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Page last updated at 07:46 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009
Brit actors aim for stardom in LA

By Frances Cronin
Newsbeat entertainment reporter

Twins Jade and Nikita and Darren Darnborough
Twins Jade and Nikita take a voiceover class while Darren waits

With British actors dominating this year's awards season and a good bet for Oscar success, Radio 1 has gone behind the headlines to see what it's really like to be a young Brit actor trying to make it in Hollywood.

So many Brits are heading to LA that Bafta's branch in Hollywood has set up a newcomers programme to help young actors with advice and mentoring.

Darren Darnborough had roles in EastEnders and The Bill before heading to the States: "I found the film and TV industry in England so enclosed and small.

"In the same way that I did The Bill three times, I also wasn't seen for other jobs because someone else was doing them three times.

"Here there's just so many more opportunities, my auditions are tenfold."

Fellow Brit Melissa Leigh says it's actually easier to get auditions in Hollywood than in the UK: "Here they are always looking for the next big thing so they want to get everybody in but that means you're up against a hell of a lot of people.

Producer Julia Verdin on how to make it in Hollywood
Sort out the paperwork and get a proper visa before you arrive
Get training with the best people - you have to put the work in
Professionalism is key - be on time, learn lines, run yourself like a business
Network to find out the latest projects and keep a note of who you've met
Get a good agent and manager - do your research so you've got the best representation possible
Those that make it are dedicated - they live and breathe acting and believe in themselves
Don't let your British reserve get in the way, Americans are all about confidence

"In England sometimes if you haven't been to the right drama school you won't even get seen for a job."

Darren told us auditions are very different in LA: "People are really excessive. If the casting is for a doctor they'll come with a lab coat and a stethoscope.

'Looks are important'

"I've been in a casting for a policeman's role and there was a guy in an entire cop uniform and I said where'd you get that and he said: 'I'm really a cop and I'm on beat right now'.

You get policeman actors, lawyer actors, you get everything actors out here."

Melissa says to make it a Hollywood look is essential: "All the English are paranoid about their teeth because the Americans think we have bad teeth.

"So you have to have very white teeth, you don't need to be tanned but you have to be really groomed. In England you turn up to auditions with no make up on and it's the realer the better but here you have to cake it on."

Dialect coach

Twins Jade and Nikita had roles in X Men and Vanity Fair while living in the UK. Since heading to Hollywood at 16 they have got a role in the Jonas Brothers 3D movie.

Their top advice is don't think about going without a proper work visa as no agents will take you on.
Melissa says you have to be really groomed for US auditions

They also say make sure you perfect your American accent: "We worked on our accent with a dialect coach and now we just pretend we're American."

They are taking voiceover animation classes too to get work in the lucrative cartoon and computer games market.

But for some of our more well known British stars, heading to LA is actually a step backwards.

Little Britain's David Walliams admits it was tough: "It was nerve-racking.

"We had to prove ourselves again but that's probably a good thing. It was like starting again and it was exciting."

Jon Lee from S Club has headed over there too: "It's been really good to start from scratch, it's been a kick up the bum to get motivated."

His top tip is network like crazy at daytime meetings or at night at parties: "We're not used to networking back home, it sounds like a load of rubbish but it's really important to get out there and let people know you exist."

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