From the outside looking in Broadway seems to be an amazing arena featuring incredible talent from new and old actors alike. However, the glamour seen on stage is only a small portion of what the Broadway world is all about. Being an actor on Broadway requires a lot of work and dedication that is often overlooked by those who aren’t participating in the process.
Breaking onto the Broadway scene is no easy feat. Many people get started at a very young age in the hopes of grasping a role by their mid to late 20’s. Some people are able to make their debut as young as 10 or 14 years of age, while most people tend to break through between the ages of 22-25. Most actors go to University first to get a BFA degree prior to starting the process of getting onto Broadway, so later entry is not uncommon.
Auditioning to make that big break is a process that separates those who are serious about Broadway acting from those who are not. It is really tough, really stressful, and it can be quite overwhelming. A person considering going into the Broadway industry must have thick skin and a high level of confidence, but must also ensure they are not coming off as cocky. It is important to be prepared and composed when delivering the monologue, performing the dance, or singing the song. Also, those auditioning have to expect the unexpected. While the initial audition requirements may have only called for a monologue, those executing the audition can always ask for more or switch things up at the last minute.
Most auditions are only open to those with an equity card, so it is suggested that one work in theatre and obtain the hours needed to qualify for an equity card. While there are open auditions that aspiring actors can go to, they are often few and far between and have to be thoroughly searched for in order to find. Though landing a role through an open audition automatically qualifies a person for an equity card, far more opportunities can be obtained by receiving the equity card first.
Resumes are another extremely essential part of the process. Previous theatre experience (not necessarily Broadway) is almost always a must in order to book a role. Those hoping to land a role must take the time to craft a resume that demonstrates their strengths and showcases their talents so that they stand out from the crowd. An impressive resume combined with an exemplary audition are what get actors parts on the stage.
The pay of Broadway actors is not at all as grandiose as the salaries of Hollywood movie actors. In fact, it pales in comparison. Pay varies based upon an actor’s position in the cast. Lead actors command around $2,000 a week whereas ensemble members get paid about $800 weekly. It is challenging to convert this into a pay-per-hour rate because hours vary due to rehearsal times and performance changes. It is important to note that Broadway actors only get paid when they are working with a show. Thus, many actors have other jobs in addition to their Broadway lives to help support them.
At the end of the day, it is the love of the stage that keeps Broadway actors and aspiring Broadway actors pushing forward. A Reddit insider with the username gayrageaccount shared, “I’m involved with theatre because it honestly is one of the only things in the world that make me truly happy. I guess I really enjoy dancing/singing in themselves, but I reallllly enjoy making people feel something- especially good feeling. And I know I’m able to do this through my work on stage.”
From auditions, to pay, to rehearsals; life on Broadway is no walk in the park. However, for those who love the stage and love entertaining it is worth all of the sacrifice.
Author: Diamond Grant