Training: An Actor's Best Tool

How an actress found confidence, preparation, & success at an acting school in Wilmette. By Actress & ATC Alum, Marilyn Bass.

From the beginning, when I walked through the doors of the Actors Training Center in Wilmette, I knew that this place was different from other acting schools in Chicago. Still, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life.

At age 16, I auditioned and was accepted into Actors Training Center's (ATC) Professional Summer Intensive for Teens. This valuable opportunity - and the showcase for industry professionals that followed - connected me with my current agent. This school - and the numerous opportunities it provided me - was truly the catalyst of my professional career.

While I continued to train at ATC, I auditioned and acted at different theatres across the Chicagoland area. Additionally, once I signed with my agent, new doors of opportunity opened for me. I began working on commercials, industrials, short films, films, and a network TV show.

With the tools I learned at ATC I was able to go into a casting office and put my best foot forward.

Don’t get me wrong - my nerves still get the best of me when I walk into a big audition. I am not sure if that will ever go away, but I have learned how to better manage those nerves through my training at ATC.

It’s always intimidating to walk into a casting office - comparing yourself to other actors in the room, doubting your preparation, and letting those negative thoughts consume you. However, ATC taught me to stay focused and trust the preparation I have done and to focus, instead, on what’s important:

  • There is a reason that you were called into audition - it is never a mistake. You deserve to be there.

  • Never force an emotion when the script calls for it. Instead, to take the time to truly connect to your character and what they are feeling before the scene begins.

  • Take a deep breath.

  • Say a prayer. (If that’s helpful to you - it's something I do!)

  • And finally, walk into that room with confidence!

The tools I have acquired at ATC are always in my back pocket at every audition. And they were definitely there when I booked my first network credit as a guest star on Chicago P.D.! Though I was nervous, I felt prepared because I knew this was the moment I had trained for.

The Actor’s Training Center’s mission is to help shape you into a professional, working actor.

Because of this, I had already learned what it meant to be professional on set:

  • Show up on time (hint: this really means being at least 10 minutes early).

  • Come prepared.

  • Be kind to everyone.

My specific training allowed me to access my emotions and stay connected - even with the intricacies of being on set with 20+ crew members, bright lights and multiple cameras pointing at me. I knew to trust my instincts and not to be intimidated by the more seasoned actors on set, because - I was enough. I deserved to be there.

My experience on the set of Chicago P.D. was truly a dream. The cast and crew could not have been more welcoming, and being surrounded by that caliber of talent really pushed me to be my best.

I am grateful for every acting opportunity that comes my way. As many of you know, this industry is hard and the opportunities available to us can come and go so quickly. There are many slow periods and there are way too many “almost” booking the job moments and getting your hopes up. But I have truly experienced no greater joy than being on set and stage doing what I love, and that makes everything - and certainly the training - worth it.

Carole Dibo, ATC’s Founder and my personal acting mentor always says that

“Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”

In my opinion - there is no better place to train for success than Actors Training Center.

-Marilyn Bass

Actress & ATC Alum

Check out Marilyn's IMDb here!

To check out the Professional Summer Intensive mentioned here or any of our other Summer Acting Programs, please visit us at or contact us at: 847.251.8710 |

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