I want to be a Bollywood actress! Where do I start? What do I need to become an actress in Bollywood? If these are the questions that keep you up at night, you’ve come to the right place.
Being recognised everywhere you go, having the trappings of luxury, working with superstars on screen and being part of the world’s largest film industry – these are the benefits of an acting career in Bollywood.
More Indian women are interested in pursuing an acting career nowadays because they believe it’s their gateway to fame and fortune. However, getting acting jobs in Bollywood is much more than its glittering veneer.
It’s sweat and toil, wrapped up in the alluring package of fame and wealth, and presented to aspiring actors to lure them to Bollywood’s mesmerizing capital, Mumbai.
Do I Have What It Takes To Be An Actress?
So, you want to be an actress? It is not at all an impossible dream, but you have to be ready to work harder than most people of your age.
The truth is, most celebrities started out playing small roles on television and in the movies before they get their big break.
So if you plan on starting an acting career in Bollywood, chances are you’ll have to endure the same ordeals until a director or executive producer sees that you’re ready for a major role.
If you think it only takes beauty or a Miss India title to get into Bollywood, think again! Just look at the rising stars nowadays and you’ll see that most of them are not what you would call classic beauties.
Their popularity has turned their looks into a non-issue. Even with a not-so-covetous body, a talented actress like Smriti Irani can go head to head with the best on the small screen and even win the race.
When it comes to an acting career, beauty is not the only yardstick, although it helps if you’re a photogenic actress and good look on screen. The most beautiful actresses may rise to superstardom, but without the talent to back them up, they’ll end up fading into the sunset.
Only those who really have talent will endure and go on to make more movies. In fact, even if you’re not as beautiful or as sexy as other actresses, your talent can help you excel and outshine them.
It’s not even necessary to be “fair-complexioned” any more, as the success of stars like Deepika Padukone and Bipasha Basu show.
Besides acting talent, you also need the virtues of persistence and patience for a successful acting career. Some people may discount it, but luck plays an important role too.
Just look at Frieda Pinto, a small-time model, who is today enjoying working with some of the best actors and directors in Hollywood (and giving the rest of the Bollywood beauties heartburn).
She was not even a star when she was chosen to play the role of Latika in Slumdog Millionaire. Her lucky break has given hope to millions of girls who are considered nobodies in show biz.
The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want to be a professional actor. This simply means you have to be committed to it.
This may mean giving up your expectations and doing some things along the way that take you out of your comfort zone.
If you’ve decided to learn how to become an actress in Bollywood, remember one thing – you’ll have to do whatever it takes to create a brand of your own.
Once you have psyched yourself up, it is time to pack your bags and move to India’s movie mecca, Mumbai, since most Bollywood movie auditions take place here.
Many wannabe actors from small towns, as well as other metros, come to Mumbai every single day with stars in their eyes and starry dreams of becoming the next big Hindi movie heroine.
While there are plenty of acting opportunities in India, there’s also cutthroat competition, so the chances of becoming an actress in Bollywood are not very promising.
On top of that, if you’re a woman, you can’t ever let your guard down to protect yourself from exploitation when you attend a Hindi film audition.
Even more in Bollywood, WHO you know is even more important than WHAT you know. The best way to get into acting is to network with influential people who can endorse you for your acting skills.
This means you’ll need to build a network of Mumbai film industry contacts, friends and supporters before you can plunge into mainstream cinema.
Before we delve into the details of how to begin an acting career in India, let us inspire you with some stories of self-made Bollywood actresses, who reached the apex without any ‘Godfather’ in the industry.
Famous Bollywood Actresses and How They Started Out
Mumbai film industry contacts are so important that dreams of acting careers are built or crushed on the basis of who you know. This is why nepotism has always been a relevant issue for people outside the film industry, with little or no contact in Bollywood.
Many of these wannabe actors have come from all over India, and even the UK and other countries to attend acting auditions in Mumbai, only to find to their dismay that a star kid has been chosen for the role and they’ve landed the role of a Bollywood side actor.
However, some actresses have still managed to make it to the top on their own steam, through sheer talent and grit, and these are the people you should look to as role models. Here are some of them:
From Hum Paanch to Parineeta, Vidya Balan has seen the best and worst times in her Bollywood career. Being an outsider, she had to struggle throughout her initial days and started out with TV commercials and music videos.
She was offered a South Indian movie, in which she was paired against Mohanlal. When the movie did not do well as expected, she was even considered a jinx and cast out of other South Indian films.
