent — she wasn’t Tracey, for God’s sake. Tracey might be a beautiful model, but Sarah could act. But Sarah’s career was just…

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone walking through the sand toward her. Sarah turned to see the aforementioned hot babe approaching her, a huge smile on her slightly vacant face (and why wouldn’t she have a smile on her face? She was acting alongside a Big Movie Star!). The hot babe called out, “SARAH! I THOUGHT that was YOU!”

Oh hell, thought Sarah. Tracey.


*The printed version of non-Hollywood follows a different character in its next chapter. You can read the book in that orderif you prefer, or scroll down to see the next chapters starring Sarah.

[ or just skip ahead to Chapter 6 ]

On How to become an actress in LA

Becoming an actress is a dream for many. But getting into movies can be a challenge. Even when the movies are right there in front of you.

The character of Sarah is a wannabe actor. In addition, she is a very good actor. Yet there are certain challenges for her in becoming an actress. And as we start to follow her journey we see what a few of those challenges are.

And our first hint is presented to us in this chapter. As Sarah sits contemplating her actress career she is brought to a realization of the one advantage that she does not have when it comes to making it as an actress. We get a hint at this when we discover that a talentless member of Sarah's acting class seems to be making strides toward becoming an actress. Could it be that Tracey has won the part in the big movie because she is a model?

Is Sarah not getting those roles because she is not a model?

Sarah is smart. Sarah is an incredibly good actor. But Sarah is not a model. And is that what makes the difference when contemplating how to become an actress?

It is a question that is likely to remain with Sarah for quite a while.

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Actress, Agent, a Nice Meal… and Some Other Stuff

Chapter 6: Actress, Agent, A Nice Meal... and Some Other Stuff

Sarah blinked.

Had Mitchell just said what she thought he had just said? Had her boyfriend, in his casual Australian accent just said what she thought he had just said? Because if he had then that was completely incongruous with the entire rest of the evening. Like if he had been talking about animal rights and joining PETA and then had turned around and ordered a steak.

Mitchell continued, “and that’s really it, basically.”

Though most people considered Sarah an excellent actress, there was no way that she could stop the confusion that she was feeling from showing on her face. Things had been going swimmingly, what with celebrating Mitchell’s career and all. And then… this?

To Sarah, the two of them had always seemed a good pair. Similar in several ways, not the least of which was that they were both trying to break into the entertainment business: Sarah was an aspiring actress and Mitchell was an aspiring agent. They had lived together for close to a year and today Mitchell had received a promotion and had gone from aspiring talent agent to real talent agent. Bona-fide. Now, Sarah was still on the aspiring side of the equation, but she was happy for him. Of course she was happy for him. He was her boyfriend. She was his girlfriend. Sharing the big moments is kind of what that whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing is about.

Well, that and sex.

Mitchell leaned back in his chair and stared out the restaurant window toward the ocean. He still had that happy glow from his good news and from the red wine. And as always, he had that that casual Australian thing that he did that she found so sexy. But what he was now saying… what was he saying?

“What is it you’re saying?” Sarah asked.

“What is it I’m saying? I think I just said it, didn’t I?” he replied in his sexy Australian drawl. His answer didn’t help. Sarah was still puzzled.

She looked over at him. “We’re celebrating, right?” she asked, “That is what we’re doing here, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes.”

“I thought we were celebrating,” she continued, “But this part that you just said — that last little bit there — that doesn’t feel like such a celebratory thing to me.”

Mitchell sighed and said, “I’m sorry. I just think that it’s time that we, you know, go our separate ways.”

“It’s time? Now?, “ she said, “8:17. That’s the time to go separate ways? Not 8:16 or 7:34?”


“No, I’m just… Sorry, I’m just really confused here. When did this happen?”

“It’s just something I’ve been thinking about lately,” he said.

Lately? How lately is lately? Since 5:30? 6:15?”

“Stop it Sarah. There’s no reason to ruin the evening.”

“Ruin the evening? Ruin the evening? I’m sorry but I think you have first dibs on the whole ‘ruining the evening’ thing. Up until about 8:16 things were flying along great for me.”


“Prior to 8:16 I was having a great evening celebrating my boyfriend’s new promotion as a talent agent and eating at a restaurant nicer than the one I work at… and eating duck — which really surprised me. I mean, I never thought I would like duck, but I did. And we had good news and we had duck and we had wine and… and then 8:17 comes along and I’m being dumped and — oh God, I’m being dumped.” She paused, then said, “I think that duck might just come up again.”

As she rested her head in her hands Sarah heard a chuckling from the next table. She looked up to see the man at the next table smiling at her, “You’ve got to admit,” he said, “it’s pretty funny.”


“Yeah. You guys have been there having an obnoxiously good time…”

“An obnoxiously good time?”

“…Yeah. I was just thinking that if you didn’t stop that ridiculous giggling soon I might just have to slit my wrists… And then, boom, he hits you with that one. I love it.”

“Well I’m glad you’ve enjoyed tonight’s performance,” she said, “Now if you don’t mind…”

“Oh, go right ahead,” he laughed, “don’t mind me. You didn’t before.”

