Whether you’re just starting out or an acting vet who wants to take his or her skills to the next level, taking a class is paramount to your growth as an actor. But with so many classes, teachers, and methods out there, how do you choose the one that’s best for you?
Throughout my years as a working actor in L.A., I’ve come to find that selecting the right acting class is similar to dating. Just hear me out…
First things first, you have to decide what you’re looking for. Scene study? Audition technique? Cold reading? A quick improv refresher? You have to assess where you are in your career (truthfully) and figure out what areas are lacking or need improvement. Just like dating, sometimes you’re looking for a relationship (a long-term class you can stick with) and sometimes you just want to have fun (a one-day refresher).
Once you’ve assessed where you are, make a list of the classes you think may be of interest to you and then audit, audit, audit. Think of auditing like going on as many dates as you can to see what feels right, how you connect with the class and teacher, the style of acting. and if it’s beneficial to where you are in your acting career. Some things to consider:
You wouldn’t date someone you have a hard time communicating with or that doesn’t explain things properly or in a way that you understood. Your acting teacher is going to be your guide and help you to the next level in your craft so if you have a communication barrier, the class probably isn’t for you. Sometimes we want to go with the most popular class around town, but just as every good-looking popular guy or girl isn’t the right one for you, the same goes for acting teachers, no matter how popular they are.
2. Are your needs being met?
You’re spending money on this class so you want to make sure what you need and the reason you came are being met. If it’s an audition class, are you seeing an improvement in your auditions? Are you learning things you didn’t know before? Are your current audition techniques challenged?
I believe it’s important to also know exactly what your needs are and convey that to your teacher, something actors don’t do enough. You have to state what it is you want to get out of the class so the teacher can guide you to get the most out of class and address your personal needs. I usually find time to either send an email or have a one-on-one about where I am in my career and what I want to work on. How can someone help you if they don’t know what you need? You would expect your needs to be met in a relationship and should tell the other person what your needs are, and the same is true for an acting class.
3. Are you growing?
I think it goes without saying that if you’re no longer growing in a class, it’s time to move on. But I’ve seen many actors become permanent students because it feels comfortable or familiar. (And I know we can all relate to getting comfortable in a relationship that might not be working anymore!) It’s important to take notice of where you were when you began class and make sure you’re seeing improvement in your craft.
This isn’t to say there won’t be an adjustment period of learning something new and unfamiliar—there should be and that is a wonderful thing. Anytime we learn something new or try a new approach, there’s a growing pains period necessary to break through, but simply put, don’t become stagnant. Don’t we all look for a partner who will continue to push us to be better and who constantly challenges the growth in us? I know I do.
4. Are you the best person in the class?
It’s a good idea to observe the talent you’ll be studying with weekly. Most of your time spent in class will be watching other actors and learning from them, and while I believe you can learn something from everyone, if you’re the best person in the class then you’re not being challenged.
I know how good it feels to be the best and receive all of the accolades but ultimately, you’re paying money to learn, grow, be challenged and then book acting jobs. You want to be surrounded by others who you can learn from. Being the best in class is great for the moment but you’re aiming to be the best out in the audition world, so keep pushing yourself and don’t be afraid to move to the next acting class that challenges you.
Again, don’t we usually look to surround ourselves or date people who challenge us, help us to be the best, and push us? We do and we should.
Finding an acting class is a commitment and requires money and time, so choose wisely so you can go out and book that next acting job...and the next big date!
*This post was originally published on Nov. 10, 2017. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.