should you take acting classes? (the truth)

by Cole

I’ve been literally falling in love with acting over the course of the past 6 months. And I think I’m decent at it.

But I didn’t always want to be an actor. I didn’t always want to talk to people. at all. I was a shy kid and liked my group of friends and my imagination. I would read and write. Alot.

At 15, football taught me how to be a leader and come out of my shell. At 17, I took that energy and started rapping. That taught me not to give one flying f*ck what people think about you when it comes to dream chasing.

6 years later, rapping was still everything. I’d done a lot. Performing in front of thousands and opening for legends, but I think at this point — I realized that I had more to say and had more art inside of me. Rap was only a part of it for me.

That’s when the idea of Youtube really started to take hold, and over the last 6 years, I’ve been trying to find a way to get to a place where I could see if acting was supposed to be a part of my journey. In South Carolina, I’d done music videos. I was an extra in The First Man. Yes, I was in the same room as Ryan Gosling. I played in some short films… but none of it, really tested me or made me want to be an actor more. So I was slow in chasing it.

When I came to LA in 2020, before the pandemic, one of the first things I wanted to do was join an acting class. I wanted to see if this was for me. At this point, I was feeling like I had some potential. Especially because I’d grown to love Youtube so much. Not that they are the same…at all, but I felt like they were similar (ish). Upon my research, I found Lesly Kahn. I’m not sure why, but she called to me. I signed up for an intro class.

That was before the pandemic hit, so just as I was about to start this journey, the world shut down. 

Fast forward almost 2 years, and somewhat out of this world, I was reached out to by their team in literally the first few days of coming back to LA in 2021. They reminded me that I had paid for this class, and it was amazing because I wouldn’t have been able to repay for it when I first got here. I took that as a sign and did it.

All of a sudden, I felt like I was doing the LA acting thing. Ya know. I’m on a zoom call with all of these cool people. Lesly was awesome. The teachers were creative and funny. But I felt super stiff. I felt one-dimensional in our little scene rehearsals. Like I only knew how to do “cool” acting. Or pretty much the persona of me as a hip-hop artist. Which is kind of hilarious and also makes sense.

After this intro, I felt the confidence to start doing auditions WITHOUT EVEN TAKING A REAL CLASS. Let’s just say the auditions were… embarrassing. Until I got one gig. Where the shithead didn’t even pay us what he had promised. 

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

I quickly felt demotivated, and ultimately like it just wasn’t the right time. I took a step back, I decided that I would attempt acting again when I felt more stable and not dependent on it to make money. It felt like money watered down what it could be if that makes sense.

6 months later, I was reached out to by an independent film. The pay was low, but the vibe from the directors and team was AMAZING. They reached out to me when I was in the lowest point of my year 1 LA journey. They were the energy I needed. It re-ignited my hope in striving towards acting classes.

In July, I finally felt like I could make the financial leap and join my first round of classes. I’m not 100% sure if I can describe it, but starting this journey really gave me some peace. I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned about the industry. Acting Techniques. Acting History. Script Analysis. How to audition. How to prepare for a scene. I heard some of the coolest stories from some amazing teachers and fellow students. And I mean my peers! Rehearsing together sometimes daily really forces you to get to know someone, and I feel like I’ve been able to build some really genuine relationships with talented creatives right where I live.

I feel like I’ve waited for these moments for like a decade. Like I’m doing it for real. The right way.

I think most of all through the vulnerability of my class, I learned the most about myself. Through a decade of chasing dreams and building businesses, I feel like I let a side of me die. The acting side. The silly side. The side that takes real emotional chances. There is something so freeing about taking on a script and/or character and having to have no real boundaries in making choices. You don’t have to be stiff or super together or cool. You just bring your own perspective to the script and truly listen & connect with your fellow actor. Your fellow human.

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

It’s a unique human connection that I think we sometimes miss out on as we are hardened by life. I saw fellow actors close to tears… I myself felt pushed to tears. I felt uncomfortable. All the things of pushing yourself to reach new heights. New levels of learning. And I think I just learned that I really love it and that I’m capable of being good at it. Even my girlfriend, Ngoc-Linh, told me she noticed new dimensions to my voice and acting styles just by listening in to our zoom sessions.

In the times I wanted to give up, I didn’t. And I had to constantly remind myself that I do have what it takes. I think that’s the thing with any of this creative stuff … we just have to keep going. Doing it because we love it. Not because we want success, but because the act itself brings us happiness and purpose. Once we swallow, that we may never “make it” in the eyes of the world. I think magical things happen.

Anyways, I recommend any and all creatives/entrepreneurs to take an acting class. I think it will open you up to connecting … better. And in our line of work, that is literally everything. You may surprise yourself.

In LA, I recommend Lesly Kahn, but I’m sure there are lots of options that may fit you. You don’t have to be in LA either. Zoom happens everywhere.

I felt like it was important to talk about this because not only is it important to me (and potentially you), but also my creative ventures will definitely head in this direction so stay tuned. Much more to come!!

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