Career Advice Industry Insights

How to Successfully Break into the Entertainment Industry 

By: Charlotte Couch
Aug 11, 2020 • 10 min read

How to Successfully Break into the Entertainment Industry 

Whether you were swept away by La La Land or entranced by Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, you may have fantasized about walking down the red carpet as a top player in the industry. Maybe you envisioned yourself as a publicist walking with their client or a screenwriter who was nominated for an award. But the idea of breaking into the entertainment industry may have felt like just a dream at the time.

entertainment industry

 It Won’t Be Easy

While the entertainment industry is notoriously difficult to break into, primarily, if you aren’t related to anyone working in it, it isn’t impossible. That’s why we are offering our top tips for breaking into entertainment. Because there are so many different paths you can take into the industry, we are going to be breaking this guide down according to the profession you are interested in pursuing.

Actor

Becoming an actor in Hollywood is tough. Some people are lucky enough to find an agent during a showcase. Others struggle for years to even get into the room with a casting director. However, most actors start at the same place: acting school. While there, you will learn the craft of acting as well as practical steps for gaining a foothold in the industry. 

Start Early

Starting your acting career in high school can help you hone your craft beginning at a young age. Participating in high school plays and local shows can also increase your chances of getting into a prestigious acting program, as you will have a strong portfolio to show for. During your schooling, you should focus on building up your resume and creating a network of people who are also pursuing an acting career. 

entertainment industry

Writer, Director, Producer, or Below-the-Line Talent

Most people who want to be writers, directors, or editors attend film school to practice their craft. While there, they can work on both their technical skills and artistic style. Some of the top film schools include:

  • University of Southern California
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • New York University
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • American Film Institute
  • Chapman University

However, you don’t have to major in film or attend an MFA program to become a writer, director, or anyone else behind the camera. Simply working on your craft and building a portfolio can put you closer to your dream job. Networking with other people in your industry can also help you move up the ladder. 

Explore Other Options

Office PA jobs and writer’s assistant jobs are also great opportunities for practicing the craft of making a film as well as finding mentors who can help you navigate this challenging career path. Some writers, directors, and producers also get their start at agencies. While there, they are often granted first looks into lucrative job postings offered by “alumni” of the agency. 

Agent or Manager

Many people on the business side of entertainment get their start at a talent agency. Agencies like William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and United Talent Agency (UTA) are some of the most exclusive companies to work for. While these are considered the Big 3, other agencies that look great on your resume include:

  • ICM Partners
  • Paradigm Talent Agency
  • The Gersh Agency
  • Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)

Some of the top Hollywood agents and executives started their careers in the mailrooms at one of these agencies. 

entertainment industry

Interview

Most of the time, having a referral is the only way you can land an interview. Try to find connections at these agencies by researching your alumni network and reaching out to anyone who currently works at one. Interning at smaller agencies and production companies can also help you find a way into larger agencies. As you build a relationship with these people, they may decide to help you out by sending your resume to HR. 

Moving Up in the Mailroom

Getting into an agency is only half the battle. Once you land a job at one, you need to work your way up from the mailroom and land a desk under an agent. Most agencies are divided into different departments such as talent, literary, music, content finance, and even digital as influencers grow in popularity. As you move around, different parts of the company, use this time in the mailroom to decide which division interests you most. Some people enjoy working with actors and casting directors while others would instead work with below-the-line talent like cinematographers or editors. Forming relationships with assistants and coordinators can also help you learn more about the industry and find an agent that you will enjoy working for. 

Studio Executive, Casting Director, Publicist

While working at a production company or studio is one way to move up the ladder to an executive position, many current Hollywood executives actually got their start in the mailroom. Agency experience is so relevant that most entry-level assistant jobs at production companies and studios require at least a year at an agency. Casting directors and publicists can also get their start at agencies. However, agency experience isn’t mandatory. Many casting directors and publicists start out at an internship before working their way up as an assistant. 

General Tips for Getting Your Dream Job in Entertainment

No matter what profession in the entertainment industry you think is calling to you, these tips will help you stay on top of your game and ahead of the competition.

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest industry news by subscribing to Deadline or The Hollywood Reporter
  • Try to read as many scripts as you can to develop your taste
  • Make meaningful connections with your co-workers and anyone else in the industry
  • Avoid scams and sketchy organizations that try to exploit you for money
  • Watch the latest TV series and films 

Breaking into the entertainment industry can be difficult. Unlike some careers, there is no clear path toward success in this industry. This can be a turn-off for some people, but a welcome challenge for others. 

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Ready to break out of your shell and become a star? Here is everything you need to know about joining the entertainment industry.

 

 

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