Keeping What’s Natural in an Acting Class

summer acting program for kids

I read an article in New York Times yesterday in which Sofia Coppola discussed the casting of some fairly new teenage actors as lead roles in her latest film “Bling Ring”.
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“I think with people that age, it’s exciting to find kids that are unknown. There’s sort of a naturalness, as opposed to having worked a lot, being kid actors.”

This raises the question: do “kid actors” lose a sense of naturalness? It certainly doesn’t have to be this way. There are great examples of “kid actors” who’ve gone on to very successful careers ( for e.g. Jodi Foster). But there are also countless stories of “child actors” who have struggled to make the transition from a hit t.v. show to feature films into adulthood. The problem happens when actors get into a certain “pattern” for a particular t.v. show, and subsequently have a very hard time breaking this pattern once the show is over. This can be particularly problematic for kids as they can equate a specific “style” of a t.v. show as being the “right” way to act.

One of the big things we stress at the studio is that there is no one “right” way to act. It’s important to be flexible, and to always maintain your own sense of perspective. The actor’s own unique history, sense of imagination, and personality is critical to a healthy, long-term career as an actor. If an actor’s identity gets solely wrapped up in a particular t.v. role, or in selling products, then they can lose that “naturalness” so important to filmmakers.

Not to self-promote too much, but this is why acting classes are incredibly valuable to child actors. Classes are a great way to keep presenting new roles, characters, situations to an actor who is doing “more of the same” on a particular t.v. show. Continual growth for an actor can only occur with new challenges, and working with a wide range of personalities. Patterns start to get cemented when we get stuck in an insulated environment of the same people, writing, stories, and experiences. It’s for this reason that our studio is perpetually changing so that our actors are constantly growing, and discovering their own unique talent.