Her journey of struggle ended, however, when she was paired opposite Saif Ali Khan in her debut Bollywood movie, Parineeta. We all know how it worked out for her after that.
This strong, talented actress from the hills has, no doubt, made it a huge impact in the industry, in spite of being an outsider.
Her amazing talent did not go unnoticed by Bollywood casting directors, and she started her journey with her debut film, Gangster, in 2006.
Today, she already has three National Film Awards and four Filmfare Awards in her kitty and aspires to win more.
Kangana is not only known in the industry for her acting skills, but also her ability to be vocal about pressing issues in the industry like sexual harassment and nepotism.
She doesn’t wait around for Bollywood acting opportunities to fall in her lap but creates her own opportunities by directing her own movies like Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.
She is also regarded as a youth influencer and a motivational speaker by the millennials.
Another influential person who has made it big in her acting career in the Bollywood industry, is the model-turned-actress, Anushka Sharma. She gave an audition for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, without knowing that belonged to the Yash Raj Films stable.
Although her debut film with King Khan, was not recognized for her performance, her next film, Band Baja Baraat, opposite Ranveer Singh, turned out to be a blockbuster, and there’s been no looking back for Anushka since then.
Besides being a good actor, Anushka is also known for being vocal about social issues, being an animal lover, and for her no-nonsense attitude. Her marriage to Indian cricket captain, Virat Kohli, only helped elevate her brand.
When it comes to Bollywood female actors, Priyanka Chopra’s name invariably tops the list. By winning the Miss World title in 2000, she negated the racist Indian mentality by flaunting her dusky complexion and million-dollar smile.
She did not stop at that, however, and began her work in Bollywood through numerous films, not all of which did well at the box office. However, she never lost hope and gradually joined the circle of top actresses in the Hindi film industry.
Being a versatile actor, Priyanka Chopra did not bind her dreams to Bollywood and flew to Hollywood to take on that industry, and succeed she did. She was bullied and trolled, but she never stepped back from doing what she wanted to do.
The daughter of famous badminton player, Prakash Padukone, Deepika made her Bollywood debut in Om Shanti Om opposite none other than Shah Rukh Khan in 2007.
She had a smooth sail as compared to other actresses, because of her dimpled smile, her heart-stealing looks and her incredible acting skills. She was appreciated by critics and viewers alike, as she gave one hit after another.
Like Priyanka Chopra, she too acted in a Hollywood film, XXX – The Return of Xander Cage, where she was appreciated widely. Today, Deepika is one of the highest paid actresses in Bollywood and also a well-known name in Hollywood.
How Much Are Female Actors In Bollywood Paid?
Many actresses look for jobs in the Bollywood industry to earn loads of money and enhance their living standards. If you’re one of them, and money is your first priority, you should know how much female actors in Bollywood are paid in general.
According to an article by Forbes in 2017, India’s gender pay gap extends to the Bollywood industry, to no one’s surprise. Women are believed to earn 25% less than their male counterparts, according to the Monster Salary Index 2016.
Actresses like Aditi Rao Hydari, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Kangana Ranaut, have raised awareness of this pay gap in the Bollywood actress’ salary and against gender inequality prevalent in the industry.
Here are some stats to give you an idea of how much these actresses are paid on average:
- Kangana Ranaut: She charges about INR 10 to 11 crores per film.
- Deepika Padukone: With a net worth of about $7.5 million, she charges INR 10 to 12 crores per film.
- Kareena Kapoor Khan: The self-proclaimed queen of Bollywood, Bebo charges INR 9 to 10 crores per movie.
- Priyanka Chopra: Her net worth is $8 million, and she charges INR 8 to 9 crores per film.
- Katrina Kaif: She has a net worth of $18.3 million, and charges INR 6 to 7 crores for every film.
So, if you can make it to the position that these actresses are in, you could end up living lavishly in the lap of luxury, if that’s what you desire.
Now that you’re inspired by the stories of these amazing actresses and know how much they earn, here’s what to do if you want to be an actress in the Indian film industry.
How to Become a Bollywood Actress In India: 10 Steps To Success
Before you step into your acting shoes, you should be aware that Indian cinema is not synonymous with just Bollywood. In fact, more than 2000 feature films in 40 regional languages are released every year in the country.
However, Bollywood is still regarded as the face of Indian cinema because of the widespread use of the Hindi language, and the influence it has across the country.
So if you crave recognition, fame and luxury, you would do well to find jobs in Bollywood films and establish your career through your acting talent.
The following steps to becoming an actress will show you what you need to become an actress and how to join the Bollywood film industry.
