ATC Instructor & Professional Actor, Ryan Kitley, discusses the first stop in any actor's roadmap to success... Training! Come train with ATC to find out why this first stop is so important for an actor to make!
Acting is a journey, and the first destination on your actor’s roadmap should be training.
The best training you’ll ever have, will be working on a set or in the theater with more experienced actors, artists, and crew members. There is no better class than one that allows you to learn on the job. Unfortunately, that’s not always an easy class to get into.
There are a multitude of classes, workshops, and programs available to aspiring actors. Be proactive! Do the research and learn about acting classes offered in your area. Major cities will have more acting opportunities and classes than rural areas of course. If there are no classes offered in your area, you can always look into online acting programs.
"... do not work in order to impress the teacher!"
Most schools or programs will allow prospective students to audit their classes, which I highly recommend. By auditing, you’ll get a strong sense of whether that class is right for you or not. If the school does not allow audits, they may offer a free orientation class. Don’t register for a class unless you have audited it, gone to an orientation, or know a lot about the teacher and the program. In other words, do your research. Make sure you are taking the class that’s right for you. If your interests lie in theater, taking an on camera workshop is probably not the best choice.
When you start taking classes, whether it’s a weekend workshop or a three-year conservatory program, I encourage you to keep a few things in mind. First of all, do not work in order to impress the teacher! The teacher is not a casting director, director, or producer. They are most likely not in a position to hire you. Taking a class is not an audition, it is an opportunity to grow. If you spend it trying to prove yourself to the teacher, you will be wasting your time. Work to express, not to impress. Focus on progress, not perfection.
"Leave your ego at the door!"
Taking a class is also not a platform for competition among your peers. It is important that you “compete” (meaning play your actions and intentions) within your scene work, but not as a student-between-classmate competition. An acting class is not a contest to become the best actor. Acting is nothing if not a collaborative effort! Support your classmates and your work will improve dramatically – pun intended.
Leave your ego at the door! If you’re not willing to accept and apply what your teacher offers, then you shouldn’t be taking the class. Acting is very personal and you have to be willing to let your defenses down in order to grow. You have to be willing to fail. There is no better place to make mistakes than in class. Acting class is like a lab and it should be treated as such.
Another option is to start your own class with other aspiring actors!
This option is extremely cost effective. When I moved to LA I joined a group called “The Living Room.” The group was comprised of about 12 actors who were all eager to work. We met every Tuesday night in someone’s living room and essentially taught each other. We each took turns leading the group in certain exercises, theater games, mock auditions, etc. We read scripts, worked on monologues and scenes, and discussed the business. We also pooled our resources and brought in special guests from time to time – other industry professionals. We staged two showcases for agents and casting directors, produced a short film, and built a website that featured all of our work. The Living Room was a huge success and has had a major impact on my career and work ethic.
Regardless of where you train, make sure you’re always learning and evolving as an actor, and a person for that matter. Good luck, and may your acting journey be a successful one!
By ATC Instructor & Professional Actor, Ryan Kitley