It always amazes me that people think that acting is simple. I hear people say that they have great facial expressions – therefore, the foundation to being a good actor. That is so backwards, I cannot even verbalize how ridiculous the statement is. It has the equivalent logic of a NASCAR driver wanting a pretty engine in his or her car. I’m pretty sure that if I were a NASCAR driver, I’d want a well-tuned, finely honed engine – and looks would be secondary.
The term “acting” is actually a misnomer. If you are actually acting, it probably means that you’re not reacting, which is what you need to be doing. This does not come naturally to most people. It comes with training and confidence, which go hand in hand. There is the old story of the young musician who asks the cab driver how to get to Carnegie Hall and the driver says, “Practice, practice, practice.” The same holds true for acting. Though it does sound a bit presumptuous, your body IS your instrument, and just like a musical instrument, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
You can’t necessarily get good training everywhere. If you live in a rural area, you may need to travel to go to a good weekend workshop, or you can study online. Private coaching is available through ReelGuru Coaching, which is the next best thing to studying with someone in person. Though you can learn a tremendous amount at a workshop, one workshop will not make you a professional actor. You will need a platform through which you can study consistently. Most states have a film commission – you can call them about recommendations, or ask fellow actors – do a Google search. Write to us at ReelGuru, and we will help you find a good teacher.
So what IS a good teacher? A good acting teacher/coach will challenge you within a safe environment. If you want to do a scene and just have someone tell you how good you are, do the scene for your grandmother. If you want to learn and grow, you need to have someone with a good eye who can nail you when you’re not being real. It takes a tremendous amount of awareness and training to give a good, organic, creative audition over and over again. A good coach will recognize your strengths and your challenges, so that they can stretch your acting muscles. A good acting coach will make you pay attention to a scene partner. They will make you listen and react in a real way. This is why I personally, thoroughly dislike having novice actors do monologues. It teaches people to be self-centered and not take others into consideration in a scene. Unfortunately, this tends to come easily to actors – what doesn’t always come naturally is collaboration, and collaboration is key.
Once you do find a good person to study with, stick with that class long enough to learn as much as you can. I recommend, however, exploring as many acting styles and training styles as you can. A great teacher can say something that another great teacher says in a slightly different way, and you hear it for the first time. This happens often with acting coaches. Another danger is that if you study with one person for too long, the situation can become a bit cult-ish, where the teacher’s way is the ONLY way, and there are many acting styles that may actually strike a more natural note with you.
However you do it, continue to study. Always.
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Last modified: August 15, 2017