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10 Things They Don’t Tell You in Acting School

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You’ve studied Stanislavski, Meisner, Adler, and Suzuki. You’ve learned the Circle of Fifths and mastered your second turns. But are you ready for the real world? Here are a few golden tidbits to help any recent grad transition from the acting school environment into the working world, written by actor and teacher Jasmine B.:

1. Competition is Real

(But it doesn’t have to bring you down.)

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Right around showcase time, students at acting colleges and conservatory programs start noticing a change in their classmates and maybe in themselves. The hunger for recognition that’s been staved off by four years of intense study has only ripened and sharpened over time, and intensifies the closer you get to whatever city in which your designated senior showcase takes place. Maybe this hunger doesn’t affect you; maybe it’s been there since the beginning. This hunger is the desire to “make it.”

This too often turns people against each other and makes us forget those who helped us along the way. They don’t tell you this in school, but I’m telling you now: KEEP YOUR HUNGER IN CHECK. Agents, casting directors, and other actors want to work with people who not only get the job done well, but who are joys to work with. A conniving, backstabbing, “hungry” actor is not a joy to work with. Use your hunger to be the best you that you can be. There is no need to drag others down to bring you up. It doesn’t work that way.

2. Everyone Knows Everyone, and You Never Know Who’s In Charge

(So be nice to that woman who signs you in, please.)

Here’s a story for you: I was auditioning for a musical at Ripley Grier, and a young man kept eyeing my headshot. I am a pretty private person, and living in New York gives you an edge that you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t want him in my business, but I had two options: to be nice or to be rude. Thank goodness I chose to be nice –turns out he was a director that worked frequently at that theater, and not only vouched for me in that audition, but called me in later that month to read for the leading role in his production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

3. You Need Business Skills

(And I don’t mean it the way Beyonce means it.)

You’ll likely need business skills for your day job. Word Processing, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, answering phones, making appointments, et cetera. I currently serve as an administrative assistant in a facilities office and my business skills are constantly called on. I not only use them for my day job, but for marketing myself as well. I learned how to make my own website and business cards, and can save so much money by making that kind of thing a DIY project! Acting is a craft, but it’s also a business. Have a nice camera? Take headshots for other actors! Know a lot about taxes? Do your own taxes, and help out a few others. Yoga training? Get a few clients and you’ve got a paying gig. Use those skills!

4. You are Your Own Responsibility

(A teacher’s greatest achievement is to become unnecessary.)

Guess what? Your teachers are busy teaching students who are still in school. Now is the time for you to teach you. I would suggest finding a mentor, or keeping a close relationship with someone of authority that can help you with this transition. Reaching out to alumni is an excellent idea. Speak to someone who knows what you’re going through, and who can help you deal with the difference between life in acting school and life after school. This mentor is not responsible for making your schedule, ensuring that you get to work on time, paying your bills, or any of those grown-up things that you didn’t have to worry about in college. You are your own responsibility. If you have work/an audition/a callback/rehearsal/etc. on Monday morning, chances are that you don’t want to go out drinking Sunday night.

Find a warm up and ways to keep studying your craft beyond your degree. Take the initiative to enroll in master classes or even visit the school when you need to. Most importantly, take care of yourself. You only have one body and one life; it has to last you as long as you live. If someone or something is hazardous to your health, stand up for yourself. If you don’t look after yourself, no one else will.

5. It’s Not “Cool” to Warm Up

(But it’s better than being a bad actor!)

I spent a good seven months on tour without the courage to do my warm up, and I suffered. It may have not been cool or hip, but it really wasn’t cool that I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability. So do what you need to do to be ready for a show. Period. Surround yourself with people that understand that acting is a process and each person has a different one. Find people with acting warm ups you like and use those if you need to.

6. Auditioning is Your Full-Time Job

(Booking the gig is a vacation.)

An alum of the Juilliard Drama Division likes to say, “Auditioning is my full time job. When I book the gig, that’s my vacation.” She means that auditioning is something she’s dedicated to doing most days of the year, and that she’s a professional at it. She knows how to work a room. She also means that when she books a show, that’s maybe 1 out of 100 or more auditions she’s been on. It’s a vacation because she can then do what she wants to do: work on the character, the show, and be with the actors of an ensemble. I think she has a valid point.

