Working as an actor in NYC or acting in NYC means you have a ton of competition. Yes, there are great opportunities in the city, but at times you’ll feel like every other person you meet is also an aspiring actor. To land the roles you’re dreaming of, you must work for it.
Here are five actionable things you can start doing now to improve your acting skills and impress casting directors:
Are You Acting in NYC? 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Skills
1. Practice, Practice, and Practice More
You can’t learn to act by simply reading about it or observing other actors, although these are important. You actually have to do it. Writers always say that to become a pro, you must write every single day. Acting every day, even by yourself, will help you develop skills and get better at your craft.
On your own, try exercises like practicing monologues. Choose a monologue that speaks to you. Then try performing it as different characters. Record yourself, watch it, and repeat to improve your performances.
Of course, acting generally involves other people, so also get out there and work with actors. Audition for local and community plays until you get a role. Find acting groups who gather just to practice and work together. You’ll find plenty of these in New York.
2. Enroll in an NYC Acting School
Great actors aren’t born. While you may have some innate skills and abilities, the best in the business work hard, train, and learn to act. There are plenty of NYC acting workshops, and enrolling in one or more should be a first step in honing your skills.
Don’t limit yourself to the kind of acting in NYC you most want to do. Have no interest in comedy or improv? Take a course in it anyway. Expanding your skill set will make you a better actor, and doing things that make you uncomfortable will ultimately help you feel more comfortable in any given professional situation.
3. Learn from the Best
Learning from those who are already where you want to be, the experts, the mentors, is something newbies need to do in all industries. Whether it’s marketing or acting in NYC, listen to, observe, and learn from the best in the business. Go to plays and watch them at work.
Many working actors, including famous and successful actors, are happy to offer up their experiences for the benefit of up-and-coming actors. Do your research, find out what these experts have to say. This means reading their memoirs or any books they’ve written on the process and art of acting.
Look online for advice from actors. It’s easy to find what these people have to say, and you’ll find great tips, like these:
- Keep a journal about a role you’re playing. Take note of everything about the character, the background, the time period, and other elements that help you get into the role.
- Practice staying in character even when something goes wrong, like someone else drops a line.
- Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself or feeling like an idiot. It’s not productive.
- Read a script out loud more than once before trying to “act” it.
- Memorize your lines, so you never have to worry about them—it’s the first step to acting well.
- Spend free time people-watching to get a better idea of how people behave, speak, and move naturally.
4. Work on Voice and Movement
Embodying a character to success involves two main factors: how you speak and how you move your body. The best actors actively work to improve them. For voice, find warm-ups and articulation exercises to enhance clarity and pronunciation. Work on accents too. This will open you up to more roles.
There are many ways to work on movement as an actor. Start by being physically fit and incorporating a regular exercise routine into your week. Then find specific exercises or methods that will help you be more aware of your body and how you move it: yoga or tai chi classes, dance, or movement exercises specifically designed for actors.
5. Expand Your Knowledge Base
A good actor has a comprehensive knowledge base. This will help you understand various roles and bring more believability to them. Read widely and learn about subjects specific to plays in which you have an interest. Read many plays and stay current on those in production, as well as upcoming movies and television shows. When you read, read out loud to practice your voice.
Honing your skill
Acting is a talent, but it’s also a skill that can be developed. Don’t rely on inherent ability. Hone it, perfect it and learn the industry. Taking classes, practicing, and listening to the advice of those who have been there before will help you get to the next level.