Here’s 3 skills you can add to your acting toolkit:
1. Get your car license
This isn’t just a handy way to get to and from auditions – if you’re in a big city where most auditions are held, it can be smarter to take the train. Getting caught in traffic, stressed out by road rage or taking the wrong turn off on the freeway can destroy your nerves. A driver’s license is an absolute non-negotiable necessity for touring theatre shows, bumping in your indie theatre production, landing that Audi TVC that pays your rent for the next two years. In a nutshell, a license is invaluable even if you don’t have the money or the space to buy a car. A driver’s license can also get you jobs in the industry. Many filmmakers got their start as a production runner, from Bill Hader to Guy Ritchie. If you want a job in the industry and you have acting credentials, you may be limited to runner jobs until you gain experience, and a license is a hiring requirement for these roles. Besides, how cool are Ansel Elgort and Jon Hamm and the cast of Baby Driver, who did a lot of their own stunt driving?
This is like yoga on crack for improving your body awareness. Yoga is amazing, but it is a gentle movement that works within the boundaries of your current capabilities, whereas the structure of ballet demands something a little more challenging than your habitual movement patterns. Any dance class is a crash course in physical expressiveness. Jazz is the go-to for Music Theatre, but if you really want to jumpstart your anatomical awareness, try a beginner’s ballet class. The technique, specificity, and discipline brings your attention to each individual muscle, as well as the range of capabilities your body actually has. Postural alignment is key to ballet, a practise which improves your voice and movement at the same time. If nothing else, if this suggestion makes you scared or resistant, then you should definitely try it out. Getting out of your comfort zone is in itself an important skill for a working actor.
3. Improv Class
Even if you are a dramatic actor, improvisation is such a key skill to develop. The old saying that ‘Acting is reacting’ holds true, and nothing trains you to authentically react in character like improv. There are all sorts of levels and courses available, so give one a shot. Bring a friend along and have a laugh, or go by yourself to a school on the other side of the state in order to remain anonymous. Just get yourself some practise doing something you haven’t practised. This will improve your instincts, expand your actions vocabulary, and help you produce your own material. If you aren’t writing your own skits, monologues, movies, etc. then that’s a bonus tip for you – create your own work! Like anything else, learning how to write well is a result of trial and error. Take yourself to an improv class to get those creative juices flowing, and expand on your favourite character that you discovered in the class. Acting is tough and while it may feel like you have to wait around for someone to give you your dream role, you can always write it for yourself.