Commercial Acting Classes: Are They Necessary for a Successful Career?

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Long before he entered “The Matrix” or got suited up as “John Wick,” Keanu Reeves was crunching on Corn Flakes as a commercial actor. The advertising niche is a great way to break into the industry, but like any avenue you’ll need to brush up on your skills first. So is it worth it to take a commercial acting class, or would it be better to dive right in? Let’s discuss.

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Do I need to take commercial acting classes?

While commercial acting classes are not necessary to become a commercial actor, they can give you a better chance at booking when you audition. 

What are the benefits of commercial acting classes?

Although taking a commercial acting class does not guarantee you’ll land more commercial roles, there are several benefits to doing so, including: 

  • Better preparation for commercial auditions: You’ll learn how to properly prepare for a commercial audition and discover what to expect once you arrive. 
  • Stronger improv and cold-reading skills: A good commercial acting class will sharpen your improv and cold-reading skills, both in group and individual settings. These skills will help you excel in a commercial environment and improve your overall abilities as an actor.
  • Mistake prevention: In addition to teaching you what to do, a commercial acting class will also help you learn what not to do before, during, and after a commercial audition.

What to look for in a commercial acting class

Acting class

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Choosing an acting class is always a personal decision. For a commercial class specifically, look for one that focuses on the following: 

  • Audition skills: In commercial acting, there are speaking auditions, scene auditions, and non-speaking role auditions, all of which require specific expertise and preparation. A solid commercial acting class should cover these different types of roles and the auditions that go along with them.  
  • Cold reading: You’ll be expected to read through commercial scripts with little to no prep, so the ability to nail a cold read is a key skill to have. 
  • Improv skills: Some commercial environments will have you perform cold reads, while others are loosely scripted or unscripted. It’s highly likely you’ll be asked to improvise dialogue or a product pitch in an audition room or on set. Improv skills are hugely important, so having practice and training will help you stand out among other actors. 

If possible, ask industry friends for recommendations and conduct your own research before choosing a class. Look at online reviews, press features and releases, and comments in online acting forums and groups to get a sense of what people really think.

What are some great commercial acting classes?

Commercial acting

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Looking for a reputable commercial acting class in New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere? Here are a few recommendations to kick off your search. 

Commercial acting class in NYC

  • Actors Connection: Actors Connection offers three-week in-person commercial acting classes with David Cady, who has cast actors in over 2,000 commercials. You’ll learn how to break down commercial copy, the best on-camera techniques, and how to sharpen your improv skills. You’ll also learn about common mistakes and have the chance to ask questions. The class is open to actors ages 18 and over and is $250. 

Commercial acting classes in Los Angeles

  • Killian’s Workshop: Since 2005, Killian McHugh has been training commercial actors in his studio in L.A., and he currently offers both in-person and Zoom workshops. His small classes help you fine-tune your commercial audition and acting skills, and they run for four weeks at a time. They are known to be improv-intensive and focus on nailing the commercial audition. Killian’s classes are open to actors of all levels, ages 16 and older. In-person classes cost $325 and virtual classes are $300. 
  • The Commercial Class (TCC): The Commercial Class is the combined effort of two of the biggest casting agencies in L.A.: Alyson Horn Casting and Ross Lacy Casting. TCC offers two five-week classes: Introduction to Commercial Technique ($325) and Advanced Commercial Technique ($350). The Introduction to Commercial Technique class is designed to teach you the fundamentals of commercial acting and build your confidence. Advanced Commercial Technique helps you nail more challenging copy and audition scenarios and teaches you how to market yourself. During the last week of each class, you’ll have the opportunity to speak with and learn from Horn and Lacy, two of the most prolific commercial casting leaders in the industry. 

Both classes are open to actors of all levels, ages 18 and older. 

Virtual commercial acting classes

  • Hey, I Saw Your Commercial: An industry veteran with nearly 30 years of experience, Mike Pointer has coached thousands of aspiring commercial actors. His classes have helped students land spots in national commercials for brands such as Lays, Mastercard, and Royal Caribbean. Pointer offers a free Zoom class to learn about common commercial acting mistakes. He also provides two paid classes, Level 1 and Level 2. The first class focuses on group and copy improv techniques, cold reads, callbacks, on-set mistakes, and how to sign with a commercial agent. In the Level 2 class, you’ll get more advanced audition and improv exercises. Each course is $210 and open to all ages and experience levels. 
  • The Commercial Intensive with Blythe Howard: Blythe Howard has booked over 70 commercials as a principal for major brands including Payless, Cigna, Target, and Best Buy. Her Commercial Intensive workshop spans two days over Zoom and teaches commercial branding, audition prep and etiquette, and cold reads. The workshop includes a Q&A session with industry professionals. It is $300 and is open to all actors ages 18 and older. 
  • The Commercial Blueprint with Kaz Santana: A comprehensive 90-day course for aspiring commercial actors, the Commercial Blueprint gives actors the tools to book off your slate, master different types of auditions and interviews, and book the callback room. Santana’s modules are pre-recorded, and the course gives you lifetime access, so you can rewatch them whenever you’d like. The course also includes interactive assignments, peer evaluations, and three separate Q&A sessions with Santana herself—who has booked over 40 commercials—so you can ask more specific questions and get direct feedback. The course retails for $350. 

Once you’ve brushed up on your education, connect with opportunities through our comprehensive commercial acting audition database.

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