Joseph Pearlman gives his all as an on-set acting coach to help his clients achieve success. He’s also the creator of the N.Y.- and L.A.-based acting studio, Pearlman Acting Academy.
What are your classes like?
I call it “private coaching in a class setting,” so until they feel they have a clear way they can bring, they don’t work on a traditional acting class piece. They’re going to work on a piece as if it’s a booked role or an audition. So we’re going to go in any direction they need to go in, and we’ll coach on it until they have an undeniable breakthrough—until they feel they have such a clear way that they can bring with them on set or to the audition the next day.
How is being on set different from being in your classes?
Oftentimes, I’ll work with an actor in their trailer. When I’ve worked with Zooey Deschanel, we’ll work at her house. We’ll coach there in preparation for her to be on set. What I’m doing is helping my clients prepare for that first moment. The difference between good and great is the actor that enters that scene on the call of action, emotionally lit up and emotionally full instead of empty.
What makes your coaching technique different?
I work with career clients and help them to reject this herd mentality—they feel they have to go in the same door as everybody else. I help my clients launch their careers in a very atypical way: by standing up for themselves—essentially by owning what makes them amazing.
What are some of the biggest challenges of being a coach?
It is such a huge responsibility, because you have a lot of people out there doing what I’m doing, but you have actors who it’s really tough to launch their career. You have these artists who, in large, don’t make a lot of money, and this is an investment. I feel the weight of it, and it’s important to me that they have that breakthrough in the session. At the end of a class I am tired, but I can actually sleep at night knowing they paid and I delivered.
It seems like there are a lot of proud moments in your career. Can you think of any in particular?
There’s a right way for actors to pitch themselves, so when I empower a client to take his or her career into their own hands and actually get an audition without having an agent or manager—that, to me, is awesome. I get emails every week from clients and the gist of them are, “Oh my God. I can’t believe it. I actually made the call. I was scared shitless, but I made it.” And for me, I can help actors have breakthroughs. I can help them to reach their award potential or their booked-role potential, but when I see an actor realizing that he or she has the power to actually launch their career themselves, that is just inspiring. You have to be able to do it on your own.
Joseph Pearlman is a Backstage Expert. Read his articles here.