Tag: acting classes

Seda Stepanyan
December 19, 2019
Christmas Gifts for your Actor Friends

Your best friend tells you in March that they are going into acting. You congratulate them, wish them luck, and move on with your life. But suddenly it’s December, and you have no idea what to get that one friend, what the best gifts for actors are. You want to get something practical, a gift that will show you recognize and appreciate their career path but not something that your friend will throw away the next day. As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, I have had my fair share of experience with actors and am here to share my tips with you.

1. Gift Cards and Certificates

These types of gifts offer a whole variety of options and can be suited according to what your friend would prefer. Gift cards can be used later when needed and are what most actors say they prefer.

Accent and Dialects

For actors, using a new voice can be a fun experience, but it also takes some work. Fully acquiring a dialect takes time and is not an easy task. There is pressure to respect a culture by accurately portraying their way of speaking. The way an actor portrays this can be imperative for their craft and reputation. While sometimes productions have a dialect coach to help you with the dialogue, other directors expect actors to do the preparation themselves. Many accent coaches in Los Angeles offer one-on-one session and audition preparation, and you can purchase gift certificates online. Even if your friend doesn’t have an audition for a german character role tomorrow, mastering of a dialect is an excellent skill to have and may attract casting directors.

Headshot Sessions

A headshot session is definitely the type of a gift your actor friend will be most grateful for. Headshots aren’t cheap, and they need to be updated frequently. A headshot is what an actor must always have on-hand and is the first thing casting agencies will ask for. It will lead to problems if the actor’s headshot is old or doesn’t represent their current look. I have heard of many qualified actors not getting a role because their headshots weren’t up-to-par. You do not have to spend too much on this and can buy a session from an experienced and affordable headshot photographer in Los Angeles here. With Seda Stepanyan as your headshot photographer, you will never have to worry about how your photos will turn out as all her reviews are full of praises. 

Casting Websites

Having excellent headshots and demo reels will be useless if the actor has no place to submit them. Getting a casting agency or a rep is difficult. Websites for open calls are designed specifically with lone actors in mind and are the perfect place to get started. Buying your friend a subscription to backstage or IMDB Pro will surely make them happy and may even get them their next role. For more location-specific sites for Los Angeles, check out L.A. casting or Actors Access. Most casting website subscriptions will cost under $100 annually, so this gift will not put a dent in your personal finances. 

Acting Classes

Your friend may act like they know everything there is about acting, but deep down, they know that you can always learn more. Acting classes aren’t cheap, and no one can afford to go to many as much as they would like to. Acting Technique, Scene Study, Cold Reading, Improvisation Classes, Voice/Vocal, and Body Movement are only a few of the types of acting classes that acting schools offer. Try to check which one your friend has been to and get them to try something new with your gift. An acting class as a gift for an actor will be a fun experience, will help them perfect their craft and put in work towards their next role.


This may not be an obvious gift for an actor friend, but it is very useful. Being an actor is not cheap, all the classes and workshops cost lots of money. Imagine also having to pay to get from one end of the city to the other for an audition. Hollywood is big !! A gift is a perfect opportunity to help out with some of their dues. If your friend has a car, try to find a way to gift your actor friend a card or certificate for fuel. In case your city has a decent transport system, consider buying your friend a bus or metro pass. This pass will make their life significantly easier as they won’t have to worry about getting to the audition and instead on the audition itself. Another option is gifting an UBER card or a similar taxi service card.

Spa Day

Being an actor in Los Angeles is exhausting. It’s classes, workshops, and auditions all day. All this can really take a toll on someone’s body, so why not gift your friend a spa or massage session. It isn’t an industry-related gift, but they are sure to appreciate it. A day of pampering and relaxation is sure to get them back on their feet and get their mood up.

