Tips for Starting a Career Later in Life

Backstage: How possible is it for someone in the second half of their life to start/have an acting career (40+)?

Rob Adler, L.A.-based acting teacher
Is it possible? Absolutely. Anyone can have a career at any stage of their life. The best actors I know don’t measure success by their bank accounts, but by their abilities to move people. I asked my student, Rob Putansu, who began acting at age 55 to respond further. He wrote:

I arrived in L.A. in December 2013 at the age of 59. I wanted, since I was a teenager, to be an actor and I wasn’t getting any younger.

Many things derailed me along the way, but at 55 I started making plans and setting my goals. My No. 1 goal: I will not look back and say, “I wish I had…” With that in mind, I started taking acting classes in Michigan four years ago. To make it a career, though, I knew I needed to move to Hollywood.

Many thought it unwise to leave my job of almost 20 years at a major airline for a career as uncertain as acting. They were measuring dollars and cents. I was measuring sanity, love, and a knowledge of what I truly wanted to do for years.

I hit the L.A. ground running and had my first acting gig within two weeks of being here. The timing was great. A director friend from Michigan was shooting a short film and used me for two days.

I started acting school (AdlerImprov) in January of 2014. I did a lot of research on Los Angeles-based acting classes while I was still back in Michigan and knew in my gut that Rob Adler was the guy to study with. When I first started with the airlines I knew nothing, but became an expert after much training and hands on experience. That’s why I have rarely missed a class, knowing how vital training is.

I booked 15 gigs in my first year in Los Angeles. This, after self-submitting to more than 1,100 casting calls, which got me around 35–40 auditions.

So I’m on my way to being a working actor. To answer the question: Yes, it’s possible to have an acting career if you put in the needed work. Look at TV, film, and plays. Actors are used in all age ranges, looks, body shapes, hair styles, colors, etc. Why not you?