Acting is in itself a skill. Honing and developing the craft of acting is definitely important but it’s only half the job of a professional film, television or commercial actor.
Mastering the skill of acting may make you a good actor but developing the business of acting will make you a smart actor. And a smart actor is a working actor.
Here are some essential skills that will help you become a fuller, more grounded actor.
Who you are as a person is who you are as an actor; so get to know yourself!
Knowing these and other core building blocks of who you are will not only help you develop dynamic characters in your acting scenes but also help you understand why people do the things they do.
Hot tip: Therapy is a huge benefit to actors. You get to explore all these topics in a safe environment with a professional who can alert you to patterns you may not be aware of (or you are aware of but feel powerless against - what fun!)
Critical analysis of human behavior is a key skill to develop along your acting journey.
Humans are great at having quirks that we’re unaware of. Sometimes we have little tics or “tells” when we discuss certain topics or past traumas.
Any actor who has been to theater school will recall stories of rolling around on the floor at 8am for a whole semester of movement class. And as funny (and true) as that image is, the exploration of our bodies and the way we move is imperative to the job of an actor. This is a visual art form afterall, and the actor’s body is their vessel!
Never forget that body language and tone speaks louder than words!
Your voice is a powerful instrument and proper use and care of your voice, like your body, is integral to being an actor. Develop your voice safely with vocal exercises and acting classes that help you harness the power of your voice.
Acting is not an easy job, so if you want to succeed; get ready to develop your learning skills. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn more to keep your craft development going strong.
Gaining acting knowledge can be as simple as watching a great movie, or reading a reputable book on acting.
Just keep in mind that binging six hours of Netflix may help develop your acting skills a bit, while six hours of acting classes will help develop your skills more. A LOT MORE.
In acting, you’re breathing life into something that started as text on a paper.
Remember in grade school when you would have to read out paragraphs of text aloud? Remember when some classmates read with ease and could capture your attention, while others sounded, well, like they were reading off a page?
The same thing will happen in your acting if you don’t learn the skill of how to memorize lines.
Drilling the words into your head may seem like a surefire way to know the words, but you risk sounding like that student who was terrified at the front of the class.
Memorize what happens in the scene and practice working with different action words that motivate the words you speak, move through each beat of the scene and tell the story the writers are going for.
Words sit on top of ACTIONS. Spend lots of time identifying how your character is reacting to the scene and acting their way through it, and you’ll often find that learning the words will come easily.
A great tool for an actor’s toolkit is a line learner app like Line Learner or Rehearsal Pro. These apps allow you to record both your characters’ and all the other characters’ lines and then play your scene back to you so you can run lines with yourself.
These apps are life savers when you have a busy audition week. It’s amazing how much you can learn when you aren’t focusing on memorizing the lines!
Hot tip: Record your character’s lines in as neutral a tone as possible, so you don’t risk getting stuck in performance choices and leave room for new Action discoveries while you work on your scenes.
When logging your acting hours for the week** keep track of all the hobbies that you love that set you apart. Comedy, accents, stage fighting choreography, dance, art, sports, riding a motorcycle, yoga! The list is endless. These are all parts of who you are and they will certainly come in handy when the right audition comes your way.
**Don’t know what constitutes acting hours? Check out videos 4 and 7 of the Laura Mac Method Foundations program - they are both included in the freemium membership option!
Now that we have all of that out of the way, where should you practice and develop these skills?
Enroll in an acting class! Acting classes are awesome when you want to develop your skills, especially when classes are taught by professional actors who have already dedicated years of their life to the craft.
Another great way to learn is to put your acting skills to the test on set. Audition for local independent filming opportunities whenever you can to work on your audition skills and if you land the role, your on set performance skills too! (Maybe even get some handy demo material while you’re at it!)
The most successful actors are the ones who are continuously developing their skills. You never stop growing and learning, and that’s the beautiful part of the art form.
Need some help sharpening your acting skills? Check out the Laura Mac Method Online Acting Classes!