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Does college or training really matter?

actressmomactressmom 96 replies3 threads Junior Member
edited April 2009 in Theater/Drama Majors
A Friend of my daughters just got a role in a major motion picture. She was rejected by all her colleges when she applied so she just went out to LA. She really dosn't have a lot of training but she has done really well! I would of never of let my daughter do that but her friend is making it and my daughter will graduate from college next year and most likey be a waitress.
edited April 2009
22 replies
Post edited by actressmom on
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Replies to: Does college or training really matter?

  • NotMamaRoseNotMamaRose 3973 replies117 threads Senior Member
    actressmom, that is wonderful news about your D's friend. What else has she landed (as far as paying jobs) other than the feature film? (I am assuming that the girl is working steadily, as you said the girl is "making it.")

    Certainly the entertainment business is replete with people who have little to no formal training, yet "made it" anyway. But it is equally as full of people with little to no formal training or education who have not made it and are struggling. My feeling as a parent is that college not only is providing my D with training, but also an education and a degree that may end up meaning something down the line, not only in her ability to land jobs on stage, but also to land jobs offstage, either in areas ancillary to onstage work or at least related to the arts. Plus, in my view, college is not just about training in order to get a job: it's about all the great experiences that kids have at college, meeting new people, interacting with teachers who challenge and stimulate, and all of that jazz. It's not, in my view, just vocational school. :)
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  • actressmomactressmom 96 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Of course I agree with you! Thats one of the reasons I wanted my Daughters to go to college and graduate. You can never get back those experiences and years. But still it makes me wonder. I would love to hear what other mothers think!
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  • skipsmomskipsmom 174 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Several months ago I had this conversation with my son (h.s. junior). I told him what someone had posted (Chrissyblu, I think) that was said to prospective students and families at CalArts..... that if you are really talented you should reconsider going to college as you will only get older and your youth is one of your most valuable assets.

    He looked at me and said that was a ridiculous point of view. When I asked why, he said, "Because all education is worthwhile... it is not something you do because you can't do something else. Learning is worth the time it takes."

    As far as I was concerned that was the right answer. :)
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  • fishbowlfreshmanfishbowlfreshman 807 replies20 threads Member
    actressmom,

    I'm not a mother and don't plan on it anytime soon. :) I'm just an 'ignurt' conservatory drama nun, but aren't you the one who trained in the UK? What has that meant for you?

    I guess in the director's art of film it might not matter so much. It's pretty much been proven that a good director can take an ex-American Idol contestant with no acting experience off a cruise ship and get an Oscar winning performance out of her, so maybe not ... But ... I've booked a small role in a film this summer (hoping no strike happens) and the CD who set me up with it said she really LOVES that I'm being classically trained and to under no circumstances discontinue it. I'm a versatile type to begin with and the training I've had so far has multiplied that versatility tenfold. That excites her. She could plug me into a lot of things although 'edgy bimbo' will be my bread and butter starting out. ;)

    I personally wouldn't be artistically satisfied only playing to type in film, but that's just me ... I guess everyone has to make up their own minds about that, but I think I'll stick to the path of the actresses whose body of work I find most consistently interesting ... Judy Dench, Laura Linney, Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Mary Louise Parker (Too bad about her Hedda), Julianne Moore, Juliette Binoche, Parker Posey, Annette Bening ... Even when they're just playing to type, I see a lot of depth and fluidity that's usually lacking in those who just moved out to LA and started auditioning. There are others like Charlize Theron whose work I usually enjoy who have never set foot on stage to my knowledge, but how many years did she spend as one of Ivana Chubbuck's pet pupils? Don't tell me she isn't trained. :) Not that I'll have that kind of success - not even sure I'd want it - but I think you get where I'm coming from ...
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  • amtcamtc 2838 replies26 threads Senior Member
    We've had this discussion as well. I'm not so sure your daughter's friend has had no training - has she taken acting/audition or whatever classes while out in LA? Different route, same end goal. In this business the only rule is that there is no rule!

