Dreaming of attending one of the top acting schools in the US? Check out these tips from online teacher Liz T. to get a head start!
If you are an actor serious about having a career as a performer on the stage or screen, or want to pursue acting from the writing and directing side, it is important that you take the time study your craft and further your education at one of the top acting schools or universities.
Getting into an acting conservatory is no easy task; programs are very competitive and expensive, and also require a very demanding and intense course load. If you have done your research already, and know that this is the profession and education you want to pursue, I applaud you! There is no guarantee for getting into college these days, but having a plan will definitely increase your odds at pursuing your dream at a top acting school.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve heard the saying, and it’s true. Hopefully you are doing your research, and learning that acting is not something you can just pick up overnight. You need to be developing your performance skills and knowledge over the course of several years to be ready in this profession, by performing in local plays, taking lessons, going to see live theatre, watching films, and reading books. If you have not started this, now is the time to indulge yourself in the industry and learn as much as you can. Absorb everything while you are young!
2. Use Your Summers Wisely
Whether you are looking to go to graduate school, or will be graduating high school soon, or are even younger, it is very important that you do not waste your summers, but use them to your advantage to make acting connections and improve your skills! The year is so busy with school and working, so the summer is a great time to go to an acting camp, or audition for a summer stock show and build up those acting credits on your resume! Don’t just sit at home all summer, go out and be creative! Some of the best moments of my life growing up were performing in summer stock theater productions in Maine, and going to French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in Upstate NY. I worked extremely hard these summers, and could have been at the beach all summer long, but these experiences truly shaped me as a young actor wanting to gain experience and make lasting connections in the acting community. They also helped me get into one of the world’s best music colleges.
3. Make Your List of Top Acting Schools
By your sophomore year in high school, you should already be researching and targeting your dream schools or programs. Make a list, and see what the requirements are for getting into each program. Many will require an audition in person, or several taped auditions before granting a live audition. These auditions are an intense process, and you want to be as prepared as you can. Again, this is not an audition you can just wing overnight; it takes time to work and prepare for these.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, I encourage you to actually start visiting these programs. See if you feel comfortable on campus and in the classroom. Many acting schools are in the heart of downtown cities, and sometimes this intimidates students. Find a school that you can picture yourself at for four years!
Next, research current alumni, students, and faculty members. Perhaps you can sit in on an acting class and observe, or take a private lesson and tour with an alum of the school to get their perspective. Also, many schools such as Juilliard and the Boston Conservatory have summer intensives just for high school students to study at the college; here you can network with the faculty, develop your craft, and prepare for a career in the arts. These programs are often expensive, but there are scholarships available.
If you work hard practicing, researching, performing, and writing, you will be ready for your acting school audition. Doing this “homework” years ahead of time will help you get prepared, and it is never too early to start! And if you’re older or switching professions, please do not get discouraged – start now, and if you give the time and devotion to your acting career, you will be well on your way to becoming a professional actor!
Liz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!
Photo by US Consulate Vladivostok