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Dear West End Producer: How do you become a successful actor?

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There are several ways to become an actor, and here I will list the best ways to become not only an actor, but a hugely successful one. Follow these and in no time you’ll be treading the boards with legends like Bendydick Cuminmypatch, Serena McKellen, Michael’s Ball, and Patrick and Stewart.

Firstly – be born into a theatrical family. This is hugely useful, and can help you bypass years of hatred and doubt. If your daddy or mummy is famous, then they’ll be able to provide you will valuable contacts in the industry – people that most drama wannabes can only dream of touching. These important friends of your father will cast you over other people purely because they know your family. And why not? It’s always best to keep things in the family. That’s how the whole business works, dear.

Secondly – don’t bother going to drama school, go to Oxbridge instead. Directors love people who have been to Oxford or Cambridge as it implies they can actually read and understand what the hell Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard are going on about. And this is useful – as it means they don’t have to understand it themselves.

Thirdly – if you decide to go to drama school, go to one that has “royal” or “academy” in its title: these are considered the best. They are supported by well-known ex-graduates, and have the nicest facilities due to posh people donating lots of money (in return for getting limited edition tickets to see Tom Hiddleston performing in absolutely anything). You will undoubtedly leave one of these schools with an agent, a lover, and the prospect of a career that pays above Equity minimum.

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Fourthly – stick to one discipline. Creatives hate it if you have multiple talents. Too bloody confusing. Please just make a decision and decide what kind of actor you are. Straight actor, musical theatre actor, TV actor, radio actor, out of work actor… State this loudly on your CV so we know what you are. We really can’t waste seasons letting a musical performer grow into a straight serious actor. It’s such a pain. If you want to do that then go back to RADA, dear.

Fifthly – get a good agent. If you don’t have a brilliant agent then there really is no point. All the top breakdowns and roles are only sent out to the top five – and only when all of their clients are unavailable will lesser-known agencies be approached. It really is essential. Why spend years trying to produce your own shows, or appearing in obscure venues around the country doing brilliant work? Yes, you may be creatively fulfilled and work with the most inspiring people around – but no one will see you – so what’s the point? Stay in London and wait until a role comes your way. Even if it means working front of house for 20 years. The business is entirely based around London. Never forget that, dear.

Six – change your surname to Fiennes, Fox, Irons, Strallen or Redgrave. Simple.

And there you have it. Follow these simple rules for your wonderful career as a successful actor, dear.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer. Read more of West End Producer’s weekly advice columns every Wednesday at thestage.co.uk/author/westendproducer

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