acting advice

Acting Scams: How to Identify and Avoid Them

With lots of actors and performers looking for a job, the film industry can be a treasure trove for many scam artists which are incredibly adept at taking advantage of decent people. Aspiring actors who have recently graduated from drama and acting schools are more likely to fall for the hook of con artists due to a lack of professional experience.

Acting Scams

However, if actors just starting out know how to spot and fend off these cons, they have no reason to worry. Especially for those vulnerable recent graduates, experts from Vip-Writers have collected and described some of the most common acting frauds an average performer usually has to deal with at the beginning of their career:

Manager Scams

In the film industry, there can be many swindlers who pretend to be legit managers. They usually ask aspiring actors to pay a “submission fee.” They convince their victims that they are using their funds for submitting them for acting roles and that performers should cover these costs themselves. Meanwhile, these con artists rarely try to actually help the performers get their careers started.

Both fresh grads and experienced performers should note that honest managers never ask performers to pay them anything but an industry norm of 10-20 percent cut of what actors earn while being promoted by them.

Talent Agent Scams

This scheme is very similar to those used by those pretending to be legitimate managers. The latter introduce themselves as talent agents and give naive performers big promises and false hopes since “they are very talented and have all the chances to succeed professionally.”

These scammers blow smoke at aspiring performers telling them about many superstars they claim to have found and represented. In fact, every actor should be weary of all offers that seem to be too good to be true.

These “professionals” usually give actors their contact info and lots of promises. Once these performers call these agents to get more info about an offer, they are always asked to pay additional and/or random fees they probably weren’t told about ahead of time. These excess fees are a clear red flag you should always be weary of.

Online Scams

Since the Internet has become a primary source to find casting calls, and since it is very easy to set up fake websites and social media accounts, many scammers perpetuate their fraud online. There are many scam-like platforms charging a fee to performers to post their headshots, and many in the end do little to nothing with these resumes.

To fend off online fraud, performers should only use well-known, legitimate websites, and keep away from services asking them to pay unnecessary fees!

Contract Scams

Another type of fraud very popular with shady agents can happen to new actors and seasoned ones alike. For all performers, it is important to be alert when signing off on any official documents. Therefore, they should ask a legal counsel to read the fine print before agreeing to the contract terms–no matter how legitimate their prospective talent agent or manager seems.

There are many impostors tending to include outrageous terms on these contracts, which green performers may be willing to accede to. It can often be worth paying extra money for legal counsel; otherwise, these actors take the risk of signing away their rights to scam artists.

No honest professional will be insulted by performers asking for a few days to familiarize themselves with a document and show it to a legal counsel. Legitimate professionals also know about these frauds and thus are flexible with the actors’ requests. If someone insists on a contract being signed right away, then this is definitely a red flag.

The longer acting school graduates pursue their profession, the better their gut instinct will get at identifying and avoiding various types of acting frauds. Since fresh grads are just starting their career, they should take every offer with an abundance caution–better safe than sorry!

Interested in Applying? Click Here

 

Tips on Finding the Perfect Monologue

by NYFA Instructor Denis McCourt, MFA

So you’re taking an acting class, have a general audition, or just want to hone your craft, and are looking for the perfect monologue. The search is really a three pronged approach:

What type of monologue are you looking for?

As you begin your quest for the words you will spend a large amount of time and energy working on, first, it is best to consider what you are trying to accomplish.

In the world of monologues, you have many broad categories — contemporary-comedy, contemporary-dramatic, classical-comedy, classical-dramatic … and even more broadly, plays versus film/television/online-content (web series).

If you are intending to work on a monologue in an acting class, you should select one from a play. These words have been written to be performed live by an actor on stage. That idea might sound obvious, yet many actors use film and television for their source material. That great dramatic monologue you saw in the latest blockbuster film has music, sound, camera angles, lighting, reaction shots and editing (just to name a few elements) to help make that overall dramatic or funny impact for the audience — plus, you will be perpetually compared to that Oscar-winning performance.  