1. Join an Acting School
So, you’re passionate about acting from an early age, right? But just passion is not going to take you anywhere if you don’t have the skills to match.
Learning how to be a Bollywood actress takes more than just good looks and personality. You need to learn how to emote, and for Bollywood movies, how to dance and stay fit as well.
But, how to learn Bollywood acting, you ask? The fastest route to an acting career in Bollywood is to join an acting school to hone your talents and turn your hobby of acting into your profession.
A number of successful film actors and actresses have made it big in the industry after they were trained in professional acting schools and colleges.
If you seek a career in the film industry after 12th, enrol in a renowned acting school to enhance your existing skills and develop new ones. You’ll get acting tips here that you won’t get elsewhere.
By enrolling in an acting school, you’ll not only find the answer to the question, “Do I have what it takes to be an actress?” but can learn Bollywood acting from veteran actors and actresses of the Indian film industry.
This is also one of the best ways to get auditions and casting calls for Bollywood movies and nab the best roles for new actors, as these veteran actors are well connected and will gladly put you in touch with their influential connections.
Here are some of the most renowned acting schools in India:
- The Film and Television Institute (FTII) in Pune
- Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares in Mumbai
- Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai
- Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (SRFTI) in Kolkata
- The National School of Drama in New Delhi
- Asian Academy of Film and Television in New Delhi, Noida, Kolkata and Mumbai
- Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment in Mumbai
- Zee Institute of Media Arts (ZIMA)
- Center for Research in Art of Film and Television (CRAFT) in New Delhi
- CREO Valley in Bengaluru
- ICE Advanced Acting Course
- Livewires Institutes
- Whistling Woods International
Get into one of these institutes and turn your dream of acting into a reality.
2. Create a Portfolio and Website with Headshots
If you’re already a model, you should have a portfolio that you created for your modelling career. However, an acting portfolio is a bit different.
Unlike a modelling portfolio where all you have to do is look good, an acting portfolio needs to showcase different expressions and roles that you’re capable of.
You can hire a professional photographer to create an impressive portfolio with headshots for every kind of role that you think suitable for your talent.
For example, if you wish to apply for a comic role, make sure your facial expressions in the headshots match the casting directors’ expectations. If you want to apply for action movies, your headshots, moods and expressions should match the look you’re going for.
You may also be asked to make Bollywood actor’s auditions tapes and send them in for a role, especially if you’re an NRI or foreign actor who wants to apply for a Bollywood movie job from abroad.
Mail your portfolio to a Bollywood acting agency or casting agencies and if possible, to big production houses in the movie or television industry.
You should also create your own actor website with your own domain name so that you can easily send the link to anyone on Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger.
Web For Actors is a service that allows you to build a smart IADB Website for Actors in 90 seconds. These specialized actor websites look great on every screen size and are extremely easy to populate and set up.
Each actor website is programmed to ensure that the actor’s name, profession and skills are used and reused throughout the website to guarantee higher placement within search engines.
Along with your IADB Website for Actors, you’ll have access to resume building tools, gig searching tools and a plethora of other gadgets that will improve your online presence in seconds so you can share your resumes, headshots and media galleries with the world.
3. Learn Hindi or Try Regional Films
The first step to becoming a Bollywood actress is to master the Hindi language and improve your diction with the help of a professional coach. In an audition, the first thing you will be criticised for is your appearance as well as your diction.
If you’re not from a Hindi-speaking background, it becomes all the more important for you to master speaking Hindi with a good accent. It is advisable to hire a language and voice coach before you appear for your audition.
Another option is to take a role in a regional film whose language is your native tongue. You’ll be in good company as Bollywood actresses like Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukerji, Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone and Sharmila Tagore, all made their debut in regional films.
4. Network with Influential Bollywood Insiders
Do your research and find contacts in the industry to get insider information on Bollywood movie auditions and vacancies in the Bollywood industry.
Another must-have in Bollywood is a good agent, someone with the connections to provide you with the latest news and to connect you with influential Bollywood insiders. Having someone do the marketing for you helps a lot in opening up opportunities.
Your agent is also the person who will help you gain entry to the hottest parties so that you can get noticed or maybe secure a slot for you in an audition. This will also give you the opportunity to meet directors, producers and even the actors themselves.
Another must-have is a stylist who will help you look presentable at every function. Remember that getting a break in Bollywood is all about how you present yourself, and you need to be well-dressed in order to get noticed.
One thing you should be cautious about is scam artists that will tell you they can make you famous when all they will really do is steal your money or exploit you.
