It’s a tough road that we’ve chosen. Not only is there an immense amount of competition for such a brief opportunity to share our work – compared to the hourly commitment of a 9-5 – but the money isn’t always flowing in either. It comes in floods and droughts, with some lucky months bagging you a TVC, and some other lonely stretches where the profit share from your passion project barely covers your lunch money.
Finding ourselves in these binds often, actors have to be savvy with their money. A great tax return might get you over the threshold for that LA trip. And drinks at the local is networking, or brainstorming your new show. Headshots are a non-negotiable, you’ve got to invest in that first impression. Regular haircuts, maybe a gym or yoga membership. And this isn’t even considering the cost of living in the busy city hub just to be in the area for castings and meetings. When you have to choice between those new lights for your self-tape set up or the short acting course that’ll brush up your accent work, it can be a tough choice – and more often than not, the siren song of that shiny new tech will lure you in. After all, you can learn anything on Youtube these days, right?
Unfortunately, wrong. The absolute, non-negotiable, most important thing that will feed your growth is feedback. Acting is all about communicating, and the only way to stay on top of these skills is by verifying that what you’re putting out is what you intend it to be. There’s no use raging at your mirror or camera day in, day out, preparing the soliloquy that will rouse souls and change lives, only for it to be met with laughter in performance. We are not always our own best judge, and sometimes we tread a fine line between comedy and tragedy.
The real tragedy here, would be for a winning piece, or nearly-there technique, some tiny tweak you have no chance of identifying and rectifying while inside your practise-vacuum, to lose you a role or a standing ovation. Even with dedicated rehearsal and regular practise, there’s no guarantee that a communication breakdown is happening somewhere within the intricacies of your delivery. Whether online, face-to-face, or in front of a group, the feedback from a trained professional is irreplaceable. You can skimp on almost any other acting expense, but not on this.
So while it’s tempting to keep up that self-tape club with one friend, multitask your showering time with vocal warmup time, and call it a day, you cannot progress, refine, or maintain your skills without the environment that acting classes afford you. You’ll learn courage in discomfort, be forced to push boundaries you may never have considered, and have a tailored critique to hone your tools and techniques to communicate more authentically and more effectively. Being open to feedback is vital, because at the end of it all, what are applause but another form of feedback? Film or theatre, drama or comedy, local or online, get yourself to a class and see how high the return on your investment can be.
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