    College is so much more than acting classes and that's where the decision comes in. I remember the head of the Theatre Dept. at UCLA said his younger child (son) has absolutely no interest in college and will be taking acting classes and auditioning right out of high school - different kids, different desires.

    Yes, youth is a plus in this business, if you're 18 and can play middle school/high school that's a huge advantage but a shortlived one. An acting career is a marathon, not a sprint and college helps you get to the finish line!

    Lastly, you're daughter may be a waitress but with a college degree she can be other things as well while working towards her goal.
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  • HoosierMom2012HoosierMom2012 235 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Skip is one very smart guy :)

    My D is a freshman. This past year while training in college she has taken large leaps not just small steps advancing in her acting, singing and dancing skills. I see 2 of her required courses - Movement and Voice/Diction - as critical to being a good actress. I don't know about film - maybe it requires less training and you can succeed just as a natural? There are no "Take 35" in theatre....you have to nail it everytime all 8 performances every week.
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  • actressmomactressmom 96 replies3 threads Junior Member
    My daughter told me her friend in LA does have a private acting coach so she is training. I love that my daugher said she is so happy she is going to college and getting classes in all aspects of the arts. She wants her friend to make it because she saids she will have nothing if she fails. She feels if she (my daughter) doesn't make it she can always go to grad school and teach. She said she would never give up these past 3 years because she loves he colllege experience. So I feel better! Thanks for all your comments.
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  • fishbowlfreshmanfishbowlfreshman 807 replies20 threads Member
    I've pimped An Agent Tells All by LA agent Tony Martinez around here enough that I outta be getting a take! LOL In a Chapter entitled "Tools of the Trade," he starts out by listing them as 1) Headshot 2) Resume 3)Demo Reel and 4) Training. He then rearranges them to put training first on the list to emphasize its importance. I wish I had time to hack out the whole chapter, but here are some quotes as he sees things ...
    Acting is one of the few careers in this world that constantly attracts people with no training. I'm always meeting young actors who haven't done any real studyinig and yet, they still think they're ready to work. Can you imagine if doctors behaved this way?

    Granted, there are plenty of people out there who possess natural acting ability but trust me, that will only get you so far. Craft and technique are still very important and that's why you absolutely, positively must always be in class.

    In response to what impresses him about an actor's training ...
    For me, it's variety. Let me explain what I mean. Remember Bruce Lee? He's still considered one of the greatest martial artists who ever lived. Do you know how he attained that level of ability? Bruce spent his entire life studying every martial art in the world. His background was Chinese fung fu but he also trained in Japanese karate, American boxing, and many, many others. He took what he liked from each style, discarded the rest and created Jeet Kune Do, his own personal martial art.

    I challenge you to do the same thing. As an actor, it is your duty to get out there and learn as much as possible about the craft of acting. Try everything at least once. See what works for you. You will end up bringing a little bit of each technique to your own personal style.
    I recently took a meeting with an actress who moved out here from New York and had been living here for over a year. Her resume had plenty of New York training on it but I didn't see any LA teachers. When I asked her about this, she told me that she hadn't gotten around to it yet.

    Excuse me? How can someone live in LA for that long, surrounded by actors, and not act? It doesn't make any sense. If you love acting, you have to act. It's that simple.

    Needless to say, I passed.

    Here's another from the same chapter that ties more in with another discussion, but is worth repeating ...
    And never, ever spend more than you can afford. It's not worth going into debt just so you can brag about studying with Mr. Pretentious at the Super Popular School of Acting. Paying more in no way guarantees a better class of education.
    :)
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  • early_collegeearly_college 2711 replies155 threads Senior Member
    I may be of some help here, :)

    There are different ways of going around and getting an agent, etc. I went to AMTC as said before and I know many people who were for 4- mid 50's who got agents. There were a lot who were in their 20's. Also, these agents are very good and Mary Lynn Henry use to attend (not sure if she still does). These people do get training here or back in LA. They don't need to go to a BFA for what they wanted. Training helps, but won't sell the deal. You can be a great actor, but not fit the role. Luck and looks will get you the role and you should have some acting experience. You may just have taken classes, but experience is the key.