When you find material written to be performed on the stage, it will fare better in your acting class and/or general audition. So, if you have now bought into the idea of plays, you have narrowed your content down from hundreds of thousands to only a few thousand possibilities.

How do you find your connection or hear your voice in the monologue?

This next step is very important in your quest for the perfect monologue.

Let’s say you want to expand the work you are doing in your acting class. You are very funny, which everyone around you reinforces in your work, so now you want to explore your more dramatic skills. One of the hardest concepts about acting that everyone struggles with is the idea of “connection,” or “your voice.” The best way to define this for you is to look back over your lifetime and ask questions.

In the years that you have been on this earth, what has mattered to you? Where did you grow up? Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community? What cultural and gender identity speaks to you? Are you involved in any social issues or causes? Do you feel drawn to victims’ rights, or religious beliefs? Are you an animal rights advocate? Were you raised on a farm or in the city? In sharing these questions, and by you answering them, you begin to feel a connection and find your voice.

The next step would be for you to find a playwright that shares your connection and voice. If, as in our example, you have already decided that you want to work on a dramatic monologue, the exclusion of comedic writers has narrowed your search from thousands down to hundreds. And if you know you’d like to focus on a woman’s point of view, you have now narrowed that down even further.

The good news is that you are now looking for writers that share your voice and perspective, and once you find them there will be a body of work for you to tap into for source material.

I would strongly encourage you to become an avid reader of plays. In your quest for the perfect monologue, you can also develop your skills as a cold reader by reading the plays out loud –honing yet another skill you will need as an actor!

Where do I begin to look to find the perfect monologue?

Let’s face it: acting is already hard enough as it is to do the work well, and in your career you will sometimes be asked to work on material that is not that great if not bad. If you are paid to do it and are at that stage of your career, you will do it. But when developing your craft, the suggestion is to ride a thoroughbred.

What do I mean by that? If you find the best material, it will help you develop the skills you are working on developing. So, how do I find the best material that matches my voice? Although many are looking for that “golden monologue book written just for you,” you need to know that such a thing does not exist.

Most published monologue books are not good source material, because they are not attached to any story or character development — they are random words written for the purpose of actors, like you, in search of the perfect monologue. And, like you, there are thousands of actors buying that book and working on that same monologue which every casting professional and acting coach has heard over and over and over again. So, all of your efforts are thrown out the window as soon as they hear the first sentence because their inner monologue is; oh, no, not this one again.

So, if you get anything from this article, don’t buy the monologue book.

If you put a little more effort into the quest, it will pay off for you in spades. So, where should you look to find this thoroughbred? There is another three pronged approach: check out theatre awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and go see live theatre.

  • Theatre Awards:

If a writer has won or been nominated for a Tony Award or an Olivier Award, the material is a thoroughbred. When an actor has been nominated for or won a Tony Award or an Olivier Award the material is a thoroughbred. Here is the link to the Tony Award past winners.

If you go to that site, it lists not only the winners but the nominees as well, since the inception of the awards. All of this is great source material. You then can even target playwrights that write about content you are searching for in your perfect monologue. You can even target famous actors that you have been following that are “your type.”

You will find this a very rich resource of great material. Plus, you have narrowed down your material from thousands to hundreds or less.

  • Pulitzer Prize for Drama:

This award is a very high benchmark for playwrights, and exploring the winners will provide you with an international selection of original voices of today and years past.

The site not only shares the winners, but also provides you with all of the finalists in any given year. You will see that this list will share some great thoroughbred possibilities in your quest, though you will most likely see some duplicates between the Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize sites.

  • Live Theatre:

As you can probably guess, live theatrical plays are the best source material for finding the perfect monologue.

If you go see lots of plays, you will find material you will want to work on. The great thing about plays is that they are done all over the place.

