When you imagine your life in years to come, do you see yourself with a fast car, a big house and fancy clothes? While that could be you, it is important to note that there is a price to pay before you reach that level of success as a performer!
When I say price, I not only mean the cost to you financially, I also mean the value of your time and efforts (like doing free acting for a time)… but that is something you will learn and experience on your own when it comes down to it. Right here and now, I am here to inform you of the estimated costs involved in starting out as an auditioning actor.
Before we begin, and before you get scared off by the idea of investing hard into your future, you should know that some truly passionate trained actors will go to the end of the Earth in order to find fame… literally!
Some will turn their entire lives upside down and relocate to bustling international neighbourhoods, like Hollywood blvd, Beverly blvd and the heart of New York City, at times with their entire family in tow, so that they are in the right place at the right time for those top notch auditions and opportunities.
Just think of how much money these people spend on their careers in the entertainment industry even after all of their acting class expenses, before you start to worry about if paying for acting school or a class in acting is too much of a stretch. While it is not always necessary to pick up and move for an acting career, unfortunately there is no getting around shelling out for some training or qualifications as this is a prerequisite for the job.
Whether you are feeling very cautious about your spending or money is no object to you, I will try to explain how much you are looking to pay for different types of drama curriculum and other aspects of the life of a training actor.
On the plus side, if you do end up making millions, you can enjoy a life of jet-setting around the world and choosing where you make your home. Then, you will look back on these days of confusion and struggles and wonder why you were ever worried about funding the start of this fantastic, fulfilling and life-changing career!
Some really committed actors in training will relocate to places like Hollywood to increase their chances of finding fame. Photo on Visualhunt
A certified drama school in the UK will offer you a two-three year course on all things related to the dramatic arts, like vocal training, spontaneity and improv classes, becoming an actor and physical and emotional expression. They will also teach you about the different types of acting techniques, including the Sanford Meisner Technique, the Alexander Technique, Lee Strasberg, Method Acting and more.
You will also learn about different qualities and aspects of acting like cold reading, script analysis and listening to instruction.
At some of the top acting schools or colleges, you can expect to pay more than £5,000 per term, however, some theatre schools offer a year of tuition for £9,000 or less. Meanwhile, there are less costly solutions for training up to be an actor too.
Sylvia Young Academy – full-time
One very well-known London-based school is the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School, where famous figures like Tom Fletcher of McFly, Matt Willis of Busted, the late Amy Winehouse, Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Kara Tointon, Keeley Hawes and Nicole Appleton (formerly in the music band All Saints) attended, not to mention a long list of EastEnders actors. These stars switched school life in Marble Arch for a famously chaotic one in the fictional borough of Walford.
Admissions to this theatre school normally take place aged seven or aged eleven and the cost per term is just under £5,000.
Performing Arts School, Newcastle – summer session
As a young talent in the Newcastle area, you could benefit from attending an acting camp designed for aspiring actors. The short week costs between £100 and £150 and results in stage productions for family and friends.
During your time at the Gosforth Academy, days will be full of acting out scenarios on stage, singing songs and dancing to exciting music tracks.
At the end of a week-long course, you can display your newly learnt skills in front of friends and family. Photo credit: EaglebrookSchool on Visual Hunt
Pauline Quirke Academy, various locations – weekend classes
The Pauline Quirke Academy, or PQA, was set up by the famous actress to provide after school tuition for kids and teenagers aged between 4 and 18 because the star’s best memories of when she was younger were from attending drama classes.
In a bid to recreate this warm environment for other generations, Pauline has set up weekend drama schools across the country covering topics such as Comedy and Drama, Musical Theatre and Film and Television. The pupils are taught by specialist tutors, and modules benefit from Pauline’s 50+ years of experience within the field.
For three hours a week, 44 weeks of the year, a primary school age child will accumulate fees costing £88 per month.
You will find various postgraduate courses at universities and academies, with applicant and admission information being found at UCAS or on the individual establishments’ websites.
Acting classes, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to put a price on. There are so many factors that come into play, that it is almost impossible to give a rounded figure as guidance.
Some coaches in the inner city of London might be at liberty to charge far more than those working in smaller towns or cities, whilst a tutor who has a wealth of experience can understandably be expected to charge more per semester for their expertise. It doesn’t matter how talented you are you, you will have to pay the same as everyone else on the course unless you have been picked to receive a scholarship.
Even when searching for private acting coaches on Gumtree, prices are very rarely disclosed. This is to protect you as much as themselves, as they don’t want to give an estimated number that scares people off when in fact they can be flexible and look at building courses around your needs.
Here are some examples of public and private weekday and weekend courses found in different areas of the country, covering a wide range of topics, to give you an idea of what is out there:
Title: Drama – An Introduction to Acting
Where: St Faiths Adult Education Centre, Maidstone
Duration: 10:00-16:00 for 1 week
How much: £50.00
Student Finance is a popular way for most students to pay for elements of their degree and training.
A Tuition Fee Loan is designed to fund your course in full, only needing to be repaid once you start earning money from the profession you then choose to enter. Any UK citizen can apply for a loan, and with a means-tested Maintenance Loan on offer too, some can receive even more money than others to help them with living costs for the duration of their course.
A Maintenance Grant does not need to be paid back, while Maintenance Loans do.
If accepted for a Tuition Fee Loan, your fees will be paid to the school, college or university of your choice in instalments.
Aside from the obvious coaching tuition, there are several other things that you can expect to add to your long list of expenditures when training to become a confident actor or actress.
Headshots, for one, are surprisingly costly but are a requirement for the industry. Your headshot needs to be done by a professional, but you only need to do it a couple of times a year, unless you change your appearance drastically (like chop your hair off, grow a beard or get a visible tattoo or piercing that changes the way you look).
You might also want to sign yourself up to casting websites, especially if you don’t have an agent representing you. You will need to pay the agency a fee, so research which casting sites are the best instead of paying various fees.
Some actors may attend workshops from time to time, to keep adding new skills to their resume. These aren’t mandatory, but it’s another consideration when you are looking at numbers.
Finally, I can’t not mention the fundamental cost of living, which of course applies to all, no matter their profession. The difference for trainee actors, however, is that they often aren’t working professionals as such. Most aspiring actors will hold down part-time jobs whilst applying for various auditions, so they somehow need to find the money for rent, food, social outings, etc…
As an actor, you may need to gain or lose weight for roles so you may need to be prepared to pay for a personal trainer. Photo on Visual hunt
In addition, as an actor, you will most likely be very aware of your appearance and understand that you must look after your body. As such, gym memberships, personal trainers, hairdressers, stylists, beauticians and many other costs will no doubt come into play.