    Also, lots of actors go the way your friend's daughter went. They take that chance, most fail. But the same goes with BFA students, acting is a hard field. Jennifer Hudson is a great actress and I do believe God gave her that gift. She is a great singer, actress overall FABULOUS. Some people are born with this gift and she was. Singing is different though, you either got the voice or you don't. You can't train and then sing good. You have to have something to work with at least. God gave you a good voice or bad. You can have someone with no acting experience and train until they become better. But I think Jennifer was an exception- just an overall great performer. I really hope for her to succeed and I really can't wait for her to go even bigger. I am also not into her music much, but watched her over Idol and saw her acting field unravel. She did great on the movie with the Bee's and she is great. I also don't like how you said that freshman. I mean come on off a cruise ship, she had talent. I really think some people are born with it for acting and others need to train. But Jennifer will also need training because no one is perfect. She just had the gift already and the director helped her out. I much rather be in top movies when I'm younger and disagree with skipsmom's son. Education is very important, but you will never get your youth back. This is why I like the early college route. :)
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  • fishbowlfreshmanfishbowlfreshman 807 replies20 threads Member
    ^ My, don't people get emotional about their American Idol favorites (Adam rules!) even from when they would have been nine or ten years old when they were on the show ... ;) And she WAS working on a cruise ship before she did that film. There's nothing wrong with that. It's probably a great gig, but it is what it is ... Don't you know that a good director can make a very mediocre or inexperienced actor seem brilliant? Neither one of us were on the set, so there's no point in speculating about that ... But ...

    We're definitely talking about two different kinds of actors here. Of course there are some people who have a knack for being very natural in front of the camera, manifest a very specific 'type' and have 'that one thing they do.' Sometimes they are very marketable or even brilliant at it and this goes for everyone from high dollar celibrity leads like Bruce Willis and Cameron Diaz right on down the food chain to the guy who gets a commercial agent and appears as the old school New York cabbie in a few commercials. I mean, Bruce is Bruce and Cameron is Cameron, right? In every single role they play ... I think it's safe to say that at this point Jennifer may be Jennifer, too, and yes she has the added bonus of having been born with a Stradivarius in her throat. :) Some did luck into it with little or no training and if you think you're one of those for whom that could happen, have at it.

    However, there is another kind of actor that any BFA worth its salt is trying to nurture who may or may not have 'that one thing' at eighteen or younger, but also have the capacity for being multidimensional in not only TV and film, but also in theatre and that takes a lot of intensive training no matter how much of a natural you might think you are. You'll find those all over the industry as well and their success rate - while still low - is a lot higher than the many thousands who just take the bus to NYC or LA every year. The old saying is that most actors can do one thing, the good ones can do two, and the greats can do three. That's what you have to assume that the seniors you see here going to these good BFAs are striving for. They'd better be ... They're not wasting their best asset. They're enhancing it. Not to mention that they're getting a college degree ...

    Check out Cate Blanchett's work in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "Notes on a Scandal," and "The Aviator." Then tell me her 'type.' :) That's what a great actress looks like. She has also received a lot of acolades for her stage work and you just can't develop that kind of skill by casually taking acting classes a few times a week. Without that training, she would probably just be another bottle blonde in LA with a lot of unexplored potential. As if they need any more of those ... LOL I seriously doubt she would take you very seriously if you tried to tell her she wasted her best asset during her time at conservatory. That goes for all the other such actresses I listed in my first post as well. It also goes for the people I know who have graduated the past couple of years and have moved onto doing some exciting things on and off Broadway, in the major regionals, in TV and film, and in commercials. Some had already worked a good bit before they even started school, but I'm sure any one of them would tell you that they're a million times the actor than they were before and THAT is their best asset.

