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Professional Acting: Do The Work

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

I believe that acting has the power to impact others. Television, film, and theater are potent mediums to reflect flawed and beautiful portraits of humanity to audiences. It's exciting work.

Acting's ability to reflect humanity at its best and worst is why it has played and continues to play an important and powerful social role. As actors, our responsibility in that role can not be taken lightly. We must always seek to improve our talents in order to breathe life into characters in a way that feels emotionally moving and relevant to the audiences that invest their time and money to see us perform.

I am a firm believer in experimenting with different acting methods and finding out what works. On film and television sets, I have often utilized a combination of methods and techniques to be ready when the camera starts rolling. We have to be prepared to perform in a wide variety of situations. Exposing yourself to, and practicing multiple techniques gives you a full box of tools that can help you meet a challenge in the moment. What you don't want to do is show up on set or at an audition with an empty toolbox.

So how do you get started building your toolbox? I started with the classics, the great theater teachers like Stanislavsky, Meisner, etc. I recommend reading, practicing, and taking lots of classes. Take acting technique classes with a teacher who you feel is invested in your success as an actor. When you are lost, a great acting teacher will help you understand what went wrong and how to be successful. We can learn through failure if we have a partner who can help understand what happened and how to fix it. Keep practicing.

Next, it's wise to take voice and movement classes. I have also found it can be helpful to study abroad because we can retreat from our daily lives and focus on growth. I took a Shakespeare-based voice class with Patsy Rodenburg in New York over the winter holidays and it was inspiring. Big name teachers like Patsy and Larry Moss can matter on your resume, but what truly matters is learning from great teachers.

Natvara Hongsuwan teaches an amazing physical acting class in Bangkok and she was trained in Los Angeles by Kennedy Brown who teaches very similar and powerful techniques called Lucid Body. Kennedy was taught by the person who originated Lucid Body work, Fay Simpson. My point is not to discourage studying with a master teacher. It's just to say that if you can't afford thousands of dollars for acting coaching from a big name teacher, you can still benefit from studying with a great teacher who has experience and has been trained in the same technique, particularly if they were trained by a master teacher.

There are so many more ways to keep growing depending on your skills and where you want to take your acting career. Need help nailing auditions? Take on-camera audition classes. Want to be in commercials? Take commercial technique classes. Study improv, dance, singing, sword fighting, horseback riding, whatever! Do something on Stagemilk's awesome list of 107 Acting Tips. Just KEEP GROWING!

Don't get overwhelmed. Just start somewhere. Wherever you are, however old you are, you can jump-start a professional acting career by beginning to treat acting like your profession. Believe in your talent, but also invest in it and grow it every day. Practice. Keep practicing. Find friends to practice with, and push each other. If you believe, like I do, in the power of acting, and the impact it can have on audiences, you owe it to yourself and the audience to do the work necessary to make your acting as powerful as possible.

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