You Want to Be a Serious Professional Actor?

byCharlie Sandlan

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Charlie Sandlan is the executive director and Head of Acting At Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York City. In this video, Charlie discusses the dream of becoming a serious actor and the path that an aspiring actor can follow to become working professional actor.

charlie sandlan in meisner acting class at maggie flanigan studio

Meisner Actor Training New York NY – Charlie Sandlan – Call (917) 789-1599

A Master Teacher Has Some Thoughts About Becoming a Professional Actor

You have probably been thinking about this since childhood. Those times alone in your room daydreaming, living out some fantasy your imagination has conjured up. I’m sure it stayed with you all through high school and into and after college. This nagging voice that keeps whispering to you…”I love acting, it’s what I want to do with my life, what’s stopping me?” One of the most significant factors in keeping the dream from becoming a life pursuit rest in not knowing how to begin, or what is even required to be taken seriously as a professional actor. I have been immersed in the art of acting for over 30 years, and as someone who has dedicated his life to training professional actors, I know where to start, find somewhere to learn the craft.

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"The actors that are taken seriously in this business have two predominant accomplishments. They have well-respected professional actor training and a deep understanding of the business."

Charlie SandlanExecutive Director, Head of Acting

The actors that are taken seriously in this business, by managers, agents, casting directors, and fellow artists, have two predominant accomplishments. First of all, they have the completion of a rigorous, well-respected professional actor training program and a deep understanding of the business, which includes a well-curated resume, personal website, high-end professional headshots, and a well-edited, polished reel. The biggest mistake, without question, that aspiring actors make, is not having a real grasp of how to develop and master a way of producing organic, vivid, fully realized human behavior, consistently.

I would say at least 40% of the students who eventually come to study at my studio have been wandering around NYC for a few years, spending thousands of dollars on scene study, film & tv, improv, and monologue classes. They sit in rented rooms with other confused, untrained actors, memorize lines they “perform” in class, receive line notes, and get various versions of “good job, nice work.” After wasting two to five years doing this, the realization comes that they still don’t know how to act. Another 30% have received a BA or BFA in acting, may have even had some diluted introduction to the Meisner Technique, and know from their college experience that they need serious training to sustain a career. The other 30% comprises students who have had bad experiences at other studios, or have known instinctively that an artistic pursuit requires a mastery of the instrument of their creativity.

My most reliable advice is first to embrace the commitment needed to sustain a 50-year career. Find a conservatory-style actor-training program that teaches a well-known, well-respected acting technique, with a commitment to transforming your physical and vocal instrument. These acting classes should accomplish several things: develop a truthful acting instrument, instill the ability to breakdown material in a simple, personal, and specific way, which allows for the consistent creation of organic behavior. Learn how to listen. Learn how to be played upon and changed by another human being. Harness your ability to daydream and fantasize about your craft. Focus on sensitizing your instrument so that your vulnerability, your empathy, and your humanity can be accessed with ease. Gain comfort functioning from your full emotional range, and learn how to forge an inviolate sense of truth, grounded in artistry.

Students at Maggie Flanigan Studio - Professional Actor Training

Students at Maggie Flanigan Studio – Professional Actor Training – Call (917) 789-1599

You also need to understand and embrace the business side of acting entirely and have a clear way of moving forward once you have adequately trained yourself. The vast majority of aspiring actors who come to NYC or LA spend the first 7-10 years of their journey trying to figure out how the business works. The opportunity to make a lasting first impression only happens once. If it is not clear to everyone in the room that you are capable of delivering on a professional level, you will not be called in again. If you want professionals in this business, i.e., agents, directors, managers, casting directors to take you seriously, you’ll need more than just excellent training on your resume. You’ll need to present and package yourself in a way that indicates you are ready for a serious career. Your headshots, resume, website, reel, self-tape skills, and audition process need to be at a rock star level. It would help if you found a studio that offers a professional business program, which should also provide the resources to put it all together so that you can enter the profession with fierce confidence and an appetite for the long career you wish to create.

There is a big leap from a dream to reality. I would suggest seeking advice from respected artists and professionals in the business. I believe in the power of three, so if the same name or studio is recommended to you three times or more, you should look into it. A lifetime career in any field needs to rest on the floorboards of education, craft, and work ethic. My wish is that more aspiring actors understand this.

Learn More About Professional Actor Training

To learn more about Maggie Flanigan Studio and the acting programs that it provides for aspiring and professional actors, visit the studio website (https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/). Anyone who has questions about the programs and acting classes at the studio can call (917) 789-1599.

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