    I'm watching them VERY closely and learning all I can from their successes and failures. It'll be my turn next year and I want to have all the bullets I can possibly stuff into my bandolier ... I don't believe in winging it and hoping to get lucky. I believe you can make your own luck by getting as good as you can be, creating as much financial staying power as you can for yourself, and making intelligent and informed career decisions. Really, that's all anyone has any control over, but whatever works for you ...
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  • early_collegeearly_college 2711 replies155 threads Senior Member
    I really don't watch Idol anymore, I stopped after season 5. I watch it sometimes now, but just because I'm stressed and need a break. I have been watching survivor since I was 6, lol. And I'm still watching it. I knew Jennifer was working in a cruise ship, but you put it like that's the type of singer she is. A good director can do many things, but I think Jennifer Hudson has raw talent. I was 10 when she was on, lol.

    I've had training in film acting for about 4 or 5 years now. But I think I was born with this gift and God wanted me to be an actor. Though, training will help me get better and better. Also, did you know know Brad Pitt went to Mizzu to be a journalist? So, lots of people don't go that route. But I don't know if he wanted to be an actor at that time.

    Also, I never said a BFA was a waste of time. But I rather go for school to be a print journalist and screenwriter. I would love to write tv shows and star in them, like the lady from 30 Rock. I also think it's different for me since I want to go the early college route. I totally agree with you, lol.

    But what makes me sick are those kids whose parents put them into acting at 0-4. No one loves to act at that age, I was 5-6 when I knew I wanted to be an actor. Look at Mary Kate and Ashley, I would love my parents if they did that too me though. Parents want there kids to be actors and I would never push it on my child. I am happy I'm not famous as a child, because look at what happens to them. Also, lots of kids actors go away. I meant the boy of Reba at AMTC and he was snob. He thought he was better then everyone and very immature. That kid went to AMTC at 2, he didn't want to be an actor. Lots of actors don't want their kids to be an actor such as Rosie O Donnell.

    I agree with you though, lol. Btw, it's my bday so I will go now.
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  • NJTheatreMOMNJTheatreMOM 3629 replies44 threads Senior Member
    Happy birthday, early_college.
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  • early_collegeearly_college 2711 replies155 threads Senior Member
    Thanks!!!!! :)
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  • fishbowlfreshmanfishbowlfreshman 807 replies20 threads Member
    Yeah, Happy b-day! Yikes!!! Not sure I should have recommended "Notes on a Scandal." I think it's 'R' rated, so definitely make sure your parents don't mind before you see it. Cate and Judi Dench ... Pretty amazing stuff but it has some racy scenes and the content is kinda creepy.

    Brad Pitt ... Yeah. He's probably studied with a lot of different teachers, but he's another one who was with Ivana Chubbock for awhile. You really can see a lot of growth out of him since his early days. Of course, some of my male compadres would suggest that's just my hormones talking ... LOL I do think he's unfairly maligned by some. Maybe not GREAT, but not just another Hollywood pretty boy, either.
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  • early_collegeearly_college 2711 replies155 threads Senior Member
    Thanks fish and I forgot to congratulate you on that movie gig. I will give that movie a try when I'm 18, but doesn't sound my taste of movies. Yeah, well he sure has the money to study with many people.
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  • chrissybluchrissyblu 672 replies37 threads Member
    SkipsMom - it wasn't calarts. It was UCLA's head of the acting department who said if you think you can do it now, don't bother going to school. As he put it, the oldest joke in LA is "if you are old enough to drive to the audition, you are too old for the part." But he says this to make sure the kids going to UCLA want to be there to get an education, because at UCLA you are getting a BA, not a BFA, and you have to want to be educated. He wants to make sure that the kids attending his program want both a conservatory and a regular degree.

    I think the best actors are educated, so that they understand the historical context or the issues behind the characters they are playing. We were having the BFA/BA debate in our house, as you may recall. When my daughter asked one of the current UCLA freshman why she turned down CMU's BFA Acting program to come to UCLA instead to study acting, she said "How can you be in a Chekov play if you don't understand the Russian Revolution?" This is why it is a good thing to be educated.

