The New Actor’s Guide to the LA Jungle: Acting Classes

Indian Summer by Patrick DemarchelierWhen you move to Los Angeles, it’s kind of like moving to the jungle. There are scary creatures (plastic surgeried people), bulky bushmen (Muscle Beach much?), dangerous pathways (LA drivers are in a league of their own) and it’s hard to keep an overview of where to go and what to do.

Google is usually your friend but in this case I don’t recommend it. Try researching anything acting related in LA: acting classes, agents, headshot photographers… you’ll find thousands and thousands. Many of them are scams, just out for your money or just plainly not good. And it’s hard to find this out with the help of the Google lords, for trustworthy reviews are sparse.

But fear not, after my first month in LA I have garnered some very useful information that I hope will help you out. First order of business: getting acting skills! So I present to you here the first chapter of the New Actor’s Guide to the LA Jungle: Acting Classes…

Four Year Programs
There are tons and tons of acting classes in Los Angeles. To begin with every community college and university offers a theater program. They can get you a Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts Degree and that is always one of the better things to have on your resume, because it shows you have some serious dedication, talent and training. But for a BFA or MFA I would recommend you search outside of Los Angeles as well.

Juilliard in New York is considered one of the best theater schools in the States, tas well as the American Academy or Dramatic Arts, NYU’s Tisch School of Arts and Rutgers in New Jersey. Obviously these schools are very selective and there are rigorous audition procedures.

Workshops, Programs and Ongoing Classes
If you discovered acting at a later age or just aren’t willing or able to do a 4 to 5 year full-time art program, LA has plenty of high quality workshops and courses to offer. The first question you should ask yourself is what technique you prefer. There is a difference between a Meisner and a Stanislavsky oriented school. Read up about the different techniques and find out what you can relate to. I personally don’t really go for just one technique, I just use whatever works, and there are schools that have that approach as well.

>Improvisation Classes
Once you find out what techniques you’re into, determine what skills you need or want to learn. LA offers anything from on-camera cold reading to improvisation to audition technique to commercial classes. If you are really completely new it might be good to start with an improvisation class, because it gets you loose and helps you get through any walls you might have. Some of the best improvisation classes in Los Angeles are:
Improv Olympics (IO West) >
– Upright Citizens Brigade >
– Groundlings >
– Second City > 

>Scene Study Classes
To get the basics of acting, I would recommend starting with scene study, in which the building of the characters and how to make a scene interesting and real are what matters. Some classes are on-camera, some off-camera. If you already have some experience acting in front of the camera or if you took camera technique classes, I wouldn’t stress the difference too much. Most award winning actors come from a theater background. There are differences between acting in theater or on camera of course, but the analysis of a scene is what’s important here.

There are a lot of really good scene study classes in Los Angeles, for more complete lists I would refer you to the forums. Here I will only list the ones that I have attended or at least audited. Some have their own technique and some are based off of the great acting teachers’ techniques.
-Beverly Hills Playhouse >
-Playhouse West >
-The Acting Corps >
-Anthony Meindl >

>Commercial Classes
Commercial classes are classes where you learn how to audition for and act in commercials. These are useful to take as a beginning actor in LA because they’re usually just one or two months long and they are a must if you want to submit to commercial agents, that is: agents that get your auditions for commercial and print ads. Theatrical agents are the ones that get you auditions for film and television (and theater) but they are much harder to get, so it’s good to start out with a commercial agent. Especially since commercials are very lucrative. And who knows, your commercial agent might refer you to a theatrical agent…

Some of the best commercial classes in Los Angeles are:
– Killian McHugh >
– Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! >
– Stuart K. Robinson >

Other Classes
Then there are thousands of varieties on these classes, on camera, off camera, extreme close-up, you name it. There are also separate workshops that focus on audition techniques or comedy or cold-reading. These are important skills, but you can usually ask your acting teacher at your scene study class to devote a lesson to it as well. Also, once you are in one of the above-mentioned classes you will quickly get to know good ones through your actor friends.

I recommend to always audit classes before paying and signing up though. Most acting schools allow auditing for free, some charge a small amount of money and some don’t allow it at all. But usually the schools that don’t allow it have interviews instead. The Beverly Playhouse, where I’m currently taking classes, is an example of a school dat does interviews instead of audits. Whatever the method, it’s just important to know if you have a ‘click’ with a school, if the teachers and students speak to you, and most importantly: the way of teaching.

So, I hope this helps any actors contemplating a move to Los Angeles with their research in acting classes. Next chapter: Finances!

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Filed under Los Angeles

13 responses to “The New Actor’s Guide to the LA Jungle: Acting Classes

  1. Oooh, tell me about it! It’s really sad how many scams are over there. There is a great and helpful community at yahoo group Hollywood Happy Hour – you can always discuss classes and stuff over there. Very helpful!

    I did classes at John Sudol Acting Studio – recommended!

    I have a blog where I’m trying to make a database of audition experiences of actors at drama schools. I’m aiming to include american ones as well – working on it already. If you know of anyone who would be interested in doing an interview for me, please feel free to spread the word. Many thanks! x

    Good luck with studying, it’s so important, isn’t it? Personally, the more I study, the more I feel like I want and need to study. Acting is one of the professions where you never stop learning and studying, which is pretty exciting!

  2. Anna

    Very useful, thank you! now i’m going through acting classes for the second time, and what attracted me is that the classes are based on producer centre which is actually making movies and is situated on the Central Cinema studio of Ukraine where the majority of castings are taking place (i will not mention how poor cinema industry is in Ukraine). We are going through everything you’ve mentioned and will have the big play, as an exam, in the end. That is all good, but…………i still can not make friend with the camera, it’s like im’m out as soon as camers is on, and all is in vain. How did you get over it?

  3. Yoeri

    Hey Shanice,

    It’s so exciting to read your blogblasts. It’s making me jumpy and exciting to go and follow in your footsteps. It’s crazy to read actually how hard the industry is over there. Plus with all the scams going on.

    Anyways i’m excited to hear about your classes with the Beverley Playhouse. Btw: the picture in the begining is that you in a fashion shoot or something of the sort. I really like the styling.

  4. Alixx

    How much does it cost to take Orientation level acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse?

  5. Don’t know about orientation, because I’m doing intermediate, but check their website or give them a call or e-mail 🙂

  6. plz!!!!!!! My contek my name wasim akram my city gujrat i am new aartis my mobail nombar 09998046898 plz my contek

  7. Jazzz

    I was planning to make the move to LA in a year. And the classes and studios seem endless. How did you like Acting Corps and what was the Bootcamp 1 like? What place would you recommend?

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