Greetings Fellow Thespians,
My name is Kahlid Elijah Tapia and I’m a working actor in South Korea. Yes, you read that correctly…Korea.
I’ve been living and acting here for the past 5 years and while it’s been a most fulfilling experience I want to provide some helpful information for any actor that wishes to make the leap over the pond. The following are some helpful tips that can assist you no matter the country you’re in.
LEARN THE LANGUAGE (DUH!)
I will be the first to admit that my Korean is High Beginner/Low Intermediate but I’ve been receiving more roles to speak Korean because of my current understanding. And don’t think you have an upper-hand if you decide to go to a foreign country that speaks English, i.e. England or the Philippines. You should still learn the local “slang” which will help you immensely. If you’re the type of person who enjoys taking classes, like yours truly, make sure to do some research on classes that are free first. Some foreign languages are pretty difficult and paying $1,200 for a semester and failing the class would be hard on the pocket. Take the free classes first, learn the basics and if the free classes are good enough you just saved some nice coin.
HEADSHOTS & RESUMES AREN’T UNIVERSAL
Make sure your headshot and resume are the standard of the country you’ve embarked upon. Here in Korea your picture must be on the resume and your name shouldn’t be on the head shot. Not everyone holds the American standard as the status quo. Additionally, if you post your resume on local social media sites; WRITE DOWN where you posted it and remember to update it. Nothing is more frustrating than walking into an audition and the casting agent or director has a copy of a three year old resume that doesn’t show any of your strengths. ARRHHH!!! The DRED!
BE MINDFUL OF THE CULTURE
Always remind yourself that the way they do things is not wrong, it’s just different. And being different is what made us want to be actors in the first place! If you’re in a country like Korea remember that the culture is directly connected to the language. The way you speak to an elder is totally different than how you speak to a person your age or younger than you. I know that seems trivial but it’s a world of difference. Sure, you can get away with things because you’re a foreigner but imagine what you can get if you heed to the details. Here’s a good link to get you started on some of the things you can expect with Korean culture.
FIND AN ACTING COACH
Train, train, train, and did I mention…train? Just because you’re in Korea doesn’t mean you can’t go to Japan and attend an Ivana Chubbuck workshop. You have great countries around you that have plenty of English speaking acting coaches. Take advantage! Don’t go partying for a few weeks, save some money and attend. Some people have different views on training but I say, “If you’re not working, you should be training & if you’re not training, you should be working.” I know, people are looking more at our Twitter followers than our training & acting ability. And rumor has it that acting only counts for 7% of what casting agents look at today, well if that’s true, my 7% will be the strongest ever.
You’ve decided to get out of the L.A./New York rat race and endeavor on something new. To be an expatriate actor. That’s amazing! Remember there’s no one way to become an actor. Dwayne Johnson used wrestling. Ashton Kucher used modeling. We can be the ones that develop as international actors, the expat thespians. I know there are no guarantees but I’m liking my odds!
Please reply in the comments below with your thoughts.
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Till next time thespians,