I think it was Samuel L. Jackson, who said:
“In acting class you sit there for an hour and listen to a lecture, watch everybody do scenes and then with five minutes left; you do yours. Isn’t that critic class?”
I’ve sort always felt that way. I’ve attended three different classes (of which I will not name) and while I’ve definitely learned some valuable information [breathe into your belly], I couldn’t help but feel like I was wasting my time and money. About that second part though, classes can be tremendously expensive for an actor on the rise. And one would have to ask his/herself; does this instructor truly want to see me succeed? Or are they just trying to fund their own careers?
Oftentimes, instructors are actors themselves who have gone through the infamous Los Angeles gauntlet. They’ve gotten out and now return back to the east coast a bit bitter [all in all, wiser] deciding to prey on the aspirations of younger colleagues in this love/hate industry. I get it, everybody’s gotta eat but charging an aspiring actor hundreds of dollars for classes?
Come on. Granted, as adult actors we don’t exactly have any other venue where we can run around like chickens and recite the star spangled banner simultaneously; but maybe that should spark a revolution. It’s true what Mr. Jackson said, when I was attending acting class, I barely got to rehearse my scenes. But what if there was a collective of actors who got together and did nothing but scene work. Where do you go to the well? [my grandfather would kill me] But I’m going to answer a question with a question. Is acting unlike any other trade?
Can the mechanics be learned (like fixing an electrical socket) then rehearsed on the job? I say it’s worth a try. I encourage actors to post online and reach out to other actors in their communities. Rent books and youtube videos with acting techinques and reserve a multi-purpose room in your local library (It will be empty). Pitch in for some bottled waters, a sack of apples and go to work like it was a NY apartment in the 60’s baby!
I’ve learned a thing or two being in this industry for the short time that I have and to quote Issa Rae, Awkward Black Girl, “You’ve got to network across.” If you’re an actor, hit up your local colleges; young ambitious students are always looking to shoot stuff. If you’re a director, browse your IG hashtags, there’s a lot of talent out there looking to beef up their resume. These days it’s about what you can do for yourself, and trust me; People are watching.
Gone are the days of beating the pavement trying to solicit yourself to agencies with nothing but a headshot and a resume (Hey, that might work for models) But I’m talking about the new Deans, Morenos, Brandos, Gables, Taylors and Newmans of the world. I’m addressing the real actors here. Don’t always feel like you have to sacrifice your comfort (and money) for your dreams. Often times it’s about working smarter not harder.
“Nobody would fall cause everyone would be each other’s crutches.” – Jay Z, Feelin’ it