7. It’s OK to be Concerned With Paying Your Bills!

(Actors gotta eat!)

I know that when I am running low on funds, I am a cranky, Scrooge-like, miserable person. I also know that I carry a general air of desperation and sorrow around like a blanket, and I can only hide it under specific circumstances. These are the traits that casting directors and agents do not want to deal with. So if you are like me, make sure you have a way of paying your bills! Most acting colleges are expensive. It’s OK to have a day job. It does not take away from your credibility as an actor or your dedication to the craft. Let me repeat: HAVING A DAY JOB DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR CREDIBILITY AS AN ACTOR OR YOUR DEDICATION TO THE CRAFT. Pay those bills, eat healthily, and have “me time.” You’re a human being. We need that.

8. The People Who Have Made It Have Been in the Game Longer Than You Think

(Bryan Cranston. Case dismissed.)

If you think Breaking Bad was Bryan Cranston’s be-all end-all, take a look at his IMDb resume. That thing is extensive. He’s been in everything from Seinfeld to Power Rangers to voice-overs for cartoons. The man has paid his dues, and it has made him the actor he is today. Even young actors like Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks, two Juilliard alum who currently star in the Netflix smash hit series Orange is the New Black paid their dues. Very few people “make it” straight out of the gate, and those who do should thank whomever or whatever they need to thank.

9. Almost Everyone Can Drive a Car

(So take it off your resume.)

No, they won’t hire you to drive one of the random cars toward the back in the next The Fast and The Furious. They will probably hire a stuntman, whose profession is to drive fast cars at dangerous speeds.

While you’re taking that off, also please remove anything similarly basic. That includes cartwheels, some ballet, beginning French, making coffee, or just for kicks, high kicks. They know, or they will know when they ask you to do it in the call back. And if they ask you to make coffee in the callback, either you’re doing the opening scene from A Raisin in the Sun or you just got hired to be the intern. Either way, enjoy!

10. It’s OK if You Don’t Stick With What You Wanted to Do When You Graduated

(And it’s OK if you do.)

You are your own person. You are your own artist. You are unique, and you are enough.

If you vowed to never do television in the hopes of reviving The Great White Way in the name of straight theater, but your path has led you to the likes of ABC, CBS, NBC, HBO, or anything related to the silver or small screen – great! You’re an actor. Do your thing.

If you vowed to be the next Anne Bogart, but somehow found yourself in the trenches of the Wall Street scene – wonderful! Life is a crazy, beautiful path that takes us where we didn’t expect to be. Embrace the change, and make that Wall Street money!

Don’t let anyone judge your choices – you are the master and commander of your ship. Sail on!

Jasmine B.Jasmine B. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting in New York City. She’s studied acting from a young age, graduating from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and Wright State University’s Professional Actor Training Program. She currently serves as an educational outreach fellow for the Juilliard School.  Learn more about Jasmine here!

 

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Should I Get an MFA? | Pros & Cons for Attending the Best MFA Programs

5667593412_670d0e4e00_bThe decision to go back to school, especially for actors, is a tough one. Read on as graduate student Jasmine B. gives you the inside scoop in a candid detailing of the pros and cons…

 

After undergrad, I hit an unexpected wall. After nearly a year of working a low-wage, part time job, I secured a seven month touring gig and thought I was finally going to get to use all of those hard earned skills of my undergraduate training, I was going straight to the top!

Nope.

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During the tour, I struggled. I couldn’t get myself into a warm-up routine that adequately prepared me for each show, and I felt absent from most of the performances. I needed a better foundation and to learn how to harness my few moments of clarity, precision, and inner life into more than just moments.

The decision to pursue acting in one of the best MFA programs stems differently for everyone, but just in case you’re thinking about it – here are some of the pros and cons of going back to school as an actor, from my point of view. I needed to be a better actor. I needed to go back to school.

The Clock is Ticking…

For the next 2-4 years, you’re out of commission save summer and winter breaks. You’ll likely sign a contract with your school that prohibits you from booking outside work, and that means exposure to the opportunities that may or may not come with that work.

