Every month, we ask members of the collective to contribute to the BTFC Artist Series by providing original content and sharing their personal journeys with our readers. From missteps to triumphs, and everything else in between, we follow the stories of resident Black Artists working to make a name for themselves in the television and film industry.
It wasn’t until my second year of living in NYC, and an Off-Broadway showcase later that I was able to finally start taking acting classes. I auditioned for a gig thinking I could learn acting.
as I went along; I booked and did the show but realized how ill-prepared I was. I landed a stable job, two at that, and was able to afford training which I’m still currently in now. I went through a few studios trying to find the right fit, and when I look back on those three years I question whether it was worth it.
So was it?
Some yes and others no.
I’ll be the first to admit I got caught up in ‘technique’ and ‘prestigious names’, and I spent a lot of money trying to find a studio that would help me build a foundation. One studio, which will remain nameless, was so horribly constructed that I demanded a refund and never returned. Beware that some of these teachers don’t know anything about acting and they charge you high prices because really you’re just paying for the reputation of the studio.
Let’s be clear, it is easy to get gypped out of money when you don’t know much, and just because it’s a well known studio does not mean they aren’t capable of cheating you. If you’re going to spend loads of money on training make sure it’s worth it!
So how do you find the right acting class for you?
Audit and research.
Most studios give you the chance to sit in their class and observe so take advantage of that benefit. You may pay a fee but it beats having to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for workshops and classes that end up getting you nowhere. Don’t get caught up in the name or the cachet, focus on whether the class is suitable for your creative need. Also, look at the size of the class. If there are 30+ students don’t be so quick to jump on it. Training requires individual attention and it’s very difficult to give a student that spotlight he or she needs with that many people, especially in a scene study class.
I’ve been in those classes before and I used to feel frustrated when I was rushed to perform a scene or wasn’t able to perform at all because so many students had taken a long time before me or there was a list after. There are people who will try to persuade you that that book, class, teacher or studio is what will take you to the next level. Remember that those things cost and some of these classes are simply a waste of time. I used to take several classes and private coaching simultaneously and I know that’s what they do at universities. However, if you’re like me that chose to attend a studio try starting off with one class to make sure you’re in the right place.
This isn’t to deter from you training because this is the first and most important step in your career, but don’t fall in the trap of throwing away money to anyone that claims to be an acting teacher. It isn’t a race so pace yourself. Invest in yourself, but do it wisely.
The Black TV & Film Collective a 501c3 organization that operates as a NYC film collective. In our work, we support all artists of color including but not limited to black filmmakers. We are a collaborative platform that represents diversity in film and supports inclusion in Hollywood and TV. Our professional network of New York City filmmakers gives knowledge to those who want to learn how to produce film, how to make a web series, how to budget film projects and more. We host NYC film workshops that welcome a variety of experience levels from first time filmmakers who are either students in film school or to notables within the television and film industry. See how you can make a difference in the world of cinema by becoming a member of our NYC film collective.
Born and raised in Chicago, IL Crystal Joy has dedicated her time to learning her craft in both acting and writing. She received her BA in Journalism from Loyola University Chicago and is a former student of Stella Adler Studios and Lucid Body. She currently studies with Mel Williams from Theater Of A New Generation. In 2015 Crystal made her debut in an Off-Broadway play, “The Cherry Orchard,” and as a new face on the scene she has been extremely busy with landing roles in short feature films and plays as well as writing for herself and others.