In a word, “yes!” I am often surprised at how often actors share with me that their family members try to discourage them from taking acting classes and insist that classes are a waste of time and money, acting is easy and all they need to do is show up and say the lines. This might apply if you are a natural, but I would not count on it. I’ve been a coach for over 18 years and in that time, I’ve coached less than five actors whom I would consider naturals. And, even if someone is gifted with the ability to organically crawl into the skin of a character, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to be explored and developed. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Acting is hard. I once argued with a person who insisted that while acting was a challenging career, it would be far more difficult to be a professional athlete. I wholeheartedly disagreed. My reasoning was that if one is a pro athlete, there is probably something about them that suggests that they should be a professional athlete. They can run fast, jump high, hit hard, or have some other physical ability that suggests that they should be playing the sport they play. For actors, there are truly no requirements, prerequisites, degrees or certificates needed and thus, the path to entry is wide and there is truly no reason that anyone can’t call themselves an actor. Obviously, this makes it attractive as a career choice for many, but it also makes it attractive to a lot of people and these are the people you will be competing with to get the job. The numbers are staggering and there are a lot of actors one must get past in order to be seen and given the chance to audition for a role.
Because acting is also very subjective and a performance that one person deems fabulous, might be called amateurish by another it is important to do all you can to consistently be thought of as brilliant. One of the beliefs that I share with my students weekly is that their job is to: 1. Not be boring; 2. Help the writer tell the story as truthfully as possible; 3. Be interesting! Again, while a tiny fraction of people can do this naturally, for most people, it takes close examination and instruction to get to a place where one hears “yes” more often than “No, thank you.” In order for an actor to actually get paid for their services, they need to get a lot of “Yeses.” They need to first be accepted into a good school. Once they have been properly trained, they need to hear “yes” from an agent. Then, the actor will need a casting director to approve of what they are doing. Once the casting director approves, the actor will need to get a thumbs up from the producer and director and sometimes the writer or a cast member who has this kind of casting approval. Given all of the challenges an actor faces, I find it impossible to understand how anyone would think that classes are not needed. They are also a wonderful place to network!
Lastly, I am a firm believer in ongoing training. It’s like going to the gym. One doesn’t spend six months or a year getting into great physical shape and then quit the gym thinking that the new body they have built will stay this way with no maintenance. Actors have muscles too and those muscles need to be kept strong and flexible. The technique that I used requires actors to use the people, places, objects and events from their lives to inform their work. As we get older, these things change. It is unreasonable to think that the events that moved us when we were 17 will still affect us when we are 25 or 30. This is another reason that training is essential. Given all of the above, why would any actor not do all that they can to be at the top of their game?
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