…Or So You Think.

Two to four years is really not a lot of time. When I graduate my school’s name and my skill set will open doors that I could never open myself, or at best, would probably take me four years to try to open. My resume isn’t worse off because of time taken to go back to school – it’s better.

You Already Have a Life…

When I entered my first year of graduate school, I had a whole set of obligations that didn’t involve school. I in no way wanted to give any of that up.

But It Could Be So Much Richer.

However, I had to in order to improve. Improve what? Improve my overall quality of life, including the way I valued my work, my life, and those around me. I’m glad I made some small sacrifices for the improved life I have now, and the life I will have in the future.

No One Wants to Relearn Something They Already Paid For…

My first semester at Juilliard, I went through a myriad of responses to the training. At first, my inflated, I-already-have-a-four-year-degree-in-this ego led me to these thoughts:

“I know that already!”
“Why are we repeating this thing I learned in high school?”
“I’m gonna punch myself in the face, this is obvious.”

Soon humility kicked in:
“Oh, I never knew that.”
“I forgot about that.”
“This is why they call it a craft.”

An actor never stops learning. Anyone who wants to master their craft must return to the basics every once in a while. Just as a dancer returns to the barre, or soldiers to their basic training and PT, we must return to the training.

Speaking of Paid For… I Don’t Need Any More Debt!

Okay. This one’s for real. I refuse to lie to you: this battle is one you have to make sure you’re ready to take on. It’s completely okay if you cannot or choose not to. Debt is not a thing to consider lightly.

Most likely, if you’re an independent sans support, you will be hit with some serious debt. If you’ve saved, have a wealthy benefactor, generous family members, or a loving spouse, thank your stars. Most graduates of the best MFA programs can count on up to a decade of repayment, of up to and beyond $100,000. No, I’m not kidding.

But Scholarships and Grants are More Plentiful than You Think

I’ve heard that Yale is heaven-sent in this regard, and Juilliard’s financial aid department gives everything they’ve got in order to make sure you can attend. I was an independent student with not a penny to my name and they’re making it happen. Grants are great allies in the fight for financial aid, as well as private scholarships, contests, and work-study programs.

Here are Some More PROS for the MFA Journey…

  • The Environment

You have the opportunity to do what every artist dreams of: work on your craft. That’s it. You won’t have to wait tables, or work a dead-end job that keeps you from your true calling. You get to wake up and get to work on your craft. Not only do you get to do that, but you get to work on it with like-minded individuals; people with similar dedication, spirit, and work ethic who know how to help, motivate, and inspire you to do your best work. Talk about an artist’s dream!

  • Connections, Connections, Connections!

What I wouldn’t give five years ago to know some of the people I know now on a first-name basis! In addition to people of current influence, my classmates, drama family, and drama alumni network is a group of people to be reckoned with.

  • Educational Outreach

Want to be a teacher of the arts? This is a must-have.

  • Showcase

Agents. Managers. Casting higher-ups. Directors.
All of the best MFA programs put on a Showcase – and if a reputable graduate school builds it, they will come.

With All of This Said…

Know that an MFA program is not for everyone. There are studio programs that allow for more time to yourself and less money out of your pocket. There are ways to make working a 9-5 and studying acting work! There are plenty of ways to work as an actor, and not one way is better than the other. Choose what feels right and makes the most sense for you. Good luck, and happy acting!

Jasmine B.Jasmine B. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting in New York City. She’s studied acting from a young age, graduating from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and Wright State University’s Professional Actor Training Program. She currently serves as an educational outreach fellow for the Juilliard School.  Learn more about Jasmine here!

 

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How to Get Into the Top Acting Schools

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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.

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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!

LizTLiz 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!

 

 

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My Juilliard Entrance Essay | Sample Essay and Tips

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Writing your college admissions essay can feel intimidating. How do you relay your life story and impress the admissions board in so few words? Check out the sample essay excerpts below, written by New York teacher Jasmine B., and her tips for writing your own winning essay:

Writing a college entrance essay? Here are a few helpful hints, along with examples from my very own entrance essay for The Juilliard School. I applied for, and am currently a part of, the Drama Division.