2. Hands-on Gifts

The only downside of giving a card or certificate is that the price is shown, and for most people, that is okay. But if you are gifting it to someone who you would prefer not to see the money you spent, I am here to offer you some other options. 

headshot photographer in Los Angeles


As a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, any actor I have spoken to at my headshot sessions is always reading something. It may be a book on acting, on the industry, a book of tips from an agent, or something similar. Books may seem outdated in this modern age, but they are one of the actor’s most excellent tools. Take some time to research what book your friend might need. There are many resources online which will help you choose a book. If you really have no options, just go to your local bookstore, find the “Drama” section and fill your shopping cart. You can even get copies of plays for your friend.


This idea may seem funny to you, but it really is a big help. Imagine you’re in a cold marble-floored dressing room or trailer all day. You would be very grateful for a pair of soft and fluffy slippers, wouldn’t you? A pair of slippers really isn’t the main gift but more of an add-on to the other options in this list. 


For this option, you will have to do some snooping around your friend. Ask around and try to find out what type of roles they frequently audition for. If they are auditioning for the role of a bad boy or girl, buy them a nice leather jacket and shirt to go with it. Or if they’re auditioning to be a cowboy, get them the hat and the shoes. You get the idea. If your friend doesn’t usually concentrate on one type of role, you can always gift them formal clothing they can wear to auditions. This will undoubtedly take a load off their mind, so they will always have their outfit ready to go. 

A Printer 

This is a more expensive gift, but if you’re ready to splurge, this is the place to do it. Actors always have to have their resumes on hand; you never know when the need will arise. They also need to print scripts to take notes on and plays to practice. As a Los Angeles headshot photographer, I know that many actors I know spend a fortune each year printing all the documents they need, so a good printer will surely come in handy. You can also get an actor a box of office supplies such as pens, highlighters, staplers and so on. This gift may sound more like something you would get for a non-actor, but believe me, acting can become a desk job sometimes.

Demo Reel Tools

Most actors prefer to film their auditions and demo reels at home, as shooting elsewhere can be expensive. Many parts go into this process. If you know your friend shoots at home and you are willing to spend a good amount of money, get them some equipment. A good camera, a new backdrop, or a microphone will always be much appreciated. You can also buy them editing software, as it takes many tries to get that final perfect clip. Good editing will show casting agencies that the actor has put time and effort into their product. 

An Acting Kit

This suggestion is a cute gift which you can make on your own, so I recommend it for closer friends. You can get a nice case or bag and start filling it with items. You can put in eyeliners, hairspray, gum, coms, brushes, baby wipes, pens and highlighters, bobby pins, band-aids, make-up remover, face powder, and a book. Of course, you can add more items you find to be suitable for your friend. Maybe stick a photo of you two together in it for that extra boost before a role.

You can get a case with a built-in mirror, which will come in handy for spontaneous make-up situations. Every Los Angeles headshot photographer knows that. This kit is a gift that shows how much effort you put into creating it. Alternatively, you can make a make-up kit and include the essential items in it. You can also get a small kit with a few things and put a Sephora/Ulta gift card in it so they can get exactly what they need. 

A Big Bag

During a full day of classes and auditions, the last thing an actor needs to worry about is where they should put their things. Look for a functional bag with lots of pockets, sturdy straps, and enough room for a pair of shoes. Actors burn a lot of calories and always need to keep up their energy, but eating out is not a cheap option. So, you can also include a lunchbox with this bag, and it’s the best way to keep your friend fueled up. 

Workout Gear

All professional actors practically live in their workout clothes. And not only at the gym. Acting class, dance calls, rehearsals, and auditions are a good reason to get your friend comfortable clothing. An actor’s life is already hard enough; there’s no need to spend so many hours in jeans. Look for clothes that feel comfortable, but don’t turn too many heads on the street. Avoid flashy colors and designs, and opt for a one-colored look. 

3. Invites and Tickets

Acting is performance art. And to get big in this industry and be different, you must immerse yourself in all types of art. It will help you get perspective and understand your position more. To help with this, you can buy your friend all sorts of tickets. 