You can spend big money and go see major New York and/or Los Angeles productions. You can go to great regional theatres in Chicago, Minneapolis or Atlanta. Or you can go to the many local professional and/or community theatres in cities and towns around the world. Other great resources are colleges and universities.

By seeing actors working on the craft you are developing, you will learn. Even if it is the worst performance you have ever seen, you will be hearing the words of the monologues spoken out loud in the context of the story and character arc.

If you see many plays, especially stories that appeal to you, your chances of finding that monologue increases. You have now narrowed the search from hundreds of thousands down to a few hundred or less and you have some practical steps to make in your quest to find the perfect monologue.

Ready to learn more about acting and deepen your craft? Check out the New York Film Academy’s Acting School offerings.

 

Actors: When to Voice an Opinion

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Actors are arguably one of the most important visible elements in the theater or on screen. As a primary collaborator in the art of visual storytelling, the question of when and how to assert an opinion or suggestion is vital to the work of the actor and can make the difference between being seen as an asset or a liability by the production team.  

Depending on who you’re working with, collaboration and can be joyous and inspired or nearly impossible, and it’s always very important to find the most professional and respectful way to voice any opinion. Whether you’re struggling to communicate with a director or you’re in an environment that welcomes input, there’s a right way and a wrong way to assert yourself on set or in rehearsal.

The following are a few simple tips to consider the next time you want to share a thought or two with the production team. Finding the proper etiquette can work wonders in creating a positive working environment and resolving conflict.

Show, Don’t Tell

Most actor input is made via acting choices. Stella Adler famously said, “The talent is in the choice,” so if you have a suggestion about your role, try to incorporate that into your performance as early as the audition process to give the production team a sense of your individual take on the character or role. In addition, ask yourself whether you need permission to go with a choice since, in most cases, the most efficient way to communicate with a director is to show them what you’re thinking. Explanations can often be time consuming and murky. Just do it. If they hate the choice, they’ll let you know.

Make Sure You’re Informed

 

screenplay

The first step to being a strong collaborator is investing in the big picture. Actors who not only understand their role but the overall plot, theme, style, and atmosphere of a project are respected and valuable collaborators. Jay Roach, the director for “Dinner With Schmucks,” says of Steve Carrell, “Most actors give you two or three usable takes out of 10, but with Steve eight out of ten are great, each in a different way, each playing off decisions he made in an earlier scene or is going to make later. He has the extremely rare ability to run the entire movie in his head. And it’s probably a better movie than the one I’m going to make.”

 

As an actor, your responsibility is to analyze the script so you completely understand the character and how its creators want to see them performed. Writers and directors are counting on you to be an expert on your character and the function of that character in the overall story. You’ll find your ideas and opinions are received with more weight when you can demonstrate a full understanding of the script, including what the character truly represents in relation to the entire project.

It’s All in the Timing

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Being able to discuss common ground with your fellow creators shows them that you’ve not only formed a strong foundation for the character, but also that you respect everyone’s time and work and have the project’s best interests at heart — but sometimes it’s just not the right time to make a suggestion.

If the production is running behind on time, tempers are high, another actor just made a suggestion, or the shooting or rehearsal sequence is complicated, your idea may not be welcome no matter how solid your analysis has been. Before contributing, pause and make sure your input will be constructive and useful. A good rule of thumb is: does it need to be said, do I need to say it, and do I need to say it right now. Knowing when to stay silent or waiting for a better opportunity or idea is as important as making the right suggestion.

Pay Attention to the Approach

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There’s nothing worse than developing the reputation of being difficult on set or in a rehearsal room, so it’s extremely important to take the temperature of your collaborators and working environment and your place inside of that. Leads or stars are often also producers on a project and their position allows for a higher level of input than a day player or extra.

Before voicing your opinion, think carefully — especially if you know your idea may overstep your authority with a fellow actor, crew member, etc. Sharing a good idea can sometimes prove very beneficial to the entire production, but don’t earn a reputation as an actor who slows production or “thinks out loud” to the detriment of those around them.

