By Nicole Sellars, continue reading on backstage.com
Unlike actors, TV hosts have to be one hundred percent themselves on camera. They absolutely cannot “act” like a host, or their career will be a short one. That is one of the biggest challenges for any performer looking to break into the hosting industry. But the good news is that actors have so many traits in common with successful TV hosts that the transition from acting to hosting can be an easy one, with the proper training.
There are two different types of hosts, the Ryan Seacrest type of host and an expert host. Whichever path you choose, you will need the same skill set to succeed. Luckily, actors are more prepared than they think to make the jump into hosting.
Many actors have that special luminous and charismatic personality when you meet them. They are typically animated, bubbly, and very conversational. It is extremely important for a TV host to have this trait because it’s that “special something” that will really make them stand out. Actors need to be themselves and learn how to put their real personality out there on camera to attract the audience. Any viewer can spot a fake. What they want is a host who’s authentic and honest—not all about themselves, but instead, the viewer.
Typically actors have incredible confidence. The daily grind of auditions and rejections almost require you to shake it off and get back out there. Actors know that the second they show insecurity and lack of confidence, they’re eliminated. The same goes for a TV host. Confidence is key. It is imperative for a TV host to know who they are and to be comfortable in their own skin. This trait is so important because they gain the viewer’s trust and put the people they are interviewing at ease.
3. Improv skills
Almost every actor has taken at least one improv class. It’s practically a pre-requisite for any basic acting curriculum. Actors have a huge advantage because of this training, which is key to making a TV host look comfortable and flawless during a live unpredictable broadcast. A great TV host looks effortless reading a teleprompter, going off the cuff into an interview, sharing a point of view, and recovering from a live shot mishap
I know so many performers who have a creative hobby or expertise. For example, many actors are also musicians, artists, life coaches, yoga instructors….You name it. Having these hobbies or special interests can potentially turn you into an expert host. Establishing a niche is a marketable gateway to talent agents. Do you have a degree in decorating? A real passion for fashion? Use your credibility, education, skills, and experience to establish your niche and generate trust in your audience.
Let’s face it, most actors love to talk. They strike up a conversation at an audition, in class, out with their friends. It’s a great quality. It goes hand in hand with that charisma. Being conversational is imperative for any host—being authentic, conversational, and most importantly a good listener. When a host is interviewing someone, the key is for the host to be a great listener—to be invested in the conversation and to care about what the person is saying. Not thinking about the next question on the list. The genuineness of a real conversation will come across in the host’s on-air presence, and the ease of the people the host is interviewing.
Right now is the perfect time for any actor to jump into hosting training. The hosting industry has so many incredible opportunities across a variety of multimedia platforms—YouTube, podcasts, Web news, etc.
What to do next…
Look for an intro to hosting class in your area that covers the basics: on-air delivery, teleprompter, interviewing skills, and writing. All TV hosts will have to at one time or another, write their own scripts. It’s important to be the full package—especially when starting out.
Once your training is complete, it’s time to shoot a knockout demo reel to land your first job, or potentially an interview with an agent. There are production companies that offer demo reel services, which provide scripting, shooting, and editing. The rates can be pricey but well worth the investment if it gets you in the door to your first gig. Good luck! And go get ’em.