LET THEM IN

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I thought about titling this part “Introduce Yourself,” but ideally, what you want is to do better than give a simple self-introduction. Give the readers a peek into who you are, and don’t be afraid to be honest. Assume your reader is incredibly intelligent, amicable, and someone you want to know. If you don’t know who will read your essay, imagine writing to someone you care deeply about and whom you admire. I wrote my college entrance essay after a particularly tumultuous time in my life, and rather than hide that, I decided to be honest. I realized that my story was one of strength and resilience, and that there was (and is!) great value in the power to overcome.

Four months ago, I was kicked out of my childhood home. It occurred two months prior to my college graduation and I was suddenly left homeless; without a family, without a sense of stability, of hope, or promise. While my colleagues and dear friends planned cross country trips, made plans to travel the world, and scheduled flights to start their new and promising lives, I was trying to deal with loss.

WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL?

For the past three months, I have been fighting harder than I ever thought I would. I’ve somehow made a way to still attend auditions in New York, Virginia, and Ohio while working forty hours a week at a coffee shop, saving every penny that I earn for the dream that I just won’t give up on. It is a dream that I cannot give up on; its every bit a part of me as the physical form that I inhabit. For as long as I can remember, every time that I’ve felt lost, alone, or cast away, I’ve found my purpose in the theater.

Little did I know that in confessing my hardships, I was painting the picture of someone who could endure the long days and nights of school; exactly the kind of person that any rigorous program is looking for. Instead of listing your accolades and accomplishments, why not tell a story that allows your character to shine through?

WHY WHY WHY

For every job opportunity, audition, or teaching artist position I’ve gotten, I have had to answer one question: WHY?
“Why do you want this job?”
“Why do you think Shakespeare is important?”
“Why should middle school students learn hip hop dance?”

In order to answer this WHY most effectively, I felt the need to be as honest as possible.

Acting makes me happy.

BE YOURSELF!!

(That seems to be a running theme in this article, yes?)

If you are going to spend the next four, five, or even six years of your life with a group of people, don’t you want them to know who you really are? It is a lot harder to find the perfect fit for your college experience if your admissions material does not truly reflect its maker. Also know that the admissions process is a two-way street – not only do your adjudicators need to know you, but you have the power to evaluate them. It’s like a date: How can you know if you and your school are compatible if you act like someone else when you meet? So when you tell them why you want to be a member of their college community, tell them the truth!

Acting gives me a sense of a purpose; a way to express different sides of myself, discover myself…to remember myself. I get to take unimaginable risks – to fight with swords, to be honest about anything and everything, to fight the good fight when it would be so much easier to lie down and quit. I get courage from my work. Delving into an imaginary circumstance somehow always helps me conquer fear. It not only helps me, it helps the other people involved – the audience, the other cast members, the director, the writer, the producer – everyone is affected by one piece, by one moment in time that I get to be a part of it. What else can make this kind of impact? Theatre is the only thing of progress that has stood the test of time. For me, there is no other option. I cannot imagine a life without the pursuit of this dream…

INCLUDE REFERENCES

Yes, of course you have to include professional references, such as a teacher, coach, or mentor, but in this case I mean LITERATURE. A well-read student is a valuable student. Don’t be afraid to include passages that help you tell your story in a unique way. Before writing my essay for Juilliard, I had been inspired by Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”. Here is how I incorporated “The Alchemist” into my personal statement:

In Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist, a wise character says to a young Shepard: “People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being…Maybe that’s why they give up He describes the reason for being as a ‘personal legend,’ and that, “When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the I’ve come to understand that this is my personal legend. I am closest to the Soul of the World when I am actively contributing to creation, when I use the talents given to me to affect the lives of others and to bring about a change in them similar to that my personal legend has brought to me. I have grown to understand that they make me who I am: the difficulties are what push me to keep trying; to move forward.