And always, always make sure to play the positive. There’s a big difference between saying, “I have an idea I’d like to try with this line,” and, “This line is terrible and needs to be changed.” To maintain a healthy relationship with your fellow actors and crew, be sure to express your opinion in a way that’s sensitive to their point of view.

Weight the Risk vs Benefit

riskvs-reward

With all this in mind, you don’t want to run the risk of always withholding your ideas out of fear of reprisal. If you’ve got a solid, well-timed idea that will work in the production’s favor, the risk you take may be well worth it in the end.  Many productions value and encourage brave actors and actresses who are willing to speak up and share ideas and input. And sometimes, when the actor ditches the script and goes with their gut feeling like Harrison Ford did when his Han Solo responded to Princess Leia’s “I love you” with “I know,” the moment becomes iconic and enters film history.

Have you had a positive experience in voicing an opinion on set or on stage? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Movies Every Acting Student Should Watch

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What better way for aspiring actors to glean valuable insight about their chosen trade than by watching acting movies: films about people trying to make it in this hectic yet rewarding industry? Watching an actor deliver a memorable performance and getting caught up in a film that tells a riveting behind-the-scenes story about the entertainment business can boost your own motivation and inspiration. 

We’ve created a roundup of some of the best movies featuring stories about actors who are facing the real-world challenges that come with their profession. But don’t just take our word for it. Experience as many amazing film performances as you can. So enjoy — and absorb — some great acting insider stories. There may be much to learn in these films — and even if you’re not an acting student, there’s certainly much to enjoy!

1. “The Artist” (2011)

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This French romantic comedy-drama made waves in 2011 for its stylistic boldness, imitating classic black-and-white silent films. “The Artist” tells the story of a silent movie star in the 1920s who meets a young dancer. Together, they rise through the industry while earning prominent starring roles. But eventually their careers go in opposite directions when the arrival of talking pictures takes place.

2. “Mulholland Drive” (2001)

This neo-noir mystery film tells a captivating story about an aspiring actress who becomes friends with an amnesic woman at her new home in Los Angeles. The film deals with following one’s dreams and finding an independent identity — two powerful themes for an acting school student looking to break into the industry. David Lynch’s film also gives viewers a fictional taste of the darker side of Hollywood.

3. “Tootsie” (1982)

“Tootsie” is about an actor named Michael Dorsey whose reputation for being difficult causes his career to falter. Dorsey, played by Dustin Hoffman, decides to pose as woman in order to land a job on a soap opera. He has a good time with it until he falls in love with a woman named Julie (Jessica Lange), and his gender charade becomes complicated. One of the best things about this movie is its humor — aimed at soap operas, show business, and, of course, love.

4. “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)

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Despite releasing more than half a century ago, this gem is still considered one of the best musical films of all time. “Singin’ in the Rain” follows a Hollywood studio and its actors as they’re forced to transition from silent film to sound. The film boasts more than a dozen songs and is a perfect inspirational story for aspiring actors who struggle with finding the confidence to step out of their comfort zone and find success in a new area.

5. “All About Eve” (1950)

A suspenseful acting-themed film offering a compelling and chilling look at ambition, talent, and obsession, “All About Eve” is about an acclaimed but aging Broadway star named Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Margot’s existence is threatened when a young fan suddenly enters Margo’s life, plotting to replace her both professionally and personally. This iconic drama film was nominated for 14 Oscar awards, a feat that and has only been tied by one movie since: 1997’s “Titanic.” Acting students will receive a master class in acting not only from Davis, but also from Anne Baxter, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the diabolically complex title character, Eve.

6. “The Truman Show” (1998)

This satirical comedy-drama has one of the most unique stories of any film about actors. In “The Truman Show,” Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives a simple life as an insurance salesman. That is, until he discovers that his entire life is actually an elaborate reality show aired all across the globe that everyone knows about — except him. This film is worth watching for Carrey’s awesome performance as well as its comical but insightful parody of the entertainment industry.

7. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014)

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“Birdman” is a satirical black comedy-drama starring Michael Keaton that acting students of every discipline should watch for its soulful, contemporary portrayal of one actor’s battle to mount a Broadway show — and salvage his own identity. The story is about Keaton’s character, a washed-up Hollywood actor remembered only for his portrayal of a superhero named Birdman, as he tries to regain fame while performing in a Broadway play. This acclaimed film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay.

Do you have a favorite acting-focused or entertainment industry-themed film? Are you an acting student who has been inspired by a film? Let us know in the comments below!

Is Method Acting Truly Over? Jared Leto’s Joker

Make no mistake about it: the technique known as method acting has played a huge part in the history and evolution of the acting profession, and there are many venerated method actors still producing exceptional works today.

But does method acting have a place in the future of the industry?

That’s the question raised in a recent Atlantic op-ed entitled “Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting.” It’s a bold claim, and one that is worthy of unpacking.

But first, what is method acting?

NYFA New York’s acting program chair Glynis Rigsby feels it’s important to recognize that this, in itself, is an important question: “’Method acting’ is typically aligned with the work of Lee Strasberg as separate and distinct from the many phases of Stanislavski’s work, Michael Chekhov, Sandy Meisner, Stella Adler and others. (Stanislavski had a system, Strasberg had a method).”

What made Strasberg and “the Method” distinct among  American acting techniques was an emphasis on intensely experiential, personal work — that can be gruelling physically and emotionally. This is usually what American audiences associate with “the Method,” in contrast to Russian innovator Stanislavski’s system, which also emphasized the actor’s use of imagination to portray their roles.

Why So Serious?

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The Atlantic uses the oversaturated news about Jared Leto’s method acting during his turn as The Joker in “Suicide Squad” as a springboard for discussion, pointing towards how tales of his antics during production — sending cast members used condoms, forcing the crew to call him “Mr. J”, and marathon-watching tapes of real violence — has bombarded media reporting about the film.

And while the accuracy of these stories has been called into question, there’s no doubt whatsoever that they have generated more column inches than is warranted or necessary. As an unimpressed Esquire writer put it: “Can Jared Leto shut up about his method acting in ‘Suicide Squad?’ We get it.”

That was written long before the movie even came out. There have been even more press interviews since where the topic has been crowbarred in, to the point where it’s rare to see Leto’s name printed as anything less than “Method Actor Jared Leto.”

Alongside the fact that this is an annoyingly (and increasingly) popular marketing trick and arguably little else, the wider charge here is that it creates the illusion that there is no such thing as good acting without suffering.

As Angelica Bastién notes in her Atlantic piece, a huge deal is made of the extremes of method acting (think DiCaprio’s tribulations during “The Revenant”). The issue here is that this sometimes happens to the exclusion of all else during the marketing — and critical examination — of a film.

Blood, Sweat and Weight Loss

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The main problem with this phenomenon is that when a high-profile actor claims to be a “method actor,” this is meant to signal to the media that they have accomplished “a performance worth paying attention to.” And that doesn’t necessarily follow.

That’s not to say that Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t a fine actor (because he is), but many industry insiders and actors feel that the Academy shouldn’t base their awards decisions on who lost the most weight for a role that year — or who slept in how many dead animal carcasses during production.

Bastién also makes a compelling case in her article for the gender disservice perpetrated here, too; when you think media talks of “strong” method performances, it’s nearly always males that come up — and acting “manly” in some physical way.

This overshadows exceptional performances by many female method acting giants (think: Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” Jessica Lange, Ellen Burstyn), and raises the question whether a casting director, producer, or audience would have as much patience with a female lead pulling shenanigans in the name of “method acting” like Leto. Female method actors are arguably often ignored.

