There is a lot of debates online, usually on Facebook, about whether you should train. There is usually a strong set of voices for actor training, and an equally strong set of voices for not training. This last group of voices have often not got any training themselves, they mention their favourite actors who perhaps didn’t have any formal training and they suggest that the best way to learn to act is through doing it.
Of course, the best way to do anything is by learning to do it. But most of us don’t have the option to fail publicly for a few years while we learn our craft.
They say that going to acting school is equivalent to working without training for about 10 years. So, if you want to take ten years to get to the equivalent level of knowledge, skills and experience as someone that went to acting school, then getting out there and doing it is definitely one way to go. But it’s slower and it’s more difficult for sure.
Without drama school training, you will struggle to get the jobs to gain the experience. Without drama school training, your lessons will all come through your mistakes, and those will be in front of an audience or a crew. Without drama school training, you will need to constantly need to learn from every experience, forcing you to be painfully self-aware while working. In training, you have space to fail, space to explore and try things out. In the world of work, no one will want you to fuck up on their dime.
Of course, qualified acting schools will help you get access to Spotlight (without having to resort to bullshit credits). You will also build your network of directors, agents, casting directors and other industry professionals that you won’t know just deciding to start from scratch. With drama school training, you will have some proof when you apply for jobs that you have any experience at all, without drama school training, you will be stuck hoping they see how good you are in auditions. You are more likely to have better headshots, a better CV, and be better trained to convert audition opportunities into work.
Acting school isn’t everything and you will learn a huge amount in the ‘real world’ when you graduate. But without some acting school training, you are likely to take about ten years longer to get where you want to go. You will also miss out on the opportunity to grow and develop in a safe environment. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but for my money, I’d bet on the person who trained than the person who didn’t.
But what about people like Jennifer Lawrence - she didn’t train. No, but for every success story of untrained actors like JLAW, there’s 99 untrained actors that got nowhere. The percentage of trained actors that make it into acting careers is much greater.