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The Importance of Classes and Coaching

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM
The Importance of Classes and Coaching
This is a blog post that is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Yes, I am an Acting Coach, and that is how I make my living, but more importantly because I want to see  the actors in Central Florida start booking the roles that are going to out of state talent!
As an agent, I saw just how many actors were not making their craft a priority. They would get castings or request tapings, and were confused as to why they were not receiving callbacks, and many times I had to be very blunt and point out, "Its because you are not doing anything to better yourself, or your craft!" Here are just a few, among MANY reasons that as an actor, you should be working with a coach or taking classes.
Training is never "FINISHED":
Many actors are under the impression that because they took an 8 week course they now know all there is to know about acting and are properly trained. Wrong! If you are trying to be a professional actor you are never truly finished training! You need to start viewing the long term, instead of the short term. I work with all levels and ages, from SAG to Non Union and each and every student has something they can improve on!
In the spirit of the start of football season(Go Niners!)here is an analogy for you: Professional football players are constantly training. They don't "skip" training camp because they won the Superbowl (curse you Ravens). They are SERIOUS about what they do. They work with all kinds of coaches, take classes, watch footage, and constantly learn new plays, as a way to better themselves as players. As an actor, you should be doing the same. If you want to be a serious actor, you have to be serious about your training.
I think I really put things into perspective a few years ago. I was in my final semester of studying Drama and Musical Theater at AMDA New York, and I had to run to the Drama Book Store to get a copy of the play we were working on. While I was there, I randomly ran into Meryl Streep, and do you know what she had in her hand? A book on Acting! She was also chatting with a friend about her Acting Coach. Yes, I completely eavesdropped on Meryl Streep, but hey, wouldn't you? MERYL STREEP, Oscar winner, one of the greatest actresses of our time, and she was still trying to better herself as an actress. Makes you think... 
Rise Above the Competition:
A large percentage of talent that are booking jobs have been taking classes or working privately with a coach for YEARS, especially in the larger markets like LA and NY. There is a ton of filming going on in Atlanta, New Orleans, South Florida and the Carolinas. Florida talent should be booking these jobs left and right, but often, I would see the parts go to LA or NY actors and I believe lack of training and discipline is a big part of that. I've had conversations with a few of the Casting Directors and Agents in Central Florida, and they concur whole heartedly.
As an agent, I could always tell the actors who were training, it showed in their auditions and thus, they booked the jobs and were working on a regular basis!
Also, just because you have an agent, does not mean you should stop training. Agents work hard for you, so do them a service and make sure that you're audition or job ready when they call! A good agent is going to encourage you to take classes or find a coach that works for you. Make sure that you are doing your part as a talent. When you audition, you are representing them!
Preparing Yourself:
You would never try to prepare for a huge test by cramming everything in the night before. You take months to study the material, make flash cards, have someone quiz you and make sure you were more than prepared.
Coaching and classes are the best way to prepare yourself for a casting or audition, hands down! It can help alleviate nerves, especially if you are working privately with a coach on audition technique. When you work one-on-one with a coach they can help you find what I call your "Isms" or things that you will do when you get nervous. Whether its speeding up your copy, rocking back and forth, bobbing your head too much, etc. A coach will be able to point these things out, so when it comes to the audition you are already aware of your "Ism" and can pay attention to preventing it. They can also prepare you for unexpected casting requests, and help you learn how to really listen to the casting director's notes and directions.
Finding the Right Fit:
Some people prefer classes, they like a group setting, and maybe like studying a certain technique. Others might prefer working with a coach that can provide one-on-one attention, tailor their lesson plan to fit you and your needs, and work on many different techniques. Neither option is better than the other, and ideally you should do both at some point. This allows you an opportunity to learn different techniques, work with a group of actors, and then really crack down on improving yourself individually.  This also gives you an idea of how you like to learn and what setting and teacher would be an ideal fit for you.
As an actor or actress make sure that no matter where you are taking or who you are learning from that you are growing and pushing yourself to your limit. You shouldn't stay in a class because that's where your friends are taking. Bars and coffee shops are for being social, coaching/classes are for learning. When choosing a teacher or coach, make sure that above all else, this person encourages growth. When you find the right person you will know, it will click!
If you have made it this far, you must be serious about your craft! I know I can be kind of wordy, but like I said, this is a topic I am SUPER passionate about!
I will leave you with a great quote from a recent article in BackStage by Risa Bramon Garcia (Renowned Casting director)
"Find the class that's right for you! Don't just sign up for any old class. There are flavor-of-the-month classes and in-vogue teachers that some agents and fellow actors believe look good on your resumé. Of course check them all out. But make sure you really look around and find a teacher who genuinely gets you and meets you fully in the work, wherever that is.
So… don’t hesitate! Sure, take some time finding a class that resonates with you. But start training as soon as possible. It's imperative that you keep your skills sharp, stay engaged in the work, and keep growing as an actor and a person. If you're not on stage or on set, you've got to be in class. Embrace the back-to-school spirit and make this the perfect time to dig in."

Categories: Coaching Tips