Keeping it Reel

8 Skills You’ll Learn While Studying Acting

Making the decision to go into acting can be hard. It isn’t easy to constantly hear that you are fighting an uphill battle or that other fields are safer options. But what people don’t often seem to realize is that when you pursue acting, you learn a lot more than just how to act.

You learn things that are critical to almost every field out there. You gain versatile and transferable skills that you can apply to all kinds of things. So is going into acting really all that scary or is that just a misconception people have come to believe?

Decide for yourself. Below are eight skills that you’ll have the opportunity to learn while studying acting.


Communication

Actors are, if nothing else communicators. No, not all of them are extroverted social butterflies, but when your job is to get on stage or in front of a camera and entertain people, you get pretty good at learning to communicate effectively. Actors know how and when to say things because they have played about a thousand different characters and been in a thousand different scenes. Jumping into the rich business man or the happy-go-lucky hippy is all too easy. They are chameleons, and since half of communication is learning how to speak another person’s language, they have it down to a science.

Public speaking

Acting is public speaking. Period. Sure an actor uses someone else’s words, and sure they memorize them, but who is to say they couldn’t do the same with a speech (or other work) of their own? An actor is comfortable being the center of attention and comfortable being in front of a crowd because they have to perform in front of a cast, crew, and sometimes evenaudience members constantly. Speaking in front of a room full of people is nothing compared to some of the things that actors must do while on camera or stage.

Memorization

Actors know how to memorize. Every time they perform they have to know a line so well that it will come out at the proper time and in the proper way. Sometimes getting the perfect take requires that a shot continues regardless of what happens. After memorizing line after line and monologue after monologue, an actor’s memory is as sharp as can be.

Interview Prep

An actor goes through audition after audition and faces disappointment regularly. After so many auditions, how could an actor not be ready for a simple interview? Getting up in front of a director and reading lines cold takes a lot more nerve than spitting out the rehearsed answer to a typical interview question. You never know what is going to be asked of you when you walk into an audition room, getting through a simple interview is comparatively effortless.

Salesmanship

When your one job is to convince an audience that you are the person you are pretending to be, the selling of a good or product seems relatively trivial. Actors practice salesmanship constantly. Every rehearsal, every audition, and every show. They are salesmen (and saleswomen) to the bone. They sell themselves as a character with every line they say. Selling a product or idea is simple after this kind of training.

Teamwork

As an actor, you never know who is going to be cast as your love interest or as your best friend. Sometimes it is someone you like, sometimes it is someone you don’t know, and sometimes it is someone who you absolutely despise…but the audience can’t know that. You have to work day-in and day-out in incredibly emotional and intimate situations with strangers. This is not an easy thing to do.

An actor can work in a team better than most because they have probably been forced to work in close, CLOSE, proximity with all different kinds of people before. It takes a lot to put on a show or create a film. Actors must learn to work well with everyone from the stage hand who is just filling in for a night, to the director.

Improv

The show must go on. On stage and on camera, actors need to be able to keep a scene going even if things don’t go as planned. They have to be able to trust their instincts and go with the flow. This is an incredibly valuable skill to have, as most jobs out there will, at some point or another, require you to think on your feet and make decisions in the heat of the moment.

Innovation

As an actor, you are often told to take things too far. A common director phrase is “give me more until I say you’re giving too much.” This allows you to explore your full range of emotion in a scene and choose the proper actions and reactions based on a character’s motives. This exploration often leads to some pretty weird stuff, but it can also lead to the best interpretation possible. We can see this from the many famous scenes that have been entirely improvised over the years.The point? Actors are incredible at taking an existing idea or thought and turning it on its head. They are forced to think about things differently and approach them from all angles. Applied to the world outside of acting this leads to inventiveness and innovation.


Studying acting isn’t some leap of faith. It isn’t either “make it” or wind up on the streets. These skills are sought after by employers in all kinds of different fields and they can help you land a job no matter what you decide you want to do. So, are you ready to start your acting education?

 

This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

Columbia College Hollywood is excited to announce TWO new scholarships! Receive awards of up to $5,000 for the 2021 Summer Scholarship for Storytellers and up to $18,950 for the CCH Career Accelerator Scholarship.

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