During the last three Pilot Seasons, I made lists of young adult actors aged roughly 23-33 who booked leading and series regular roles and grouped them into the most common educational and training paths based on what I could find of their backgrounds. Now to conclude the study, instead of offering long lists of individual actors like in the past, I have listed the schools those with college and conservatory training attended along with the numbers of bookings from each. Plus, I have further divided the categories of those who majored in subjects besides Acting into subgroups of related courses of study along with dividing those who began their careers with high school educations into additional subgroups showing prior training, experience, major market residency, etc. This should bring some light to the realities behind the advice often given to serious young American actors suggesting that it is best to major in something “practical” like Business or STEM or just move to New York or Los Angeles straight from high school with no significant training, experience, connections, nor established parallel careers. Actors who did that and rose to this level account for 1.6%, .6%, and 2.4% of bookings respectively despite a constant and often aggressive online drumbeat of that advice having been given since I was in high school and most certainly before.
Now, realizing that I’m talking to a lot of kids and parents who may not have seen my past posts and do not know what Pilot Season is, it’s the period that roughly takes place between January and May of each year during which the television networks cast and shoot sample episodes of programs from which they will choose for their fall lineups. While you may recognize some shows that were picked up to series if you look at the lists from years past, most pilots will never see the light of day and booking one does not necessarily a sustained acting career make. However, these castings are considered to be an auspicious sign towards that end and I will posit that they signify a trend now being seen in young adult actors working in television at the leading and series regular level.
So kids and parents, I have provided you with a 3-year study that amounts to a truth bomb you can drop on the pointy little heads of those who may try to hand you all the tired b/s that I had to suffer when I was coming along like “college training sucks, it’s a waste of time and money, it’s just for theatre, you will be squandering the four most marketable years of your life, you would be better off majoring in Business and then just showing up in LA to take once-a-week classes, David Mamet said, so-and-so A-Lister never trained, blah, blah, blah, and blah.” Use it ruthlessly.
HERE ARE THE NUMBERS
619 Bookings of which 436 were by Americans
Educational and Training Backgrounds
215 Undergraduate Acting - 158 American
22 Graduate Acting - 21 American
50 Non-Degree Conservatories - 28 American
99 Majored in Something Besides Acting - 78 American
102 Began Careers with High School Education or Foreign Equivalent - 58 American
129 Former Child Stars/Began Careers as Minors - 91 American
2 Unknown Education, Training Backgrounds, or Starting Age - 2 American