Christmas gifts for actors

Movie Tickets

Movie tickets is an obvious answer, but it still is a really good gift. To make it more special, you can try to get a ticket to a movie premiere. Los Angeles is the heart of the industry, and there is a premiere here every week. The premiere will give the actor a chance to network, meet new people and enjoy a new film. You can also look for early screenings, more exclusive and smaller-scale events.

Theatre Tickets

Theatre is a way to enjoy facial expressions and live acting. Your friend might also learn a few tips for improvisation from this experience. It is also an all-around enjoyable time and a great way to spend an evening.

Networking Event Tickets

Networking is truly one of the most vital parts of an actor’s life. To make it in Hollywood, actors must make themselves known and establish working relationships. Any headshot photographer in Los Angeles will state that any party in Hollywood is a place to network. But, there are also special events designed for networking, with an invitation list full of big names in Hollywood.

One of the biggest networking events in Los Angeles is called ” The Acting Experience.” Actor Dijon Talton covers many topics from the industry. It is a high-rated event, and tickets start at $499.00, so this will be the gift of a lifetime. Another big networking event in Los Angeles is called “The National Achievers Congress.” This one is a much cheaper, yet still a prestigious event. You can also find other networking events happening around the time of your friend’s birthday and buy a ticket. Make sure not to buy too close to the date as your friend will need time to prepare for the headshot session.

As you can see, buying a gift for your actor friend isn’t a hard task. Of course, it is preferable if you know their needs and can get something from this list that is better suited to them. But, even if you have no idea what they do in their acting career, these tips will still be useful. So don’t waste any time and get your shopping on!!

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Seda Stepanyan
September 16, 2019
How to Choose an Acting School in Los Angeles

Do you want to make fantastic performances and get an Academy Award or Golden Globe? Do you want to build an acting career in Hollywood but do not know where to start? That means you are in the right place. Acting schools in Los Angeles are the best place to start.

As a headshot photographer I would recommend starting from getting a headshot and delve into the movie industry, and, at the same time, choose an acting school. The fact that you live in Los Angeles and are looking for an acting school there is a huge plus for you. Attending an Acting School in Los Angeles, you will be in the center of the entertainment industry. You will be very close to the top directors, agents, and professional photographers in LA; therefore, you will have good perspectives of building a good acting career.

One of the central questions is what choice of an Acting School will be the best one? 

Acting Schools in LA

The followings are the Best Acting Schools in Los Angeles with their official websites and brief information about them. 

California Institute of Arts

Located in Santa Clarita, 30 miles north of Los Angeles, the School of Theatre Department of this institution provides training that aims to prepare completely prepared theatre actors. The programs in this school give students all the necessary skills of acting and the tools to pilot agency.

The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute

This school after the famous Polish-American theater practitioner Lee Strasberg prepares professionals of Method Acting. The Alumni of this acting school include Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and many other recognized actors and actresses.

American Academy of Dramatic Arts Los Angeles

Following the slogan “Acting is a Call to Greatness,” the Academy teaches acting for over 130 years. The academy offers theoretical and practical courses of acting by honorable instructors. The Academy has phenomenally talented and widely famous actors including Robert Radford, Grace Kelly, Kirk Douglas, Adrien Brody, Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd, and others.

Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theater

Located in the heart of Hollywood, the academy offers extensive training for theatre and cinema acting. The students explore here the technique of honorable Stella Adler that is based on the famous method of Konstantin Stanislavski. Benicio Del Toro, Mark Ruffalo, and Bryan McCoy are among the alumni of the Academy.

Theater of Arts

This is a cutting edge school for theatre acting in LA that teaches all the disciplines of modern acting. First opened in 1927, Theatre of Arts is the longest living theatre school in LA. 

Private Acting Coaches vs. Acting Schools

Another option to study acting may be taking lessons with a private acting coach. Many actors actually have a hard time while choosing between a coach and the school. You may ask why does there even exists such a dilemma? Here are the main factors you may want to consider while choosing how to learn acting.

