Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ask A Stage Goddess - What acting classes should I be taking?

 This is Day 2 out of 31 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 

Actors take scene study classes to strengthen their technique. Singers take voice lessons to keep their instrument sharp. What about taking a class just for the fun of it or to learn something that has nothing to do with your area of expertise?
Take your mind off booking the next job and just live a little. Enjoy nature with a photography class, unlock hidden talents with an art class or see the world with a travel club. The more life you live outside of entertainment, the more you will have to contribute to this fascinating industry.
Sometimes the new ability you gain from a class will show up in your acting career at a later time. It gives you something new to add to your resume under “skills”, it may help land you a job or point you in a new direction.

I took a stand up comedy class in 1990 because it was the “thing” at the time. The jokes heard at comedy clubs across the country were becoming sitcom scripts for network pilots.  I tried to take the comedy stage on my own but after sitting in the back of The Comedy Store a few times, I just didn’t have the nerve to get up there. So I took a class that culminated in every student performing 5 minutes of comedy at a well known Los Angeles comedy club. Since taking that class, I’ve developed my material, found my niche, taught my own stand-up comedy classes and had the students perform in a comedy showcase that I produced for five years and most recently produced a film based on that very showcase.

At one point in my career, I believed what others told me about having a “Plan B in case this acting business” didn’t work out. Nothing else brought me as much joy but I started noticing the sign language interpreters on stage with me during my hosting gigs at festivals. It looked like fun so I took a beginning American Sign Language course at a local community college. I loved knowing another language and became fascinated with Deaf culture. I took all the ASL classes they offered and the next thing I knew I had an A.S. degree in sign language interpreting. I tried to interpret professionally, I tried substitute teaching for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing but there was no passion there for me. My dream would be to combine it with my acting career but didn’t know how to make that happen so I just left it alone. I really just wanted to continue to be able communicate with people of a different culture.  Along the way, I made many Deaf friends, one of whom is an actress. When she performed her solo show in sign language, she asked me to voice it for her. I was also cast opposite Marlee Maltin in Sweet Nothing In My Ear and most recently played the role of Principal Rose in the ABC Family show, Switched At Birth because of my signing ability.

So you never know where taking a class will lead you. It’s a win/win situation for business or for feeding your soul.

What is something you  always wanted to learn but have been putting it off?


  1. I love this. I think that learning is never wasted. It will always turn out to be a benefit. You may not know where or when you will use it.... BUT you will always find a benefit for it. Even if that is just the experience of using your mind in a new way. (Elisabeth from UBC)

    1. So true Elisabeth and thanks for clarifying the rules on UBC. I'm new to all of this!

  2. I am visiting from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am a firm believer in taking classes, seminars and other such things strictly because a person enjoys them. I am impressed reading about your various endeavors. Best wishes for any future activites you undertake.

  3. Thank you Patti. I am convinced that I'm a life long learner. So many things interest me and I always have the desire to know more!