Don’t let your guard down at any cost, be observant of people, and trust your instincts without letting on that you know what they’re thinking or revealing your true feelings to them.
Network and make new friends. But don’t make the mistake of trusting every person you meet. This industry has more than its fair share of sexual predators.
Creating a personal brand in Bollywood is the toughest job there is. But, if you’re ambitious and clever enough to make your way, you’re very likely to succeed.
5. Approach a Casting Agency
There are a number of struggling actors in Mumbai, who never miss a single audition to try and prove their worth. If you don’t want to join their ranks, you need to give yourself an edge by applying to a Bollywood casting agency.
Here are some Bollywood casting agencies that can help you get your foot in the door.
- Shanoo Sharma at Yashraj Casting Office
- Sameer Banerjee Talent & Casting Agency
- Vicky Sidana Casting Director
Contact these casting agencies online on Facebook or email your portfolio to them and follow-up with them. Also, get your manager to help you apply for such roles.
Beware of individuals who pretend to be talent agents and ask you to pay a certain amount upfront. Run from them because the authentic agents only get paid when they land you a job and not before.
Look for Bollywood auditions and vacancies in TV serials online. If required, move to a big city and make temporary living arrangements there so you can attend more auditions in less time.
The advent of social media has created an easy way to build a network online. So don’t hesitate to use social media in your search for Bollywood casting auditions.
You can join acting groups and online forums like Indiwood.com to get news and updates on acting auditions in Mumbai for serials.
You can also join Facebook groups, like the ones below, that advertise Bollywood auditions, casting calls, and actress jobs in Mumbai.
Disclaimer: We have no connection with any of these Facebook groups or the people who run them. Please use caution and always be careful when connecting to anyone on social media who posts about an audition for acting in India.
- Paid modelling/acting jobs
- Mumbai Auditions
- Models Casting & Events Mumbai
- Acting Jobs For Freshers In Bollywood
- Acting Jobs In Film & TV Industry India
- Dance Jobs & Auditions – India
- Delhi Models/Actors/Artists/Anchors/Emcee
- Casting, Crew & Creative Jobs in India
- Models Actors in NCR
- Acting And Modeling Job Kolkata
- Mumbai Casting & Auditions
- Mumbai Jobs: Acting, Modeling, Junior Artistes
- Mumbai Jobs: Modeling Acting Junior Artiste
- The Actors Group
- Casting Director for Actors
- Talent Managers for Actors
Create a Facebook Business Page as a “Public Figure” and brand yourself on social media. Upload videos and photos from jobs you’ve done. Grab every opportunity that you get to showcase your talent online.
Engage with your followers and keep them updated on new roles you’ve done. Follow the handles of big stars’ on Twitter and Instagram and engage with them too.
7. Attend every Hindi Movie Audition you get called to
In the early days of your career, you need to attend every Hindi movie audition that your manager or agent lines up for you. You can liken it to attending numerous job interviews when you’re looking for that dream job.
You may attend a number of auditions but can choose your roles only when you’re selected in most of them. So, make it a point to be a well-known face in every audition, whether it’s for a minor role or a major one.
As Woody Allen so famously said, “80 per cent of success is just showing up.”
If you’re wondering how to apply for auditions in Bollywood, consult your acting school or your manager. They are usually informed about upcoming auditions and will recommend the best Bollywood job vacancy for you.
8. Join CINTAA
Once you have been hired for or done any roles or advertisements, you should also apply for membership of CINTAA (Cine & TV Artistes’ Association), if you’re serious about becoming a Bollywood actress.
Indian nationals who “play a significant role in a feature film, TV serials, Telefilms, live performances, advertisement films shown on screen, digital or any new media” are eligible to join. NRIs and foreign nationals can obtain a work permit for a limited time.
9. Set Goals For Your Career
When you’re ready to start your career in the Bollywood film industry, create a goal for every step on your journey to success. There’s no point waiting for an eternity for something to show up.
Decide where you want to be in a year, 2 years, 5 years and 10 years, and work towards it. If you’re always on the go and ambitious to boot, you will push yourself more, and your momentum will pave a path to success for you.
10. Have Faith and Patience
Although you should never expect to become a star in your first movie, you should opt for bigger and more challenging roles once you’ve established a presence in the industry.
The life of junior actors in Bollywood is not one that most people wish for. So, start small, but make sure you move forward and don’t stay in the same position for long.
Have faith and patience if you don’t get good roles in the beginning of your career. Prove your worth in the roles you do get, and you’ll soon get noticed by your audience as well as by casting agencies in Bollywood.