Acting Schools 

In the nutshell, acting schools teach the basics of acting. You will learn how to audition, how to create and present characters, how to behave on the stage, and how to portray emotions. The group improvisation performances are very popular in Acting Schools learning processes. Hence, graduating from an acting school, you will be not only a professional actor with theoretical knowledge but also a good team player.

Acting Coaches 

Acting Coaches usually provide individual lessons. This fact may be advantageous or disadvantageous depending merely on a person. You may be a better group learner or an individual. If you think you need a more intimate approach, then you may better go for the acting coach option. You can google an individual acting coach service in Los Angeles not forgetting to pay close attention to reviews.

Overall, you should take the time to think which option is more preferable for you. Are you a group member or an individual? When you figure that out, it will be much easier for you to choose. It’s like choosing the best headshot out of hundreds of images.

How to spot a bad acting coach?

When you are in the process of choosing an acting coach, how do you know they are real professionals? Here you can find 3 signs that the coach you consider is not a proper one.

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– References 

A good acting coach should have recommendations from a considerable number of former students. The best possible recommendation will be the success an in acting career in Hollywood of those students.

– Credibility 

A good acting coach should have professional experience, training in honorable institutions, and formal qualifications.

– Guarantees 

It may sound bizarre, but good acting coaches never give guarantees to their students. Their only job is to educate and to train, but it is your job to become successful.

The coach is the person who makes you professional in your job. Be careful in choosing him.

2 Ways of Self-education in Acting

Today’s world allows us to implement what is called self-education in any sphere. Acting is not an exception, and you can always find a way to educate yourself in acting. The following are some ways how to do that.

1. Record yourself 

Imagine the camera is your audience and start performing in front of it. It may be a challenging experience, as you have the imaginary audience in front of you, so you have to do your best. Besides, you then have the chance to evaluate your acting yourself.

2. Watch movies and theatrical performance

Look at the works of other actors on the stage or on the screen. Evaluate them and learn from them!

You can surely go for self-education and learn acting by yourself. However, none of the methods mentioned above will give you the theoretical knowledge and professional acting skills the way acting schools give. Watching movies will not replace the Stanislavsky method that acting schools teach. No camera practice will replace the improvisation courses at schools. 

When to stop attending acting classes? 

As in most colleges, learning in acting schools lasts 4 years. During those years, you get your training and theoretical knowledge of acting. However, as in many other professions, acting requires constant learning. You as an actor need to involve yourself in exploring your profession during your whole life. The following are the main reasons why actors should always keep training.

acting career in Hollywood

Acting is Competitive 

Many actors want the same role that you do. That is why your acting should be the best one during the audition. You have to practice over and over again to be the unique one among the many.

You Love Your Job 

If you are an actor, it means you love acting. If you love your job, you should be the best in it. Learn and practice every time to enjoy yourself in your job.

Find yourself

Thanks to your hard work, you will be able to understand what kind of actor you are. You will also figure out what kind of roles you prefer. Only with constant learning, you will be able to discover yourself as an actor.

You can graduate from your acting school, but you should never stop learning and practicing acting. Acting is a life-long career, and it has always got something new to discover. 

Top 7 Types of Acting Classes

 If you eventually decided to involve yourself in acting classes, the following are the types of lessons you will have in your school.

1. Acting Technique Classes 

These are the most important classes that every actor should take and learn profoundly to build an acting career in Hollywood. The acting technique can be called a foundation course in any acting school in the world. This is where you learn the basics of acting and obtain the core skills you will use in all of your future movies/performances. You will be introduced to the core acting principles, including the method of Stanislavski, Method Acting, Stella Adler, etc.

2. Improvisation Classes 

Improvisation is an inseparable part of acting. You, as an actor, always have to be able to come up with something new and original at the moment. This course will teach you that!

3. Body Language Classes 

The ability to come up with natural body movements is another significant part of an actor’s job! Body language is a whole sphere in acting and requires in-depth practice.

