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Yesterday, I signed books at my acting studio in North Hollywood, Actors Workout Studio, during the regular Sunday Writing Workshop. It was a great morning, workshopping some fantastic scripts and getting to sign my novel to my fellow actors and friends — my emotional family.
As I left, I realized how much studying the craft of acting has improved my creative life.
I’m a writer, naturally an introvert. I live 90% of my life in a dreamland that only exists inside my head. Frankly, I resent it when the real world barges in and interrupts my perfectly good fantasy life. I never thought I would care about acting. I don’t care about performing or entertaining; I don’t like it when the spotlight is on me.
But it turns out, acting has nothing to do with these things (at least not for me nor for most of the other actors I meet). Acting is about “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” It’s about connecting with your fellow actors and mutually disappearing into an imaginary world together. It’s about empathizing with other people’s pain and joy. It’s about expressing the human condition.
No matter what kind of artist you are — writer, painter, sculptor, photographer, dancer, designer — it is your job to understand the human condition and help your audience understand it more fully, too. It is your job to empathize and express.
I don’t care what kind of an artist you are, get yourself to an acting class because those skills of empathizing and expressing will be honed and heightened on the stage. The craft of acting will teach you how to slip into the skin of someone else and then, while in that other skin, relate to other people. Those skills don’t only translate on the stage; they also apply to words on a page, paint on a canvas, chisel against marble.
And, if in the midst of all that empathizing and expressing, acting also gives you the confidence and skills to go out into the world and TALK about your art, then that’s a plus, too. Because if you can’t talk about your art — if you can’t sell it in this modern world of high-stakes media competition — then no one will know about your art. And that would be the biggest shame of it all.
One caveat: You must do your research to find the right acting school. You want to find someplace that helps you dig deep into the craft. To become a better artist through acting, you cannot attend some school that just tries to churn out Hollywood stars (reality or otherwise). No. Find a studio that pushes your creativity, encourages you to take risks, and helps you find your voice. I found that at Actors Workout Studio, a unique school in LA that focuses on craft, artistic risk-taking, and community. That’s MY creative home. Now isn’t it time you found yours?