Have you ever dreamt of walking down the red carpet, receiving accolades for your remarkable performances, and captivating audiences with your talent? If the answer is yes, then you might be destined for a career in acting. But don't be fooled, if your dream is to become famous you're on the wrong blog. There are other, easier ways to become famous, go choose one of those. Still here? Great. While the path to becoming an actor can be challenging and competitive, it is also incredibly rewarding. In this series, my hope is to pull back the curtain on all the things I wish I knew about becoming an actor. The first step? Train.
Take Acting Classes
Enroll in acting classes or drama school to learn the fundamentals of acting. These classes will help you develop your acting techniques, improve your stage presence, and build your confidence. Now I know lots of people think they have natural talent. Don't get me wrong many people actually do. The issue with relying on natural talent alone is that if you are being asked to do anything other than play yourself, you won't know what to do. We can all name a beloved actor that plays themselves in everything they do. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want the skill set to stretch and adapt to roles, environments and different mediums, find a way to learn.
College or Nah?
Going to a BFA program or college isn't for everyone. College and student loan debt are both very real things that you may have zero interest in. I mean who grows up wanting 60k in student loans amiright? Going to college is a privilege in many ways and if that is not your path, you can absolutely train at acting studios that only charge a class at a time. By the way that's another thing no one tells you. Being an actor is expensive. Don't stress about that part yet. Keep reading. At some point you will have to be taught the fundamentals of acting here is how to start that journey:
1. Choose the Right Training Program for You
The first step in your journey to becoming an actor is selecting the right training program. Not everything works for everyone so find what aligns with your learning style and budget. Here are some options to consider:
a. Drama Schools and Conservatories: These institutions offer comprehensive acting programs that cover various aspects of the craft, including voice training, movement, improvisation, and script analysis. Notable drama schools like Juilliard and Carnegie Mellon are renowned for producing top-notch actors. Now be warned, for actors of the global majority, these programs can feel very isolating. They are usually predominately white and largely focus on the works of white men. However, many will offer the chance for you to carve out a staged ensemble piece with the other black and brown students in your program. Understand that it will require your initiative and sweat to create a space for yourself. This shouldn't be the case and frankly isn't fair but alas the revolution has yet to reach drama schools. I went to an undergraduate program that was very diverse when I attended and was able to build a community of artist friends that I still work with and adore today. This isn't always the case, so if you want something other than a PWI, keep that in mind while you search for programs.
b. Acting Workshops and Classes: If you're looking for a more flexible approach, acting workshops and classes are excellent options. Look for classes that align with your skill level and focus on specific areas you want to improve. If you are in a large enough city, you will easily find workshops with casting directors and/or intensives about commercial auditions, audition technique, or just set etiquette in general. Some are scams but a deep enough dive will help you find legitimate opportunities near you.
c. Online Acting Courses: In the digital age, online acting courses and platforms have gained popularity. They offer convenience and accessibility, allowing you to learn from experienced instructors from the comfort of your home. These are especially useful for those who live far from industry hubs. You can train with studios in NYC or LA from your laptop.
d. Community Theater: If you're just starting, participating in community theater productions can provide valuable practical experience and training. Many successful actors began their careers in community theater. It is free and has lots of people who love theatre. It's a great way to learn the ins and outs of what this craft is all about.
2. Fundamental Acting Techniques
Regardless of the training path you choose, certain fundamental techniques are essential for any actor. Voice training, Movement, Character Work, and Improv are all apart of being a well rounded actor. These techniques will help you build a firm foundation to work from. This way you are less likely to lose your voice, injury yourself, create a character that has a different physicality, and think on your feet. Don't skip this part, it will give your career longevity.
3. The Importance of Practice
Acting is not a skill you can master overnight. Your favs still have coaches I promise. Consistent practice is key. Look for classes that offer the following:
a. Monologue Work: Practicing monologues helps you develop emotional range and control. Choose monologues that challenge you and showcase your strengths. This is your chance to practice with characters you would never get to play. Monologues generally aren't needed in film and television but are a great place to start so that you can build the skill of creating characters with real emotions and thoughts.
b. Scene Study: Work on scenes from plays, films, or TV shows. Analyze the characters, their motivations, and relationships with other characters. Rehearse and perform the scenes to refine your acting abilities. This step is often best after getting better at monologue study. It will also lead you into creating dynamic work with your scene partners. Remember you aren't acting in a vacuum.
c. Audition Practice: Simulate audition situations with friends or fellow actors and seek feedback to improve your auditioning skills. As stated before many workshops and intensives offer this so you can get feedback from the pros as well.
4. Seeking Feedback and Mentorship
Constructive feedback is invaluable for growth. Seek out mentors or acting coaches who can provide guidance and critique your performances. Join acting groups or communities where you can exchange ideas and experiences with fellow actors. Build a community of folks who may be able to answer questions and be supportive in your journey.
Training as an actor is a continuous journey of self-discovery and artistic growth. The path may be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. Remember that acting is not just about memorizing lines; it's about understanding characters, emotions, and the human experience. Embrace the process, be open to feedback, and never stop learning. This is going to be marathon not a sprint.