4. Voice Classes 

Did you know that voices identify characters? Probably, the voice acting is one of the most difficult and simultaneously one of the chief courses of acting schools. Heath Ledger spent over one month for working on his voice for the Joker. Think of it for a minute and never miss Voice classes.

5. Audition Technique Classes 

The auditions for a role are sometimes more challenging than performing the role. Auditions are also very stressful, especially for the ones who are just starting their acting career in Hollywood. So, that is a good idea to have a preparatory course for auditions, isn’t it?

6. Cold Reading Classes 

This class basically teaches reading from the script. It may sound simple, but it is not that easy to do. Sometimes actors get lost in the script and mess up their lines. This course teaches how to analyze the script. You will learn how to break down the script and memorize your lines in a short period of time.  

7. Scene Study Classes 

This class is responsible for teaching how to act in front of the camera. Young actors usually lack experience of on-camera acting, that is why they face some challenges at the beginning of their career. This course will fix that issue.

What’s the next step after graduating?

 Congratulations! You successfully graduated from acting school. You are a professional actor now, and the time has come to start your career. The following are the primary steps you should take to start building your acting career in Hollywood.  

acting career in Hollywood

– Market Yourself!

The first thing actors should do after graduation is auditioning for roles. The first thing Hollywood directors or casting agents look at while considering an actor for a role is the resume. That may comprise the professional experience, training, and headshots. Prepare a complete resume and audition for anything possible!

– Get Headshots! 

Getting headshots is an essential part of the actors’ career too. Actors have to have headshots for their resumes while auditioning for roles. It may be a good idea to find a personal photographer in Los Angeles to get new headshots for each audition. You may want to get a studio or outdoor headshots with a professional photographer in your area (it can be Glendale, Burbank, West Hollywood) before auditioning in Los Angeles casting agencies.

Remember! Casting directors get the first impression about you from your headshot. Therefore, hiring a professional headshot photographer in LA may be a good investment for your acting career.

Learn more about headshot mistakes.

– Get an agent! 

Lastly, you should begin your agent research. The agent is an important persona in a professional actor’s life. Your agent will submit you to auditions, deal with your contracts, find an affordable headshot photographer, and basically take care of your acting career in Hollywood.

– Get a manager!

Having a manager is also an important step for an actor. Managers will contribute to your career with their connections. Besides, the manager will direct you to become a more profitable actor.

 Surround yourself with professional agents, managers, and headshot photographers, and with the education you have, you will become a successful Hollywood actor. You have the best profession ever, enjoy it! 

4 Hollywood Actors who Never Took an Acting Class

You may say, “But there are actors who are very successful but never took an acting class in their life.” You are right! Such talented figures exist. However, those figures were either too talented or too lucky or both. Here are some highly successful of the actors who have not studied acting.

Joaquin Phoenix 

According to IMDb, Joaquin Phoenix gained the fame of an actor without having an acting degree. At a young age, he had to do street acting to provide for his family. Hollywood agent Iris Burton noticed his the incredible talent and gave him the opportunity to appear in television shows. That is where hi started his acting career in Hollywood.

Jennifer Lawrence 

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The highest-paid actress of 2015-2016 and the most successful actress of the 1990s, according to IMDb. Lawrence’s fruitful career is due to her exceptional talent, which was discovered in her teenage years by New York talent agents.

Johnny Depp 

acting career in Hollywood

This brilliant actor actually reached success thanks to luck. His career as an actor started when his wife introduced him to Nicolas Cage, who then helped him appear on television.

Tom Cruise  

acting career in Hollywood

Cruise pursued his acting career by presenting an improvised play at a drama festival. This talented performance impressed the organizer, who then helped out with his acting career.

Maybe you are as talented as these people are and maybe you are lucky too. Acting classes, however, are irreplaceable. Here is a fact you should consider. According to The Guardian, an Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey started teaching at the University of Texas in August 2019. So, notice that a successful actor emphasizes the importance of learning acting.

Here we go! Now you know everything about starting an acting career in La. It’s time for action. Oscars are waiting for you! 

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