But all of this, of course, sidesteps the question of whether method acting in reality is the same as method acting in the media — and whether drawing attention to an actor’s preparation should matter when it comes to experiencing their performance.

Stanislavski’s Tool Box

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: method acting is not a magic bullet that will instantly makeyou a better actor. It’s a tool to be used with specificity, purpose, and discipline.

Constantin Stanislavski is seen as the father of modern acting, but his pioneering advances in the craft are often glossed over and he gets referred to simply as “the guy who invented method acting.” As we learned above, this is a misconception: Stanislavski’s innovations later inspired Lee Strasberg to create the robust and demanding style we think of as method acting.

Stanislavski himself was keen to urge students to find their own paths rather than rigidly follow his example, and had many more ideas to offer to an actor looking to expand his or her toolbox.

So Is Method Acting Over?

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No. At least, not in the sense it’s the last we’ll hear of it in the media. And we hope that conscientious actors will continue to carefully apply their method skills in safe and smart performance choices. Method acting still has a place in the profession, as long as the story is put first and the spectacle of a performance (or related hype) remains secondary. Ultimately, it’s the performance — and not necessarily the actor’s way of working — that audiences remember.

If method acting is a discipline that works for you, it may be prudent to take a leaf out of Daniel Day-Lewis’ book: do the work and let your performances speak for you.

The Acting Advice They DON’T Tell You…

When Dustin Hoffman was on set for Marathon Man, one scene in particular called for his character to appear as if he suffered from extreme exhaustion. To simulate this, Hoffman stayed up for three days straight… to which costar Laurence Olivier responded, “My dear boy, have you tried acting?”

Laurence Olivier acting advice

It may or may not be rooted in fact, but it’s an excellent anecdote nonetheless.

Of course, it was okay for Olivier to dispense such pithy advice – he was one of the greatest actors of our time – but it’s not always as easy for the rest of us (or, perhaps, Dustin Hoffman).

With the spirit of the late, great Laurence Olivier in mind, here’s the best acting advice you very rarely hear.

Know What the Hell is Going On

An actor’s job is to follow cues and give a strong performance as required by both the script and the director. That’s your base duty; you’re not going to gain any extra points or commendation for fulfilling this.

Want to become the apple in the eye of every director, cinematographer and camera guy you work with?

Know your technical stuff. All of it.

technical acting advice

It’s one thing to hit all your marks every time and never fluff a line, but it’s another to be conscious (and conscientious) of everyone on set, the technical limitations they’re working with, and what they’re trying to achieve.

Know what lenses that guy is working with, and what that means for you in the frame. Know the lingo the director is yelling to the sound technician so he or she doesn’t have to take time out to relay it to you in simpler language. Be ready and able to converse with the writers, editors and producers at their level; be on the same page as everyone, rather than the lemon standing in the corner waiting for someone to shout ‘action’.

Getting this comfortable on set is a big undertaking and will almost certainly require a spell at film and acting school, but it’ll pay dividends. They’ll love you for it.

Take Music Lessons

What’s that? You don’t want to do musicals on Broadway?

It doesn’t matter.

musical Acting advice

Even if you have no intentions whatsoever of singing a single note, you should check in with a tutor. We’re not saying that you have to spend weeks studying the craft – even just a few rudimentary lessons will do – but being able to apply a knowledge of cadence and tonality can add an extra level to your ability to read lines.

Picking up a brand new creative skill in performance arts can also do wonders for your confidence, so consider finding a singing tutor or even taking some piano lessons and getting some musical theory under your belt.

Controversy Sells

Sad but true: the most talked about and ‘sellable’ people in the entertainment industry (both in music and film) are the ones who know how to cause speculation and/or outrage.

If you want to raise your profile and aren’t precious about your reputation, go full tilt on every performance you give.

Charlie Sheen acting

Even if you don’t want to play it dangerous with your role (possibly if you sense the director won’t have any of it), that doesn’t mean you can’t be controversial elsewhere. Eccentric interviewees make for viral-worthy material, and outlandish sound bites make it easier for journalists and bloggers to write headlines about you.

