How Do I Choose an Acting Coach? This question comes up a lot, especially from our students who are making the move from Jacksonville to a new city to continue their acting journey. I also saw it posted three times over the weekend in different casting groups. If you are in search of an acting coach or acting studio, do your due diligence AND outline your goals before you start looking. Being in Jacksonville, we’re not in any kind of mega production hub with dozens and dozens of coaches to choose from. In fact, I can count on two hands who advertises themselves as an acting coach and I can count on one hand who I’d actually trust to coach me or someone I know. When you live in a smaller city that is not familiar with acting, the industry, and there’s no standard of measurement, the general public can be fooled more easily. For example, did you know there’s someone in our city that teaches acting, but is not an actor. Crazy, right? The most important thing is to 1.) make sure the coach you find is an actor themselves with 2.) a mastery of a universally practiced acting technique (or techniques) and 3.) that their acting program aligns with your goals.
What are Universally Practiced Acting Techniques?
Below are the most universally known and practiced acting techniques taught by coaches all over the world:
• The Meisner Technique
• The Strasberg Technique
• The Practical Aesthetics Technique
• The Stanislavski Method
• The Chekhov Technique
• The Method Technique
• The Uta Hagen Technique
• The Viola Spolin Technique
• The Stella Adler Technique
Acting technique is your foundation. The above-referenced techniques have been put into practice by actors you most likely already know and love. Techniques that are universally practiced and proven are not only effective, but they are well-researched, taught across the world, and have been used over and over again for decades, if not centuries. If it’s worked for thousands of actors from the late 19th century to present day, the chances are you’ll find a technique that’ll work for you. It’s important to understand that no one technique is “best”. It all depends on the student and it will be your job to explore the different acting techniques and decide what works best. As I tell my students, there’s more than one way to make eggs; technique is there so you can make the best eggs possible. (I know, silly analogy, but it’s true). Once you find the technique that works best for you, you’ll need to work on mastering it.
Building a solid foundation through the mastery of a universally recognized acting technique is agreed upon by most as the very best approach to skillful acting and being able to give truthful, vulnerable, and compelling performances that create empathy in your audience.
What Should I Look For?
Once you find an acting coach, I suggest you do the following:
1.) Check out what they teach, specifically what techniques
2.) Find out about the instructor(s), their experiences, where they trained, & what acting credits they have under their belt (hint: it doesn’t matter WHO they “claim” to know – it matters WHAT they know and how are they going to make you a brilliant actor).
3.) Ask to see the acting coach’s demo reel (even if it’s old, great acting is still great acting and you’ll be able to see the ability of the person who is potentially going to teach you).
4.) Read reviews from their students and see what they’ve accomplished, what their skills are, and what types of roles/productions they’ve booked since they started training (hint: if it’s mostly background work and free, local projects that’s not a good sign).
5.) See if the studio offers additional opportunities for growth and continuing education outside of class such as workshops, student projects/productions, resource pages, progress reports, professional development lectures, taping services for auditions, guest speakers, student film casting pages, actor showcases, acting technique workouts/meetups, for example.
Anything Else I Should Know?
It is important to understand that if you join a studio that does not train in a universally practiced acting technique like those referenced above, you are neglecting your foundational work. Additionally, suppose the coach or studio has made up its own acting technique. In that case, no one else will be able to help you with your technique work if you were to relocate to a new city or if your studio closes and your coach retires. Training is not a one-off thing. You will consistently train if you want to be good so you will need to keep this in mind to prepare and/or budget for traveling back to train with them or start over if they close or retire. There is usually no reason to reinvent the wheel. In most cases, a studio will make up their own technique because they do not have mastery of a universally recognized acting technique and, therefore, cannot teach it effectively.
Always do your homework on whoever you find before making a monetary commitment. A little research always goes a long way!