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7 Reasons Actors Don’t Train

We have good intentions. We’re desperate to do things that are good for us. As we hit the pillow, we’re genuinely committed to change. But as we put on our morning chain mail and the fog of distraction creeps in, we find reasons that we just can’t actually commit. At least not right this minute.

As actors, training’s a big one. While we know that it’s in our best interest to do the work, there are so many reasons we just don’t… quite… get to it.

In my recent conversations with actors, I came up with seven basic reasons actors don’t train. Anything touch a nerve?

1. Money. Money. Money. I’m broke. I’ll do it when I have some cash.

2. No time. I’m too busy. I have too much on my plate. I have a family. I have two jobs. I’m so tired.

3. Trained enough. I don’t need it. I’ve studied enough. I trained in college, in New York, in my 20s, etc. I work the way I work. I’m too old to go to class.

4. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I’m not comfortable with classes. They make me anxious. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to open up that can of worms. I don’t know if I want to even exercise that muscle. I certainly don’t want to do it with other people in the room. I’m not a “class” kind of person. I might coach but only for the most important auditions.

5. Procrastination. I will. After the summer. In the New Year. After Pilot Season. Next month. Next year. It’s on my to do list. I really want to but…

6. Goldilocks. I can’t find a class that’s just right. This one’s too big. This one’s too small. This one’s just a bunch of crap. This one’s about the teacher. This one has actors who aren’t as good as me. This one has actors who are so much better than me. I’ve been to a ton of classes and haven’t found one that speaks to me.

7. Class Rat. I don’t want to be one of those actors. A class rat. Someone who acts primarily in class. I’m a working actor, not a student.

Rationalizations? Defenses? Excuses? Absolutely.

All excuses are based in fear. Fear is the enemy of motivation and forward motion. If we allow fear to un-empower us, we give up who we are.

As Wayne Dyer, self-help author and motivational speaker, says: “Excuses Be Gone!” The title of one of his books.

The work of an actor in LA is often trying to get work. I talked to a young actor last night after auditing one of our classes and he said: “Since I got to LA nine months ago, I realized that my only work as an actor has been auditioning. It’s the only thing I’ve done. I’m lost.” Here in LA – more than anywhere – we have to find a way to be in the work as often as we can. To be an actor acting for more than three minutes (plus prep) twice a week… if that.

So, get to work.

Find the money. Make the money. You are your greatest investment.

Find the time. Find the energy. Find the heart. Your ego won’t serve you in this pursuit. There’s no room for ego in this process.

There is no understudy to doing hard work. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule is pretty accurate – his conclusion that it takes about 10,000 hours of committed practice to truly master any skill, whether it’s playing the violin, computer programming, or skateboarding. Classes – the right ones for you – are an opportunity to accumulate those hours.

Where are those good intentions? What are the reasons to do the work?

“All of us, all the time, are seeking inspiration and answers. To find these things, we search for teachers, directors, guides, gurus. When we are at our least intelligent, we seek these things in liquids and powders and pills. There may come a time when we will no longer need a guide; when we can rest on a solid foundation built of experience and error. In the meantime, ask questions of good teachers.” -Tennessee Williams (from journals for “Follies of God” by James Grissom)


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