An acting coach is an inspiring individual who teaches acting tips and provides guidance to an aspiring actor throughout the auditioning and casting stages and beyond.
The coach can take on many different roles but the aim is for the person to build their pupil’s confidence and guide them towards success in the challenging industry using their seasoned experience and instinct. They will inspire them, rehearse with them, help them to improve their skills, suggest auditions and much more.
As a mentor to one or more trainee actors, an acting coach should have the ability and the talent to see things in their pupils to showcase, for instance, their USPs (unique selling points) and help bring these traits to the surface. A bit like the way that dog whisperers train canines and horse whisperers are said to communicate with horses, acting coaches are commonly referred to as ‘people whisperers’ because of their ability to connect with on an emotional level and bring out performances in humans!
An acting coach should identify your USPs and help you to build on them. Photo credit: USAG-Humphreys on VisualHunt.com
Acting or vocal coaches are often hired by film studios and casting directors to work on coaching certain actors, but are sometimes booked privately too by those want an inspiring mentor to help with things like acting for film, improv, acting techniques, monologues, cold reading, voiceovers, script analysis, emotions, musical theater, TV acting, camera work, accents, dialect and speech.
So, do you have your own personal human whisperer yet? If the answer is no, all is not lost. Here is more information on how to go about finding an acting coach who will offer you that special emotional connection and nurturing guidance.
No matter how talented you are, there are three fundamental things that will increase your chances of success in the entertainment industry: getting better at what you do, making work for yourself, and networking with the right people. While some budding actors attempt to do some or even all of these themselves, an acting coach can help tackle these and take away the headache of trying to work on everything yourself.
1. A Drama Tutor Will Help You Learn How To Act Well
Firstly, an acting coach is trained to help you to improve your skills and technique and thus become a better actor. Although workshops are often great in the moment to teach you a new skill, your money would be much better invested in acting classes, workshops or hiring a coach to work on next level elements on a one to one basis.
Skill is gained through emphasis, repeated practice and by perfecting the things that work, instead of trying things out for the sake of it. An acting coach will spot what you are good at, help you to discover which lines and characters work for you, and help you to build on this.
2. An Acting Coach Will Point You In the Direction Of Your Best Opportunities
Secondly, while it can be hard to swallow, as an actor you often have to make work for yourself, and this means attending some free acting jobs. Truthfully, if you have been sitting around for the last six months with no jobs coming your way, then surely any opportunity is worth a try, right?
An acting coach will help you to be honest to yourself and identify great opportunities for shaping your career, so that you can rest assured that even if you aren’t getting paid for a job, it is worth the investment in time.
3. An Acting Teacher Will Help You To Make Important Connection In The Industry
Finally, making notable actors connections is massively important to any aspiring drama professional. This doesn’t mean bombarding every director on Imdb or LinkedIn with your details, because who is to say (other than you) how good you are and how genuine your said experience is? Acting coaches are normally respected individuals hired either privately or by film studios so any contacts made through them will normally be solid and the recommendation will usually be taken seriously.
An acting coach will be someone who can help you to make connections within the industry. Photo on Visual hunt
As you would expect, the most straightforward way to finding an acting coach nowadays is to search the web for suitable candidates. Luckily for you, this has been made incredibly easy due to the growing number of networking sites for professionals. You might like to scour people’s listings on LinkedIn, read through ads on Gumtree or even consult lists put together by acting specialists, like The Stage. There are no social media sites designed specifically for actors.
You may find that some of the best acting instructors are found in big American cities like Manhattan, New York City or the Sanat Monica mountains. After all, some of the world’s most influential schools and academies like Juilliard, the New York Film Academy and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts are found!
It is also worth reviewing your own accounts before reaching out to acting coaches as you just know that the first thing they will do is take a look at your profile! You want your picture, information on where you live, where you studied and subsequent TVacting experience to be up to date and consistent across all active profiles. So, if you set up a website years ago that you no longer maintain, be sure to close it down or remove any links to it from your networking pages to avoid any confusion.
You’ll have your own set of criteria to base your search on for acting coaches, whether that be price, location, type of acting coach (i.e. the style of acting they specialise in: the Sanford Meisner Technique, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Alexander Technique, Method Acting, etc…) but bear in mind that going on other people’s testimonials is a good place to start.
When choosing your acting coach, make sure you pay attention to things like chemistry and teaching methods. There’s no point in spending your money on someone you don’t get along with.
You are probably wondering why you should have to trawl the Internet looking for suitable acting coaches when someone has probably already done the hard work for you. Well, you may be right in thinking that lists have already been gathered by many other aspiring actors but, while using these as a starting point is not a problem, you must make the effort to do your own research too so that you don’t miss out on any potentially great matches.
Many websites dedicated to those in the performing arts industry (like The Stage and Backstage) list the top acting schools and coaches for specific types of acting, or the best tutors in certain areas, like the capital city, for example. However, some of these lists might be completely outdated so check the date that the article was posted; the featured coaches may now be retired, not taking on new clients or there may be new coaches on the scene that didn’t get a look in when the list was published.
Some lists include the price of acting lessons with that coach while others merely have some means of contacting him or her.
If you do your homework, at least you know that you couldn’t have done more to find your perfect acting coach.
If you have friends in the industry or family members who have experience in acting roles, then you might be lucky enough to already know some coaches, or at least have some recommendations to pursue.
Feedback from clients is a very good first-hand representation of what it is like to be on the receiving end of that teacher’s style of tuition. While you can’t ascertain if you will get on well just by reading others’ comments, you can get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be their pupil.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to get in touch with drama teachers past and present to ask if they know of any good coaches or agencies. All it takes is for a friend to talk to a friend and there you have it – a word of mouth recommendation!
Some call it brave, some call it being lazy, but it is possible to find a coach without actually doing all that much… just as long as you aren’t in a rush.
In a complete U-turn to what has been discussed so far, there are some aspiring actors out there who let the coaches come to them. This may seem a little arrogant, but in fact, if you have time to spare then taking more time to look or wait for a coach (whether casually or more seriously) could help you to cover a much wider and therefore comprehensive search.
In taking this approach, you need to have confidence in your abilities and be more flexible on time, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do anything at all. Any trainee actor will need to be working on their career on an ongoing basis: getting annual or bi-annual headshots done, keeping their website, blog or social media accounts up to date, posting adverts for acting coaches or auditions, participating in an acting course etc… without keeping on top of these things, your career is more than likely going to come to a standstill.
If you are in no rush, you might be at liberty to sit back and wait for the right coach to come to you. Photo on Visualhunt.com
Another bonus to taking your time and encouraging coaches to approach you is that you can view meetings and auditions as a way for you to scrutinise them just as much as they will be watching you. It is always worth remembering though, that you are the beginner and they are the qualified ones and they deserve every respect for their achievements. They certainly won’t be impressed by a trainee actor pushing boundaries or taking silly risks from the start as it doesn’t bode well for a good team and working atmosphere!
An older student who wants to launch their career now might not have the time to sit around and wait for opportunities. Likewise, if you are impatient by nature (like many energetic performers!) and have no intention of missing an opportunity, then you may not be able to sit still long enough to wait for your career to get moving. Try pouring this energy into finding a great acting class or coach and you could be on your way to a successful acting career in little to no time!