Sarah turned back to look at Mitchell, and finding nothing there, she put her forehead down on the table.

“Look Sweetie,” he began, “I just think…”

“No, no, no,” she interrupted him, “don’t do the ‘Sweetie’ thing. Not now. And don’t do the Australian thing either. Not now.”

“I’m Australian… I’m not sure how to stop doing the Australian thing.”

“Just don’t.”

“Okay, well, you know, people just outgrow each other.”

Sarah looked back up at Mitchell. She said, “Outgrow? I’ve been outgrown? Is that what you just said?”

“I said I think we’ve outgrown each other.”

“Outgrown each other? That makes no sense. If someone is outgrown then that means that someone else has to be doing the outgrowing. Two people can’t outgrow each other in the same way that two people can’t be taller than each other. It just makes no sense. So what you’re saying is that I’ve been outgrown.”

“Fine Sarah, however you want to say it.”

“I want to say it correctly, is how I want to say it. You’re saying that you’ve grown. ‘Lately’ apparently. You’ve grown and I’m, what? Stunted?”

“He’s definitely saying you’re stunted,” chimed in the guy from the next table. Sarah tried to just ignore him.

“I’m not saying that you’re stunted.”

“And how exactly did you grow? Huh?” Sarah asked, “You got a new job. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. But grow? How have you grown?”

Mitchell paused and just looked at her. “We’re not doing this,” he said calmly.

“Not doing what?”

“What he means,” said the next-table guy, “is that he’s not gonna sit there and listen to you whine.”

“Would you please just shut up and eat your… what is that you’re eating?”

“Not sure. Some veal thing that I can’t pronounce. Pretty good.”

“Great. Then please just stuff your face with it and mind your own business. Please.”

She looked back at Mitchell, whose look conveyed nothing new. She looked down at her watch. 8:21. Apparently news takes longer than 4 minutes to sink in, because she still couldn’t believe this situation. Although maybe she should believe it. Maybe she should have seen it coming. Her first impression of him had been that he was perhaps a player. But he had opened his mouth and started in with that Australian accent. Plus, he kind of looked like Christopher Nolan — who she personally considered the sexiest man in Hollywood. And he was Australian — which she had thought Christopher Nolan was, until someone at work had told her that Christopher Nolan was British. Although the person who had told her that wasn’t the most reliable person, so maybe Christopher Nolan was Australian. She had been meaning to look that up for about a year now. At any rate: Mitchell had reminded her of the person she considered the sexiest man in Hollywood.

And it had gone from there.

She took a deep breath and then began again.

“Whatever happened,” she asked, “to us moving up through the film business together? Remember? We both started out at zero at the same time. We were supposed to reach the pinnacle at the same time. As a couple. Remember? Whatever happened to that?”

Mitchell shrugged, “I’ve just been thinking lately, that’s all,” he said.

“So we’re not going to reach the pinnacle together?” she asked.

“Sarah…” he began, hesitantly, letting out a long breath of air, “Sarah, I don’t think you are going to reach the pinnacle.”

Once again Sarah blinked. His initial announcement about the breakup had been like a punch to the stomach. Now this. Well, this one felt more like a kick to the head.

Sarah just stared at Mitchell. She was absolutely and completely speechless.

Finally, Mitchell broke the silence. “Look,” he said, “I’m gonna go. I’ve… with the new job and all I should really get some sleep. I’ll go crash at C.J.’s. And I’ll… well, I’ll see you.”

And he stood up. And he left her there, staring after him.

Sarah put her forehead down on the table. She simply stared down at her lap, unsure about anything.

“And you realize,” said the guy at the next table, “that he just stuck you with the bill?”

Sarah didn’t respond. She merely continued to stare down at her lap.


*The printed version of non-Hollywood follows a different character in its next chapter. You can read the book in that orderif you prefer, or scroll down to see the next chapters starring Sarah.

[ or just skip ahead to Chapter 8 ]

On the perils of dating within The Business

There are all of the issues involved with pursuing an acting career, and then there are also all of the real-life struggles that everyone has to deal with. Like relationships. And the breakup of those relationships.

But what if your relationship is with someone else who is involved in The Business? Let's say, an acting agent (not your acting agent, but a professional acting agent nonetheless).

At first it would seem that having a relationship with someone in the same industry would make sense. Certainly actors and acting agents would have similar passions about the film business. Certainly actors and agents would have a lot to talk about during their couples' time. But what about when those relationships break up? What of the shared interests then?

In this chapter of non-Hollywood our actress character Sarah is dealing with just this dilemma. And, like most breakups, it is not a fun time. It doesn't help that the breakup has come as a surprise to her, nor does it help that the breakup happens at a celebration for a milestone in the agent's career. And in public. And while eating duck.

It also brings up the notion of how career success or failure can have an impact on a relationship. Especially in such very competitive careers as acting and talent agencies. But does the success of one partner necessarily have to put strain on a relationship? And is Sarah's failure to become an actress even a factor in this particular breakup? Her now-ex claims not. But Sarah has to wonder.

And she has to wonder if there's something more that she can do for her actress career. And if this sort of situation will continue to happen to her if she continues to fail.

How to become an actress