There are a lot of paths to becoming a working actor. There’s not one right way...
I’m interested in creating a life for myself as an actor - someone who makes a living telling stories and connecting people through a shared humanity.
I’ve come to believe the best way to do this is through acting training and staying in your own lane.
When I was 12, I asked for a talent agent for Christmas. I had just finished my first role as “Young Eponine” in Les Miserables and I was certain that acting was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I was on stage, I felt like I could be anyone I wanted to be.
My parents did not fulfill my request for an agent but when I was 15, they moved our family to Wilmette. Once there, I immediately started taking classes at Actors Training Center (ATC) and it was here that I learned what true dedication and discipline in acting looked like.
ATC prepares actors to work extremely hard, be specific, and to give their all while simultaneously bringing play and joy to the work. They encourage you to bring ALL of yourself.
I remember one time in class, ATC Founder - Carole Dibo - said to me,
“There is only one you. Of course the ‘industry’ is going to tell you there are plenty of people ‘like you’. But there’s only one you, and that’s who you have to show up with.”
That is the kind of energy I remember most: honest, professional advice while reminding you to stay loose and have fun. I felt embraced in my weirdness and I loved the quirks of the community that brought spice to my suburban life.
Although I never imagined myself in Los Angeles, I found myself at Loyola Marymount for college, which eventually lead to an opportunity to study at The Moscow Art Theatre: an experience vital to my process to this day that I’ll never forget.
When I graduated from college, I imagined my career taking off. I was with one of the top acting agencies in California - no way but up from there! But, as lucky as I felt, I came to realize that I couldn't become the woman or artist I desperately wanted to be in L.A.. Therefore, after saving all my pennies, I took a leap and went to New York.
My life as an artist in New York felt more like me... of course, I was still imagining my career taking off very soon... but it came as much as a surprise to me when I found myself at NYU for graduate school. I always feared if I wasn’t moving “forward” in my career then I was behind. But the truth is, I’ve never felt so right about any decision in my life.
And here I am about to begin my second year at NYU and I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be on my journey. And it can only be my journey.
There are a lot of paths to becoming a working actor. There’s not one right way.
You never reach a finish line. You continue to hone your craft. You can always go back to basics and dig deeper, explore more.
And it's more than okay to take a break, live a life, and develop who you are. Your acting training foundation will continue to guide you to truth and longevity as an actor. I feel incredibly grateful to have had my foundation with ATC. My teachers have been some of the most important people in my life and have led me back to myself.
To all the students reading this, keep following your craziest dreams. Stay true to yourself and trust your journey is your own. Focus on your path - it’s more exciting that way and it creates space to celebrate other people’s wins and revel in your own as well. No single journey is the same. Have faith in yourself.
To the parents of actors, what a beautiful thing it is. Let them fly. Trust that their path is their own. That training and craft take time as it builds a career along the way. There’s no rush. Your kid is learning to tell the stories of humanity. What a magical gift.
-Keeley Miller, ATC Alum
Because of your interest in this article, we recommend the following classes:
NO AGENT, NO PROBLEM - Not having an agent is no longer an excuse! The ATC staff will teach you how to navigate audition sites & tape/edit a studio-quality audition from home. Your next audition is closer than you think. 9th Grade - Adult. Register HERE.
COLLEGE AUDITION CLINIC - Your college audition doesn't have to be scary & overwhelming. ATC's industry professionals & experts will help the audition work for you, not against you. Keep on track & on schedule with this essential program designed to get you auditioning at your dream school with confidence. For high school juniors & seniors. REGISTER HERE.