    That being said, there are many fine actors who immerse themselves so much in a role that they learn everything there is to learn about that particular character when they receive the role. But if you have educated yourself, it seems there is a whole lot less learning to do. And you are a lot more fun sitting around a dinner table when everyone is having an educated discussion.
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  • skipsmomskipsmom 174 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Thanks Chrissyblu :) I couldn't find the post where you said that in conversation.

    We are not really even at the point of needing that debate yet, as it depends where and if DS gets into schools. The most powerful argument for me is the concept of 10,000 hours to competency as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers." He argues that a person needs at least that many hours to become an expert---in anything---and cites wonderful examples, some related to the arts. It follows that a nine-to-five day will constitute about 2000 hours per year. If the BFA candidate is working those hours for four years, he or she will have 8,000 hours of training by graduation through the program. The last two years many of the programs require rehearsals from 7pm to 10 or 11pm, so a student at one of the more rigorous programs could conceivably graduate with 10,000 hours of training and practice---or close to it.

    In my opinion, the BA degree is not as important as whether or not the student is a reader. That habit and practice follows a student throughout life far beyond school, years after he or she has forgotten everything about Tolstoy's epic except that "It's about a war." :) The middle-aged and older adults I find interesting are those who read, and it always astonishes me to go into someone's house and see no books anywhere.
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  • NotMamaRoseNotMamaRose 3973 replies117 threads Senior Member
    skipsmom, amen to that (about feeling surprised and off balance in a house without any books)!
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  • fishbowlfreshmanfishbowlfreshman 807 replies20 threads Member
    Here's a "rant" by Doctorjohn from one of the old threads about the educational value of a BFA with which I couldn't agree more ...
    Time was, as the parents on this thread remember, when Accounting majors and MBAs could write their own tickets. It's just not true any longer. They have to compete for jobs just like actors have always had to. (There's a certain sadistic satisfaction in that.) And you're absolutely right about the kinds of skills you've already gained by studying theatre. A business major may know how to read a spreadsheet, but does he know how to read the person sitting across the table? Has he been trained in empathy? Does he know what he wants? Does he know if what he wants is a good thing for everyone, or just for himself? Does he know himself? You cannot study acting and not learn these things, even if you don't become a great actor. And if you learn these things, there aren’t a lot of things you can’t do, with the possible exception of neurosurgery and nuclear physics. If there’s value in reading the great works of literature, isn’t there at least as much value in speaking them aloud, and bringing the characters to life? If there’s value in talking about politics in POLI 101, isn’t there at least as much value in enacting those situations in THR 151? Actors learn about literature and politics and psychology from the inside, from what it feels like to be living those scenes, and they learn it from some of the smartest people who ever lived, Euripides and Shakespeare and Chekhov and Brecht. If someone can make an argument for majoring in some other subject as a <better> way of learning how to live life, let them give it a try.
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/5454-post16.html

    Thanks, early_college. It's nothing huge and the most exciting thing is that some people have taken an interest in having me SAG eligible at graduation. That along with the recommendation letters I'll get will be a big help at showcase if they don't make it out-and-out redundant. Now I just have to make sure I don't find a way to mess it up!

    Obviously, my attention has turned more towards transitioning into the real world, so I'm not sure how much help I can be around here anymore ... probably much to the relief of some old timers. :) Funny. Sometime during third or fourth year the reality of trying to make a living at this starts to become less abstract and Bob Dylan smacks you right in the face with Like a Rolling Stone. It's only about a thousand times more terrifying than a looming college audition season ...

    I suppose upperclassmen in all majors are feeling like that right now, though ...
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  • theater momtheater mom 526 replies9 threads Member
    You’re not thinking of leaving, are you Fish? I hope not. Your posts are some of the most best on this site. Most recently, “Rankings by Sticker Price” caused my D and I to re-think our list. Plus you make me laugh.
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