FINALLY, HERE ARE SOME GOLDEN RULES:

  • Be concise. ‘Nuff said.
  • Check your grammar and spelling – don’t just spell-check. Have a trusted friend/parent/teacher/mentor read over your statement and check for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Have fun! Applying for college is stressful, yes, but this is one of the opportunities you have to truly have fun, be yourself, and shine in your own way. Use it and enjoy it – it’s not everyday you have a platform to speak on things you truly care about; this is a gift!

Good Luck!!

 

Jasmine B.Jasmine B. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting in New York City. She’s studied acting from a young age, graduating from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and Wright State University’s Professional Actor Training Program. She currently serves as an educational outreach fellow for the Juilliard School.  Learn more about Jasmine here!

 

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The 6 Best Acting Colleges for Aspiring Thespians

Best Acting Colleges Do you have a passion for acting? If you’re serious about turning your hobby into a career path, higher education is the perfect time to take your studies to the next level. Plenty of undergraduate acting colleges offer Bachelor’s degrees in acting or theater, and other creative subjects. Whether they’re located in the heart of Manhattan’s theater mecca or nestled away on an Ivy League campus in New England, each of these undergraduate universities can help you hone your skills and prepare you for a life of acting.

The Juilliard School

Location: New York, NY

Successful alumni: Jessica Chastain, Kelsey Grammer, Laura Linney, Kevin Spacey, Viola Davis, Robin Williams

The Juilliard Drama Division currently offers more full-ride scholarships than ever before, having recently added $10 million in grant funding. Don’t let its legendary name intimidate you; the conservatory-style curriculum encourages creativity and free thinking. However, it’s one of the most exclusive acting colleges in the world, accepting only 20 new students each year, a fraction of the thousands who audition.

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Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Successful alumni: Warren Beatty, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, David Schwimmer, Zach Braff, Ann-Margret

Northwestern University offers graduate-level acting work, too, but the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences includes a drama major in one of academia’s top-ranked liberal arts programs.  Illinois might seem an unlikely place to become an acting great, but you’ll be close enough to Chicago to take advantage of its rich theater scene. Proximity to The Second City improv troupe has paid off for several alumni who honed their comedy skills here. Stephen Colbert, for example, majored in theater here, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus hadn’t even graduated yet when she received (and accepted) her career-making offer to join the cast of Saturday Night Live.

New York University

Location: New York, NY

Successful alumni: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael C. Hall, Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Piven

The Department of Drama at Tisch School of the Arts offers a conservatory-style education that takes full advantage of its very theatrical location: the New York University (NYU) campus nestled right on Broadway itself in downtown Manhattan. The unique audition process and specialized curricula distinguish Tisch from other acting programs in the Big Apple. Prospective students audition not only for a spot in the prestigious department, but also to qualify for one of eight different acting disciplines.

Boston University

Location: Boston, MA

Successful alumni: Julianne Moore, Geena Davis, Marisa Tomei, Jason Alexander, Ginnifer Goodwin, Michael Chiklis, Rosie O’Donnell, Emily Deschanel

The School of Theatre is the most well-known of three performing arts degree programs at Boston University College of Fine Arts. It incorporates a unique type of conservatory training that’s far less strict than other acting colleges. High school students can get a head-start on their higher education at the Boston University Summer Theatre Institute, which trained notable future thespians such as Winona Ryder and Nicolas Cage. The school stresses hands-on learning, using the Boston University Theatre as a training and performance venue.

Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Successful alumni: Holly Hunter, Ted Danson, Zachary Quinto, Patrick Wilson, Rob Marshall

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama holds a special place among the world’s best acting colleges; CMU was the first institution in the United States to incorporate a conservatory training program into its college diploma curriculum. The intensive, highly exclusive school in Pittsburgh teaches students how to understand and embody their characters through deep analysis of scripts, plays, film, and TV. And the formula works – the university’s alumni have gone on to win six Oscars and almost a hundred Emmys combined.

Yale University

Location: New Haven, CT (acting auditions also held in Chicago and San Francisco)

Successful alumni: Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Clarkson, Frances McDormand, Angela Bassett, Paul Giamatti, Paul Newman

Yale School of Drama is one of the most prestigious acting colleges in the country for post-graduate work, offering a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) and unparalleled production resources. Undergraduate students at this Ivy League heavyweight can also take graduate-level acting coursework for credit toward their Theater Studies major. A senior thesis project sets Yale’s undergraduate theater program apart from the other acting schools.

