Non-union/No NCDT degree - how to get work

A reader question from an actress from Atlanta, Georgia:

Q: I am an American that just moved a month ago to Kent on a work permit for a job in my degree field, social work. I was a professional actress in Atlanta, Georgia and was able to juggle both jobs and was hoping to work some here as well. I was not union affiliated as Georgia had mostly non-union work and I never landed a union job. I did a lot of non-union commercials, student films, and community theater and trained with some LA folks that were brought in at my acting studio in Atlanta. With all that said, I have been researching the acting field here like crazy and find it a little different. It looks like there is more of an emphasis on holding a certificate or degree from an accredited NCDT (National Council for Drama Training) course.

Have you found it a hinderance that you don't have the certificate or degree from a NCDT or do they accept your theater degree from the states? While I don't hold a theatre degree, I studied for years in Atlanta and LA and don't like the idea of having to go back to the beginning to be able to get jobs. I've thought of just sending my info into some agents with a cover letter discussing my situation (ie American abroad, with some training) and concurrently taking some classes at a reputable acting studio. But I'm finding there are a lot of blocks placed on casting sites and acting classes only allowing people in Spotlight, member affiliated, or accredited to participate. I haven't tried to see if Spotlight will accept my CV with experience and training, as I was hoping to submit myself for some auditions and have a couple of UK credits before trying. What order should I go about getting involved? Go directly to the agents with my US headshot and cover letter, only train for a while, or attempt to get my own credits for a while.

A: Although I didn't complete an accredited NCDT course, I was a member of both AEA and SAG unions when I arrived in the UK which served to prove my worth as a professional actor. I also had a healthy list of theatre, film, TV and radio credits on my CV which helped. Finally I had an in with my current agents, Scott Marshall Partners, through a British actor/director I worked with in Washington, DC. So in one sense, I haven't found it a hindrance that I have an American theatre degree: it hasn't made me seem less credible. However, I do feel I missed out on the British industry contacts I would have made had I gone to a drama school in London.

But what's done is done. If I were you, I'd write to agents regardless of your training or union status and introduce yourself. I'd say you are an American actress recently moved to London from Georgia (they love the southern accents here), you have a work permit and are looking for representation. Then I'd mention a few highlights of your acting career and say you'd be interested in meeting up. If you will be performing anywhere soon, that's a bonus - invite them. Simultaneously, I'd phone up or visit Spotlight, tell them your situation and see if they'll include you in Actresses 08/09. (The deadline is April 15th so get going if you haven't already) Then I'd take a couple short courses at the Actors Centre in areas where you feel you could improve. You'd brush up your skills and meet some other actors. On top of all this, I'd subscribe to CastWeb or CastNet to receive casting notices and submit yourself for work! Then after a period of time - 6 months or a year - if you still don't have an agent, you'll have had time to at least get some training, maybe even some work or a showreel, and you can write to agents again telling them what you'd achieved since you wrote last. Persistence and tenacity. Go get 'em.


Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for the advice! I got accepted into Spotlight and had some fantastic headshots taken by Claire Newman-Williams, as well as landed a role in a local touring musical. I really appreciate your blog and honest feedback, and I will probally be contacting you in the future about creating a website.

Thanks Again!
The Bond Girls said…
I am a S.A.G. actress and i am in love with London, i live in Connecticut. I want to get work there and i'm entirely unaware how to go about it. I do tons of BG and stand in work in the states. Please give me any advice you can.

Popular Posts