Remember, however, that it’s a volatile game to play. There’s a big difference between fame and infamy.

Pretend to Be Confident

The majority, if not all, actors are human beings too. As such, performance anxiety or feelings of not being good enough are common.

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The secret to overcoming such moments and gaining a confidence boost? Simply pretend to be confident – psychologically speaking there’s absolutely no difference between assumed confidence and genuine confidence, and an actor has all the skills they need to pretend.

Lastly, Enjoy the Ride

Most acting advice revolves around how to better your craft and, by extension, your career. Quite often, we forget to count our blessings.

acting advice tips

Your acting career may not be quite where you want it, but nobody’s ever is. Conversely, there are an extraordinary amount of people who’d kill to be at your level and doing the things you do.

All the world’s a stage. Never forget this, and enjoy the ride.

Q&A With Lynda Goodfriend, Chair, Acting Dept., New York Film Academy Los Angeles

Lynda GoodfriendQ: What is the first lesson to learn in becoming a successful actor?

LG: There are many actors who pursue this career professionally. Being a Personal Manager for over 30 years with my own Management company, I can say I have seen many actors come and go- some had talent, some did not. The most important factor in achieving success is commitment. There is an old saying “Out of every 3 actors, one will make it. Not because of Talent or Looks. But because the other two give up.” This is very true- but multiply that by thousands. One in every thousand perhaps has the persistence and dedication to keep at it.
So the first lesson would be- love what you do, commit to what you do, and work harder than anyone else at what you do.

Q: What do you wish you knew when you started in your field?

LG: I wish I knew that it is important to learn everything you can about life. It all contributes towards your knowledge as an actor. Do not just save the learning for in the classroom. Look and listen to everything and everyone around you. There is a wealth of knowledge about the human condition and human behavior out there, which is the core of the craft of acting.

Q: How do I get the most out of my acting program at NYFA?

LG: Do not miss class, do not miss class, do not miss class! You can’t learn your craft without doing it and watching it. You can’t make up for the valuable time in front of an audience and being the audience. Actors should also work with filmmakers as much as possible. The more they are in front of the camera, the more comfortable in front of camera they become, and the better actors they become.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your professional career?

LG: The biggest lesson I think I’ve learned – and I want to pass on- is “Do not burn bridges.” The Entertainment Business is about relationships: relationships that you build and refine, and go back to again and again. I am still involved with the people I started working with over 30 years ago. I am able to call up Ron Howard or Henry Winkler and others, and ask them to come speak to our students. That’s a pretty amazing relationship to have.

Q: Which pieces of equipment do you find most effective in your field?

LG: Every actor should own a video camera; it’s an extremely valuable learning tool. When you have a way to record your own work – and get feedback from the playback – you are able to judge your own performance and learn from it.

Q: What are the essential first steps to breaking into this field after completing a program at NYFA?

LG: One of the great things about learning at NYFA is the fact that you will “hit the ground running.” We have given you the necessary tools: the skills to put together your demo reel, headshot, resume, the information that you will need to start contacting agents and managers, and the acting skills to create a believable, nuanced performance. Your first steps are complete.

The second step comes after you leave here. You will need to get your materials to agents and managers, get referrals from friends, knock on as many doors as you can, and continue doing as much as you can on camera. One of the great thing about our program is that students in each department are developing relationships with students from other departments – actors working with filmmakers, producers, screenwriters, and photographers. So many of our students continue these relationships after school and are able to act in some incredible projects that our other alums are doing.

Q: How long does it take to become a good actor?

LG: There is no magic number of years. Every actor learns and develops at a different pace. One thing that is certain as an actor: you are always learning, always becoming better. Learning to act is a life long process. If you do love the craft, you will do something every day that gets you closer to your goal of becoming a good actor.