How To Become A Better ActorApr 18, 2022
The question of how to become a good actor is asked all the time by actors. It’s a good question, too—it’s a testament to understanding that actors should always be looking for ways to improve.
I say there are three key stages when it comes to becoming an actor:
In this post, I’ll dive deep into each of these three stages and why they are so important to one another.
Aspect One: Training
"When looking for an acting class as an adult, make sure you look for red flags such as cold reading and auditing."
Training can mean a lot of things, but the best training you can receive is from a two-year acting concentration or, if you can afford it, a four-year college in theater. The younger you start, the better—it will only help you in the long run. (I talk about acting schools in more detail in my previous blog post: I Want To Become An Actor: Where Do I Start?)
Of course, adult actors also have an array of classes to choose from, from traditional in-person classes to zoom classes popularized during the pandemic. Yet not all acting classes offer the same value.
When looking for an acting class as an adult, make sure you look for red flags such as cold reading and auditing.
Let me be clear: cold reading is something that you will never use in your acting career. It’s a cheap tactic that classes use to fill time. Why’s that? The sad truth is that the majority of acting classes are not serious.
Let's be blunt: the goal of many acting teachers is to fill seats and making money. Actors tend to be lazy, assigning students homework will discourage them from coming to class. Cold reads are only used because there is no homework with cold reading. The less homework, the more incentive for not serious actors to only use class as a social gathering. You don’t want that! You want a place where you can learn and establish your craft in the industry.
Auditing is alright as long as the teacher of the class allows for new students to only join at the start of a new semester. If a teacher lets them join right after an audit, it is unfair to the current students. Students who have been studying for months and are now forced to resist through the same lesson. Hindering their growth to becoming a better actor.
Training vs. Work
Keep this in mind: training is not work.
Work is work—training means isolating yourself from the work so you can be prepared when you are performing professionally.
All actors need guidance. If you want to improve your craft, it’s very important to find someone to show you how to hone your craft.
Yet you must also be 100% committed to your training. If you’re not, you won’t be able to perform what you’ve been taught. What’s more—you won’t be able to fully comprehend the challenges you will face when working as a professional actor. Sometimes when you have been taught an idea or technique you may not fully understand it until two years after your training, when you are working.
Aspect Two: The Work
After training comes working!
Working professionally is the next stage in becoming a better actor—think about it: the more you work, the better an actor you will become.
Without work, you won’t grow as an actor because you won’t be putting your training into practice. Without work, there’s no way to see you’ve comprehended what your acting teacher was talking about.
The time for mistakes is during your training. If you make mistakes while working you are fired. Training is not only preparing your craft but how to prepare yourself to be a professional actor.
Professionalism is key because no one wants to work with a difficult or unprepared actor. The entertainment industry is a small town and word of mouth travels. If you are unprofessional, you could see a massive decline in work. The less work, the less growth. (I share more details on professionalism in my post How To Handle Stardom)
When you are working, there are so many important aspects of the craft, and the industry overall, that will never have been explained to you. When on set there are producers, directors, veteran actors, etc. making it a different experience than your training.
The only way to learn is through work, that is why it is such an important stage in making yourself a better actor.
Aspect Three: Live Your Life
The third aspect may seem odd at first, but as I explain it will start to make sense.
When you are training or working, you are making a performance of someone else’s life. You are trying to replicate their feelings and emotions to convince the audience you are that character.
But many of the things you will perform you might not have experienced yet.
For example, how can one play the part of a lover if they have never been in love? How can one truly feel the pain of death if they had experienced it themselves?
Living life is just as important to acting as actively studying and performing the craft. You need to capture your own emotions, pain, and experiences and use them to fuel the character you are playing. This is the sacrifice that actors must face to become better actors.
So try things! Do everything at least once in life, as long as it doesn’t come at a cost to your health. Try pot, climb Mt. Everest, jump out of airplane, each of these experiences can only improve your craft.
One note of caution. If an experience is dangerous or harmful—please use ‘substitution’. Do not do anything too risky cause you think it will make you a better actor.
"You need to capture your own emotions, pain, and experiences and use them to fuel the character you are playing."
Train, Work, Live
Your training handles all the necessary questions that you may ask yourself while trying to improve your craft. Your work helps you utilize those tools to produce a quality performance. Living is your life experiences, it is what makes it personal and engaging while on stage.
We need all three of these aspects because it not only helps our growth as human beings, but also the growth of becoming successful actors. Sometimes that means sacrificing certain things to grow, but those experiences are just as important to the craft.
So, you want to know how to become a better actor? You must train, work and live.
There's More to Acting Than "Acting"
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