 

With so many worthwhile choices, as well as many acting scholarship opportunities, it may seem daunting to make such an important decision. Keep your options open, and apply to as many schools as practically possible. Learn as much as you can from the invaluable experience of auditioning for spots in conservatory programs and exclusive acting colleges, and most of all – enjoy the experience!

 

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How to Find Scholarships for the Best Acting Schools

How To Receive A Scholarship For Acting SchoolsBecoming an actor takes hard work, dedication, passion, and drive. For high school students thinking seriously about a career in acting, now is the time to prepare for the training you will need to help you succeed. After all, high school is a time when you have opportunities that may be harder to find or simply will not exist later on.

Most of the actors you see on television, film, and even the stage have gone through years of education and training, and getting into one of the best acting schools can tip the odds of success in your favor. It takes talent and passion to get into a good acting school – so it’s time to get to work!

What are Some of the Best Acting Schools?

The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent list of the best acting schools around the world. The criteria for the list include programs with top-notch training and an impressive list of alumni. Juilliard is one of the schools on the list, with famous alumni including Robin Williams, Kevin Kline, Kevin Spacy, and Viola Davis – just to name a few!

Of course, the United States is not the only place to find excellent acting schools. The UK is also world-renowned for being home to some of the best acting schools, such as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). These institutions boast alumni such as Rhys Ifans, Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, and John Lithgow.

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How Do You Get Accepted?

Most actor training programs have a limited number of spots, so admissions can be extremely competitive.  The best acting schools want to see talent. In fact, schools like the LAMDA and Oxford do not have academic requirements for their courses – entrance to their programs is based solely on auditions. These schools also want to see commitment. Recruiters want to know that the students they are admitting are going to take their training seriously.

To that end, high school is an excellent time to collect experience and develop the skills for which schools are looking. The best way to do this is to get involved with school plays and local theater.  Consider going to drama camps, or working one-on-one with an acting coach. Anything you can do to gain experience and improve your craft will be valuable to you.

How Will You Pay for Your Education?

The best acting schools are rarely inexpensive.  But luckily, most offer financial aid and scholarships. Finding scholarships may take some research on your part, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Irene Ryan Scholarship

The Irene Ryan Scholarship is awarded to outstanding performers at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held both nationally and regionally. There are a host of scholarships associated with the Irene Ryan Scholarship also awarded at the KCACTF, so this is definitely a festival worth attending. For more information, visit the Irene Ryan Scholarship website.

  • Donna Reed Performing Arts Scholarship

The Donna Reed Scholarship was created for students who wish to pursue a career in acting. Scholarships are awarded to notable performers through a series of regional and national festivals. For more information visit the Donna Reed Scholarship website.

  • CBC Spouses Heineken USA Performing Arts Scholarship

Applicants must be pursuing full-time study in the performing arts, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, exhibit leadership skills, and show evidence of public service. For a full list of required application materials, visit their website.

  • Princess Grace Awards Program

Applicants for grants through the Princess Grace Foundation must be nominated through a non-profit organization by school department chair or dean, or by a company artistic director. For more information, visit the Princess Grace Foundation’s website.

You can also check out the following databases for more resources:

How to Increase Your Chances

Don’t think that because many arts scholarship and training programs base acceptance heavily on talent that you can allow your grades to slip! In order to round out your education and make you more appealing to scholarship committees, make sure to do the following while in high school:

  • Keep up your GPA.  Many performing arts scholarships may be based on artistic talent, but there are plenty of other types of scholarships that take your academic record into consideration.
  • Participate in productions.  Every production and performance is an opportunity to learn and expand — whether it’s a school play, community theater, or even semi-professional productions.
  • Study acting. You’ll need professional guidance and feedback to really develop your craft. Consider taking private acting lessons and attending theater camps in the summer.

Study hard, work hard, and maintain a positive attitude as you apply for scholarships and prepare for your college education. Good luck!

 

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