These requirements to become an actor in Bollywood may seem quite burdensome. But if you can sail through them successfully, you’ll increase your chances of reaching the top of the acting profession in India.
Bollywood Acting Career Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are a few frequently asked questions that wannabe actors ask when they start thinking of an acting career in Bollywood.
1. Can you be an actor with no experience?
Are you thinking “I want to be an actress but have no experience”? If you’re wondering how to join Bollywood without any prior experience, then yes, it is definitely possible to do that.
Follow the steps above and join one of the acting schools listed above for Bollywood acting tips, and to learn the professional skill of acting in movies.
You can also read and research the qualifications needed to be an actress in Bollywood and work on yourself to tick all the boxes.
Some of these skills include being a good dancer, having a pleasant voice, being able to express your emotions and create the facial expressions necessary to emote on the big screen. And, of course, it never hurts to have good looks and charisma.
Getting into acting with no experience is not a cake walk, but it is always possible if you have the talent and the determination to prove yourself, learn new skills and grow along the way.
2. How to audition for upcoming Bollywood movies?
The fastest way to get a Bollywood film audition is to hire a manager or agent. These people are very well-networked and have influential connections and an ear to the grapevine of the industry.
All Bollywood actresses have a manager who represents them for a percentage of their earnings. That means they are invested in getting you good roles for a good salary as their earnings depend on how much you are paid.
You can also use social media to find information about Bollywood auditions online. We have listed several Facebook groups above that circulate information on auditions for acting in Bollywood movies.
Keep track of these forums to get the latest updates about acting jobs in Mumbai. You can also find out if there are Whatsapp groups that announce auditions for upcoming Bollywood movies and join these groups for regular updates on auditions in Mumbai.
The internet has made it really easy for us to connect to people online and there’s nothing stopping you from connecting to production houses directly in your quest to become a Bollywood actress.
3. How to become a TV serial actress in India?
One alternative to an acting career in Bollywood is to find a TV serial job. The television industry has created a large number of Hindi serial jobs.
This has provided immense opportunities to fresh talent across the country, and you could even land a lead actress’ role if you can learn how to become a TV actress in India.
The issue of nepotism is not as widespread in the television industry, as it is a relatively new industry. Many famous TV actors and actresses have moved on to Bollywood after starting out on the small screen.
If you’re wondering how to become a TV actress, it’s very similar to the steps above for applying for any film industry jobs in Mumbai. You can even do a TV serial acting course with a local theatre group or with one of the acting schools listed above.
To get a Hindi serial job, you need to learn who is looking for an actress required for serials and how to get called for Hindi serial auditions, such as Disney channel auditions.
From there, your acting skills and talent will pave the way to getting work in TV serials.
4. How to find Bollywood jobs for freshers in the Mumbai film industry?
Finding acting jobs in the Bollywood film industry in Mumbai is not easy, and it has never been. Acting is like any other job, where you need a professional resume and a portfolio.
Being cast as part of a show is like applying for a job. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. If someone else is chosen, don’t feel bad because there will be other opportunities in the future.
You can seek out acting opportunities online on job search portals and LinkedIn – the biggest social media channel for professionals. But it might also be a good idea to try out for other film industry jobs in India that don’t involve acting.
Actors like Parineeti Chopra and Bhumi Pednekar started their careers from behind the screen. Freshers can take on Bollywood jobs as assistant directors or casting agents before they finally step into their acting shoes and get acting jobs in India.
If you have a sonorous voice that sounds good on audio, you can also become a voice actor for advertising, presentations, movie trailers, product videos, video games and more. Many Hollywood and Bollywood actors earn very good money as voice actors.
Check out the online course, Record and Sell Your Own Voice-Overs on Fiverr to learn how to earn thousands of dollars each month by simply reading scripts and recording voice-overs.
Fіvеrr іѕ a glоbаl online marketplace where people from all over the world offer a variety of different tasks аnd ѕеrvісеѕ to customers for the minimum price of $5 per job. The best thing about providing Voice-Overs on Fiverr is that you can earn a lot of money from gig extras.
That way, you’ll have different avenues to experiment with and build your network from the inside while learning how to become a heroine in Bollywood.
If you found this article on Bollywood actress jobs useful, do let us know in the comments below and share your own struggles of starting a film career in Mumbai.
About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the publisher of Naaree.com and offers career coaching services for work-from-home moms. Sign up for her Free Job Interview Email course and learn secret interview strategies that only elite job applicants know about.
Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. For more information, read our disclosure.
Powered by Facebook Comments