Do you take acting classes? Well, you should. All aspiring and working actors should – they’d be like bodybuilders without a gym membership if they didn’t – but acting classes aren’t just for actors. The skills and techniques taught in an acting class are helpful for anyone in any profession. Whether you’re looking to improve your communication skills, work on your mental health, or make some new friends, an acting class may be just what you need.
It’s good networking.
Acting classes attract actors, sure. But they also attract aspiring writers and directors, stand-up comedians, film crew workers, talent agent assistants, photographers, musicians, and people who don’t even work in the arts or entertainment. It’s a diverse crowd to be certain, and that can be extraordinarily helpful for someone trying to get their foot in the door or collaborate on creative projects. After a few classes you’ll find that everyone has become comfortable with one another because you’re all working closely and toward a common goal. It’s in this type of environment where people often make lasting friendships and expand their professional networks; not to mention it’s a godsend for people who’ve just moved to a new city and don’t know many people.
It’s a confidence booster.
We all know that self-confidence is important and there are plenty of situations where it comes in handy: introducing yourself to strangers, nailing a job interview, giving a presentation, or coming out of your shell on a first date to name a few. While some people are naturally charismatic and some are more reserved, it’s important to note that these traits aren’t set in stone. The truth is that self-confidence is like a muscle and can be developed over time. On the same note, you can also lose your self-confidence if you aren’t regularly engaged in scenarios that utilize it. In other words, “Use it or lose it.”
While acting classes aren’t the only way to exercise your self-confidence, they are profoundly effective at helping people be more charismatic, composed under pressure, and relaxed in social situations. This is no joke – the results are almost instantaneous. This is because acting classes – oftentimes on the very first day – will scare the hell out of you. You will have to stand on stage, alone, vulnerable, feeling stripped down to your very core and instructed to share with the class who you really are. And once you do that, you realize that it wasn’t so bad, that the teacher just wants to help you, that your classmates are all embarking on the same journey, and that whatever you have left to do that day will be a walk in the park by comparison.
It’s a useful skill.
We are required to interface with others on a daily basis; it’s a part of life. The people we have to interact with can sometimes be unpleasant, condescending, volatile, demanding, rude, mean-spirited, self-absorbed, and judgemental – this is where acting comes in. As an actor, you will have an arsenal of techniques and strategies at your disposal to handle these real-life interactions.
Acting classes teach a lot of useful skills, but perhaps the most applicable is the ability to BS someone in a believable fashion. An acquaintance you barely know invites you to his son’s christening? You tell him you’re getting bloodwork done that afternoon. A hiring manager asks you why you want the job? You say it’s because you align yourself with their mission statement and feel inspired by the historical impact they’ve had on their respective industry, when, in reality, you just want a steady paycheck so you can continue to exist.
On a sincere note, acting is more than that. It enables you to be perceptive of the emotional states of others by better reading body language and vocal inflection. It teaches you to control your emotions and channel them in ways that are intentional rather than unstable. It allows you to put on a brave game face when you need to do something daunting; plus public speaking, the ability to think on your feet, and quickly memorize written material. Needless to say these are skills that can pay in one’s personal and professional life.
It’s just plain therapeutic.
There’s something magical about acting that leaves people feeling uplifted. It might be the thrilling escapism of immersing yourself in a new world and becoming someone else, solving the psychological puzzle of how the character should think and act, and interpreting how you can bring it to life. Or it might be the rush of adrenaline you feel when you perform a monologue in front of the class, or the feeling of relief and catharsis afterwards. It may be all those things, but what makes acting most therapeutic is how it requires you to take a deep, introspective look at yourself. To surrender your ego and become completely vulnerable – so that you can come to truly know yourself – is perhaps one of the most liberating experiences one can have, and you can rest assured knowing that acting classes will help you achieve that freedom.
When it comes to acting classes, like most things in life, it’s all about how much dedication you’re willing to put into it. It can also be nerve-racking. But the best things are nerve-racking, and if they aren’t, then are they really worth doing?
Here are some links to the best acting classes in New York and LA (my favorite is HB Studio in NYC):